10 Affordable Gifts for Travelers (All under $30!)

Hi Everyone,

Christmas is closing in! Are you doing some last minute shopping for friends? Need some good ideas for inexpensive but nice presents for the travelers in your lives? Here are ten things we love having and would recommend in a heartbeat. The links are mostly affiliate ones, so if you click on them (the pictures are the links, by the way), we stand to earn a few cents (which would be really nice, since who doesn’t like having a little bonus cash turn up now and then)? Naturally, you don’t have to pay a thing for clicking and exploring. Anyhow, without further ado, check it out.

10. Passport Covers. International traveling is fraught, so why make it harder than necessary to figure out whose passport is whose? Get a different color for everybody and no more hassles keeping track.  These are great stocking stuffers. The style options are truly endless:
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There are some fantastic handmade options on Etsy as well.

9. Travel Organizer. Ever get tired of trying to keep all the little things from getting lost in the bag? Enter Grid-It organizer. The elastics of different lengths allow you to create a variety of ways to store everything from a phone charger to a point-and-shoot camera to that pesky lip balm that keeps getting lost.
8. Wall Poster Maps. Every traveler loves maps. They make great gifts for lots of reasons,  not least of which it’s fun keeping track of where you’ve been and where you’re planning to go next. Plus a nice map on display at home makes for a both a nifty decoration and a fabulous conversation piece. One of our favorites is this entertaining scratch-off map.

7. Samsonite Backpack. We’re big fans of Samsonite luggage, thanks to high quality and solid warranties. Keep it affordable with a Classic PFT checkpoint friendly backpack; not only is this pack inexpensive and durable, it’s styled in a simple, elegant fashion, and is quite compact (which makes it a great daypack) while offering lots of ways to organize your things. The laptop compartment makes it a snap to pull out your MacBook when you’re hurrying through airport security.

6. A VPN Subscription. Express VPN is the best choice for anyone who will be going to China (and would be perfect anywhere else that the internet is restricted, too). How else can you guarantee you’ll be able to use Skype, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook? Also, VPNs make it so you can access the same streaming video services you’d use back home, which otherwise aren’t necessarily available outside of the USA.

5. Travel Journal. Travel journals can be had in all forms and varieties these days. If you can hardly cram in time to jot down any notes or otherwise chronicle your travels, maybe thanks to your adorable little ones, try one of these:

If you are a fan of lists, check out the Listography one:

And then there’s the good old Moleskine:


4. Universal Travel Adapter. These are as convenient as they claim to be. They’re a great gift for international travelers, as pretty much all your bases are covered.

3. Solid shampoo and conditioner. If, like us, you tend to travel with carry-on only and packing those tiny bottles of liquids has gotten to you, do consider solid shampoo and conditioner. We swear by the ones Lush makes.

2. Snap tray. This little tray folds down flat and takes virtually no space in your bag. We bring it with us whenever we’re traveling for a longer period of time. It helps keep things organized and adds a bit of homeyness to wherever we are.

1. A power bank/portable charger. We have come to rely on our phones so much these days, what with lack of paper maps and such, that a dead battery can cause some serious stress. Give yourself some peace of mind. Just remember to charge the charger!

There you have it! Hope this helps give you some ideas. As always, let us know what you think. Are there other things you’d include on a list of sub-$30 gifts for travelers you know?

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Ten Must-Have Gifts for Traveling Families

Hi Everyone,

Jenia and I were sitting down and browsing through some random lists of “must-have gifts” for the Christmas season a couple days ago (it was a rare moment when the kids were both asleep). We saw lots of really expensive stuff, and lots of silly things that nobody really needs. So what would we recommend for families who love to travel? Not that anyone has actually asked, but here we go–we’ve found each of these things incredibly nice to own as we’ve been exploring the world with our kids for the last five years. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we’d consider then must-haves. The most expensive thing on the list is about $150, and the least is only a few bucks. Some of the links are affiliate links, which won’t cost you anything to you click on, but could make us a few pennies, and others aren’t. All the pictures are links.

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10. Boba Air baby carrier. Who wants to cart a stroller around everywhere they go, especially if international travel is in the cards? A carrier makes packing for big trips, not to mention navigating in airports, much easier. Why is the Boba Air on our list of must-haves, though, instead of some other brand? Well, because not all baby carriers are created equal. Boba makes a great product which they stand behind with fantastic customer service and an outstanding warranty. The Air is the lightest, handiest of their products, weighing practically nothing, and it collapses and zips into a self-contained bag the size of a ladies’ clutch. It can go anywhere easily, and it makes toting the tiny one as convenient as can be.

