For the first time in weeks, I am posting from a different spot. Woot woot! Today was a lot of first for me. This is going to be fairly long (I think), so I will try to organize. You know me! Part 1 - Desert Dunes and Mountain Work
Eric and I left the office a little after 8:30 this morning. He had managed to snag a fugro truck which I will provide a picture of tomorrow. Apparently, no one can buy a truck here unless they are a business or a native with a farm. Pretty cool! Very few souped up ghetto trucks or redneck vehicles here! I had noticed that before and also that all the work trucks tend to look alike, so this explained a lot. We stopped at a gas station too, which I had never done before. There always seems to be a line, so I was dreading this. But they fill your car for you, like New Jersey, so that is a huge relief! We picked up some water, gatorade and red bull (for Eric) before hitting the road.
It took a little while to get out of the Dubai area, including
passing places called "International City" where they have housing organized by country names and "Dragon Mart" a giant area full of "cheap stuff" according to Eric, so if I buy furniture, it should be here. Then slowly the countryside turned to desert - reddish dunes with sand blowing across the highway. I even saw my first camel!!! Unfortunately, I did not get too many good pictures.
We arrived at the job site, which is a road cut in this town in Fujairah which will allow trucks to bypass the town below on their way to Port. Eric and I both agreed they had done very well on the job - the slopes seemed pretty stable and with the nice faces they had blown away, we were able to observe the geology quite easily. OSHA would have a heart attack if they saw some of the safety standards that are ignored here; this is just part of the norm. I think I've mentioned before that the UAE requires workers to take a rest period between 12:30 and 3:00 in the afternoon. This is mandatory, and is due to some minor rioting when they were building the Burj Khalifa. IT WAS
HOT!!! Eric and I tried to work on the first rock cut, which was about 50 meters high right as the workers were being let off for their break. Climbing up the slopes, I had flash backs to field camp! The cuts were extremely steep and the side slopes we were climbing were loose rock - very dangerous. Eric climbed on the first bench while I took notes from the side. He came back and we started to climb to the second bench (about 20 meters), when he stopped to look around. Then he said we should go to the car and sit in the AC. I was a little worried about him, but he made it down ok. We sat in the truck for a few minutes while he got his breath, then we decided to just go get lunch. We were only out about half an hour, but the heat took a toll on both of us. The people who think these workers getting minimal pay to work through such conditions are nuts.
We had lunch at a little "Italian Bistro" in Khor Fakkan. I had a chicken sandwich on some ciabetta breat, spicy of course -
delish actually! I ate every last crumb! And it was so cheap to eat there. I think it wound up 50AED for the both of us.
Khor Fakken, where we are actually working, is actually in an Emirate called Sharjah. It is the most conservative of the Emirates and stretches from north of Dubai to the East Coast, where it has a tiny bit of land, including Khor Fakken. The boundaries of the Emirates and Oman here are kind of all over the place, so Fujairah is both south and north of this little piece of Sharjah. Anyway, Sharjah is the only Emirate where alcohol is forbidden and is more conservative dress wise as well. I also noticed that most of the shops and businesses within the town only had Arabic writing above. I saw only one woman walking on the street and many men dressed in the typical Emirate dress. Whether that is due to traditional values here or because women are too smart to roam the streets in the heat like this, I don't know!!!
One thing I enjoyed was hearing the call to prayer while we were up on the cut. You could hear the
sound throughout the city and reverberating through the little valley we were in. It was the first time I heard this and it was pretty cool. I took a video, but videos do not post on this site. Sorry!
We came back around 1:30 and finished up the more complicated road cuts, being done around 3:30. We met with the client for a few minutes to chat and then headed for our hotel. Hotel Rotana
This is a beautiful hotel north of Fujairah on the ocean. I was so excited to stay here tonight; I had been looking forward to it all day long!!! I was even more looking forward to running to my room and taking a shower! I was dusty, stinky, and tired. Eric checked into his room, I was taken to mine (in a little golf cart!), and I hopped in for a quick shower. It was surprisingly very humid here, and my room is like an icebox!!! The room itself is very very nice, and I am in love with the bathroom!
I had a view of the pool and ocean from my balcony and I decided to go ahead and take
a jump in the pool. It was lovely. The water temperature was perfect and soothing. It was a little crowded, mostly European tourists (see rant below), but it was such a big pool that everyone was spread out pretty well. I swam up to the pool bar and had my first beer in more than 26 days (who's counting??). I don't miss it! Though I plan to have a little fruity drink tonight at dinner to celebrate my birthday.
Unfortunately, while the hotel staff have tried their darndest to be accomodating, the pool bar staff would not even look at me until I threw my hand out and said HEY! (I noticed two other guys who had to do this as well). There were 3-4 guys working the bar and they had maybe one drink order every 5 minutes, so it was irritating and totally ruined my first drink and my first pool bar experience. 😞 Then, I go back to my room to take a much needed shower and I realized that rather than give me two room keys, they gave me one and a "Towel Card" for the pool area, which looks incredibly like the room key.
So I had to walk the 300m to the front desk and he promptly gave me two new ones. I returned to my room and neither one works!!! So, I had to go back yet again for a new room key; this time they sent me a guy with a master key in case my door was not working. I could not get that one to work either. Of course, he got it on his first try and I was about to throw something. He had me do it to no avail. Then he could not get it to work on the 2nd or 3rd time until he got it again the 4th time. The trick? You have to pretend like you're stabbing something, apparently. After today, no problem. Rant
I'm sorry, but I get really irritated at the lack of respect some people show here. You are in a Muslim country, one that allows you liberties with your dress even though it is against their standards. So what do you do? You flaunt it! Cougar - do you really need to wear a THONG bathing suit at the hotel pool where kids are playing? This ain't Brazil!
Sure you look hot, but all I could think of was this muscle bound guy with two bimbos hanging on his arms wearing thong bathing suits at DISNEY WORLD!!! It makes no sense and is offensive. Also, guys with big bellies really should rethink wearing speedos. Ew.
So, I took a shower in my lovely bathroom - very relaxing, my hair feels awesome, and I am about to go enjoy some grub! So, maybe my birthday will end well after all!!
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