Raise your hand if you’re tired of writing about the undetermined details of your life…just me? Anybody else?
In my last blog post I wrote that I was looking forward to settling back into a routine, after spending the summer in limbo. Maybe moving. Moving. Definitely not moving. Well, no sooner than when I hit publish, things started to shift again and the ground underneath us felt about as stable as a polar ice cap in 2016. And that’s kind of where we are, floating on a melting ice cap until further notice. Hopefully by the New Year, I’ll have some real news or at least feel less homeless. This week, we’re packing up to move to a temporary apartment, instead of signing a long-term lease at our compound. In Saudi Arabia, you generally pay upfront for a whole year or six months of a rental. Since we may need to move quickly in the next couple of months, we’re reluctant to take on that commitment. So, yes. For now, the chaos continues.
Last month, we took a reprieve from our unsettled life with a trip to Dubai. September in Dubai is still very hot and humid. So it was not a break from the scorching hot (albeit, dry) Saudi weather, but the trip did give us plenty of opportunities to drink red wine, take pleasant strolls around the city, and even the chance to watch a NFL game at a bar (with hard cider!).
The hot weather also meant we were able to get a great deal on a room at our favorite hotel, XVA Art Hotel in Al Fahidi, one of the historic neighborhoods in Dubai. I think I’ve stated before that Old Dubai is the most interesting part of the city. But also, because many of the non-Western expats are based there, you’ll find the best and cheapest food in this area. Dubai has a ton of restaurants, but so far, as a former New Yorker, I’ve found that they disappoint much more than they satisfy (and at a hefty cost). We had some delicious Iraqi masgouf, a barbequed fish. On an episode of Bizarre Foods, Andrew Zimmern said masgouf tastes like pork belly and I have to concur. FYI, the famous Al Baghdadi restaurant featured in that episode burned down. Even though we thought we’d done our research, we did not conclude this until we walked to the creek, took a boat across the creek and walked many, many sweaty blocks to discover that the restaurant was now an ash-filled shell. Dejected and devastated, we went to an Iraqi restaurant just a block over from where that one used to be. I don’t remember the name, but everything was amazing. I wondered how much traffic that restaurant gets from people making the same mistake.
These photos are from the little shops in Al Fahidi and the Coffee Museum, an interesting little passion project of an Emirati collector. Basically, a guy who really loves coffee collected so much coffee memomirbila that he needed a place to put it. It sounds silly when I put it that way, but this is more or less how collection-based museums start. And it is well done. It doesn’t have the rigid feeling of a more established museum. It has quirks. It feels more like a place of meditation, a place to come and sit a while.
You can spend a good amount of time walking the labyrinth of alleyways in Al Fahidi and still miss something. We stayed there for six days and as we passed through with our luggage on the last morning, I was still oohhing and aahhing at things I’d missed right under my nose. I’m alright with this. If anything, I welcome this feeling. When it comes to exploring cities there’s a strange comfort in not seeing it all.