Our Boba Air has been to over 24 countries, simplifying our lives greatly. For a child over 2, however, you’ll need something stouter. See number 9.

9. Tula Toddler carrier. The Tula Toddler will accommodate a toddler weighing between 25 and 60 lbs (11-27 kg) in comfort, and it offers good padding for the parents’ shoulders, as well. Our 4.5-year-old still enjoys an occasional ride in his Tula. These carriers come in a variety of colors and patterns and maintain their value like crazy.

8. Trunki Boost-A-Pak. The Trunki is a backpack which doubles as a booster seat for kids weighing between 33 and 88 lbs (15-36kg). It’s the perfect solution for families with little ones who are out of baby seats, but who still need a booster. There is a surprising amount of space inside, meaning your child can help carry part of the load, and when it comes time to catch a cab, it converts into a booster seat in a flash. There is a built-in seatbelt regulator.

7. Cloth high chair attachment. Quirky, but oh-so-helpful in those off-the-beaten-path eateries that have no high chairs. Light, simple, and useful. What’s not to like?

6. Silicone cups, straws, bowls, and covers. Practically indestructible, these can be washed and taken anywhere. We are particularly fond of these straws (they are wide enough for smoothies and come apart for easy washing)

and these cup lids (they fit virtually any cup thanks to the 3 different rings on the inside that stretch/grip the cup’s rim)


5. Water bottles: come on, they’re useful. How about this funky collapsible one?
It consumes no space when empty, making it a nice choice for dropping into a small day pack.

As for traditional water bottles, we are a Contigo family 🙂

Jenia loves the Addison bottles:

Shon prefers the Grace bottle:

and the kids drink from the Gizmos: 

4. City Maps 2 Go. Pay for it and download maps that can be used offline.

3. iPad dongle. Sounds silly, but this means that photographer in your life can download pictures from the SLR to the iPad, and he or she no longer needs to lug the laptop around.

2. Non-tangle headphones, plus a headphone splitter. Some airlines don’t even provide headphones anymore, so a good pair of quality headphones is a solid choice for anyone flying. The splitter means anyone can share a viewing or listening experience easily.

1. Toys & Games. The possibilities are endless. For toddlers, we always recommend Water Wow! (reusable water-painting activity pads that come with a brush) or a handmade I Spy game. For older kids (and their parents), looks into these:

If you pack light, Memory game and the Magnetibook may be too large but they are great for road trips.

There you have it. Let us know if you agree that these are great items for families and what things you would consider for your list of must-haves.

A Top 10 List: What’s Surprising?

Having been to Russia a few times, Ukraine once, and other Eastern European nations, I don’t always notice the things a newcomer would. I don’t even find things that once surprised me remarkable, tending to forget, instead, that anyone might actually be interested in reading about them. Yet, undoubtedly, there’s quite a few quirks one has to adjust to in this sprawling, chilly land. Here’s a selection of unusual things you might encounter on a daily basis in this neck of the woods.

  1. Trees wearing white paint. Actually, I think it’s lime. The purpose? Er, I don’t know.
  2. Toilets which you can’t flush toilet paper down, along with a little trashcan sitting nearby for your used tissue. Only problematic if there’s no waste basket nearby.
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    No basket. Problem?

    3. Shopping centers, train stations, and other large foot-traffic areas with only a few of their many doors unlocked and open. Typically requires you to zig-zag. Let the cursing ensue.

4.  Heating cranked up indoors. This is a cool weather thing, of course, not  a summer time issue. Only surprising when you realize that there’s no control over said heating in your apartment, except maybe to disable it altogether.

5. Heating cranked up in public transportation. All modes. Taxis, buses, you name it. Sweat much?

6. No lawn mowers. Who cares for the many shabby, overgrown outdoor spaces around apartment buildings and alongside secondary streets? Nobody, it appears, except for on rare special occasions.

7. Early sunrise and late sunset in summer. This is a product of latitude, of course.

8. Late sunrise and early sunset in winter. Nothing makes you want to stay in bed more than the sun staying away.

9. Price tags for ordinary goods with numbers in the thousands. Generally goods aren’t too pricey, but you’ll do a double take as you remind yourself of the exchange rate.

10. Soup, sour cream, and cabbage are ubiquitous. “I can’t imagine a day without having soup,” a guy told me a couple weeks ago. Of course, the soups here are good, so why not have ’em regularly?

