Search This Blog

Sunday, December 23, 2007

White Christmas in Austria

We landed at Salzburg airport at 1.30pm on the 19th and Desiree was there to pick us up. It was -4 degrees!!! It was freezing. Hopped in the car and came home to the warmth of Mondsee. The drive was fanstastic as all around us was white snow. It hasn't snowed again but due to the cold days the fields are still white and the tree tops glisten from the frost. It's just spectacular. It's turning into the dream Christmas I was hoping for. Unfortunately Alex couldn't make it:(
Two nights ago Fleur and I went to the Christmas market in Mondsee and the kids from the local school were singing Christmas songs all evening. Christmas market consists of a lot of eating and drinking but I had to resort to the kids' punch! It was a lovely evening and there were loads of beautiful displays.
Yesterday we went to Salzburg to pick up our tickets for the Christmas concert and also got to see the Salzburg Christmas Market which was much bigger with a variety of stalls. Took lots of pictures and tried the sausages and cheese in dfferent stalls. Despite the cold we managed to enjoy ourselves and see as much as we could. Salzburg was buzzing by one o'clock. We came home rested and went out to dinner in the evening.
This morning Iris came over for breakfast. She's six months pregnant as it is!!! Her uncle and cousin arrived later to help us decorate the 2 metre high Christmas tree. The boy stood on the ladder to hang the lights and ornaments on the highest branches. We then decorated the rest of the tree and it turned outvery beautiful. A pity that there are no kids who would enjoy it more. Nadia arrives after Christmas and I think she'll have a ball getting the chocolates off the tree.
Anyway now Mom and Desiree have gone off to visit friends.
We would like to wish our family and friends a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Manuia tele le Kerisimasi ma se Tausaga Fou fiafia.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blessing 2008

I am 14 weeks pregnant now and happy as can be. I've now passed the critical 12 weeks so I'm more comfortable to announce that we're having a baby. Baby is due next June and pray be to the Big Man that all goes well and baby arrives safely and healthy.
This week has been full on. We've been taking Mom and Fleur all over town and on Tuesday we drove through Nizwa saw the souk and the fort there before continuing on to the Wahiba Sands. We stayed at the Al Raha Camp which was very nice. The desert was just something else. The golden sands and bedouin camps al around as we drove through it to the camp was just magnificent. It was quite surreal. We were taken up a sand dune to watch the sunset and what a view. What a world that we live in that we get to watch the same sun set from different settings around the world and the experience is somewhat unique and yet familiar at the same time. Mom was like a child in the sand. It was fun to watch Mom make the most of the desert. We were due to slide down the steep sand dune in the camp land cruiser but Mom decided to do it on her behind and slid down all the way to the camp. It was hilarious. Alex took a video as Fleur and I enjoyed the slide down the dune with Awoud at the helm. It ws good fun indeed.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Happy Times

Mom arrived two nights ago which is very exciting. I'm so happy to have Mom here with us and also visiting the Middle East for the first time. We've also just picked up my sister Fleur who arrived from Austria a few hours ago. So now we have an apartment full of loved ones, singing, laughter and lots of smoking from Mom and Fleur. Last night we went to our friends Millie and Ali's place for a party. They were all looking forward to meet Mom and what fun we had there. We didn't come home till 3 am in the morning. Mom had a ball and everyone of course was fighting over the microphone when the hosts turned on the karaoke. It was good fun with good food.

Dubai Sevens Rugby



Well here we are again in Dubai. We came to support our boys in the sevens. We were proud of course to cheer for our boys from the BP stand with the rest of the Samoan crew from around the Middle East. It was fun off the field just laughing, singing and clowning with all the Samoan sistas and bradas as well as other Samoan supporters who donned Samoan colours to support our team. Our boys lost to England in the quarter-finals and then lost to Argentina in the Plate final. It was a close game nevertheless. I'm not fazed by this because last year it was a similar result and they came back to kick butt in Wellington and Hong Kong. Our boys are strong and there are some solid experienced boys in there and I think we have a winning combination again this year. With the likes of Rudolph Moors as the coach there's plenty to come. We wish them all the best in SA and we believe in you guys.
Much alofa and support from the Samoans top fans in Oman.
The final between NZ and Fiji was a good game to watch. The kind of game that makes one a Sevens fan indeed. The unpredictability of it all. Well during the final there were 10 Fijians, 3 Samoans and a Maori on the field. So who really won? The Pacific of course ha ha

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fragility that's life.

