Click your heels together

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

We've been in the UAE for six months now. It's hot here, surprisingly hot. You prepare yourself for "desert conditions" but you don't expect the thick, humid heat that permeates everything. It is a stark contrast to the air conditioned interiors you find everywhere at this time of year. There are sandstorms, whirling sand dervishes that follow you as you walk, flying into your legs and stinging, then dissipating as quickly as they appeared. There are dust clouds that hang in the air, waiting for a wind to send them back to the dunes. 

It's nearly the end of Ramadan now, and the entire city has been transformed into a lavish scene from Arabian nights. There are lanterns lit everywhere, moon and star decorations adorn every doorway, every ceiling. Jewel-coloured drapes cover up public areas, newly-appointed seating areas in malls and souks popping up everywhere to celebrate the giving season. In England, this would be akin to a month-long Christmas celebration. Feasts are celebrated every night, with abundance and brightly-coloured spices. 

We don't spend much time outdoors, even driving the short distance to school to avoid walking in the midday heat and getting serious sunburn. Evenings are best spent on the beach, where the cool breeze wafts off the water and you can dip your toes to adjust the temperature. It's also when the mosquitoes and gnats come out, not minding the temperature drop to a balmy 35'C. 

Our beach, mangrove forest, city skyline.
They've just announced that next week will be (mostly) time off work for everyone here to celebrate Eid. There will be a mass exodus as families flock home for the short break, and the city will be still. We aren't going home this time, so we'll explore the city some more. We're overdue a trip to the Louvre, to the aquarium, to the herbal souk. 

I've made the most of my time here. I've been working on improving processes for work back home, liaising with the team every day and catching up on the daily routines. I'm so far, but still so much a part of what's happening there. It's very reassuring to have a sense of place when so displaced. 

I've also been studying, my nose buried in books at any opportunity. I have been doing an herbalism correspondence course which has been incredible, my appreciation and understanding of the land growing. I have gathered books on the subject, and adjoining subjects, and have thoroughly enjoyed going back to my research roots at a desk covered in notes, journals, articles, sources. I've also signed up to an advanced reflexology diploma which starts after the summer. Nothing like a deadline to stay motivated.

The children adore living between countries, they're such seasoned little travellers. We celebrated Finnlay's third birthday last week with an over-the-top city adventure that took us all over Abu Dhabi to do all of his favourite things. It included dressing up like a construction worker and digging in a themed playground, lunch behind Ramadan curtains, a milkshake the size of a watermelon (almost). 

We have decided that I will be heading back to the UK with the children to escape the soaring heat of the Arabian Sun, scheduled to work and work and work in between trips to the seaside, the forest, the RHS gardens. I can't wait to catch up with my appointed family there, to swap stories and share food. It's amazing to be here now, but there's something to be said about home. Home is where you make it, of course, but there seems to be a strong pull to the garden, to the space and history of our particular place. I'll be travelling back alone with the children - send me strength!

I keep meaning to share more here, to show you our adventures, to tell you our stories. It seems that time has a way of disappearing so quickly that you blink and suddenly another month has passed. That happens, and happens, and happens - and suddenly there's a pressure you didn't notice before. How do you account for the passed time? The lack. An apology of course - I'm sorry, but I'm not absent. I think I've worked through the most difficult of feelings, worries, and concerns that come with uprooting. It was more difficult than I expected, and brought up all sorts of questions that I didn't have answers to. I still don't have them, but I'm happier with that new equilibrium, which makes it easier to just be.

I hope to be back sooner next time. Until then.

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