It was officially 115 degrees in Abu Dhabi yesterday when we arrived. The sun was shining hard and a blanket of heat wrapped itself around us as soon as we walked outside. And due to the current humidity, dust particles hang in mid-air, creating a haze as you look off into the distance.
I’m not sure what I expected when we landed in Abu Dhabi. Maybe I thought I’d see men on camels riding through the desert. Maybe I thought I’d see amusement park after amusement park, or sky scrapers in the shapes of inanimate objects. I admit that I didn’t do much research before coming, and luckily had one friend, Clara, who warned me about showing shoulders and PDAs (to avoid getting myself in trouble), but I find it, strangely, beautiful here.
The UAE is a startup region of countries if I’ve ever seen one. Construction abounds between miles of open sand and beach. And traditional culture meets extreme commercialism. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
But as Andrew and I were walking to one of Abu Dhabi’s many malls yesterday, cursing the heat, we looked up the weather in Nepal, and saw rain every day for the next 14 days. That provided nice perspective. We decided to embrace the warm weather, the sun. We may not see it again for a while!
And we were also blessed to be embraced by two new friends here. We met Beth at the US Embassy when we were getting the legal documents for our wedding in Italy. Her passport had been lost, and she was getting a replacement when we met her in line. She is a lawyer helping companies to patriate in the UAE, and was a total Bad Girl. We instantly hit it off, and she said, “Hey! If you find yourself in Dubai or Abu Dhabi on your world travels, you should stay with me and my husband!”
What Beth didn’t know is that Andrew and I made a pact at the beginning of this trip that we would say “Yes” to every opportunity, every invitation. So, we booked our ticket and emailed her, and a few weeks later, she picked us up at the airport!
I’m sure her husband, Gordon, whom we had never met, may have thought she was crazy – inviting two total strangers to stay in their home for several days. But if he did, he never showed it. Gordon is a retired Airforce pilot, now contracting with the UAE to train their pilots on how to fly US planes, and is a ball of fire.
Over the course of one afternoon/evening, we learned all about our new friends, the story of how they met, and their views on living abroad. And their Great Dane, Sherman, is quite the gentlemen.
We have been overwhelmed by their hospitality. They filled their refrigerator for us, picked us up from the airport, came to dinner with us, entertained us with wine and great conversation, and embraced us in every way we know. We feel so very blessed to add these two fine souls to our cadre of buddies from around the world, and look forward to welcoming them in our home sometime soon.
Thank you, Universe, for this beautiful respite!