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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 52, Monday - Al Ain

Today when I went to breakfast, there was almost no one there. I sat down and a girl came over and asked if she could sit with me since it was so empty. I said of course and asked her where everyone was. She said that most of the girls had gone to class already, which meant we were eating late. It was around 9am or so.

The campus where I am staying
I decided that I needed to get into town today because I needed to change over my currency from Omani riyals to Emirati dirhams and I wanted to buy a local phone. I tried to Google map my location to see which direction I should go to get to town. When I tried to ask for walking directions, it wouldn’t give me that option.

Now I know why.

First of all, it had mapped my location wrong; fortunately, I miraculously found my way to a street which told me the direction of the town center. What it did not tell me was how far away it was. Guess how far I walked? Come on, guess. I walked for about two and a half hours, which means it was at least eight miles, and the temperature, while cooler, was still in the 90’s I think. Another miracle was when clouds appeared and shaded me a bit from the sun around noon. Yes, I did get sunburnt again.

I thought about going back, but that wasn’t really an option because I would just have had to do the same thing over again the next day. I wasn’t sure who would accept my Omani riyals, like taxis, and even if they did accept them, the exchange rate would be really bad. Not to mention, I’m just not a quitter.

Anyways, I eventually made it into town. I walked into the first bank I saw and asked where I could change money. They were all really nice and I had about five people try to tell me where to go, only problem being that I didn’t know the places they were referencing. I headed out and decided to at least walk in the direction they had indicated when I saw a mobile phone store across the street.

I went in and not only did I buy a phone, but the guy exchanged my currency as well. After that, I was done, so I caught a taxi back to the university. Turned out to be a bit of an experience trying to explain where I wanted to go but the driver was so nice that he gave me some tips on how to explain the location to future taxis.

View from my dorm room

Back at the university, I had planned to have lunch and take a nap, but then I got some evening plans.

A friend of my parents had come to Al Ain with her sister because 50 years ago their parents founded a hospital in Al-Ain and there is a big celebration for the anniversary. My father found out, almost by chance, that Nancy was going to be in Al Ain at the same time I was (and now am), so he connected us hoping that we could meet up. We have been in touch and when I got back to my room, I discovered an email from her inviting me to a reception at the hospital.

If you would like to read about the hospital, Oasis Hospital, and how it was started there is a great article here:

So, I went to the reception and met Nancy and her sister, Kathleen, and some other friends of theirs. Dr. Larry and Marilyn Liddle came with Nancy and Kathleen from the States, and then there were their other friends who live in Al Ain, Martha and her husband, whose name is David I believe.

At the reception, I spent a great deal of time talking with a very nice woman who has recently started a magazine for the area called Living Oasis. We had a great conversation about culture and traveling and writing. She is originally from Taiwan and her husband is Swedish and they lived in the US and England for some time but now they live in Al Ain.

When Nancy and Martha found out that I had taken a taxi to the reception, they insisted on taking me back, but not before we all ate shwarmas for dinner. They were all so friendly and it was really nice to be with them. Nancy and I will try to reconnect tomorrow, so we will see what happens.

1 comment:

  1. a very nice article about the hospital. Lots of news and a nice time line.