Monday, November 14, 2011

Dubai {the update}

Mica and I with our sweet friends, Cait and Joel; 
our new friend Vaughn is behind the camera and sadly, there is no photo of him.
We had a marvelous time with them!

Dear Dad, Mom, Caro, and Nicole,

Hello from the exotic Dubai!
As you know, our flight went well (side note for our knitting readers: you can't take your needles on Emirates---I know, I know), we landed safely, and are flourishing in this marvelous, sandy place. No camels sighted yet, but I'm so excited to tell you about all that we have seen so far. I think we told you most of what is below, via skype, but here you have the photo's. : )
Joel, Cait, and Vaughn graciously showed us around the Marina, a fun hangout in Dubai. The night was filled with good laughs, great conversations, and a beautiful walk. It was such a wonderful night and I'm so grateful for that time.

 One of my favorite sights coming into Dubai was actually the view of Kiev at 4ish am, it was the first time I could see anything past the clouds and it looked so lovely; naturally, all that I did see was areas of dotted city lights and...well, that's about it. : ) I also loved the view flying over Turkey and Iran; the mountains were just beautiful from up top and it prepared us for the sandy terrain of Dubai. You'll notice that I'll continually use "sandy" to describe the surroundings (because aside from the roads and pavements, that's pretty much all there is!) but keep in mind that along with this sand, comes the beach. More on that later. ; )
 One day last week, the mother of a lady from church came and prepared/taught us to make a feast of delicious Lebanese food (can you say baklava?!); Ann spent the entire day cooking, instructing, and sharing bits of her life with us. I furiously took step-by-step notes and still need to organize them---such a wealth of first hand knowledge!
Thankfully, she made enough food for us to freeze, so we'll be enjoying the fruits of her loving labor for a while!

 Our flight was marvelous, the first seven or so hours sped past us while the remaining eight hours were split between sleeping, watching more movies, and being enamored with the wonderful service.
After a quick teeth brushing (just for you, Mom!), we made our way to the N's at last! Like weary traveler's coming home after a long journey, plopped our baggage into our "new rooms" and rested; that evening we had our first "Dubai meal" on the beach with the Burj Al Arab on our left, the Persian/Arabian Gulf before us, smells of our delicious shawarma's around, and the sound of the call to prayer in the air. I think it's the calls to prayer and the abaya's that contribute to the Middle Eastern feel of this diverse city, and it truly is diverse! There are very few Emirati's while the rest of the population could be from any country on the map.
 One night, the Neal's took us, as well as Joel and Cait, to a large market called Global Village that was just amazing. There were both handmade and commercial merchandise in each pavilion and you could buy just about anything for a price, a haggled price at that. Each country seemed well represented and it was so neat to "talk" with some of the people behind the counter; I say, "talk" because most of the workers didn't really speak English very well but it was still interesting to get their story and learn a bit about their lives.

 This one's for you, Mom and Nicole. : )
Imagine about five different Yemeni men, dressed in traditional garb, calling and asking for your attention; ("You make me sad when you don't come to my shop!" "A special price for you, my special friend!" "You like this, you like this? For you, a special price, my friend!"). As Col. Brandon said, "The air is full of spices." The Yemen pavilion was probably one of my favorites, next to the African one; both were so authentic and full of different and interesting things. This is a place where I definitely wish that you guys could have come.
 During our visit to Global Village, we ate our dinner here and it. was. so. delicious.
Shawarma's, hummus, fresh pita's, seasoned meats, and intense chiles filled our plates and tummies; we're really enjoying the different foods we've had here (Including our burger's at Fuddrucker's! ; )

 How can we describe the beach? It's just so fun and relaxing each time we go; I always think of our trip to the beach in Cali and it brings back many fond memories of swimming away from the jellies, climbing around the anemone covered rocks, and taking cat naps in the sun---all of which we've been doing here, except for the jellyfish bit, the most frightening thing I've seen in the ocean is a blue, plastic sack which look alarmingly like a vicious fish. While we wait to welcome the Newest Neal, we are planning on a nice, long day at the beach; soaking up some sand and sun is just the ticket and I'm looking forward to hearing the sounds of the water again.

 All of the N's love the beach as well, they plan on making us surfer's while we're here so there is much work to be done (like, learning how to maneuver a board again!) but there is plenty of time to learn. The past few beach days we've been leaping from rock to rock, exploring each nook and cranny and scaring away what fish happen to be there.

There you have a peek of our first few weeks here; tomorrow is a visit to see the Mona Lisa and our first trip on the metro, and I'll probably take a trip to Choithrams to pick up some things for my special birthday breakfast (Morning Sun's on the menu!). Mica and I love each of you very dearly.

Your loving and adventurous, 



The Armour Family said...

While y'all are there enjoying sunshine and the beach, we poor Northerners are experiencing overcast skies and snow! What a contrast!

Have a very blessed day! :)

To God be the Glory,

If you can get a layover in Minneapolis on your way back, y'all can come and enjoy it with us! :)

Ashlee said...

Hey Elena!

You guys look and sound like you're having a really good time. What fun to have a night in the city with Joel and Cait!

I can't wait to hear more about this special time, especially when baby Neal arrives. ;)


Tamara Haddox said...

Precious!!! What a great adventure. I know each of you (Neals and you ladies) are thoroughly enjoying yourselves! Amy Ellen told me you all were there now, for a good, long visit. Glad to see how greatly you're enjoying it all.

Kyleigh said...

Funny... I've taken knitting needles (bamboo ones) on Emirates before with absolutely no problem whatsoever.

I love the faces those kids make!

Elena said...

Thank you for your sweet comments!

{Hannah} You know, I never thought I would enjoy 80 degree weather in November quite this much, but I am. :) Yes, this sweater weather lover is so thankful to be relaxing by the beach over her birthday, can you believe it?! Oh, I wish we could say a quick hello to you guys (I hear from the Beach's that you make a delicious breakfast!), but I'm afraid that it's a direct flight from Dubai. :(

{Ashlee} I'm so glad to know you saw these photo's! It's so fun for Mica and I to be here and think that you've seen what we're seeing, I can't wait to talk about it with you when we get back!

{Mrs. Haddox} Oh, yes, we're having a truly blessed and marvelous time! I'm so grateful we are able to spend this much time with the Neal's and am encouraged and excited about the work the Lord is doing here.

{Kyleigh} Seriously? Gr...I knew I should have brought them on board, only Mica had read something on their website that said they were prohibited; oh, the agony of all the work I could have been doing!

Don't you just love it? Mica and I find them hilarious. : )

Jacqueline @ said...

Elena, Again, what fun reading and looking a the colorful pictures!! I am so glad you are back, however! I hope you and your dear family are doing well and ready to celebrate the coming of the Christ child to dwell on earth with man. Merry Christmas!! Stay strong in the Lord :)


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