October 10, 2009

*This is a photo of Aami at the Abu Dhabi airport. She loved playing with the life-size statue of a camel. Very stereotypical and can you say HARAM? lol*
A'salaamu alaikum! This is part of an email I sent my family, laughing about my travel experiences as a solo mom of a sick baby en flight. Enjoy!

Anyway the trip to Chicago from Knoxville was almost uneventful with the exception of Aaminah crying so hard she vomited all over her outfit. No worries, I was smart and packed 3 changes of clothes alhamdulillah.

No problem, how many more changes could she need??? This is what I thought rather smugly to myself.

Well, that said, our flight was momentarily delayed on the landing strip. Thankfully that gave me time to change Aaminah's clothes.

Then we had to rush to get on our next flight. I didn't realize it at the time I booked our tickets, but 2.5 hours isn't enough as I had to get boarding passes for my flight in Chicago. So rush rush rush and a nice man from the ticket counter actually helped us not by-pass security but fast track it. Of course all that rushing only meant we got to sit and wait on our flight for 30 minutes but I guess they want you on early as we were two of the last ones to board.

Sooo long story short, I had no time to change Aaminah's diaper since Knoxville. After take-off we were required to stay buckled in for a while and then of course i had to deal with my motion sickness. Great. lol It gets worse as I get older; I will never travel again without some sort of medication!

So all this meant Aami had the same diaper since pre-flight Knoxville and by the time I was able to stand up to change her...yep, you guessed it. She had peed thru her diaper onto her newly-changed clothes. :-(( Now we are down to her LAST outfit and I was stressing! We still had 14 hours of flying time plus airport juggling.

Thankfully she kept those clothes clean. Whew!! But in my desire to pack only comfy clothes for her and my silliness to think she would not require so many changes of clothes, I had packed just a short brown shirt and white leggings. White. On a toddler. On a long trip. LOL That was a stroke of GENIUS, especially if I wanted her to look like a little beggar child upon arrival.

However once we landed in Abu Dhabi and a very kind young lady helped out a struggling mom with too many carry-ons, I was able to break into a suit case and find a cute dress. You know most of the people who travel in this region really dress their kids up for a flight. Aami had carseat bedhead that made her beautiful bouncy curls a HOT MESS and both of her cheeks were inflamed and rough and red due to some unnamed allergeric reaction and my use of wet wipes on her face.

Yeah, finding a nice dress was paramount at this point! lol

Simply put, I've learned alot about flying with small children and plan to adjust accordingly before next we travel. Oh and please please please please PLEASE do not let it be traveling alone again. :-)

You know I have been writing this email for 2 days now. It seems I never have a truly spare minute. Of course also wanting to spend time with Abdullah but even besides that, Aaminah was sick for a couple of days, she is teething, and trying to make sense of her new world. All of this, PLUS the jet lag, resulted in an often cranky, never really sleeping well baby who also refused to eat.

WHAT?? Chunka dunk not eating you say? Yep, She was not a fan of food for a few days but now she is perking up. I think the cold just made her feel bleh and took away her appetite. However the jet lag is receding now (she has been asleep since 10:30 I think tonigh) and life is becoming normal.

I know this is a looong email but it was way past due. We have (fairly) reliable internet here so I really am in a good position to communicate... well as long as Aaminah cooperates. :-)

Alright end of disclaimers. Some interesting facts about UAE:

* You never see elderly people here. The population is overwhelmingly made up of expatriates and of course they are always young and rarely allowed to bring over relatives, especially aging ones. I saw an old man today and was like...what??? :-) I realized how odd that was and asked Abdullah about it. See above for his answer. ;-)

* There are many recognizable brands here from fast food (Krispy Kreme, yay!) to clothing to vinegar. Yep, Heinz. :-)

*People are rude in a really impersonal way. Like at the "hyper market" (large grocery store) today it was really busy and people will just push your cart out of the way or walk right in front of you. None of the polite waiting for a couple of seconds, oh no! It was weird but I adjusted quickly which meant I still try to wait and be polite and say excuse me while getting cut off. LOL

* UAE is overall a very clean country. I appreciate that.

* My husband is GREAT. OK so to be fair, that isn't a fact about UAE but he lives here, it's my blog, you do the math. :-)

* Although this is a Muslim majority country it is also a conglomerate of cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities. Mainly Indo-Pak but others are represented as well.

* It's weird not seeing any dogs around. Not strays nor pets. Abdullah said some people have them of course but I don't think I have seen even one yet.

* It is verrrry safe here. We took a walk at 2:30 am the other morning. Quiet, peaceful, niiiice.

* They consider 90+ degree weather to be pretty sweet. Our apartment stays at about 80 to 82 degrees. Abdullah is really sweet masha'Allah and turns the air down during the day a bit for me to about 77 degrees which feels D-Lish. Really. I am acclimating to the temps and gives props to myself for starting my campaign at home before I came here. :-)

* Driving rules: what are those? This could be the topic of a WHOLE other post so I'll just Fast. We say a massive twisted, scrunched up wreck on a divided highway with no entrance or exit ramps, bright dry sunny day. I mean, what did they wreck on ??? A banana peel? haha

OK so excuse some of the oddities which made it obvious this was written for a personal email and not a blog post. Just don't have the time right now to fine tune everything. :-)

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah

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