I went to work last night and was told that one of our colleagues got hit by a car last weekend and was barely alive at ICU at a local hospital. They said he was suffering from broken bones and was brain damaged. I just got a call first thing this morning that Kieren didn't make it through the night.
It's so surreal and so so sad. May he rest in peace.
Just a few months ago he told me he dozed off on the couch at work and woke up gasping for air. He said it really rattled him and it made him realise how we could go at any minute. I suggested he does something to relax or get away for a while. He then said that he'd already booked a flight home to England to see his family on holiday before returning to work. He'd been back to work for a few months and he'd just booked a holiday to India for December!!! Some of us at work were well aware that he was on a mission to do as much as he could. He was also trying new things like meditation and other forms of relaxation. Knowing this I feel that he was literally living life to the fullest and making the most of it.
I pray for his family. I pray that he didn't suffer much pain. I will miss him in the staff room, how he sits in one corner and quietly contributes to the conversations. He rode a bike to work in shorts and a t-shirt and we started calling him superman because he'd disappear into the bathroom and come out all dressed-up ready to teach. It is simply sad and it really reminds me again of just how fragile life really is.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Purpose?

What is our role in life? I think of this a lot when we encounter other people. I sometimes question our purpose in life. What do we all strive for? Happiness? Reaching a common good of some sort?
But what is happiness?
The definition of happiness may not be the same for everyone. Is it owning a house and a car? Is it having a family and a secure full time job? Is it travelling all over the world? Is it being around people that matter to one the most? Is it following ones dreams and reaching ones goals? Will that bring happiness? Or is just the journey through life that is?
I wonder sometimes if I'm happy. Other times I'm totally content with life and appreciate my place or role in life and others I question my contentedness whether it is a false sense of happiness.
I have had these feelings since I could wonder and ponder about life. I used to escape to our untended backyard where the grass was almost as tall as I was and lie under the guava or banana trees and wonder about it all. Sometimes as I observe the stars at night I would wonder what was out there for me. I wonder if I've stopped looking forward and am just living in the moment? Or am I living in the future and not in the moment? Well I don't know I can't really say for sure. All I know is these thoughts cross my mind sometimes.
I encounter others and their life experiences, their future ambitions or lack thereof and I wonder about their lives too whether they are truly happy or are they in search of something else? Are they living in the moment, living for others or doing so because it makes one happy?
Or do I just think too much and not just enjoy life as it is?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Farewell in Dubai

We went to Dubai for two nights for Harry and Elva's farewell as they are leaving Dubai for good. It was arranged by the Aiga Samoa(Samoan community) in Dubai which we're part of. It was lovely to catch up with our friends there. Stayed with Lala and Tim which was fun indeed with the late nights with Dan and Trish. The following day we caught up with Alex's sister for lunch and of course slept a lot as I was still recovering from my cold.

The farewell was hosted by Mark and Tania in Silicon Oasis. It was a good time. Everyone made it which was nice however for some unknown reason it wassn't a very lively evening. We all left at one. However the food that was catered was fantastic. The presents for Elva and Harry were very nice. Anyway we slept in the following day said bye to Lala after breakfast and got dropped off at the Gazas' to catch up with them before we caught a cab to the airport to come home.

We also caught up with Rich who is my best mate Nets' hubby. Nets has yet to join her hubby. We took Rich along to meet the Samoan family up there as they will be the new addition to the group. The Sevens rugby is coming up in December so will see everyone there again. Looking forward to it indeed.

