Could you not push me down the sand dune?

Trip Start Nov 13, 2007
Trip End Nov 24, 2007

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Flag of United Arab Emirates  ,
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I decided to give you guys a little reprieve from my blog.  Apparently one of the entries came to you guys a couple of times.  Truly accept my apologies for that.  The server here is pretty slow, so I never know if it has done what I've asked.  Any case, back to the show... 

Today was WONDERFUL!  I didn't really do much during the morning hours, just chit-chat with my step mom and have breakfast.  Didn't even go for my run.  It's been really foggy in the mornings and it doesn't seem to burn off till after 10.  It's even delayed a few flights - it's so thick.  I believe I put a photo in the next entry to show you.

Around 2:30 my Dad picked me up to take me to the Millennium Hotel.  That is where I was to meet my group for a desert safari day.  He dropped me off, parked the car and then came in to wait with me.  Dad is pretty protective and wanted to make sure the folks I was going with were safe since I was going alone. 

There was a couple waiting across the way that I thought might be on my safari trip, but wasn't for definite till the tour guide came in and we all gathered at the entrance of the hotel.  Turns out that they were just friends that work together for the airline Etihad.  The girl, Bomi, was from Korea and he was from Singapore.  Also along for the ride was a man, his wife and son.  They too were from Singapore and worked with Bomi and the good looking guy from Singapore.

Dad walked us to the Landcruiser outside, kissed me goodbye and we all buckle up for a day of what we had no idea.  Our driver, Ibrahim, is from South India.  He's lived in Abu Dhabi for over 10 years and speaks 5 languages (Urdu, Hindi, English, Arabic and and another one starting with a T).  Very impressive in my book, especially when I'm struggling to have 2 languages under my belt.  

I introduced myself to the entire car in Heather fashion.  It was quite in the car, so I had to start a conversation!  I would be spending the next 6 hours with these folks for goodness sake!  I told them my name, that I had come alone and that I planned to go photo happy on our trip.  Everyone laughed.  Thankfully they all spoke wonderful English. 

Our first stop was at a camel farm, just about 50 minutes from the city.  I guess it doesn't take too long to get out into the desert from the city.  I would say there were about 40-50 camels there, ranging from all sizes.  My favorite two were the couple (you can see them in my photos).  I went up to two camels to pet them and they both kissed me on the lips.  It was too cute!  The camel farmer was trying to get them to go into a pin and one of the camels kicked him in the belly and stampeded over my friend.  She didn't get stepped on, but she was pushed down into the dirt.  Those things can get up to a pretty fast speed and quickly!

Next on the agenda was the 4-wheeling on the sand dunes with the Landcruiser.  Did I tell you that I was in the front seat next to the driver?!  I thought I was going to have a heart attack the first time he sped up a sand dune and then went down it on the side of the cruiser.  We were upright, but slid down the dune sideways.  I tried to take video, but it really doesn't give you an idea of how tall the dunes were or how fast we were going.  We did this for about 30-45 minutes.  I can't tell you how many times I prayed to the good Lord above (smile)!  We were the lead car, so you can see a few photos of the other cars behind us, copying what we had just done.  One of the cars got stuck coming down a dune, so we had to help them get out by fashioning a belt and pulling them out.  Someone in that same car ended up getting sick from the ride.  I'm glad I wasn't in that car!  Ibrahim did a great job and really showed us a great time. 

Oh, the reason for the title of my entry...  Our first stop on top of a sand dune, Ibrahim said he'd take a picture of me on the dune.  I was delighted and handed him my camera.  Thought to myself, "this will be a great picture with all the dunes in the background".  Nope, he had another idea in mind.  Once I handed him the camera, he in turn pushed me down the sand dune.  I was behooved.  He didn't tell me he was going to do it, he just did it.  I was stunned beyond words!  I tumbled down the dune and actually lost one of my sandals on the way down in the sand.  It took me a good 5-10 minutes to find it!  Unbelievable.  I know he was just playing around with me, but that was, to say the very least, unexpected!

After the sand dunes we pulled up to a little area that had many activities.  We went camel back riding, sand dune skiing, tasted Arabic coffee and tea, tried on traditional Arabic clothes and got henna tattoos.  I got henna tattoos on the back of my neck and upper bicep.  It amazes me how fast and how pretty these women can do a tattoo! 

For dinner we sat at floor tables, with pillow cushions.  Dinner included all things Arabic, including belly dancing.  ;o)  Most of my table got up to dance with the belly dancers. 

Once dinner was over, they took us over to a small area where they had set-up about 10 hooka's.  We ended up smoking hooka.  Hooka is similar to cigar smoking in that you do not inhale.  The smoke tends to have a flavor, which mine tasted a ting bit like cherry.  By this time, everyone in my car seemed to have bonded.  We were taking pictures, telling jokes and sharing life stories.  At one point, they turned out every light in the the tiny village and we laid back to look out at the stars in the desert.  What an experience today has been.  I would do it all over again, but add on the portion that has you sleeping in a tent in the desert.  Maybe next time...

It was a long, active day, so everyone seemed to fall off once we were in the car heading home.  Ibrahim dropped the family off, Bomi and then headed back toward my Dad's house.  We all exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.  Hopefully we'll stay in touch and get out for a drink this week or in the future.  Apparently they fly to NYC a couple times a month. 

Today was truly special.  I made friends from around the world and experienced something like never before.  One for the books...  

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