Exploring the Emirates and finding a new normal

Ramadan is over and with it comes the Eid Celebration – the breaking of the month long fast. As Eid marked a week-long holiday we decided to take a night away and explore another part of the UAE. Although we did not partake in the Ramadan fasting, it does affect everyone nonetheless, and the idea of sitting in a cafe having a coffee in broad daylight made us giddy like small children. So we packed up the car and drove east towards Oman to a place called Al Ain, which is part of Abu Dhabi.

For as “new” as the the sky scrapers and homes in Abu Dhabi are, Al Ain has a great deal of history. It is the birthplace of H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan, the UAE’s first President. The city is an oasis and we were surrounded by green – green grass and trees all over and most due to natural springs in the area.

It was the perfect break, and along the way we were able to see some of the local markets.

While some of the people working that afternoon seemed to take a nonchalant approach to the whole event

Others took a bit more of a proactive approach

Unfortunately, a severe sandstorm cut our afternoon trip short, and we rushed back to the hotel to try and beat the grains of sand that raced after us.

The following day we, along with hundreds of other people, decided to go to the top of Jebel Hafeet, a mountain in Al Ain. We were greeted by a group of Pakistani men dancing together to the beat of drum celebrating the Eid holiday. The men crowded together and twirled around and around making us all dizzy and mesmerized at the same time. Most people watched the dancing between trips to the top of the mountain with their prayer blankets and bottles of water.  While we were all kitted out in hiking attire (shoes etc) these men wore their traditional clothing and were considerably more agile on the sliding sand and rocks as they dashed up and down the winding paths. It made me fell a bit ridiculous in my $100+ shoes for this exact kind of activity, while they were far better then I at navigating the trails in their sandals.

It was a much needed break – a small one, but one that took us to another part of the United Arab Emirates and allowed us to see more of the natural beauty that we are surrounded by every day. It is still amazing to wake up and realize that fall and school will begin, but there will not be the falling of maple leaves and the cold nights and smell of fires in homes as we walk down streets in Boston. However, as each day goes by a new normal creeps in and we are slowly adjusting.

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