Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle...

Blue Mosque minaret detail, Istanbul

For a while there, it was uncertain as to where we were going next with spousal unit Mike's work. As you know, we ended up back in our old house in Seattle. Which is a good thing. However, it was kind of fun to look, and look back at the options.

Ooh! There was a job in Turkey! We liked Turkey. Turkey is good!

No, the schools were too far from the jobsite. We'd only see Mike on weekends. Jordan, same story. There are a lot of things we are willing to do, but so far, having Mike miss more of the kids growing up is not one of them.

Petra, Jordan

Madagascar, was the next big job, and several of our friends went. We said erm, no. Staggering poverty and it...just...isn't an ideal place to take kids. New Zealand, oh yeah! Now we're talking.

But we weren't. The job didn't appeal to Mike.

He's so selfish sometimes. (OK, so he's not, but I think I deserve some sort of award for not giving him more of a hard time about it.) Ironically, his boss here ended up going, and asking Mike for expat advice. Go figure.

The job in Trinidad wasn't starting soon enough to work for us. Aw, man, the Caribbean! Shoot.

Calgary, Alberta looked like a real option, enough so that I was asking around and picking the brains of past visitors and residents of the prairie city, and had tracked down the Calgary Road Runners, but the company who was courting Mike took too long and we ended up turning them down. Too bad. I like Canadians. Of course, we probably would have been freezing for the first six months or so.

All this gave our relatives in Seattle whiplash trying to keep up with where we might end up. I think it was as much of a relief to them as it was to us when we decided.

So, we came home to Seattle after all. And in Seattle Mike went to work on a job in...Lima, Peru. Which is where he is now, actually. Don't worry, it's just a business trip, he'll be back. And don't worry, I'll get to go with him one of these times. As far as I know, and as far as we intend, we're not moving there.

Moving away from the land of conjecture, we traded in the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world for another landscape icon, the Space Needle, less than a quarter of the Burj Khalifa's height, but darned quirky.

And we traded our wall-climbing geckos and garden tortoise for this guy :

an overly affectionate Chocolate Lab named Buck

though we didn't entirely escape geckos. Nor would we want to. Thomas has an Albino Leopard Gecko, happy in her sandy cage in his room. Fair enough, since the dog went to Bethy.

We also traded that land of heat and desert and exotic exploration

for Alpine lakes and evergreen trees:

hiking in the Cascade Mountains

leaving behind the stunning oranges of the desert for greens and blues, our mountains, our tall, magnificent trees. We did miss the oranges, though, which made the pumpkin fields of autumn even more special.

It's funny, I never thought I would love anyplace as much as the Pacific Northwest, would never think that anyplace was as beautiful, call anyplace else home, but Dubai and the UAE will always have a special place in my heart, a place that aches sometimes. My senses miss the spices, the scents, especially of sand and heat, the sharp tang of incense, the accents and languages, and my heart misses the people.

There's no place like home, but what happens when you realise that more than one place can be home?

Thomas, especially, misses Dubai, and asks to go back on a fairly regular basis, no matter how many times I tell him buddy, it's too far. He has no concept of such things. After all, he flew there and back several times, what's one more airplane ride to him?

When folks here ask if there was anything he didn't like about living in Dubai, it's not the staggering heat Thomas remembers. No, he says he didn't like moving away. It was his world and home from ages 2 to 4 years old, and that left its mark on him.

We all love being home here in the Pacific Northwest, but the siren call of travel still echoes...


Ghost said...

Glad u're settling well back home Natalie. I've been meaning to ask you if you intend to change the name of your blog. "there's sand in my latte" Seattle just doesn't sound right.

Natalie said...

Hey Ghost. Thanks for the good wishes. Well my friend, we're coming to the end of the road for this blog. I have loved sharing the beauty and absurdity, and am thinking (though intimidated by the thought) of writing a book, not because I think that I'm terribly knowledgeable or even a great writer, but because I think it's about damned time someone wrote a positive book about Dubai and the UAE, introducing them, in particular, to Americans. No one else seems to be doing it, and I really think it should be done! Besides, what more fun than to tell stories on myself, anyway? Our life here, while pleasant, is simply not as exotic or, frankly interesting, as in the Middle East.

Hmm. Maybe we should move to Singapore...? :)

AKBrady said...

Yeah, it's funny. Our youngest asks all the time to go back to South Carolina, where he was born, even though he doesn't remember much but moving away....
You can self publish easily, and I think you should. Would be cool treasure for friends and family. Ahem.

Kanchan said...

I think the book is a great idea. My brother-in-law visited us from San Jose last year and thought that I'd have to be in a burkha (hijab)whenever I stepped out of home in Dubai! That's the perception he had of this place.
BTW envy you the temperate climate of Seattle. I parked my car at Safa Park and the short walk to office was the longest and hottest one ever...and it's only March!

Natalie said...

Ooh, that burka thing is exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks for the encouragement on the book. IT scares me to even think of it, but golly, I have all these stories and a real passion for telling them. I don't envy you the heating up goin' on, stay cool! :)

Carol said...