Thursday List: Things to Bring and Not to Bring

I have to begin by saying 2 things: firstly, I was planning to write this sooner, hoping it would be a bit of help to the people moving to the UAE for the new school year. Sorry if I’m a bit too late, guys! Secondly, this is my very personal opinion, and I’m sorry if this list takes too-girly a turn.

Don’t Bring:

1. Electronics and small appliances that don’t have dual voltage (speaking to Americans here, mostly). First of all, they may not work here even with the converter (Shon’s razor worked, his clippers didn’t), and even if they do work, there’s a good chance they’ll just blow out one day (RIP, my lovely hair-straightener!)

If dual voltage is not a problem, consider weight/price. Will it be cheaper to buy said appliance here or pay for an extra/overweight bag?

If you are curious, we brought our laptops & camera. We bought everything else here (most of it used).

The only exception to this list is a router. Do consider bringing a VPN-compatible router.

2. Books. They are so freaking heavy. Consider investing into e-books or purchasing books online from bookdepository.com They ship worldwide for free.

3. Crafting tools unless you are bringing the supplies as well. For whatever reason, “making things” is not a favorite pastime here. You may have some luck with yarn and embroidery floss for a reasonable price, but expect to pay a pretty penny for the scrapbooking/card-making supplies, and not be able to find any jewelry-making stuff at all.

Consider Bringing:

1. Your favorite outfit even if doesn’t fit the “clothes acceptable in the UAE” category. There will be all sorts of expat get-togethers plus you can always wear it to a hotel restaurant or just on a trip to Dubai.

2. Non-drugstore cosmetics. Clinique and MAC stuff is available, but costs 2-3 times more, ladies. I have a sneaking suspicion this is true for other brands, as well.

3. A bottle of your favorite hair product, if you have difficult hair. Chances are, it will take you a bit of time to find a replacement here (Americans, try Boots pharmacies). Personally, I still bring my favorite hairspray.

4. Clinical strength deodorant. No, you cannot get it here.

5. US ladies, if you are into Victoria’s Secret underwear, bring some along. Two words: unnecessarily expensive.

6. A small/lightweight/flat piece of your current house decor. It’s really nice to have something from home. We brought 2 plywood people with the maps of our hometowns on them, and we haven’t regretted it.

7. A VPN-compatible router.

8. A traveler’s credit card. We are quite fond of Capital One’s Venture. Most likely, you will not get paid until the end of September, so keep this in mind.

9. If you know you are planning to travel internationally during your time in the UAE, think about bringing some winter clothes. We knew we were going to Russia for Christmas, so we brought our jackets, boots, and a couple of sweaters thus saving a fortune.

A lot of people bring food. I have heard of suitcases packed full of grits (no kidding). While I do notoriously miss my Cheez-Its now and then, I have surely found new favorites (plus, most of the stuff you can’t get is not the best thing for you, anyway, and the healthy stuff can be easily purchased at iherb.com – they ship to the door).

This said, you can find nearly everything here. You will see brands you recognize, and brands you don’t (some of them are just a different name for something familiar). Don’t be afraid of trying new stuff! It’s part of the fun.

Also, if you are curious about baby-related stuff I bring from the States, let me know.

Expat friends, what would you add?

Thursday List: Lessons Learned

In no particular order, allow us to present lessons we learned while we traveled this summer.  Humorous?  Maybe (or maybe not, you be the judge).  True?  We think so.

1) The Toyota Yaris is one of the worst cars ever built.  We rented one for a day in Georgia (that would be the state, not the country).  The steering had less feel and was more vague than a careless comment that could be either a compliment or an insult.  The blind spots were larger than a Ford Expedition.  The centered gauge cluster is less sensible than a drunken, raving Mel Gibson. The acres of plastic swathing the interior epitomize the notion of “cheap,” along with every other aspect of the automobile.  Also it has no power.

2) The author of the CNN article “The New London, Paris and Rome” is totally wrong about Ostend.  Ostend is boring and the beach unappealing–not “oddly restorative.”  Besides, we got locked in a Japanese garden while there.

ostend

Ostend. Bland, forgettable, and certainly not worth visiting.  Sorry Belgium.  We love some of your other cities.

