Yesterday, after 24 hours of traveling, I returned home from a conference in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to sightsee while I was there, the conference days were really long and we were shuttled between the hotel and the conference location without any outside stops. I arrived with a colleague on Saturday, and we had about half the day Sunday as free time. We joined up with some other conference attendees and went to a couple souks, which to our surprise were both indoors and air conditioned. Although given the heat outside, we weren’t complaining. We did some shopping for friends and family, and some haggling on prices. I have to say, I hate haggling. I understand it’s the way business is conducted and that it is expected, I just hate doing it. But I also hate being taken for a ride because I’m a foreigner who hates haggling. So I suck it up and do it, but it doesn’t do anything to decrease my dislike of shopping.
We stayed in a ridiculously nice 5-star hotel, although my impression of Abu Dhabi is that everything is 5-star.We ate amazing food, and way too much of it. Everything was so clean, and nice looking, I think the worse thing I saw was a little graffiti on a wall. And even that wasn’t extensive. Tall buildings that look well-constructed; I particularly liked the lack of uniformity throughout the city. It was as if the city had been built as part of an architecture contest, with each architect given a plot of land and a height and told to design a building however they liked. I wish I had more pictures to show for it, but most of my pictures were taken out a car or bus window on our way to or from the conference or the souks that first day.
In other completely un-exciting news, I am still in the background clearance process for the foreign service. For ten weeks I have been calling for an update, and for ten weeks I’ve been told to call back in a week, and they were sure something would have changed. Obviously not. I’m not concerned that there is a problem, I’m just anxious to get onto the register. Best I can tell is that some single record has not yet been received, although I don’t know where it could be from or what the delay is. I’m mostly just frustrated because I know it is completely out of my control; I know I will get my clearance, and the delay is entirely because someone, somewhere, is not doing something simple in a timely manner. And I know that’s not fair, and that whatever the hold up is, there’s a reason for it, but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit patiently and wait for something to change. So, here I sit, impatiently, trying to reach my zen place where I’m not anxious to move to the next step of being on the register, where I know I will be just as anxious about waiting to hear about joining an A-100 class. Hurry up and wait.