Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Two-Week Staycation Plus One-Week Eid Holiday in Dubai

I took some much-needed time off of work these past few weeks. However, unlike most of my vacations where I travel to some far-flung locale, this time I decided to do a staycation at home. It was so nice! I had time to do so many things I've been putting off, as well as restart some habits I mean to keep up with but sometimes run out of time to do. (For example, I'm using Anki, Duolingo, and Drops - my favorite language learning and refresher apps - consistently again.)

M and I used the time to play a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. We have so much nostalgia for the Legend of Zelda games, which we played as kids, but they've gotten so much better over time. The storyline of this game moved me more than any other one I can remember. I love exploring the world and solving the puzzles and M loves nabbing all the collectibles as we go. We make a great team.

We got to explore a few sights in Dubai that we normally find it difficult to make time for around my work schedule. We went to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and saw wild flamingos. S was thrilled!

We also visited The Green Planet, an "indoor rainforest" and nature conservation and education site tailored to families. We saw lemurs that reminded me of the PBS show Zoboomafoo (any other 90s kids have nostalgia for this? M didn't!) and some unique birds, frogs, snakes, and other animals.

It was also really nice to have the chance to learn things that have nothing to do with my job. I spent a little time learning how to look at art thanks to a free, self-guided art course from the art historian who created the DailyArt app, which gives a summary of a new piece of fine art every day. My break also happened to overlap with General Conference, a semiannual broadcast of spiritual messages for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), like me. I had some church friends over to watch, and it was so nice.

We had the chance to celebrate Easter, including S's first-ever Easter egg hunt eggsecuted (hehe) by yours truly. I filled reusable Easter eggs with mini M&Ms and Easter-related Bible quotes and hid them around our apartment. S sprinted as fast as his little legs could carry him all over the place and tried to pick up as many eggs as possible at once. It was so cute. I don't know what he was more excited for: finding the eggs, shaking them, or eating the chocolate.

Then, we had a week-long public holiday for Eid Al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan, for which we went to an Emirati restaurant, Al Fanar, to see fireworks over the water in the part of Dubai called Festival City. It wasn't the first time we took S to see fireworks, but it was the first time he was aware enough to see what was going on and be actively impressed. I'll never forget his little "wooooooooow" at the sight.

Amazingly, it happened to be S's birthday during this break, as well, and I can't believe he's two! We spent a long time teaching him to say "two" instead of "almost two" when people ask him how old he is. (Of course, usually he's too shy to say anything when somebody asks, but at least we tried.) We decided to do a family staycation at a local beach resort in Dubai with a kids' club, playground, and wading pool, and S loved it. We went for long walks on the boardwalk together as a family, tried delicious food in multiple different hotel restaurants, and watched S fall in love with the wading pool (with me, the other water lover of this family, by his side).

We also did some hikes together as a family as half-day trips, exploring a bit of the emirates but returning to Dubai each day. I'll do a separate blog post on all of our recent hiking adventures, or this one will get very long very quickly! Suffice it to say I feel much more recharged, restored, and ready to get back into the workweek when I return.

I hoped to disconnect more fully from work during my break, but for my last week I was assigned to be a control officer for someone landing in Dubai the day I get back to the office - so I had to do some work preparing for that person's arrival in advance. In classic control officer fashion, that same person's visit ended up getting cancelled - thankfully before my planning got too far. All in all, though, I was able to get the rest I needed, so I feel good about going back. I hope everyone reading this can also find a moment of peace and rest in their life.

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