The girls and I have been in Dubai for a week now. It has taken its toll on our health, our patience, our nerves, but through gritted teeth I tell myself I will not surrender my sense of humour. Let’s see.
All sorts of things have been happening. Again my life appears to be a soap opera or a comedy of errors. We said goodbye to our US life, everything was packed up into boxes and we flew back to the UK. The same day Andy travelled on to Dubai and I was left bouncing the bonny lasses as best I could. They were unsettled to say the least and even the treats dangled by grandparents couldn’t distract them. But after nearly three weeks they started sleeping through the night again, just in time for us to change time zone. It was great to catch up with family and friends but a tug being part from Andy.
The first nightmare was the journey to Dubai. It’s true to say I wasn’t relishing the idea of travelling alone with an attention deficient four year old and a wriggling two year old. That said they weren’t the initial problem. The chosen airline (I should really name and shame shouldn’t I?!) picked us up from my parents’ house in Kent and what should have been a forty-minute journey took nearly two and a half hours. By the time we got to Gatwick the check-in desk was shut. Cue Oscar performance. There was no need for stage paint and powder to whiten my face. After all, we weren’t just going on holiday. We were moving country. Again.
A sudden change of heart (I hadn’t even reached my grand tearful finale) they checked us in and escorted us to the plane, rushing us through the airport on the back of a buggy.
So I settled the girls into their seats, found the cartoons and swiped the last few glasses of champagne as they floated by. Then Tilda, the baby, decided, even though it has never happened with her sixteen previous teeth, to have teething nappies for the entire flight. It wasn’t pleasant for anyone, least of all for Tilda who had full on nappy rash, and even my Mary Poppins’ handbag could not deliver a solution. She was so uncomfortable. And in her anguish knocked over a glass of Champagne (mine not hers). So I was left with a screaming two year old, an empty nappy bag and frayed nerves that left me on edge.
Then after seven hours in the air, we landed and were to be met by a porter. He didn’t arrive. So I struggled with two very tired girls at the end of their tether, with Tilda literally reined to the trolley. And then remembered I was under strict instructions from hubby to buy duty free to ensure that for the other hard days that were sure to be on the horizon, we at least had some vodka and gin in an almost-dry country.
Andy met us like a knight in shining armour, and the girls flung themselves at his feet. Madeleine had even been practicing her running hug, like a lovelorn lover running along the surf of a beach. She could almost gallop in slow motion.
So we arrived at the hotel and opened the door to a lovely apartment, so filled with acrid cigarette smoke that a jazz club owner would have been embarrassed. There was no way we could stay there, so we got the girls into their pyjamas and moved room for what was to be the second of three room changes in twelve hours.
The week really has been a blur though. I’m house hunting during the day, as well as getting the girls settled at school, researching British curriculum schools, shopping, washing clothes, getting to know the area, trying not to get myself killed on the eight lane spine road; Sheik Zayed Road. It really is crazy.
Talking of driving, Andy got his first fine and points the first day he drove here by going down a one-way street the wrong way. In defence, it was a two-way street, which turned into a one-way street, and the sign was covered up by a tree. The policeman was just pulling people in left, right and centre, so he obviously knew it was a blackspot and did nothing to improve the situation, which was a cash cow really. And they say there is no tax here. As long as that's the only car related problem we have. And to be honest seeing as Andy got a parking ticket in the States, and now this, he can stop bleating at me about being a superior driver with a clean license.
Despite all the headaches we’ve had this week, and those to come, I think we will have a good life here. The weather is great, especially as it has started to cool down. It only reached 36C today. We’ve met some lovely friendly people already, so the true expat life is much easier. Once we’ve found a car, house, school, bank account and haven’t drowned in a sea of paperwork.