Now, I am thinking that as many of you are feeling the chill of midwinter, you may be dreaming, just a little, of coming out to visit us here and getting some sunshine.
So you can get an idea for what you might be in for, (horrendously long flights and jet lag aside,) let me list of some of the things Pat and Colleen got to do while they were guests in our home:
We drove through the desert to the mountains in Masafi so they could buy Persian carpets. They haggled beautifully and got fantastic deals. Thomas secured a tiger-skin pattered rug for himself. We ate in another tiny one-table restaurant. Then we took a slight detour to Umm al Quwain's Barracuda Resort so they could see where we get our alcohol and I could blame them if we got pulled over with the pseudo-contraband in the back. We also found a nicely photogenic herd of camels in the desert, much to our delight, and snapped away.
We went to the beaches several times, the last of which I'm saving for it's own blog entry. Seashells, turquoise waters, and soft white sands, as promised. OK, so it actually rained on this day in the photo, what can you do?
We went out for some grown-up only evenings, including to Apres at the Mall of the Emirates to enjoy cocktails while watching the skiers, and to Souk Madinat for fantastic steaks beneath palm trees, lovely wine, and watching Dhows sail by, the Burj al Arab soaring in bright lights as our view, all beneath a glorious half moon on its back.
We paid the 3 dhs apiece to go into my beloved Safa park, wander on a balmy day, enjoy Malik burgers, and people watch, marveling at all the different sorts of cultures and families in one green space.
Mike photographing Pat and Colleen in Safa Park
We drove through a flood and went to my all-time favorite shopping spree place, Antique Mall, where they showed considerable restraint, and enjoyed Arabic coffee.
There were sunsets, an evening at the Nad al Sheba horse races, sitting around laughing.
Colleen and I donned headscarves and long-sleeved "modest" clothing and I finally got to tour the Jumeirah Mosque to learn about Islam and what it means to be a Muslim. We chased that up with the best lattes in Dubai at Central Perk, and then Pat found a giant bright green caterpillar on our walkway that we made our pet for several days and named "Fatty".
We did an almost drive-by of Atlantis, though I chickened out and didn't drive quite far enough. They'd had enough of my so-called navigating that day anyway.
They heard the soaring call to prayer, checked out the local grocery scene, checked out Bethy's school and Mike's worksite, and even took a day trip to Abu Dhabi to be dazzled by the Emirates Palace.
They saw for themselves the seemingly endless construction, the insane driving styles, the over-the-top cars and architecture, and the warmth of people here towards children.
They got to meet Rani, and Ram, and all approved.
At the end, we wanted them to stay longer...the mark of a truly successful trip.
Lots of photographs, lots of memories. Some blurry, all precious.
At this time I would also like to (very belatedly) thank Colleen for the free use I've made of the photographs she and Pat took on their trip out here for the blog. Thanks Mom!