3) Couchsurfing is infinitely more fun than staying in a hotel.  And couchsurfers are, as it turns out, not all hippies–they’re a varied group of interesting folks.  We stayed with a guy who works in the Belgian steel industry, two air traffic controllers, and more.  We met fellow surfers who had careers as mind-blowing as molecular modeling researcher and astrophysicist.  Not kidding.  The astrophysicist, a guy named Lorraine from France, is also a beekeeper.  He shared a story about how he was asked to deliver a beehive to the Prime Minister (all true, mind you). He said yes, of course.  “But I told them that because it is summer, if I put the beehive in the car to deliver it, it could be a problem.  Because of the heat, the bees could die.”  The person he was speaking to said, “No problem.”  “Yes,” he said, “It would be a problem.  The bees could die.”  The other person reassured him–“No, no problem.  You will not have to stop.”  He ended up having a police escort through the center of Paris so that he didn’t have to stop and wait in traffic, and he delivered the beehive and set it up at the Prime Minister’s place.

4) Traveling with a baby is not only possible, but for the most part, quite easy (and there’s a post about that in the making).  As a side note, carrying a baby in a carrier starts to hurt one’s back after a couple days (but it is notably easier than pushing a stroller all over creation).

5) We now understand our friends who told us a year ago that they were looking forward to being back in the UAE. Then, we thought they were, well, nuts. Now, we are those people, too.

6) It can be rather hard to explain to those back in the US – or the people we met during our travels – what life here is really like. It seems that there is a backstory to every story. Also, for some reason, it’s easier to tell about the negative experiences.

7) Speaking of backstories, here’s one now: just kidding.  Lesson learned when telling stories to family back home–trim the backstories to the bare minimum, or your loved ones will tune out before you get to the good stuff.

8) Strangely, following the most obvious road signs from one place to another doesn’t always yield the fastest route.  Take our trip to Reims from Luxembourg, for example: this should have been a short two hours, judging by Google Maps, but it took us no less than six hours of meandering secondary roads.

The French countryside somewhere along a rural road between Rheims and Luxembourg.

The French countryside somewhere along a rural road between Rheims and Luxembourg.

We found some great mountain roads between Luxembourg and Germany.  This was just over the German border.

We found some great mountain roads between Luxembourg and Germany. This was just over the German border.

Somewhere in France...

Somewhere in France…

9) That brings us to this point: enjoy being on the verge of lost or completely off track.  Make it a point to simply have a great time exploring.  Make the best of sore feet (an excuse to stop at that little cafe!) or winding back roads (pull over and get a photo of the picturesque mountain pass).  The single best day of our trip was when we were driving, completely by accident and thanks to the road signs, the French countryside.  And enjoy the crummy places you end up, too (within reason, of course), like Ostend.  Where else would we have ever gotten locked in a Japanese garden?  It was a memorable experience at least.

10) It’s good to come home.  We already knew this.  But what we didn’t expect was to grow tired of traveling, since we both love it.  Still, we did.  After what started to seem too long on the road, we found ourselves especially grateful to have our own space and the chance to return to our routines.

Thursday List: Things I Never Thought I’d Say Before I Moved Here

1. It’s 95F. Do you think it’s warm enough to go to the beach?

2. I am freezing, if I knew it was going to be 55 degrees outside, I would have brought my jacket along.

3. Yes. (To a person asking if they can take your baby to the back room of the office to show to their colleagues.)

4. I’ve been to 3 malls today.

5. Let’s go to the park tonight. I miss grass.

6. What time are we meeting your students at the mall?

7. We have not been to Dubai in, like, two weeks!

And the worst one:

8. I miss Walmart and Target.

Thursday List: Things Russia and UAE Have in Common

Thanks to all of our readers for giving last week’s post thousands of hits!

For this week’s list, we’ve come up with a number of things that the UAE has in common with Russia.  I’ve been to Russia three times, spending weeks at each go, and the wife, of course, lived there for many years.  After the better part of a year living here in the UAE, we’ve noticed some similarities.  Let me preface this by saying none of it’s meant to be offensive.  That’s not the spirit that it’s written in.  These are just our observations.  If you disagree, feel free to say so.  Also, we’re tag-teaming the writing, so you’ll have to apply your brain power to figure out who’s the “I” sometimes, but we have a great deal of faith in your capability to use deductive reasoning.

