no, i don’t have whiplash literally.  only metaphorically.  although, those of you who know my track record with bodily injury wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to know that i have it for real.

before i’ve even had the chance to blog all about my adventures in africa, i’m waking up for the second day in abu dhabi in the united arab emirates.  i’m wearing a dress over jeans with my simple silver coin pendant and feeling unbelievably naked.  the dress code here is cover nearly every inch but the half inch of wrist, the fingers, and the toes need to be dripping in jewels, the shinier the better.  also, i felt the need to line my eyes with dark grey.  i’m working up to black tomorrow.  i usually don’t wear make up.  the women here are like women everywhere.  we all like to be seen.  since the face is the one exposed feature, they are flawless and over the top.  eyes are immaculately outlined and the skin is buffed and powdered to a satiny sheen.  the robes are called abaya, not burqa, actually. (i’ve seen about three women wearing actual burqa.  the burqa are actually metal masks that cover the eyes and mouth.  to me, they are very sci-fi and would look very comfortable being worn by seven of nine.  (geek alert.)  i would love to share pictures of all the different models with you, the sleeve details, the trims, the different black fabrics (silk, cotton, satin-shiny, heavy, nearly sheer) but if i take a picture of a muslim woman, well, this would be my last entry.  okay, so i wouldn’t be killed, necessarily, but i might lose an eye or a hand.  okay, so maybe not an eye or a hand, but i would definitely get in trouble.

anyhoo, as i was saying.  the women’s face are like jewels set in a dark cloud.  one woman even had the most deliberately styled unibrow.  it was like a dove in flight and put my dear frida to shame.

while the women are like dark, beads shimmering on a string, the men are white arrows darting around.  their head coverings float behind them like quivers with the black “head bands” look more like crowns.  my hosting friend explained to me that the black head bands are actually twisted into a figure eight.  it is done this way because when they would sleep in the desert long ago, they would keep one loop around their wrist and one around their camel’s leg to keep them from wandering off.

it is clean here.  like, really, really clean.  from my hotel room overlooking the road, the sound of the traffic never stops.  all night the cars sped past.  if feels more like an amusement park village than anything real.

the first night here, we went walking on the corniche (it’s like a boardwalk but much fancier) and even the sky seemed unreal.  i told my friend, who is hosting us, that i felt we were in a snow globe.  it just feels like a very contained environment where my reality is not allowed in.  it’s definitely a reality here, just not mine.  i am acutely aware that i am in a culture very different from the ones to which i am accustomed.

so far, we’ve walked the corniche.  it was bubbling over with children riding bikes, families picnicking on the grass, in-line skating teenage boys and awed tourists.  we’ve gone to the marina mall and bought water from starbucks, standing in line with young pre-pubescent sheiks (pronounced shakes) in their white robes (kandora) and fabulously draped stylish women.  we’ve gone to the heritage village and museum.  there, they have different small compounds with the traditional housing and tents in which the emirs and the people here used to live.  they are exquisite in their simplicity.  they are remarkable in their intelligent design.  the museum had pictures of abu dhabi in the sixties: it was an oasis scattered with these tents and palm frond huts.  it was, to my biased eye, far more exquisite than this western style parlor illusion that i am seeing around me now.  the village also had some workshops dedicated to the traditional crafts.  i couldn’t leave without a delicate glass candlestick made by an egyptian man who told us that our faces were as beautiful as the moon.  he offered us coffee brewed with cardamom and saffron to wash down our chocolates he insisted we take.  he works there eleven months of the year than heads home to see his three children for one month.

we’ve had indian food in the mall food court that rivals any indian food i’ve ever had.  of course, since this is the closest to india i’ve ever been, it stands to reason.  we’ve sped around in taxis that are more like mini-limos with drivers who really seem to enjoy the wide, straight roads.  we’ve gone grocery shopping in the grocery store that is just like nakumatt in kenya but bling-ier.  we’ve sat in the complimentary steam room here at the hotel.

one of the most amazing things is how well thought out everything is.  the one thing i’ll mention here (only because i’m running out of time…we’re off to our next adventure!) is that the room key to the hotel is also the, well, the fuse box to the best of my electric knowledge. this means that when you unlock your room to come in, you pop the key into a slot and boom…lights.  when you leave, you take the key with you and the electricity is off.  i’m trying to figure out how to do that in my house in the states.  imagine the savings!

on that note, please have an adventure of your own today.  it doesn’t have to be traveling across the globe but you do need to get out of your house and do something awesome.  then, you need to tell me what you did in the comments below.  that is all.

(okay, on the traffic thing:  i’m sitting here typing and my son is having a bowl of cereal.  he just came over to me and said that he figured out the sound of the traffic.  the lamborghinis particularly makes this sound:  mmmmmmyerr poor, mmmmmmmyiam rich.)