Meanwhile I went back to work last night and tonight. Tomorrow I have to lodge my application for a schengen visa. I have to get that out of the way. Good night









Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blues

Sniffling and blowing my nose every thirty seconds is not fun at all. I've been down with a cold for two days now and I hate every minute of it. Last night I couldn't go to sleep due to my runny nose and not being able to breathe properly peacefully. What a headache. It doesn't help when I wake up early too to more sniffling and blocked nasals. I hate this, I hate being sick. I hate how my eyes are also teary all the time from the cold. So I end up wiping my nose and eyes with the same yucky tissues spreading germs even more. Just darn great. I don't know what caused it, being around people that have a cold or when I went swimming early a few days ago. I was surprised to find the water was quite cool which of course is too cool for me!!! Yep I've got this thing from my Mom that if the chest, scalp or back area gets chilled then hullo cold. The thing is there are three pools on our complex and I feel so ungrateful every time I look out the window because we hardly ever go swimming. Now that the weather is good I've been gearing myself to get into a habit of swimming every morning before anything else. Well I did it once and here we are down with a bad cold and now I have another excuse not to go swimming every morning. One can't have it all I say.
One good thing in the midst of my misery is my loving hubby who brings me breakfast in bed first thing in the morning!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Go Puma

Just saw Argentina beat France 34-10. What a brilliant game for Argentina. They played so well and really went hard out. The French didn't quite measure up. Argentinian defence was superb. The Pumas go home with the bronze medal which is well-deserved indeed. They have been an amazing team to watch. I must say the Kiwi referee Honiss is simply no good. In the first half he missed so many things going on and he just lost control of the game. In the second half there was a legal tackle by an Argentinian on the French Jabal who is The French playmaker and the Argentinian was sin-binned. I thought that was ridiculous. Anyway the Pumas scored a try with fourteen men on the field so no worries there.
Alex parents left for Dubai today and then on their way home to NZ in two days.
I practically slept most of the day today from fatigue! My appetite is all over the show which isn't very pleasant.
I better get some sleep now I'm exhausted.(again)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eid in Oman

It's the Eid Holidays here in Oman and the town is bustling again. It was quiet for the first few days and now people are returning from the short Eid breaks and so the traffic is back to madness again.
The drivers here are just plain mad. Whenever I drive on the road it is just plain scary. I drive defensively everytime all the time. I think it's the only way to arrive to your destination in one piece. Yesterday on the road where it the limit was 100kmph which I kept to, behind me I saw a car gaining on me. It was just scary like watching a thriller except you're in it. The car just sped up right up to my @ss as in a few inches away from me. Of course I had already indicated to get off the lane if there was a clearance which there wasn't!!! I think the excitement of Eid is getting to some people. The result is like last nite we saw a car with it's front left wheel ripped off because the idiot ran right through a round-about!!! I assume he can see because he was behind the wheel but he couldn't control his speed. The limit was 80kmh on that particular road. Friends we saw the day before said they saw another accident which had just happened of a car that flipped over off the highway and was leaning on a nearby tree. It's so normal to see accidents here that one hardly mentions it anymore. The accidents though is a result of bad driving and from what I've seen all sorts of people do it! I think certain people who are new to the country get frustrated and then they just drive just as bad!
Anyway I'm enjoying the week off. Taking my in-laws around town and seeing friends now and again. Off to a bbq tonite with the family so looking forward to seeing friends.
It was hubby's birthday on the 14th. His Mum baked him a birthday cake and he got his presents so I think he's a happy birthday boy!!! Poor hubby got called in to work though first thing in the morning. Oh well can't have everything now can we:)
The world cup final this week between South Africa and England. Who knows who'll win now? Could be either one.
Saw Love and other disasters yesterday with Brittany Murphy and it was quite good. I enjoyed it and laughed from beginning to the end. I'm reading Purple Heart by Andrew Fiu a Samoan born New Zealander who was physically sick since he was fourteen and underwent five open heart surgeries. Its not a bad read.
Spoke to my journo sister doing a fellowship in Australia and it was hilarious. She wanted to speak Samoan because she had been speaking English for 5 weeks straight and needed a break ha ha!
We have a saying in Samoan when you speak English for too long and need a break we say "kau mapeva lo'u laulau i le gagu so'o" meaning my tongue is about to be sprained from not speaking Samoan in a while!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Koko Samoa

