Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back to life...

Today is a sad day. I just left mom and dad at the airport. Not too many tears there, but the drive home was pretty rough. We had such a great time and I am really going to miss them. This trip really felt like I was hanging out with two friends (who happened to be my parents). It was great. We went to Paris and saw just about everything that the city has to offer. We walked so much that I didn't feel bad for endulging in all of the cheese and wine!! Then we came to Dubai. They got to meet all of my friends and live my life for a week. That was a blast! I now have a coffee maker too (thanks dad!). They even cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my friends. Some of them went for thirds and fourths! The best part...I have leftovers!!! Anyway, it is getting late here and I have to work tomorrow. Good night.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If you build it...

...I am watching Field of Dreams. No real meaning behind the title but one of the best movies ever made!!!

Just writing to say "hi!"

So this weekend is my first triathlon. I am actually really anxious about it (Darin says that is a better way to say "nervous"). Last weekend we did a practice run at the course so I know that I can complete it. I keep telling myself that I am not out to break any records and that this is just to set a baseline for myself. I will then really start training and try to beat my previous race times. Another funny thing about triathlons is that you wear a "triathlon suit". For those that are not aware, a triathlon suit is a skin tight, one piece suit with a butt pad. Sounds attractive, huh? It makes me feel like a penguin! All part of the fun. Hopefully I will have some pictures after the event. Wish me luck!

Also, thanks to a new friend who has started reading my blog, I feel obliged to make a correction to a previous post. ;-) Apparently, there were over 10,000 people at the Lenny Kravitz concert. Thank you Elif!

I hope that you are doing well. Talk to you / see you soon! I come home on the 17th of December and will be staying until the 26th. Can't wait!!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Christmas Plans and South Africa

Hi!!! I hope that everyone is doing well.

First of all, I have finalized my plans for Christmas. I will be flying into Chicago on the 17th of December and staying for a few days. I will then go back to Sherman to spend Christmas with the family! I am really excited because everyone is going to be there! I will be a great time. I then leave for chicago again on the 26th and fly to Paris for New Year's on the 27th. I can't wait to see everyone! Let me know your plans and we will get together for dinner or a drink.

South Africa...AMAZING!!!

I will put a few pictures here for you to see. I have also posted more pictures on Facebook.

It was an amazing trip and we learned a lot about the culture. We ate worms!

Also went shark cage diving and bungee jumping at the world's tallest bungee! Holy crap, that was amazing!

We were also exposed to some of the more "raw" South Africa. We went to a town that felt like it was right out of a Western movie and hung out with some South African "hicks". Many of them had lived through apartheid and were very willing to tell us all about it. Very interesting stories. I will tell you about them when we go for that drink! We also did lots of hiking and a bit of caving. That was fun.

In other news, I am training for a triathlon at the end of November. That means that I have to do something that I haven't done in over 18! I am struggling a bit with that part, but I will get it. No worries. It has been fun to train.

Type to you soon!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

It's about time!!!

First and foremost, I apologize for not updating sooner. I can't belive that it has been so long. A lot has happened since I last wrote. I have been diving off the coast of Oman, saw a Lenny Kravitz concert in the most beautiful concert venue in the world, spent a couple of days in the Turkish countryside, and...led the pack in the bike club (see the last post)!! Good times.

Let's see...

A few weeks ago, some friends and I decided to take a dive trip off of the coast of Oman. It is amazing. The landscape changes from sandy desert to rocky mountains in a matter of a 90 minute drive. Crazy.

The diving was really great and the water clarity was very nice. The water temperature was actually quite cool and we had to wear wetsuits.

We saw all sorts of fish and wildlife. It was really nice.

I have spent the last two weeks in Turkey. I was there for work, but was able to go to a Lenny Kravitz concert. It was awesome. It was a pretty small venue with only about 2,500 screaming people. The concert took place right on the Bosphorus and the view was breathtaking. The pictures aren't great because they are from my blackberry. Sorry.

I was there for a week of work, then spent some time in "the village" with some friends. This part of Turkey is not like Istanbul at all. It was lush countyside and everywhere I looked there were sunflowers. It was really nice.

