10.27.2008

Overseas Travels - Part IV

Our time in the capital city quickly revealed to us how different things were in this part of the world. Some of the first things that we had to learn were what NOT to do. Do not drink the water un-filtered; do not be careless in interaction with others, especially with the opposite sex; do not expect normal traffic patterns; pretty much, do not expect it to be like home! [There are a lot of interesting things about the culture, good and bad. We will write more on this in a later post.] None-the-less, we were enjoying being students and guests of the new culture.

Our time in the capital started at a local house with like-minded friends. We spent a couple nights there simply resting and relaxing. Not much to report. Afterwards, we moved across the city to a house of other like-minded folks. We were to stay there for a few nights for a country/culture orientation.

The orientation was very informative. The first day addressed some family/community, social, and cultural elements. We heard a bit about the history of the country. It was really good stuff. The second day was s bit different. We skipped the morning session because it was not very applicable to us since we were moving to another city. Before we were able to make it out to the afternoon session, we received a call from a friend who said we were on “lockdown.” This was because there was an “incident” in the city and a sister lost her life.

Because of the news, they ended up canceling the rest of the orientation course. So, we moved back to the first house and spent the rest of days relaxing some more, intentionally trying to really rest up so we could arrive in our final city ready to go. Thanks to Dad, it worked! October 23rd came around and we were rested and ready to go!

So, off to the airport we headed again, but this time at 5:45 AM. After 3-4 security checkpoints (of loading and unloading our luggage) and receiving unsolicited assistance from 10+ people (handling our bags and subsequently asking for tips), we managed to get all our bags there and on the plane.

As we waited in the terminal, it was crazy to think we were really almost to our new home. It had been such a long journey, but we were almost there. Even amongst the early morning fatigue, the excitement was mounting. Not so long after, a shuttle bus picked us up, we boarded the plane and took off.

Less than three hours later, we walked into the door of our new home…

10.26.2008

Overseas Travels - Part III

After Dubai, we were scheduled to head into the capital city of our country on October 16. So, we headed off to the Dubai International Airport to catch our flight. On the way there, thanks to an hour-and-a-half traffic jam, we were able to have good conversation with our driver, who was from Pakistan.

He was a very friendly guy, probably about late 20's in age. We enjoyed talking with "Nas" and hearing about his family in Pakistan and his life in Dubai. Keith even had the privilege of sharing his personal story and some "good news" about Father. Ask for Nas when you think of him.

Leaving the Dubai airport was relatively easy. Our flight was a little delayed -- about 3 hours -- but other than that nothing significant to report. The ride was smooth, the food good, and all three of us passed out promptly after the plane took off.

Our arrival in the capital city was interesting because, for security reasons, they normally don’t like to have flights arrive at night. We exited the plane, went through Passport control, got all 157 of our bags loaded onto two luggage carts, and proceeded out the terminal to make the walk to the parking lot. Then the fun began!

There were several persistent locals ready to push our carts for us. After our carts collapsed for the 2nd or 3rd time, a local man jumped in and took control of one of the carts for us. After about a half-mile obstacle-course walk, we arrived at the cars and scrambled about to get them into cars and all accounted for. We were almost successful. It turns out that one of our companions had an umbrella disappear. Thankfully, one of the men who were helping us just happened to find it stashed – uh, I mean misplaced – behind a concrete barrier in the grass about 20 feet from where we were.

Regardless, thanks be to Father that we made it into country and to our guest house safely, alive and well, and with all of our bags! To finish it all off, to end the night, we sat down to our first local meal and then headed off to bed.

Thanks for reading and, please, stay tuned!

PS - Sorry for no pictures on this post. Internet/website issues...

10.20.2008

Overseas Travels - Part II

We'll pick up where the other let off...in Dubai. We arrived in Dubai in the early morning hours of October 14. Our stay, however, was actually in Sharjah, which is the emirate next to Dubai. It is one of the seven "states" of the United Arab Emirates.