Koko Samoa e silisili le manogi
Pe a faapau e le Samoa moni
Ta i le apa
Sa'eu i le lapalapa
Va'ai fa'alelei
Ne iai ni palapala

Koko Koko Samoa
Koko Koko Samoa
Koko Samoa
Ma le faalifu fai
Ma le pilikaki too.
(Pese na tusia e se tasi pisikoa na i Samoa)

So I made myself some Samoan cocoa (koko Samoa) that my sister Fotu sent me via my in-laws. What a treat! It was so exhilirating to finally inhale the smells from home. Lovely tasty Samoan cocoa that came through NZ, Aussie, AbuDhabi. Even better due to the long journey it took to get here.

Eid Mubarak

Three more days to Eid here in Oman and other Muslim nations. It is equivalent to our Christmas and it's also the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. People of course are very excited and all out shopping for their families. There was something on at the stadium near our place last night and it was just packed. Drove by to throngs of people walking around and one could feel the festive atmosphere in the air.
Alex's folks arrived last night and now they're out sightseeing and grocery shopping. Got my twisties that I was craving for and the Samoan cocoa from my sister. Got a nice package of goodies from my sister with lots of pictures of baby Maeva and the family back home. I will have to download all of them on to the hard drive and have a good look at them all.
In the meantime Eid Mubarak to all who are celebrating Eid this year!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The next step

Death: some of us shiver with fear when we hear this word or when it's visited someone we're close to! Recently I thought maybe it's society that has made us fear death so much. I'm not too sure how or why we associate death with fear and negativity but let me try. All my life, someone dying is always associated with much negativity. Why is it we're so afraid of something we don't know? All the afterlife going to hell stories has a lot to do with it. I thought that really we don't know for sure what really happens when we die but one thing for sure is we're all going to die someday. Like birth we die. Why aren't we afraid of birth and yet we're afraid of death? If anything we should be afraid for those born into this world that we live in today however we celebrate the birth of a newborn and commemorate the day we were born ourselves each year. So why don't we embrace death and think of it as just another step of life? This is how I've come to think of it. When I do something that remotely has a possibility of saying hi to death I always utter a desperate prayer to God appealing to him to keep me alive and not let me die. And I actually get goosebumps imagining how horrible it'd be for my loved ones if something happened to me. But since these new thoughts have entered my mind now I'm not sure I'm so afraid anymore. We all die and if it happens it happens but one thing for sure is we shouldn't fear it nor should we appeal desperately to God to let it pass. For all we know maybe death is really the Garden of Eden mentioned in the Bible.
I wonder if people reading this are already getting goosebumps and questioning my sanity. When my grandmother passed away she was very sick and in her final moments she cried out "Jesus why am I like this?" My grandmother instilled in us our Christian values and the strength of prayer but her final moments were obviously not very easy for her.
My sisters have their own views of that moment but I don't share the same view because not once did I feel that she was suffering spiritually. Maybe her spirituality was tested but my grandma was so strong in her faith that I think she is happier where she is now with her angels that she'd been talking to all her life.
Maybe that moment has something to do with my current thoughts; that we shouldn't be so afraid of death but think of it as just another step in our journey through life.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Books and Music

