We were a bit more adventurous today. Left the hotel! I finally found the website of the hotel we are staying in in case anyone wants to check it out. Thankfully this morning we didn’t sleep through the alarm and miss the free breakfast! I think we are still a bit off. Last night we were still exhausted and went to bed at 9:30 and woke up, wide awake at 4:30. It was nice though, we watched the sunrise and skyped with Scott’s family : ) We then enjoyed and long, relaxing breakfast:

Some hummus, dates, and coffee for breakfast (along with veal-bacon, beef sausage, pancakes, eggs, and fruit!!)

Relaxing in another lounge after breakfast

The newspapers are free so Scott and I grabbed one. We saw that amongst the fruit they had dates. Scott I have never had a date and after last night’s raw food adventure I figured I could handle one small date. It was so delicious. If you have never had one it is like candy. It’s kinda like a big raisin but much better – like a gummy. The sweetness of the date paired well with the strong Arabian coffee. While reading the newspaper we came across an Arab proverb: “Write the bad news in the sand and write the good news in marble.” We have seen this several places and I like this philosophy. The bad news will change, will leave but the good news should be remembered forever – set in stone. After breakfast we ventured over to the Marina Mall. This mall was extravagant. It has a bowling alley, ice rink, and three floors of shops, cafes, restaurants, and more. Now hair salons over here are separated by male and female because women cannot show their hair to men they do not know. So male salons (or saloons as they are called) have windows and anyone can just see right in. The female salons have large drapes or fancy decals on the windows so that no one can see in with a big “ladies only” sign on the door. While walking in the mall they broadcast the call to prayer so that it can be heard even while shopping. So far I find the call to prayer quite beautiful. It is a man’s voice who sings a slow song in Arabic. While walking around the mall I really got a sense for how international this city really is. Emirati people only make up 15% of the population and you can tell. In the mall there are people from India, Pakistan, Asia, Turkey, England, Germany, and even more. I hear so many languages all around me. And the few Emirati people are scattered here and there – men in their dishdashas, women in their abayas. Here’s some images of my day:

The mall is all decorated for Ramadan – we see “Ramada Kareem” everywhere which means Happy Ramadan.

Everything is quiet or closed from 4:30am until 7:30pm. After 7:30pm the malls play music again, people are out and about, and all the restaurants are opened. Imsak is when the fasting for the day begins (4:30am) and Iftar is when the fast is broken at night (7:30). This times are a rough estimate because it changed by the minute each day because the sun rises a couple minutes later and sets a couple minutes later each day.

The ice rink in the mall

When we got back from the mall we took advantage of the free gym and worked out for 40 min – then we jumped in the pool!

Tomorrow is our first day of orientation. I cannot wait! We find out what city we will be living in! I cannot wait to start settling into my new life here. Having my own place, getting my teaching materials together, and meeting my future students! Instead of signing off with my usual Masalaama, I’m going to use a new phrase I learned today: diir baalak ‘ala haalak. It means take care and is super fun to say out loud – seriously try it! diir baalak ‘ala haalak!