Oh, and no one spoke a word of English. It was very relaxing. We barbequed and at great Turkish food, hung out with old men and played backgammon. In Turkish villages, they customarily have a place where all of the men sit and drink tea (chai) and coffee (mostly tea) and play card games or read the paper while talking about gossip and the local news (I think). It was really great. My friend Shaun and I went and drank tea and played backgammon. Good times.

The house in which we were staying did not have air conditioning so we kept the windows open at night. For those of you who know me, you know that isn't a big deal. I can sleep just about anywhere and don't mind the fresh air...unless there is a rooster involved!!!!!! I managed to pick up a new nemisis while I was there. Not cool. At 5:30 every morning, my good friend would do his thing. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it is a biological thing and he couldn't help it, but this was no ordinary "good morning" cock-a-doodle-do. This was a "I am being strangled by the neighbor's dog and am screaming for help" cock-a-doodle-do.

When we first got to the village on Friday, we sat down outside to have dinner. We sat down for soup, beans, and rice with chicken. As we got to the rice, Devrim (my friends 3.5 year old son asked a simple question. "Mom, what happened to the rooster that was being mean and chasing me around last weekend?" His grandmother, who doesn't speak English, said (in Turkish) "You got the last laugh!" As he raised a piece of chicken to his mouth! It was really funny!!! The food was obviously fresh and homemade. It was wonderful! This is a picture of me and Devrim.

After the weekend in the village, we made the journey back to Istanbul for another week of work. I am now back in Dubai and have TONS of laundry to do!! More soon!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Braveheart and Clipping Shears

So here I am, sitting on my couch eating mango and Nutella (you guess which one I am enjoying more!). Delicious! I just got done with a 40km bike ride that proved to be the most interesting ride I have had since I have been here by far. Check it out...

...The route that I ride is sits among three roundabouts that make up a 10.2 km loop. The roundabouts are lush with gardens in the center and palm trees surrounding them. The straightaways are fairly flat and populated with palm trees that are holding on to their last breath of spring before the heat overwhelms them. All of this vegitation is here because this road leads to one of the palaces of Sheikh Mohammad. What does this mean for me and other cyclists in Dubai? Road to palace = beautiful landscaping + very few cars = perfect bike path!

As I clipped into my pedals tonight, I felt my legs flex and shake as if to ask me what the hell I was thinking after the 80 km that we did yesterday. It was supposed to be an easy ride just to keep the soreness down and keep my legs we go... about kilometer 20, I was just starting to get into a really nice rhythm and feel good about the ride. As I approached the third roundabout, I quickly glanced ahead, to see another bicycle stopped at 12 o'clock on the roundabout. My new rival, having seen me approaching, has started going again and has just now passed the crest of the hill on which the third roundabout sits. Not knowing anything about this mystery rider, I decided to tuck into my drops and kick it up a notch to see what I was up against. I decided not to go all the way around the loop and headed off onto the straightaway to keep the contest fair.

As I got out of the roundabout, I heard the sound of metal striking metal. The clinking was getting closer and closer...I pedalled harder and harder. Clink! Clink! Clink!

All of a sudden, I look over to see not one person, but two! On the same bike! Carrying clipping shears! My new "rivals" were two garden keepers from Pakistan or India and were not rivals at all! One of them was pedalling while the other was sitting on the rack on the back. Their trusty steed was a heavy, steel bicycle that looked like it had come directly from the set of a WWII movie. The clinking that I heard was the old, rusty chain rubbing against the chain guard. They pulled up along side of me, puffed up their chests with pride, sat up on the bike to show a facade of complete composure, smiled from ear to ear and said with only one breath left in their lungs and gasping for air..., "Hello!"

I sat up to match their pose and replied back after a deep breath, "Hello." All three of us inherently knew that verbal communication beyond our greeting was not an option so we smiled at each other as to establish some type of relationship.