I've been reading quite a bit lately. I read Marian Keyes 'Lucy Sullivan is getting married' which was good. First of hers I've read and its written like a diary which was quite realistic. However it gave me another perspective on British women! I'll have to ask a few British ladies if they can identify with it though before I make my conclusions! I also read 'White Oleander' by Janet Fitch which was quite interesting. A good read, the writer was excellent with words. Now I'm reading short stories 'Like the flowing river' by Paulo Coelho. He writes about his experiences major or not which is interesting and I thought somehow it's similar to a blog except he's published his blog entries!
My journalist sister Relle is in Melbourne, Australia doing a fellowship concerning the Pacific and journalism and her blog is a good read.
I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen 'Radio Now' which is quite good. His songs are soothing to the mind. Also have some new sounds from Colbie Calciat 'Bubbly' which is a good song. Norah Jones of course is one of the most soothing and relaxing singers I'd ever heard. Just got my hands on songs from her latest album which isn't new but I hadn't heard it before and it's as good as the first album. There are so many new songs that are great and of course my old favourites never cease to please.
Anyway it's the weekend here and I work four days a week and my colleagues and I were just joking today at how it's strange to say 'Thank God it's Tuesday' as opposed to the usual 'Friday'. The perks of being in Oman I guess! Though it's still strange that Saturday is our 'Monday'! The little things that take time to get used to here.
Today I did conditional 'If..., ..would.' at work and once again a reminder of a different way of thinking, one student wrote this.
If I were a king, I'd buy many palaces. - If I had many palaces, I'd marry four women. If I had four wives, I wouldn't get any sleep!!!
Grammatically correct but what do you say about the content. I tried to suppress my laughter and look annoyed. Just another day in the classroom!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rugby World Cup fever cont'd

Well since my last post Samoa played against England and lost 22-44. They played well but they just didn't sustain themselves to the end. Wilkinson proved that he's back with his successful kicking. Our team Samoa saved themselves from being at the bottom of the pool by beating USA in their last game though it was by a small margin 24-21. England against Tonga was also interesting. Tonga played so well and looked as if they were going to beat England but I think England had the referee on their pay roll because there were a lot of questionable calls against Tonga and dodgy English moves that the ref turned a blind eye to. Believe me Tonga is the last team I'd support but yep the poor under-dog small country team were squashed by the big team and their deep pockets once more. Last night Fiji beat Wales 34-38 and it was a good game. It was sad though to see the Fijian goal kicker's knee twist into an unimaginable state which sent him off on a stretcher. That may be the end to his rugby career! Apparently Wales have always gotten beaten at this particular game to miss the quarter finals in the last four world cups. What's ironic though it was a game like last night but with Samoa beating Wales that put Samoa on the Rugby World map in 1991. And again last night Fiji beat Wales for the first time and made it into the quarter-finals. Poor Wales will always be remembered as the team that was beaten by the islanders to gain recognition! The legendary win over Wales by Samoa in 1991 sent one die-hard fan back home to name their son Samoa 39-Wales 19. That boy should be about ready to join the team soon if he's any good at rugby.

Well that's been our exciting Ramadan routine. We can't go out for coffee or lunch with friends so we stay indoors to watch the rugby and sometimes have dinner with friends at home. Two more weeks to Eid. Alex parents are arriving next week so we're looking forward to their visit. A friend of ours from NZ who worked with Alex back in Samoa just got a job here so they'll be moving up soon too. Exciting for them indeed. The traffic here is getting worse by the day. I drive to work everyday which is to the other side of town. There is one highway all the way there but it takes me about 25 minutes to get there due to congestion. I try to think positive and remember other people that take hours to get to work so this is nothing. There have been a lot of articles in the local papers of people appealing to the Police to put in more measures to control neglectful driving. Some people drive here like they are on a rally race. They weave in and out of traffic at 120-140 kph. It's scary to say the least. Other than that all is good in the Sultanate. City Centre has extended to include more shops which means there's no hurry to go shopping in Dubai anymore!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rugby World Cup fever

