Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: March 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ode to Dust!

Sandstorms are a common occurrence here. View out of my window.

Damn Dust!
In my eyes and in my hair
And other places I dare not share
Fouls my couch and fouls my chair
I’d trade my Kingdom for some clean air

Damn Dust!
Always filthy is my car
In the summer one can’t see far
I know I can’t win this war
I just want to hole-up in a bar

Damn Dust!
Covers my clothes and covers my floor
Intrusive clouds when I crack my door
Open the windows, in comes more
Pisses me off to the core

Damn Dust!
Makes me have to clean each day
And I just ain’t made that way
All my efforts to do what may
Is never enough to keep it at bay

Damn Dust!
Between my teeth I feel the grit
Pardon me if I need to spit
More of this and I’ll have a fit
I just had to pick this nit

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mangroves Again

I know you all tire of reading my multiple posts about my haircuts and mangrove flat kayak trips but I had to post this experience I had last weekend. There were so many incredible things I saw it is worth note.

My Italian co-worker and boat owner, "Il Capitano" and I planned a second kayak trip, this time with fishing gear, food and cooking utensils as a longer day of exploring was anticipated. The security guys at the launch point amazingly recognized us from the previous excursion and waved us on as if we were long-lost cousins. I guess we made some kind of impression before.

That hurdle being jumped, we ventured out into the bounding main and set a course for the same area as last time. Once we got there, we noticed that the tide was running into the estuary this time and the environment looked completely different. What was bare sand on the previous trip was now covered in water.

So it was decided to take a narrow slough which opened up into a wide flat covered in a few feet of water. The strong tidal current was at our backs which made progress easy. Eager to wet the hooks, we beached on a small piece of dry ground. Il Capitano jumped out of the boat and immediately sank up to his knees in soft sand. After pulling him out with the aid of a paddle, we settled down to catch lunch.

Easy paddling with tide at our backs

Acres (hectares) of shallow waters in high tide mode

Initial landfall at this was covered in the high tide 45 minutes later and we had to go.

"Il Capitano" enjoying a frosty malt beverage

We spotted this covered walkway within paddling distance

The buildings in the background were our launching point, a lot of real estate was covered

So when we no fish were caught and the dry land we were beached on was rapidly reclaimed by the tide, we thought paddling to the mysterious walkway would be a good idea. with the aid of the incoming tide, we made it there in record time. Somewhere along the way my camera ingested some salt water and refused to record any more images.

We reached the wooden walkway and made it our base of operations for awhile. It seemed about 2 kilometers long and was of extremely high quality construction. We fished for awhile and caught nothing so the charcoal grilled burgers tasted good. On three occasions I saw wild gazelles prancing around in the area......and my damn camera was shot. Their hoofprints were everywhere in the sand. Abu Dhabi literally means "Father of the Gazelle".

The snakelike, palm frond covered walkway we found. This became Base-Ops as no one was around...wild Gazelles were abundant though! We fished at the main channel in the center of this Google Earth view

An interesting thing happed during the time I was on the elevated walkway fishing and eating hamburgers, The tidal current slowed, stopped and the reversed all in a couple of hours. That meant an almost effortless trip back as we had the tidal current at our backs once again. The equivalent of going downhill both ways. I have never seen tides change that much in so little time. I would estimate the current at about 5-7 knots due to the narrowness of the channels. I was pleased at this as I am a lazy bastard and did not relish paddling back that far against the strong current we had at our advantage on the way in . The return voyage ended up a relaxing sightseeing trip.

We got skunked fishing, but I did have a stone crab on a hook when I pulled up my line when it was time to go. I let the poor fellow go. He was quite agitated!

The main thing I regret is that my camera failed on me. To be fair, it was not waterproof, it was 4 years old and it had less megapixels than my mobile phone, but I missed some of the best photos in my life. It served me well as a secondary device lately. I don't take my good Canon SX10is on such trips.

The last image of my Canon A510 PowerShot. My right foot in perfect macro focus, faithful 'til the end! It freaked out after this!

The Dearly Departed......I took thousands of photos with this

I now have an excuse to get a new toy....a waterproof camera. that is always fun although I regret missing some wonderful shots last weekend. 

The weather and water temperature were perfect and I didn't have to swat one insect the whole time. How cool is that?! It will be incredibly hot here in the near future which will make such voyages very uncomfortable. I hope we can squeeze another in by then!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Abu Dhabi Cocktail Club

Cocktail Club

I was watching Fox News (fair and balanced---we decide) one day in January and instead of the constant commercial breaks that tout pharmaceuticals, food /diet aids and cosmetics back in the USA, we get the Fox News Extra to fill in for the commercial time outs. These vignettes are usually 3 or 4 minutes of an automobile test, a musical interlude, celebrity reports and other things of passing interest instead of the aforementioned commercial crap the unfortunate viewers in the US are exposed to.

