Masai Mara National Park

We finally found out our holiday break for EID, a holiday in the states that I never had even heard of but now I am very aware of when it occurs. Anyway Liz and I saw a tour come up for a safari to masi mari in Nairobi. Of course we jumped on the opportunity to join a group on a safari.
After a two hour delay of our flight from Dubai to Nairobi we finally arrived about ten in the morning, exhausted. We had been at the airport since midnight the night before, up almost 24 hours straight. Yech! We were met by our tour guide, he quickly got us through the visual line and passport control. There were seven of us total, some in education some in the medical field, all women. One of the ladies had a friend stationed there and had given her some suggestions on things to,do,on our day in town and we,pretty much followed her suggestions. Went to,the giraffe breeding facility, elephant reduce grounds, Heart of Africa’s home and had lunch, and some,famous restaurant that wasn’t worth the visit. We finally made it back to our hotel and collapsed into our bed!
Up early and bright and ready to head out to the bush to see “wild” animals. Little did I know it was a six and half hour drive, last hour and half was on an unsaved road, oh my poor back and bottom!
It was interesting seeing the countryside, but….I think next time, I’d there is a next time, I would fly to the bush. We arrived to our base camp, and it was pretty primitive, a tent on a permeant base. Needless,to,say there was a spider in the bathroom area which freaked me out! How fast can I pee? Pretty fast! We went out before dinner to look at some of the animals and got our first taste of the women hawking their products at the gate. They could become,a bit aggressive with any encouragement form the occupants of the bus. They were almost crawling into the bus to show us their trinkets.
The first night we were so excited so see giraffes, antelopes, wildebeest, and zebras. We returned for dinner and sleep, but that was just a hopeful thought.mwe were so lucky to,arrive on the same weekend,the summer interns were having,their end of season party. They were having a grand time, music, loud, talking, singing, dancing, etc, it was a long evening before they finally called it a night.
Up early the next morning, breakfast with monkeys was a first, you had to make sure you kept a hand on your food or it could be snatched away very quickly and eaten.
Off to a full day of photo moments of wild critters. Watching all the different safari vans chase the next big animal location was almost as fun as seeing the next big animal. We did see all of the big five except for the rhino. They were not in our area of Africa.
Back to base camp and a visit of the local tribes village. It was very interesting at how primitive the lifestyle is to this day. Mud huts with dirt floors. They sleep in three rooms, one for,parents, one for children and one for guest. There are platforms build,slightly a of the ground that they sleep on. A hole,dug in the ground in one room is the stove or fire pit and that would be about it. They only eat meat about every two weeks, milk from the cows and a type porridge in the morning. For,special occasions they bleed a cow for the milk(they do not kill it) and drink the milk. A special occasion is the attaining manhood, birth of a baby….they look,fairly healthy. No vegetables, fruits or,bread, I guess that would be an Adkins diet.
That night a group of hyenas tried to attack a baby elephant and the dominant male no female took exception to that and made their feelings well know by trumpeting and roaring loudly. As I laid in the tent all I could think is please don’t stampede…I also did not know elephants roar like a lion, it was an interesting evening.
The next day we went back in for one more ride and then drove back to Nairobi to catch our plane back to Abu Dhabi. It was a once in a life time trip, and I think once is fine for me.

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Leaving Abu Dhabi

I am leaving Abu Dhabi today. Strange how in January I did not think I would last the last two semesters. I have been at school for a month now without any students. I can not begin to tell you how boring that is, it is like being a lifeguard and no swimmers. The past week has been wonderful. I was put in a wonderful hotel downtown Abu Dhabi. I was really glad my daughter was able to visit while I was in the room. She was able to see a different side of Abu Dhabi than the desert side she saw last time. She was able to experience Ramadan to the fullest. We went to Moreeb Dune, one of the highest sand hills in the world. We went to the Burj Khalifa to the 148 floor which is a merely twenty stories high.  Watching scuba divers feeding the fish at Dubai mall. Enjoying the water fall also in Dubai mall. We went to an Iftar buffet at the Viceroy that sits at Yas circuit. A tent was sent up in the lobby to show a traditional tent for breaking the Ramadan fast. Breaksfast buffet each morning at the hotel, learning there is nothing like crossants made in Abu Dhabi. The tiles and ceiling were the ones at the beach rotana. The flowers were fresh and smelled delightful each day, these lilies were stunning. Ate more dates than I have ever wanted to. Life is good!

 
   

    
    
    
    
    
 

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Qasr Al Sarab

Yesterday I left Ghaythai for a weekend holiday at a five star resort called Qasr Al Sarab. It means Place of Mirage. Here in the middle of desert there is this amazing hotel. I arrived after an almost three hour drive through camel country. They took my car and used a golf cart to drive me to my room. Any time I want to go anywhere just dial zero and they will come get me…now remember the temperature here is warm, very warm by late afternoon. 

We decided to go check out the restaurants just as the sun was beginning to set behind the sand dunes, our driver offered to take us around the resort so Liz and I said yes, please. So he drove us around for about an hour showing us the private villas, only the outside. The outside Bedouin tent dinning area, which is being dismantled today to the spa and pool area. Yes, we made a spa appointment.  It will be 106 by this afternoon so we have to find something to do today. Yes, we now have temperatures ranging from 106-108 each afternoon so afternoon activities outside are halas, or done! 68 more days till the end of term I am hoping the AC is up to the task. 
   