The world cup started last week and we have been glued to the TV to watch our team play. Samoa played South Africa last week and unfortunately the referee was not very fair and made a few calls that didn't make sense. The final score was SA: 59 Samoa 7. SA was the stronger team from the onset but the score could have been closer if the referee hadn't smothered the fighting spirit of the Samoans. Anyway last night Samoa played Tonga and amazingly Tonga beat Samoa 19- 14. Now that was painful to watch. Tonga hasn't been able to beat Samoa in seven years and funny how they flew all the way to Europe in front of the world fans to make a statement. Am very happy for Tonga for it is a huge feat for them. As for Samoa I'm not sure what's going on there. I however still have faith that they can play better especially they are up against the reigning champions England at the end of the week. Wish them all the best in their games against England and the US after that. If we beat both teams we still have a chance of getting into the quarter finals.
The South Africans are on form and so are the All Blacks. The ABs are the favourites and they're playing well. I think it's an ABs vs SA final this year. In the meantime ramadan has started in Oman and today I drove home at around six pm which is when the sun set today and the roads were empty. All the locals were either at the mosque or getting together with families to enjoy Iftar (the breaking of the fast meal). It's day four and we have a while to go yet.
We are expecting some friends from Abu Dhabi to visit us tomorrow and stay for a few days. Looking forward to them now. Better go to sleep I have a long day tomorrow.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

30 days hath September!

VIRGO days! All good here in Oman. The weather is getting cooler, looking forward to so many more adventure-filled, camping and beach days.
Yesterday there was an article on Samoa in the local paper which I think is great. And just two weeks ago there was another article on our rugby team getting ready for the world cup in The Week a popular weekly paper here. Hmmm things are looking up for Samoa. They just need a map next to the article each time to point to where it is though. Because I think people still don't know by looking at the title what or where Samoa is. Anyway exciting stuff indeed. There were also a few articles back in May when our Head of State passed away.

This week-end for my birthday we're planning to escape to Musandam for the night. Musandum is the northern most region of Oman. It's actually separated from the rest of the country by the UAE. So if you drive you have to go through the UAE to get there. Musandam is a peninsula that juts out into the Straits of Hormuz! It gives way to the busiest shipping lanes in the world. It's mostly rocky and it falls straight in to the ocean. A Dhow(Omani wooden boat) cruise is the best way to view the rock face from the ocean. Dolphin watching is also done on these cruises. I'm really looking forward to it. The main city in Musandam is Khasab. For more information go to http://www.omantourism.gov.om

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Updates

The next to last day of August 2007, time flies when we're so busy. In a few days I will be a year older! What more can one ask for but good health, a happy home and a loving family. This week we received a date card for my cousin's wedding in California, USA for January, a box of chocolates from a friend in Switzerland(thanks heaps) and a postcard from new friends who were on holiday in Moscow. It was so nice to get personal things in the mail for once. A refreshing break to the usual statements and other impersonal documents. I love sending people postcards from where-ever we go because I loved receiving them when I was growing up. So I was happy to get that one from Moscow. I think it's my first from Russia. Maybe soon I'll head that way to look at the Kremlin myself as featured on the photo!
I met two Egyptian brothers years ago in Samoa and we sent each other postcards every now and then. For me Egypt was so far removed from Samoa that it was exciting to receive a picture of the pyramids and the temples every now and then. It really made me dream of the day I'd finally go there. As it turned out last year hubby and I visited Egypt and stayed with my postcard buddy for a few days. I love how worlds apart some of us share some things in common, our love for experiencing new places and the commitment in helping others to do so!

Last week-end I heard some unfortunate news from home. My sister's office building burnt down. My sister is a journalist and at the moment they're determining whether the fire was caused by an electrical fault or by an arsonist. It is really sad to think that someone would do such a thing to the press in Samoa! But we never know. I believe in karma so whoever did that, will have their fair share of hot situations soon enough.

The South Pacific Games is all the rage at the moment in Samoa. It will continue till the first week of September. So far Samoa have the second most gold medals with New Caledonia at the top with the most medals overall. I hope the Samoans keep up the good work and win some more medals. So far they are doing a good job in hosting the games which is great for tourism, in showing that Samoa can manage a big number of visitors all in their stride.

