Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some interesting things so far

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As always, there are things here that are different from the culture we're used to back home. Here are just a few we've noticed thus far and a fun thing that happened to me the other day.

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Bathroom and bidet

One interesting cultural aspect is the use of bidets in the bathrooms. Each of our 3 bathrooms has a toilet and then a separate basin with a little drain in it and a small squirter hose attached. Very interesting. Thomas has been using it to wash his feet at night. ;) Another thing about the bathrooms is, because the plumbing here isn't that great, there's no flushing your toilet paper. Every bathroom has a tiny trashcan with a lid to deposit your used TP. Because that's not gross at all. We actually got used to this practice when we lived in Korea so it's not a totally foreign concept to us.

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Kitchen with washing machine

Next is the kitchen. No, that's not our dishwasher, it's our washing machine. Looks funny in there doesn't it? It's a really nice kitchen and I look forward to cooking on the gas stove.

Fun thing that happened:
Two days ago we went out looking for furniture stores because we need a new bed in our apartment – the current mattress has mold on it. Well, we're trying to get stuff done around here before language starts and in the midst of it all, trying to get Judah on somewhat of a schedule. That being said, nap time is still one of those elusive things that will just happen when it happens. We were on our third stop and Judah was fading so fast that he fell asleep in my arms as we were walking into the mall. Because we're walking so much and in and out of taxis, we didn't have the stroller. So here we are, sleeping baby and 20 minutes from home. We decided that Thomas would walk around and look for beds and I would sit down in this open coffee shop area to let Judah sleep. I sat for a few minutes and held Judah while he slept until I spotted an open couch. It was part of a little grouping of chairs and there was a lady sitting there by herself. I walked over to her with Judah in my arms and asked if I could sit with her and lay him down. I think she tried to tell me that she had people joining her but then she said okay. She ended up being a retired English teacher who has a son that's a graphic designer and went to Boston University! We had a good chat and then one of her sisters, her daughter and a niece joined us. They all spoke little English so it was a lot of them talking and me just smiling and nodding my head. Little Judah just laid there snoozing away, arms up and all sprawled out on the small couch. Then another sister and daughter joined us, it was a family gathering! The lady I originally met ended up buying me a pot of hot tea and we all sat around and drank as they chatted. One thing she kept telling me over and over was that I looked so much like her granddaughter. So much so that she pulled out several pictures of her to show me. She's about 8 years old and we really did look alike! It was so weird! We have similar eyes, face shape and smile.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We made it!

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View off our balcony

We arrived in the M.E. last Monday night at around 7:30pm. We were supposed to fly out of Vancouver at 6:30pm on the 30th of June but got delayed several times and ended up staying at a hotel in Vancouver and flying out 12 hours later than originally planned! Thank the Lord we had friends in the city who took care of us while we waited and let us hang out at their house instead of at the airport the entire time.

Judah having fun at the airport
Judah having fun in the airport

Judah did great for the first leg of the flight, 9 hours to London, and didn't start getting fussy until he was forced to stay in the stroller for another hour while we waited in line to get our new boarding passes. When we got on the next flight Judah and I both slept the entire 5 hour flight! We were exhausted!

We got through customs without a hitch and were met by some friends at the other end. It's been a whirlwind week of getting unpacked, keeping the power and water on, cleaning, shopping for the necessities, going out to eat, getting oriented and checking out our neighborhood.

Few pics of the new place
Few pics of our place, I'll put up better ones once we're settled in

Our apartment is nice, with a large living room/sitting area, 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, a really nice kitchen that looks like it was recently remodeled and a small balcony. The weather here has been perfect so far with highs in the upper 80's and lows in the 60's. We don't have air conditioning but we do have some pedestal fans that keep the air moving so it's not too bad!

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Yemini food

We've been enjoying lots of different shawerma restaurants and have eaten "Mexican" food, Chili's, Fuddruckers, Lebanese food and Yemini food. We've shopped at Carrefour market, which is a French Wal-mart type store and a few other places that have a lot of Western goodies that we might want. You can pretty much get anything you'd want here, but of course at a price. The most surprising thing was $12 for a box of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes!

Judah enjoying the new place
Judah eating breakfast and watching some Elmo

Judah has been adjusting well and we're all getting used to being on an Arab schedule. Waking up around 10am, eating breakfast, lunch at 3pm, dinner at 8 or 9pm and getting to bed around midnight or later! That will all change next week though when we begin studying language and get on more of a routine.

Scenes around town

Here are a few shots of some cultural things. First is a burkini, Muslim ladies' swimwear. Gotta stay conservative – even on the beach! There are lots of malls here and they're pretty much all multi-level and crowded. Last is from one shopping trip where some girls invited Judah to come sit at the little table and chairs with them. It was pretty cute. They kept saying, "Hey baby!"

Now that we have our internet hooked up in the apartment we'll try to keep the blog updated with some interesting cultural insights. Thanks for remembering us! Excited to begin this new adventure!