Natalie, I would be sad to see you not continue with this blog in some form. I love travel, talking about travel, and reading about other people's travels, and I've been following your writings for a while now. You have a way with words... please keep on writing. And your photos are always gorgeous.

paris parfait said...

This is the problem - once we live abroad, no place ever really feels like home and we always miss the places we've been. So I have learned to carry home in my heart and adapt like a chameleon to my surroundings. Of course it isn't easy. But Seattle is a gorgeous place and you'll still be traveling...a trip to Peru sounds intriguing. Have always wanted to go there. I'm hoping for a trip to Cuba too. And yes, you definitely should write about your adventures! x

paris parfait said...

P.S. Love the pics, the dog and the pumpkins!

*Paula* said...

YES! YES! Please write a book. You SHOULD! Yes! Please! I love reading your travel stories.

I understand the "home" issue - it's just plain confusing now when I talk about home: is it here in the US? Ireland, where I grew up? Seattle looks beautiful though, I've never been. Someday I will though. I'll definitely look you up. Except if you're off exploring somewhere else.

Cindy Napier said...

We're glad to have you back, but I will miss the blog as well-- I always looked forward to a new entry!

If you write the book, you HAVE to include your beautiful pictures! I've always been drawn to photography and have loved your pictures!

See you soon!


Carol P said...

Natalie...YES, YES, YES...write the book! You already have many chapters done. The blog has been so entertaining and full of information. I've loved reading every word and seeing each photo. Let us know when you have published!

Andras said...

You should definitely write a book about it. When I went from Snohomish to Dubai in 2008, people were asking if we'd have an armed guard, and how secure the compound was that we'd be living in. Took a bit of explaining, but eventually I got a few people straightened out.

Unfortunately I was only there from September to December of 08, due to the project we were there to work on basically shutting down. I was looking forward to the travel and adventure of living there for a few years.

Welcome back.

Cathy O. said...

Considering the blog is what led us to be friends, I am so grateful that I found it!!! Your sensitivity to and appreciation of the people and places around you are relayed exquisitely through your words and photos. A book would be a delight! Can I be a proofreader? ;-)

Nathalie said...

I loved reading your post as much as I enjoyed reading the comments this time! I agree with everybody else, you have a talent for writing about the humanity of distant places. Keep doing it! I wish you the best in whatever form you choose to do it!

Nathalie said...

Natalie.... I have been looking for a way to email you after reading your comment on my post today.... but can't find another way to reach you other than here!
Sorry this might be long!
Your comment:
a/ totally made my day because you're the only one who "you broke the scrapbooking code"!
b/ was so right on in pointing what was wrong with my page that I couldn't see myself (I don't think CZ would have done better!)
and c/ made me feel like you really understood me... we must have similar personality traits (in addition to our common name)... I have also ripped pages apart months or years after making them because I had never loved them!
Just wanted to say; Thank you!

Natalie said...

Erin, Carol, Tara, Paula, Cindy, Carol P, Andreas (man, only getting to stay 3 months in the UAE? That bites!), and Cathy, thank you so, so much for your encouragement. I appreciate it more than I can say. Hugs to all of you for sticking with me through this crazy adventure and keeping me connected to home, wherever it might be.You're wonderful. Cathy, watch out babe, I just might take you up on that offer!! :)
Nathalie, ditto to you, and per your blog, you've stunned me. You're very, very welcome.

Friendly Neighborhood Librarian said...

Ditto to the book encouragement - you have a real gift!
And I think there are some of us who can find home wherever we are and carry it with us forever. From one state or country to another.
It leads to having a greater sense of belonging to the world as opposed to our little corner of it.

Gar said...

You might have a whole host of secret admirers. Not sure if this is your last entry on this particular blog, but in case it is...

You can thank Ghost for sending me your way.

My blogging mentor (Durango) is a transplant from Pacific Northwest to Dallas, TX. Not quite as dramatic or exotic, but still oddly coincidental. They must have good writing skills up that there way.

I quietly enjoyed your stories without commenting. You visited France just a few weeks after I did and it was interesting reading your take on some of the same places I visited.

It also helps that you are a fellow Aquarius :).

Anyway, you might leave a note here before you go onto something else. It'll be interesting to see where your talent takes you!

Natalie said...

Gerry, you're the best. Gar, hello and thank you! (You too, Ghost!) This wasn't intended to be the last post, but it's starting to look that way, isn't it? I have two more I was planning to post, one, a kind of humorous look at trying to reinsert oneself back into USA culture, and, for the last, a tiny last story about Dubai.

Mumsey said...

Since you've gathered readers from around the world how about writing some about the Northwest? Seattle and Pacific Northwest are not all that well known. I have friends who wonder how we stand the rain as much as people wonder how Emirates stand the heat. Seattle's culture and manner is so diverse even Americans need a field guide. (Rumor has it that one New Yorker just had to leave. We were so polite she couldn't stand it.) Anyone else think it's a good idea? If not it has been a wonderful journey. Yes do the book.

Will & Cheyenne said...

What??? You are going to stop the blog? You can't! Start a new one if you must but the journey of your children has JUST begun!!

You would right an incredible book.