Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Amazing what a deadline can do to motivate you!

This is the way real men wash windows.
it's been quite the month for us. In addition to regular holiday obligations, we've been busy doing our best to see and do all those things we've always meant to see and do. Without doubt, one of the real highlights of the month for us was being able to attend Liam's black belt awarding ceremony. Liam achieved a black belt in both Karate and Kobudo in December. He has worked extremely hard these last two years and a bit and has had some great senseis guiding him along the way. It's been fun to see him grow and learn this new art form and I get the impression that he'll be continuing his studies for some time yet. You can watch highlights from the ceremony below.

Karate Black Belt
Kobudo Black Belt

Family celebrations on Yas Island
Christmas in the UAE continues to get more Christmas-y every year. It seems like the displays in the store are getting more and more elaborate and you hear 'Merry Christmas' almost more than you'd hear in North America. Santa's got a shop at the mall around the corner and Christmas carols have been playing in the background of almost every store we visit. Liam and Lucy performed in a Christmas program at one of the local malls along with other students from their music school. It was exactly like any Christmas program you might experience at any mall in the Western world except for the moment when they halted the carol singing for the call to prayer.

An art display at an off island gallery.

A privilege to be surrounded by so much beauty.
For our own celebrations, we invited a number of families we've come to know for refreshments, singing and a little reenactment of the Nativity. We probably had too many people at one time, but no one complained. We've met some great people here and, as with every place we've lived, the hardest thing to leave will be the friends we've made. On Christmas Eve, we were invited to the Koffeds, a family we've come to know pretty well over the last few years, and on Christmas day we've a couple of more families to share in the festivities. Julie cooked a pretty amazing turkey and there was more than enough food to keep everyone satisfied. The kids were all happy with what they received for Christmas, but one of the most gratifying aspects of this season was how happy they were to give. Visiting with family and reflecting on the reasons for the season, I don't know if we could have asked for more this Christmas (it was even white with a pretty thick Abu Dhabi fog).

We took a day to recuperate from our Christmas festivities and then we were off to Dubai to visit Global Village. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but imagine, if you will, a massive county fair put on by countries from all over the world. It operates about half the year because of the weather. There was much walking and considerably more shopping than I had planned on, but some of the stuff was just too cool.

It's just like a county fair, really.

We finally took the boat around Global Village for the sake of our feet.
For New Years we went desert camping with the Koffeds and the Belnaps. It was about three hours to Liwa where we camped. Liwa city is a green oasis nestled amongst some of the most spectacular sand dunes I have ever seen. We camped for two nights, and over that time we were able to play on some spectacular sand dunes. Everything you could want from a desert camping experience was ours for the taking. There were spiders, a pretty intimidating snake, a tiny scorpion, a campfire visit buy a dune buggying local and, of course, camels. We were so glad to spend the time with friends and have a truly unique experience. It's not something we're likely to every forget. Well, now it's time to get back into the routine of things. It'll be hard to come down off the high of the last couple of weeks, but you really need to pace yourself when it comes to high adventure.

The things you see on the road to Liwa.

Because it makes sense to have a playground in the middle of the desert.

Our campsite get a visitor.
Or two.

It was a hike up that dune, but it was worth it.

A view of our campsite and the morning mists from above.

1 comment:

The Denning Family said...

Those are some great adventures!! Too bad we could never swing a trip over there...