The particular Extra I saw featured an interview with the creator of He explained how his website provides a venue where like-minded folks can start a social group. It sounded like a good concept so I went to the WWW to check it out. Lo and behold, I found a few groups in Abu Dhabi.. The one that caught my interest was the Cocktail Club. I enjoy a pint now and then and being a social animal, it seemed to be a good fit.

I joined the group and nervously cabbed it into the city for the inaugural meetup at the Royal Meridian Hotel downtown. When I first met others in the group there, I was pleasantly surprised! There was a good cross-section of expats and all were very open and fun-loving people. Everyone was in a good mood and I met some great people! I felt comfortable instantly. Although I enjoy hanging with my co-workers, it was refreshing meeting folks from other backgrounds and vocations.

The group has since had another Meetup at the One 2 One hotel and that was a success, too. I ended up with a cool ashtray obtained by somewhat dodgy means!

Prized Ashtray

Thanks to Victoria for the concept and execution. She has done a fine job! I recommend all fun-loving people in Abu Dhabi to check out the group at: Cocktail Club


Friday, March 5, 2010

Land of the Giants

Last weekend I visited a little known place in the hinterlands south of Abu Dhabi. It is called the Emirates National Automobile Museum. This is not your usual "walk around an nod" museum. I actually liked it here!

Entrance to the ENAM

It is filled chock-a-block with the loud, smelly, powerful machines that I have always! Not the trendy, wimpy hybrid electro-green variants we are plagued with today. I am talking about Hot Rods that make our chests rumble when they are at full throttle. Machines that burn dead dinosaur juice and make a proper show of power! I am partial to big American V-8 engines. Crude as they may be, there is nothing that sounds like them! They are an exclusive Detroit invention and the Europeans and Japanese have tried but have yet to duplicate the raw torque, power and sound of these engines!

ENAM was designed and built by a member of the UAE Royal Family, Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nayhhan, AKA the Rainbow Sheikh. He has generously opened his museum to the public. He is well known for his chartiable contributions. The museum is free to all and I met visitors from all over the world there.

The Sheikh is apparently a fan of all things automotive, he likes his cars so much, he made large examples of them. Take a look at this motorhome in the parking lot of the museum.

The Guinness Book of World Records Motorhome. Eight bedrooms and me by the tire.

Another Type of Motorhome 

No....this is not a photoshop,,,,it's the real deal! The detail is amazing!
I considered quitting drinking that day!

A Lockheed L1011 sitting on the desert sands.

A 1950's Dodge Super Lancer, when Detroit ruled the world!
Typical Americana. The Coral color was popular in the 50's.

Me standing in front of the Giant Power Wagon,  HRH Sheikh Zayed in the background. 
There are 4 bedrooms in the big truck...perfect for a night out at the drive-in movies!

"Screaming Chicken" on a 70's Pontiac Firebird Trans Am hood.

I brought my checkbook...OK, How much?

An evil looking Dodge Prowler....The Rainbow Sheikh seems very partial to Dodge automobiles

A classic Rolls Royce. They are fine machines but all British cars tend to leak oil. Note the drip pan. Part of the charm. I guess.

One of the Sheikh's personal Mercedes Benz.

I still can't get over this thing!

My favorite grillage!

The ultimate UAE commuter vehicle! 

Lunar Excursion Module


Safarimobile. Nothing like standing out while trying to blend in!

An early 70's Cadillac Eldorado Convertable. This beast sports a 500 cubic inch V-8 and front wheel drive. My brother owned one back in the day and it was like driving an aircraft carrier! Carbon footprint be damned! A fun car!

OK, I am secure in my manhood but I don't think I would be driving this thing around! That would just be asking for an ass whuppin!

Thanks to the "Rainbow Shiekh" for this museum. He has an amazing amount of vehicles that he obviously takes care of and allows us common folk to see for free.

I wish I could tell you exactly how to get there, but my Navigator and I got slightly lost on the way due to a severe dust storm enroute which masked landmarks. My GPS blew up, too! Navvie had been there before and we were "bewildered" for awhile. I had a full tank of petrol so I was never worried.

We finally made it due to Navvie's razor-sharp recollective skills ( I would have ended up in Saudi Arabia as is my male right, I never ask for directions) but an obscure roundabout was discovered that pointed the way.

From one gearhead to others, this is a must see! There is something for everyone there!

Kudos to the Rainbow Shiekh, he doesn't have to do it but he does! Cool Stuff!

I am still getting nightmares about the giant Jeep!