Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm Back At It!!!

Greetings everyone:

I arrived back in Abu Dhabi on August 16, 2010, after a harrowing experience at Detroit Metro airport -- they thought my bags were too heavy and would not check me in!!!! This did not pose a problem last year and I was bewildered why the rules had changed. After much delay, I had to repack some of my stuff into boxes to get the weight down in my bags. Thank God I had my friends, Lindy and Gayle to help me. I was a wreck and ended up paying $550 U.S. dollars to get all my stuff on the plane. I was running to my gate due to these delays and just made my flight. As you can see my return to Abu Dhabi started off on a sour note. To add insult to injury, none of my bags arrived in Abu Dhabi -- they were being sent to Dubai. I received 3 of the bags about 2 days later and the last of my luggage a couple days after that complete with one end of my bag ripped open!!

Returning two weeks early was part of my housing co-ordinator agreement. I had to reinspect 45 flats, buy furniture, move furniture around and make welcome bags for newly arriving teachers. I hit the ground running -- early mornings followed by late nights for several days. Ramadan was in full swing so shop hours were altered and no eating/drinking in public during the day. The frustration surrounding this task was ongoing. Language barriers with the workers was a real hassle -- they could not follow instructions and seemed to lack common sense. They would drag furniture on the ground scrapping the surface and move furniture in a pick-up truck without any tarps causing further damage. I was on my hands and knees cleaning out a fridge in a flat while they stood and watched me. They did not take the initiative on anything and had to be hand held to get a simple task done. I worked so hard the first two weeks to get most of the snags worked out in all the flats. I was even at school one night until 1:30 a.m. making new teacher welcome bags after spending the day shopping for cart loads of pillows, blankets, and the works. The teacher welcome bags were amazing compared to what I received when I arrived last year.

The next day had me delivering all the bags to the new teacher flats with, you guessed it, the mindless labour guys who needed to be spoon fed with directions -- so challenging to work with!!

I enjoyed 3 evenings of events with the new teachers -- dinners, drinks and parties. They seem like a great bunch of people and the orientation for them has been better organized this year compared to last year.

All the returning teachers eventually arrived in AD and our orientation began. Most people were thrilled with all the improvements to their flats, but there is still a long way to go to upgrade all that needs to be done. My task is done as far a housing is concerned and I got my reward in my recent paycheck.

The chaotic schedule has begun at school with meetings and classroom set-up. Today is Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, the official end of Ramadan and we are enjoying a 5 day Eid El Fitr holiday. I tried to book a last minute flight to Nepal on Wednesday night, but the Qatar airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha was full. Oh well, probably better I rest and get more done. I am hosting a grade 4 team dinner at my flat on Saturday night to officially welcome my teammates. My nemesis from last year is gone -- hooray!! The new team seem great and I am hoping for the best this year.

I have lucked out with a flat to myself this year. My roommate has also received her own flat. They hired more single men and couples this year, so more females have their own flats. It is fantastic to be on my own. I am still getting my flat organized and the first 2 weeks I arrived I was far to busy to spend time unpacking or setting myself up.

We had an Iftar dinner for all the teachers on Wednesday evening at "The Club" (formerly known as "The British Club"). It was a nice evening. Don't really know what all the hoopla is about surrounding "The Club". Costly to join and far removed from where I live -- not my cup of tea. I joined Abu Dhabi Country Club for aerobics only. This is enough to get me through to the fantastic weather of November to March, during which time I will bike ride, walk and do pilates.

I've been out to my favorite haunts of last year -- 3rd ave and Captains Arms, but no music during Ramadan has dampened the mood. I plan to hang low this year and do my own thing more -- less cocktails and less men -- what's the point!!

I will start the onerous task of researching what I will do with myself at the end of this 2nd year contract. As there are no jobs in Ontario, Canada, I may stay international but where, I still do not know. I plan to spend alot of time on my computer investigating my options and hope this big question mark reveals an answer to me.

November will see me travelling to Singapore and hopefully meeting with a couple school officials while there. I am already booked for this trip and hope to meet up with some fellow Canadians and some American friends of friends as well. School officially begins on Sept. 13 so I'm sure I will have plenty of news for subsequent updates.

Until then, MacEachern out. XXOO

Friday, June 18, 2010


It is Friday, June 18 and I fly home tonight just after midnight. All night to Amsterdam then all day to Detroit, Michigan which is just across the border from my hometown Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It all feels so surreal. I have felt like I have lived here for over 2 years and have become so accustomed to my nomadic lifestyle.

May was just a usual month with all my travels complete and plowing through the final full month of school. It was busy as usual with the typical day to day routines. The nightlife continued to be enjoyable especially when Steve was in the picture -- which wasn't often enough unfortunately!

The director of the school asked me to take on the role of "Housing Co-ordinator" which meant I would spend all of May right up until the day I leave (today) taking care of all the housing issues of teachers. I had to inspect 45 flats and make detailed lists of appliance, maintenance and furniture needs. The housing is really quite entry level and because our school is "for profit" they are very tight with the money. I'm talking mold, cockroaches, water leaks everywhere, broken furniture and horrible appliances. Luckily, the timing is right and change is in the wind. After begging, the business manager has released money to me and I have been on a teacher shopping spree buying furniture. He has also assured me that appliances will be purchased where needed and delivered before my return. The maintenance will hopefully get done to all the flats while I am in Canada, but I will return 2 weeks early to once again inspect all flats to ensure what was supposed to be done has been completed. It has been an onerous and extremely stressful task -- I'm not sure I would take it on again. I will also be responsible for making welcome bags for new arriving teachers that will contain the necessities (sheets, towels, toiletries, etc.).

Report cards up until the last day were equally daunting -- I retained 4 children from my challenging class. We were then responsible for doing Ministry reports as well. One of my final tasks was to "tear-down" my classroom, bulletin boards, bookshelves, etc. The last week was so hectic and on top of that I had been so very sick on the day before the school week started with the flu (vomiting and such) -- NICE!! My bouts of nausea continued all week until I was forced to go to the doctor. I think I am on track now.

My nemesis on my team continued to haunt me until the last day -- we have been like oil and water all year and the year end was no exception. We ended the year on a very bad note and she is desperately trying to leave our school for greener pastures -- I hope and pray she gets another opportunity in another country so I can have a fresh start with a new team. The other 3 team members are all leaving -- 1 back to Canada, 1 back to the U.S. and 1 heading to grade 5 for a new challenge. If only this last thorn would depart and I would have the pleasure of 4 new people; set the record straight and welcome them from the beginning. I would like to offer to them what was not offered to me when I began back in August 2009 -- encouragement, interest in their opinions and ideas, warmth, inclusion.

The year has been so full of learning and the curve has been huge, but I have once again survived! I have had many moments of loneliness and uncertainty, but also of happiness (mostly from my kids). Making friends has been harder than I imagined, as has meeting good quality men. Working within a team still challenges me, but I love my kids and relate very well with their parents.

I leave Abu Dhabi with mixed emotions. Anxious to go home and relax and just chill is top of my list. I am so excited to see my parents, sibs, friends and most of all my boy Cricket. I will miss Abu Dhabi despite its heat and other inconveniences. When I return in August, I will once again be so sad to leave my home and come back, but I know that it will be much easier the 2nd time around.

I plan to take a brief break from the blog during the next couple of months, but will again be sharing my adventures when I return in August. Fall of 2010 and into 2011 will see me traveling to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and Turkey. More of the world to see, more people to meet and so many more lessons to learn.

Until then, be well,

Love Rhetta