It's really an interesting place. There is a lot of wealth and western influence here, but it is still an overtly Islamic country. There are Quizno's Sandwich Shops, KFC's, and Islamic National Banks; and, of course, there are mosques on every corner.


We enjoyed our time here. We got lots of rest, and probably worked through most of our jet lag here, which was great! During our visit, we were able to make a few outings, mostly to the shopping mall areas. Along the way, we were able to see how much the area is growing. There is construction everywhere! I think we heard some statistic that one-third of the world's cranes are in Dubai (UAE).

The first visit was to what was called the "Mega Mall."


We walked around and saw a bunch of merchandise that we couldn't afford, and ate at the Chili's there.


On a second outing, we went to more of a "common" mall -- I forgot the name. Here, we visited what would be considered the local equivalent of our Wal Mart. We only got off one picture before some store reps made me turn off my camera. I am glad they did, because there are some cultural no-no's involved in taking other people's pictures. Thankfully, the one photo we got (below) has no culturally "offensive" material.


Probably the most enjoyable part of being in Sharjah was the rest. It was nice. There wasn't a ton of sleep, but there also wasn't a lot we had to do. We really enjoyed just being still (not traveling) and having some family time together.


And, of course, Benjamin enjoyed the times he got to play in the courtyard area.


We will leave off here and continue on at a later time with our travels into country. Thanks for reading! And, more importantly, thanks for pr'ing!

Overseas Travels - Part I

Well, we are in country! It has been quite a ride so far, with a little bit to go until we are in our new home. We will continue to update you all with e-mail and blog posts when we can. Until then, though, we wanted to share a bit with you about our travels so far. We hope you enjoy!

We left Virginia on Sunday, October 12. Below is a picture with us and all of our bags. We didn't do too bad. We had 9 checked bags (including a pack-n-play and a guitar w/case) and 3 carry-on bags. So we looked pretty American with all of our luggage, but not as American as other Americans usually do. LOL! At least, Benjamin seemed to think so:


We flew out from Washington D.C. and, boy, were we ready to go!

The below pic is us on our way to Frankfurt, Germany. Benjamin was a great inernational traveler! He loved everything about the plane and the people on it...so much that he hardly slept! The total flight time was about 8 hours.


We hit the wall of fatigue at the Frankfurt International Airport. Pretty much the entire time was spent taking turns between napping and walking Benjamin around in the stroller. This went on for about 4-5 hours. Frankfurt was a nice halfway point, but kind of rough on the Fergusons. See if you can spot the sleepiness on Benjamin's face.


The next flight was to Dubai and lasted for about 6 hours. This time, Benjamin went right to sleep and had a pretty uneventful rest of the flight. Julie and I weren't too upset. After it was all said and done, we were in Dubai by 12:15 AM on October 14, and in bed by 3 AM. Not a bad couple days of travel!

Soon, we will post about our stay in Dubai and beyond. So, stay tuned...

10.14.2008

For Papa Bear

Benjamin's "Papa Bear" (Grandpa Ferguson) has long been requesting a video of one of Benjamin's new means of communication -- sign language. Benjamin knows how to sign please to help let us he wants something. He will point at what he wants and then rub his hands on the front of his shirt. Eventhough it, technically, isn't the correct way to sign please, he certainly gets his message across. For those parents out there, you would have to agree that this is much better than him screaming at us until we give him something.

So, without further delay, this one is for you Papa Bear. Hope you enjoy...


Last Night in the States

Well, our last night in the states was mostly spent packing, but we did steal away for a couple of hours to spend some time together as a family. We went up to Short Pump to walk around and run a few errands. On the weekends they have a train that drives around the mall for the kids (or the kids at heart) and since we had been meaning to do that since we first saw it, we decided to go for it. Benjamin had a BLAST riding the train!





After riding the train, we went to the food court and had some pizza and then were off to Barnes & Noble for some reading material for the journey over. I am such a book worm, but I managed to limit my selections to only three books. :o)

Lastly we went to The Cheesecake Factory for some dessert to-go. I am a big fan of cheesecake, so I wanted to have some before we left. We had an awesome time!


BUBBLES!!!!!