Saturday, April 7, 2007

Sandstorms, Like Snowstorms

Tomorrow is Easter. Our first in Abu Dhabi.

This afternoon I wiped sand off the exterior of our villa's living room windows - the last evidence of a recent sandstorm. Just before it started, the temperature rose sharply and the sky grew dark. Then the wind blew and blew and blew. The pavement seemed covered in clouds, like the smoke machines used in the theater.

The sandstorm lasted about two days. The city of Abu Dhabi did not grind to a halt - my children still went to school and my husband to work - but the visibility was very poor, there were many road accidents, and people were advised to stay home if possible.

When it was over and I went outside, sand had covered the windows with a thin, dirty film, it had blanketed my carnations in similar fashion, and the wind even knocked over my large heavy pots of bougainvillea. Sand also piled in drifts in the corners of the doorways and on the windowsills. It reminded me of how snow builds up around doorways and windowsills in New Hampshire.

But it was close to 100 degrees.

Workers appeared on the streets, sweeping and scooping up sand. (Between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, a desert oasis town, rows of low-growing trees were planted to help keep the desert sands from engulfing the highway.)

Soon we had a rare lightning and thunderstorm, followed by rain, and a beautiful, clear day followed. Now it is back to the mid 80s, with humidity rising and warmer temperatures in the near future. (This summer the temperature will hover around 110-115 degrees with much humidity.)

This morning, Holy Saturday, I said no to a man who stopped by my villa, wanting a job washing our windows. In New Hampshire I did those kinds of jobs myself. But since we moved to Abu Dhabi last summer I've noticed that I seem to be doling out the domestic tasks left and right. It is very affordable here, and so I've gotten to like having things done for me. I have my villa cleaned weekly, and recently I hired someone to wash our car each morning. Probably because I'm far from overworked these days - and also because it was a perfect sunny, warm day today - I felt some satisfaction washing the windows myself. That isn't to say I won't say yes the next time.

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