So, it is Monday. That means it is Tuesday in the UAE work week. You see their weekends are Friday and Saturday. The work week starts Sunday and goes through Thursday. The Holy day is Friday so makes that Sunday and that leaves Saturday to be just that, Saturday.
Yesterday, Sunday, ahh, Monday, whatever, Mary Ann went off to work. I went on a little tourist jog. About 5 miles down to coast of the Arabian (or Persian if you must) Gulf there is a port of sorts. All the vessels are dhows.
The smallest amongst them is the size of the Rip Tide. They are made out of wood from…hell I don’t know where they get the wood. The one in the picture is rather upscale, some look like absolute wrecks afloat. When I went along the wharf I was concerning myself with the trade items. Each dhow carried specific types of goods. One was loading just soft drinks. One was unloading just salt. I asked where the soft drink ship was going. Iran. How long to Iran? 3 hours. The dockworkers were like dockworkers anywhere, rough tough no nonsense guys. When I asked about how long it took to get to Iran I was told I could not go because I was English. OK, no worries mate.
Today I was expected to go get the UAE Foreign Ministry Office to put the final stamp on our marriage certificate. The HR woman at AUS, the same one who told me not to bother doing it in DC because it was easier here, told me where to go. I got there when they opened. The nice man in the white robe looked at me and said “You have to do this in Washington DC”. So, I took a ten $ cab ride to the University. The U is really way out there somewhere. Not near anything. It is a very new campus. They used marble to build most of it and it sort of glows in the sunlight. The architecture is Arabic with a touch of functionality thrown in. I found Mary Ann’s office in the library, but she was in training. So I went to find the HR lady who gave me the misinformation. I have been out of the corporate world too long. I forgot that HR people should never be believed. She was flabbergasted that the Ministry did not just stamp the certificate. I told her that I just want to get it done, my Visa (tourist for now) expires in 26 days and this is step one of about 20 before I have the “cedula” which makes me a resident. She took me to the person who handles visa issues. he is an emirate, and he probably knows who lives under the robes. By the time I left his office, he had assured me, at my insistence, that he could and would take care of this for me. I figured that is the way it should be anyway, so I left all my paperwork with him and said my thank yous and goodbyes.
I found out, again from the HR lady, how to get a cell phone. She told me to go to the equivalent of the Movistar office in a certain mall. She even called me a cab. Well, this mall was in Dubai, which is 180 degrees the other direction from where we are staying. Besides that, this was the lushest, ritziest and biggest mall I have ever seen. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen an entire store in a mall selling nothing but Rolex watches. There was a Ferrari dealer in this mall!
After an hour of walking past things I will never afford, or want even if I could, I finally found the cell phone dealer. OK, Mary Ann told me to swap sim cards out of he Panamanian Digicell phone. It is a standard Samsung phone, and it should have been easy. But guess what? The reason Digicell can sell you a phone for $20 or so, is that they seal the damn things shut so no one can change the sim card. Bloody Bahstads! So I had to buy her a new phone, and I bought myself one as well. I got almost sequential numbers! Kind of cool. Mine ends in 1 hers in 4.
Anyway, I spent almost as much on the cab fares as on the phones. Half the meter on the cabs is waiting time. The traffic here is truly bad. I think the reason is that the Emriates went from poor to rich so fast that they skipped from camels to Mercedes, where most the rest of the developing world discovered the motorcycle. They drive well, much better than in Latin America and rarely use the horn, so all is well. Mary Ann gets a free bus ride to and from Campus, so our transportation costs are just my expeditions. I do not think that buying a car and paying for gas (about US$170 a gallon more or less) would save us any money. Plus it is sort of fun dealing with the drivers from different parts of the world.
Thats it for today, thanks for reading, comments welcome!