Alright, let’s get started:

1) Fatalism.  Wow, that’s a strong word, isn’t it?  I don’t think anyone probably likes having it applied to themselves, but here I go doing it anyway.  When I first visited Russia, I was amazed by the number of people who would observe a problem and then shrug their shoulders and say, “Ah, what can I do about it.” Here in the UAE, the number of “inshallahs” a person hears everyday, especially when dealing with important paperwork, is maddening, and basically presents an extremely similar viewpoint on life.  Jenia says that there is a saying, “Avos’,” in Russian which means more or less the same thing. What can I do about anything?  Nothing!  It’s not my fault.  I have no part in this.  I make no guarantees. Maybe…. God willing…

2) Cheating.  It’s practically institutionalized here.  Kids expect it.  Teachers expect it.  The sheer lack of ability that’s applied to academic pursuits is mind-blowing.  In Russia, it is the same.  Many will probably argue, but in reality it’s not nearly as big an offense as it is in the US.  It was absolutely normal for me (Jenia here) to help my classmates with Russian/English/French and to get help from them with Trigonometry or Chemistry.  Teachers knew. We never got zeroes. Ever.

3) Crazy driving.  Picture this: you’re driving along the interstate highway, the motorway, going a little over the speed limit (i.e. 80 mph or so) in the middle lane, and a Bentley sedan zips past you so fast that your car rocks from the wind blast.  It’s followed a moment later by a BMW and an Audi.  Roundabouts are an adventure in daring and intimidation.  In Russia, traffic incidents are so common that people install dash cams in their cars to help determine who’s at fault (among other reasons).

4) Rules are made to be broken.  Or bent, or flexed, or altered, or applied selectively.  Russians hop over fences and ignore signs.  So do Emiratis.  Seatbelts aren’t usually worn.  The legal driving age is 18 in Abu Dhabi, but plenty of 16 year-olds drive themselves to school.  In both countries, the number of people carrying infants in their lap instead of in a carseat is mind-blowing (we think, it’s partly ignorance and partly the afore-mentioned “inshallah/maybe” mentality.  Need I say more?

5) A default religion.  Here people identify themselves as Muslim because that’s the culture they belong to.  I know there’s further religious reasoning behind it, but what I’m saying is that there are plenty of folks who don’t take their religion very seriously, even though they’d identify themselves as Muslim.  In Russia, the same is true, but of Orthodox Christians.  Even if they’ve never been to a church service, they’ll tick the “Orthodox” box.

6) Conformity.  Society doesn’t like individualists here.  You’re part of a group, and you have to do things the way the group wants them done.  You don’t see it to the same degree in Russia, but the old Soviet reality of punishable initiative still dwells in the minds of too many.  It is not always a bad thing, not at all.  It can be, however.

7) Attitude toward foreigners/strangers.  A friend of mine once said that Russians are like coconuts.  They’re hard on the outside, but soft and wonderful on the inside.  The same seems mostly true of Emiratis.  They’re mostly oblivious to you in public, but once you are invited into a home, you’ll find yourself in the company of kind, gracious people.  This leads us to number 8:

8) Hospitality.  When you become friends with a Russian or an Emirati, they shower you with hospitality.  You’ll find lavish meals laid out before you and people eager to share their culture with you.

9) Propaganda.  As a friend of Jenia’s mentioned recently, one can’t help wondering if the Russian government is drugging its people: reasonable individuals seem to be losing their critical thinking skills and believing in whatever the TV is pouring down on them.  In the UAE, a teacher is not allowed to talk about anything related to Islam, Judaism, or any other religion, he/she cannot use a map or a globe that has Israel and/or Persian instead of Arabian Gulf on it; both terrorist attacks and pigs are never to be mentioned.

10) Nature. Both countries have some fantastic views to offer. Yet, neither culture seems to care in the least about preservation. Littering of epic proportions is widespread.

We’ve chosen to write about things which are different from what your average American experiences back home in the USA.  Some strike us because they’re surprising, others because they’re merely unlike what we live with normally.  There are, of course, a great number of commonalities shared by each of the countries we mention, and the UAE and Russia are wonderful and interesting in their own ways.

Thursday List: Dear Santa

I think it’s lucky we are not brand-dependent. We won’t be running around the local supermarkets in a frenzy, looking for “Comet,” certain that none of the dozens of local cleaners will work as well. My face won’t turn into a pumpkin if I turn away from Clinique ($70-something for a moisturizer that costs $25 in the US!) We may miss Red Robin (great vegetarian burgers), but, truth be told, everything or most everything we used to cook in the States we can cook here as well.

Still, there are things we miss. Silly things, most of them. Embarrassing, even. Supposedly, some of them may be found here from time to time, but you have to be very lucky. So, Santa, here’s what we want for Christmas:

1. White Cheddar Cheez-Its. Oh, how I want some White Cheddar Cheez-Its! I’d probably eat any kind at this point, but none are available.

2. Cape Cod Salt & Vinegar chips. More junk food, I know, but these are the best.

3. Soy protein powder for Shon. Everything here is whey-based (gives Shon a cough), meat-based (we are vegetarian) or completely artificial.