I realized that we were just starting to ascend a hill that leads to the royal majlis (look it up) and these men were part of the grounds crew that tend to the gardens and land. These men do not ride their bike for fun, but as a means of transportation. They ride everyday, nice weather and blistering heat. Our little exchange was a fun game for them. I was all done up in my bike shorts, jersey and helmet. They were dressed in their dishdash and on the way to work. I instantly smiled when I realized that I would be the loser in our little race when it was told from their perspective. They certainly derserved to win tonight.

As soon as we established our relationship and as we started to climb the hill, they fell behind. I turned back to them and motioned to come in behind me so that I could "pull" ("pulling" in cycling is when one cyclist blocks the wind for another, allowing the second rider to exert less energy yet travel at the same speed) them up the hill. The "driver" understood why I was motioning and came in right behind me like a professional in the Tour de France. We ascended the hill and as we made it to the gates, we both knew that it was time to part ways. As we smiled back at each other and waved they continued on inside the gates while I turned around and headed back down the hill for my cool down. What a cool experience! As I was going back down the hill, I could not help but to laugh out loud. Only in Dubai...only on a bicycle.

As I was down shifting to start my cool down, I heard a peculiar noise behind me. It was a kind of "whirring" noise like a big 4x4 coming down the road with muddin' tires. I looked back to the sight of 15 headlights screaming towards me in a single line! It was the "Dubai Roadsters" on their Sunday night ride! These are the guys and gals that really take cycling seriously. The leader's name is Wolfie (as in Wolfie's Bike Shop where I bought my bike) and his group is made up of both professional cyclists and really good ammatures. As they passed, the sound of racing tires on the pavement, heavy breathing and shifting gears filled the air...

...The last rider in the group was a bigger guy in a blue jersey who gave me a glance as he passed. As he looked, I wondered how I could handle the group ride. "Could I keep up?" "How fast are they going?" "What is it like to ride in a group?"

Just fleeting thoughts, back to my cool down...

"Wait a minute, what am I thinking?! Let's do this!" I geared back up, stood up on my pedals and started a dead sprint. At this point, my legs were just about to give up. The group was about 100 meters ahead and approaching the second roundabout. I knew that I had to catch them before the roundabout because I would have to wait for a car that was quickly approaching. With everything in me, I sprinted my heart out to catch up. I saw the blue jersey getting closer and closer.

"I am going to do this," I thought.

Just then, as I closed in to about 6 inches from the tire in front of got easier.

"Wait a minute. Why is this easier?" "Am I still pedaling?"

Cue "pulling" that I described earlier. It was amazing! I was in a line of cyclists 15 deep that was going 45 km/hour. All the while, the bike in front of me was now 3 inches away! Holy crap! Because I was in the back of the group, I had an amazing view of the entire line as we approached and attacked turns and corners. It was like the movie "Braveheart" when Mel Gibson is screaming, "As one!...Hold!...As one!" We snaked around the roundabouts, one right after another. It was like watching a continuous set of dominoes. One of the coolest things I have ever seen.

I was able to keep up for about 10 minutes before my legs absolutely quit on me. As I cooled down (for real this time), I watched the 15 flashing tail lights disappear into the night with awe.

I wonder how it feels to lead the group...maybe next time...

Check out the videos of my apartment below...

Friday, June 13, 2008

My crib!

I have had quite a few requests to put up pictures of my new apartment. Striving for the next best thing, I thought it would be better to give you a tour! Here are two links (you will be redirected to YouTube). You may have to copy and paste the address into your browser. One is of my apartment, the other is of the pool. I hope that you enjoy them!

My crib...

My pool...

Also, Darin and Rawan came to visit a couple of weeks ago. Here are some pictures. There are more pictures of their visit, sand duning and Istanbul on Facebook. Check them out! And yes, I was belly dancing!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I have Skype!!! So should you!

So one way to keep in touch is though a program called Skype. It is free to download and free to talk computer to computer. I was not sure if I could get it or not (due to the regulated internet in Dubai), but I can and I did. I also have a webcam so you should buy a webcam and download Skype so we can talk for free! Really, check it out and let me know when you get it!

I have more pictures of dune bashing that I will post soon. Great times! Thinking about you!