Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stormy Weather

We had a doozy of a sandstorm yesterday and the forecast indicates it will continue like this for a few more days so I figured I'd let you in on the joy that is sandstorms in Abu Dhabi.

Now, if you're like I was when we arrived here EXACTLY 13 months and 3 days ago, you're having a hard time picturing what a sandstorm really looks and feels like. I had heard about them and certainly seen some really cool ones in a few movies, but really? what actually happens? Let me try to explain.

Let's start in the house, where I'm sitting now typing out this blog post. I'm facing the patio and am looking out on the garden and the 6 foot wall that surrounds it. Behind the wall is another compound with some very large and mature trees and lots of birds. From this relatively protected spot, a day of sandstorms just looks like a really windy day. The trees are swaying like mad and if I compare the color of the plant leaves in the morning to their color in late afternoon, they've gotten significantly dusty with sand. I can also see a uniformly thin layer of sand covering the patio and everything out there (including the laundry I hung out this morning).

Now, let's move to the pool since I decided yesterday to finally get my lazy butt off the couch and get some exercise. Again, it was really windy, and once I stepped outside, I could feel the sand whipping through the air. It just feels gritty. Not so much that it feels like it's getting in your eyes at first, but then slowly you realize it's getting everywhere - in your hair, eyes, ears, nose and mouth, You learn quickly not to wear lip gloss or lick your lips too often. :)

So anyway, I'm at the pool, set up my stuff on a sun chair and jump in for a few laps. All is well as I'm in the water and aside from it being a bit cool when I stand up because of the wind - everything's pretty much the same as it always is when I go for a swim (and by that I mean, uncontrolled splashing, snorting water and really bad form). When I get out and back to my chair is when the realization hits - everything is covered with a fine layer of sand - my towel, the chair cushion, the US magazine I was planning to read, my cell phone ... ugh. I can kind of shake it all off, but as I sit there for the next 30 minutes or so reading my magazine, I can feel it dusting back onto everything. And of course, because I'm wet it's sticking to me - especially in my hair. By the time I head back in, I feel really gritty and dirty and head off for a shower.

Brian and I then headed off to run a few errands in town and experienced the sandstorm on the roads. The sky is really hazy during a storm - almost like a brown fog, but dry and of course, there's that wind I've already mentioned. We were heading into town so the roads are a bit more protected by all the buildings, which really helped. Short distance visibility wasn't a problem, but you couldn't even see the skyline of Abu Dhabi as we were driving in because it was so hazy. The paper this morning said the wide open road to Dubai was down to 300 meters visibility in some places. YIKES! And, unfortunately, sandstorms don't stop most from continuing to drive like maniacs so that adds another element of danger as half the drivers slow down a bit and the other keep on barreling toward their destinations. It's just best to stay home during a sandstorm, really.

So, that's a little taste (pun intended) of our sandstorms here in Abu Dhabi. And now, I need to try again to wash all the sand out of my ears.

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