4. Pad Thai noodle kit by Thai Kitchen. We are starved for Thai and Japanese food here. It can only be found in big cities and is ridiculously expensive. If you think good sushi is expensive in the US, think again.

5. Japanese sprinkles for rice. Man, I miss the Asian supermarket! I would also kill for a giant bag of frozen vegetable potstickers.

6. A craft store in Al Ain. Apparently, nobody is interested in crafts here. There is a very small selection of yarn at fabric stores, no jewelry-making or scrapbooking/card-making supplies at all. The biggest selection of crafting supplies I found was at a local bookstore and we’re talking about 1 (one) aisle of construction paper, canvases, several different kinds of paint, yarn, foam, and styrofoam. I may be able to make Mod Podge at home, but there’s no way I can come up with my own Armour Etch!

I may be seen kissing the floors of Hobby Lobby and Michael’s when we return to the US.

7. A candy thermometer. While I’ve successfully made marshmallows without out before, it makes life so much easier! Apparently, people don’t make candy here either.

8. A decent photo printing service somewhere in this vicinity. I am not paying for shipping photos from Shutterfly, and the only two photo printing shops we found here seem to be using regular printers. Yikes.

That’s all I can think of for now. Give me a month or two, and I’ll probably be changing my stance on brand-dependency. That’s what might happen when I run out of my hair products from the States and remember what life was like before Aveda, CHI, and Big Sexy. Then again, may be not.

More Mosques: Thursday’s Pictorial List

Four local mosques: a pictorial list for Thursday.

There are, as you know, some lovely mosques around.  We’ve hardly photographed any of them, but these are all interesting in some way, shape, or form, and I thought I’d share.  None of these are amazing photos in themselves, and since they were all taken with my iPhone, there is considerable lens distortion in some images.  Still, I hear there is no better camera than the one you happen to have with you, and I think you might enjoy a look.

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1) In downtown Al Ain, this mosque, mostly hidden behind the palms and the fountains in this image, is perhaps the most modernistic one that I’ve seen in town. The green lights up top are clocks, which display the time in English and Arabic, as well as the date and month.

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2) This one is about the size of a small gas station and I think it’s picturesque in it’s own way.

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3) More attractive in person, this one has a couple of tall minarets and is what I immediately think of when I think of the word “mosque.”

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4) This reminds me of Alderaan (I told you I was a Star Wars nerd). Sort of spaceship looking, yes?

The call to prayer is echoing gently off the apartment complex’s facade as I write, and I think that signals an excellent time to end this post.

Whew!

Thursday List: Reasons to be Tired.

This is Shon, writing from the Clarion hotel in Elmhurst, Illinois.

1. After a couple or three weeks of hectic packing, driving, visiting, and so forth, I’ve every right to be.  And my trip is finally underway.

2. Weather delayed most all flights out of Atlanta this afternoon, resulting in lots of waiting around.  It’s tiring to sit around in an airport (although, to be fair, this was easier than usual, since I had friends to hang out with, and after my friends and I went our separate ways, I met a bunch of teachers who are also heading to Abu Dhabi, all of whom were very friendly).

The group of teachers waiting around T9 as gates were changed and times pushed back.

3.  A missed connection (due to said delay) resulted in a long ordeal at O’Hare–who knew that they roll the sidewalks up at 10:00pm there?–and it was almost midnight by the time we (I say we because there’s a dozen of us EMTs traveling the same flights, and we’ve grouped up) got to a hotel after getting things figured out with American Airlines.  Tiring.

The hotel voucher it took at least an hour to obtain after missing the Royal Jordanian flight to Amman.

4.  The hotel, The Clarion, is in Elmhurst, which has to be half an hour from O’Hare.  It sure felt that way in the cab on the way here.

Where I’m writing from.

5.  It took an almost impossibly hard to imagine 45 minutes just to get a room.  Maybe due to the numerous folks paying in cash?  Maybe the single night duty clerk was overwhelmed by the influx of people?  Dunno, but my feet were starting to complain by the time he finally got to me.

6. It’s 2:30 EST–of course I’m tired!

7. I’ve parted (temporarily, of course) from my lovely wife, and I miss her.

The list format is kind of a fun way to boil the day’s events down to the essence.  I have other stories to tell, but I’ll save them for later.  You’ll soon see a post on The Amazing Hyena of Concourse E.  For the time being, I’m treating today’s trials as more training in the importance of having patience.  Good night.