18.04.2011 - 20.04.2011 34 °C
We are slowly settling into our new life here. Dave was fast off the mark and started work at 8 am the first morning we were here. He finds work a bit overwhelming in these early days because the office is in the middle of a move, there is a mountain of work, he has to get his communications technology set up, etc etc etc. It is frustrating but he has already been able to start grappling with some issues and to make him self useful. He really likes his new colleagues and is happy to be working for his old boss again.
Hazel has been spending her days getting organized in the little apartment. We had to get a wireless router to link up the laptops and Apple products. Every day she has been going out and walking in a different direction to try to locate stores and learn the lay of the land. We are in a very trendy tourist area so there are some very expensive "Yorkville-type" stores with a lot of upscale home furnishings and designer clothing as well as a huge number of restaurants. The grocery stores are mostly little convenience stores although there are a couple which might be as big as the very smallest grocery store at home. We have not found anything yet approaching the size of one of our Loblaws, Fortinos, or Metro - and don't even think of a Costco or Superstore. We know there are larger stores to be found but we need a car to get to those areas. Fortunately David picks up his rental car later today so we will be much more mobile now.
In the evenings we have been walking around to find a restaurant to have dinner. How different the night activity is from the day activity. In the day time a few people are out and around but are mostly tourists. It is so hot that unless you are headed for the beach, you don't stay out too long. In the early mornings you will see joggers (mostly young westerners) but by mid day everything is very quiet. As soon as the sun sets though with the cooler temperatures the people emerge - and you see lots more of the local people, well at least people who live here longer term. All the restaurants have large outdoor seating areas - usually much larger than the areas inside and some don't have any seating inside at all. The seating is varied with a lot of it being "living room" style with large armchairs and low coffee tables. There are more people in native dress - the men in long white robes and women in black chadors or abayas. Most wear a black head scarf as well and a few with the veil or niquab. The majority are in western attire though because the vast majority of the population here are not natives. The native Arab population is only about 10-20% of the people living here. The other 80-90% are "temporary" workers who have to be imported to do all the work that needs to be done. Everything from construction to hotel staff to municipal workers are imported labour. One report we read said that there are more each of Pakistani, Indian and Phillipean migrant workers than natives. Since most of the Arab states don't allow outsiders to gain citizenship they are all in effect migrant workers. The atmosphere is bustling, people are walking along, talking, and sitting smoking in the restaurants! The hookah is very popular here - and they are large - about 3 feet tall and quite ornate with a large glass continer at the bottom and a metal cup at the top for the glowing coals. They are supplied by the restaurants. Last night we saw one restaruant which advertised that they were free for the ladies that night. Alcohol and tobacco are reversed here. You don't see any alcohol being consumed in restaurants - and you do see lots of smoking. Both men and women seem to enjoy the hookah which is also called shisha. It seems to be a very social time with people sitting around in these very comfortable chairs, chatting, sipping coffee or fruit drinks and smoking. The other noticeable thing is that there are a lot more children out at night than we are used to seeing and they are out quite late.