After being told, "Don't worry, you have plenty of time," last week and having my doubts, it's official. My wife and kids didn't get their visas in time for the Eid holiday so we can't go on the camping trip to Oman like we'd planned. It's annoying having a full week off and not being able to leave the country. Correction: they can't leave the country. I have my visa and can go where I want though I'd probably have a rough time of it when I got back after leaving my wife alone with the kids. I could get angry and curse the system here while complaining about how everything here sucks, but there's not a lot of point in that. Besides, I have to accept some personal responsibility in this, too. I mistakenly thought that my family needed the visas before they could apply for health insurance. As it turned out, they needed the insurance first. While no one jumped up to correct me on that, I could've followed up on that a bit more agressively.
Further, to answer the question that one friend of mine put to me: No, I haven't seen all of the UAE, yet. I understand that there is a country out there to explore, but suddenly finding out the day before I was leaving that my plans are impossible is a bit of a downer. That combined with: 1) we don't have a car to go anywhere (we had plans to hitch a ride with friends to Oman) and 2) it's too hot to go anywhere in the UAE right now. We'll find things to do like unpacking 13 boxes of junk we sent to ourselves and catching up with friends in Abu Dhabi. We also have plans to go to a water park with our friends after they get back from Oman later in the week and I have a triathlon on the 25th. I just was looking forward to getting out of the city for once since we arrived here.
On another note, my wife continues to make friends with Emirati men who insist on helping her and giving her rides to places. Today she went to the post office to find out where the package with the rice cooker is. After spending 20 minutes trying to catch a cab home, "an Arab guy in an expensive car" asked her where she was going and gave her a ride. (I reminded her that in the U.S. we call that hitchhikking.) While we don't know for sure that he was Emirati, the fact that he was unconcerned about getting back to work seems to suggest that. She claims that when she's out shopping, no one ever offers to help her. Her theory is that when she wears pants and is out buying dinner, the Emiratis think she's a Filippino housemaid but when she's out running errands while wearing a skirt, she looks like a delicate flower in need of help.
That reminds me of something else we can do over Eid. My wife's friend from the other day offered to take us out for dinner some night. This coming week might be a good chance to experience Emirati hospitality.