                 

After spending the afternoon hiding from the high temperatures in our room Liz and I ventured forth just in time for happy hour and sunset. What is amazing, is you see unlimited sand for as far as you can see. To the right of some photos you are able to see a small pond which is oil “lake”. Reminds me of the tar pit in LA. The temperature has dropped from the high of 106 to a mild 86. We are sitting by the pool enjoying our dinner as dusk begins to set. Everywhere you walk there is a fountain and soft lights turning on as night approaches. The birds are settling down and those pesky feral cats have begun to leave us alone, nothing like trying to eat a hamburger without trying to touch an unknown cat on your lounge chair.
  
We ended the evening with a spa “special”, a neck, back massage and facial. I can’t remember the last time my back and neck felt so relaxed. Off to bed we trundled. Only to wake bright and early, 5:15 in time to see the sunrise. Liz found a sand dune to climb, luckily for my poor lungs it wasn’t too tall. We were able to sit relax and enjoy the sun as it rose over a neighbouring dune.
We are now sitting on our porch listening to the birds singing, drinking our coffee and wishing tomorrow wasn’t a work day. 
   

                 

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Qasr Al Sarab

Yesterday I left Ghaythai for a weekend holiday at a five star resort called Qasr Al Sarab. It means Place of Mirage. Here in the middle of desert there is this amazing hotel. I arrived after an almost three hour drive through camel country. They took my car and used a golf cart to drive me to my room. Any time I want to go anywhere just dial zero and they will come get me…now remember the temperature here is warm, very warm by late afternoon. 

We decided to go check out the restaurants just as the sun was beginning to set behind the sand dunes, our driver offered to take us around the resort so Liz and I said yes, please. So he drove us around for about an hour showing us the private villas, only the outside. The outside Bedouin tent dinning area, which is being dismantled today to the spa and pool area. Yes, we made a spa appointment.  It will be 106 by this afternoon so we have to find something to do today. Yes, we now have temperatures ranging from 106-108 each afternoon so afternoon activities outside are halas, or done! 68 more days till the end of term I am hoping the AC is up to the task.  

       

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Last night in Greece

We forged for food in Planka the last night. We stopped at a place that we had walked by a couple times. It was misty and chilly so they brought the heat lamps by our table, one on each side. We had live music and dancing. I even danced a few steps, a few, very few. One thing we noticed in this area there are family restaurants, the whole family works there from the greeter to the waiters to the cooks. I really don’t think we ate a bad meal there the entire time. At this place we smashed the plates, toasted each other with schnapps and shouted Ompa. What a great way to end the trip.

We had ordered a taxi to the airport the next day. The rain finally arrived that the weather men had been threatening all week. The grey leaden skies, trees drenched in rain, people scurring to mass with umbrellas and heavy coats. You would almost think it was November and not April. As the taxi drove us to the airport the view of…”snow crusted mountains came into sight. Yes it had snowed the night. The flip side is our flight was delayed for a bit. The nice part we were checked in sitting down enjoying a beverage of choice before too much time had passed. 

A nice airport, easy in and easy out. The thought of how many more times I will be going through immigration before July is painful. But, I will continue to suffer through. 

   

    

  

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Day Five Greece

Fifth day
Another slow start to the day, rain threatening most of the day. The wind has picked up while the temperature dropped, at least I am not roasting like last year in Viet Nam. We scooted over to the Acropolis Museum. Thinking ahead I do load an audio guide to the museum, while walking around I could find any of the items on the guide. Yup I was at the “other” museum, sigh. I walked around this one, enjoyed what I saw, and called it a day. Wandered around Hadirans Library, the remains of it. Found a place warm to eat ouch and was reminded of the true blessing of being able to eat where people don’t smoke inside anymore.  During lunch today and dinner last night we were in areas that chain smokers smoked one right after another.   Now this is inside of buildings not outside on the patios. My jacket now reeks of smoke, oh well.   Even if one were able to sit outside with it being so cold there is plastic walls up and the smoke remains contained and becomes annoying. Another reason I like our hotel it is a no smoking restaurant. Back to Abu Dhabi tomorrow, what a great trip. I have throughly enjoyed Greece! 

                   

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Day Four

We got our hotel online. One of the reasons we liked this hotel was it came with breakfast. Little did we know it was a great breakfast. We have really enjoyed starting our day off with a great breakfast then having a late lunch. This day we wondered around and decided to take the big yellow bus that was a hop on hop off around town.  We saw areas that we hadn’t seen in the city the other days. It also took us to the port city of Piraeus, where all the cruise ships come in to drop the passengers off for the day. The weather was great so the ride was delightful. That night we took the night out on the town and dinner tour. Oh my, what a hoot, we were picked up in a big bus, picked up another couple from Dubai, drove over to the same port city and then back to over by our hotel. We then walked to a restaurant where some really interesting singers sang some music, dinner was served, and we had some dancers. The musicians and singers have been doing this most likely since the sixties or earlier. I am not exaggerating, they were older than me! The dancers were pretty good, cheesy but good. The food was pretty good, the drink the most expensive part of any  we have had on the whole trip. All in all it was with it, a lot like going on a desert safari or a luau in Hawaii.

   

                     

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