Technology and time being two constructs that sometimes give me a good deal of trouble, the Christmas letter from us has morphed into a New Year's email from us. With any luck it will actually come to you on that day, now that I've been given some helpful hints and also been put to shame by my 96 year old Grandma figuring out by herself how to Skype with us. I gotta tell you, she impresses me.
Pat and Colleen arrived safe and sound, and were mobbed by the kids and by us as well, to a lesser extent. I can't wait for a "new" look at Dubai through their eyes, and to share our love for this land with them.
Now, about that "come out and play" business...
We went out on the weekend with another group of friends from work to drive the desert in Sharjah again. I didn't mention that we really did get a sort of white Christmas, that morning resembling the one we drove through:
The fog was so thick at some points during the drive out that Mike couldn't see more than a car length ahead. It was eerie. Fog causes a lot of problems in Dubai; traffic pile ups, very very slow commutes. That's the sun, not the moon you see above those trees.
Fortunately it did burn off, and the desert emerged.
Good thing too since we would have been heading back home had it not. Driving the dunes is very fun, but if you can't see, not such a smart idea.
Bethy engaged in sand sliding while the group deflated the tires (this helps for better 4x4 driving, then you reinflate them before going back to driving on pavement).
Then: "Moooooohm! Why do I have sand in my bum?" (Mom says: Well, duh.) "That's silly!"
After a steep climb in the Patrol and some pronounced passenger bumping around, Thomas got scared."All done! All done Bird Car! No more car!!! Waaaaaaah!!!!"
I held his hand (A good trick while you're in the front seat, him in the back seat, and the SUV slipping and bouncing around) and then with some encouragement he held his beloved stuffed animal Maisy Mouse's hand. This helped, though later he panicked and I ended up going for a little walk-cuddle with him. Then these guys arrived:
Bethy is racing towards them with Royce Stricklan, a super nice guy and the leader of the pack. We follow him...when we can, anyway. She was so excited she was going to get to try out her Arabic, and as long as the conversation had stuck strictly to greetings, body parts, and animals it probably would have gone well. Though the camel riders were friendly, they were also moving out so she didn't get to visit. At Camel Hump Rock we let the kids out so we could drive the slopes and they could rest with the group in the shade of the cars. We'd already bent back the front license plate and had to borrow some wire from a goat pen to lash back on another guy's radiator. As Mike and I drove around on the soft red sands, something went awry and suddenly we were sliding sideways. slowly but inexorably towards Camel Hump Rock at the base of the slope. I distinctly remember saying 'This is like my driving nightmares where you know you're going to crash and you can't stop it!" Both us us were envisioning how ridiculously difficult the recovery efforts were going to be if it went really wrong. Mike also claims I said "This is NOT good!" several too many times. Fine for him. The rock was on my side of the car. Whump.
Fate was kind to Bird Car, though, and we stopped relatively gently, considering the pitch of the slope. I think the sand must have been extra deep there. We crumpled up the step ledge of the Patrol on my side, no big deal.
Laughing hysterically, (no, I think we really were a bit hysterical!) we drove back to the group and none of them had seen it happen because we'd been on the far side of the rock. Dang. (more to come....)