Lately in Muscat the rental prices have sky rocketed. Obviously there is a high demand for rental properties and the property owners are answering with an increase in rent. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be an apparent law governing rental prices so there are some places that have increased their prices at more than 30%! But there is nothing that we can do but watch, wait and grimace when that dreaded notice with the rent increase arrives in the mailbox!

Ramadan starts in about two weeks. The month of fasting and prayer for the local Muslims. The weather has improved now and the days are nice though the sun is still fierce and scorging on some days.

I've started at the gym again and feel good about it. Hubby is very supportive and encouraging as he's been back at it for over a month now. Let's hope I keep at it for the next week at least!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

End of Summer School and Exploring

Summer School ended last Wednesday. In my last class I found the students had brought a stereo with full on speakers to class and set it up at the back of the classroom. So after a quick lesson we had a party. Again end of term party is eating sweets and junk food and this time the boys turned on their music and danced to the latest hits. It was hilarious. They were enjoying themselves so much it was fun to watch. The girls of course did not get up except for one really daring one that got up and did a funny dance move that sent everyone in hysterics.
One boy brought his guitar so at one point they turned off the music and let the guitarist show his talent. So I asked the students for someone to sing to accompany the music. And they all said they couldn't sing. So I said to the guitarist to sing himself. He was a bit shy so his friend covered his face with a book and then he started singing. And boy did I make a mistake. Unlike his natural talent with the instrument his vocals were way off-key. The others suppressed their laughter while I tried to keep a straight face and enjoy the music. What was good was the kid was really enjoying himself and didn't care whether we liked it or not which I thought was good. He sang some local numbers which all the students liked.
So back to the music and students from other classes were trying to crash our party of whom I nicely turned away. So high on sugar I gave them their certificates and everyone went home on a high!

Hubby's sister Cesc visited us last Wednesday for the week-end. So on Thursday we drove out to a place called The Chains where we drove up a wadi(river bed) and parked the car at the mouth of the wadi before trekking up it to find beautiful cool waterholes for swimming. It's called The Chains by some explorers because someone put in chains on a rock face to enable people to climb up to the pools further up. It wasn't an easy climb though it was only about 5 metres but the steps were far apart and the rock face was hot so it wasn't pleasant. Eventually we all made it up and enjoyed swimming in the first pool though the actual attraction was further up but we didn't have a rope to . So we enjoyed the clear pool we found and then climbed back down. We went back to where we were parked under a tree, where hubby sparked up the barbie for some lunch. We enjoyed the afternoon lounging around under the tree until about 5pm we headed back to Muscat. The Chains is about two hours drive North of Muscat. I'd love to go back there but we need to take a rope next time and with more people.
.
The next day hubby had to go to work so Lize, Cesc and I drove out to the yacht club and bluffed our way inside and found ourself an umbrella and enjoyed the beach for the rest of the afternoon. There was a breeze all day it was lovely and the water was cool..actually a bit cold for us locals who are now acclimatised to the hot summer! The days are less hot now thank goodness and can't wait for it to just be nice and warm and not HOT. Yesterday, Cesc and I went to a local spa for a massage. It was so relaxing and the masseuse was so good. I literally felt the knots being massaged away.
The result was I came home planned a lesson and fell asleep afterwards. I woke up and was almost late to my class. Next time I shouldn't do a massage to close to class time hahaha.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Photos from the weekend


The beautiful Al Waha Hotel at Barr Al Jissah.

Posing on our balcony after checking in before going for a swim.

After the day out, a bit sunburnt and tired. A taste of home, picked up a hibiscus in the garden to complement my island beach wear!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Whisked away...

The week-end began with dinner at Lize's. We had sweet and sour chicken which was delicious. We met Lize's friend whom she's staying with; a lovely lady from South Africa as well working here as an English teacher. The lady had a lovely face that's very youthful. It struck me that she spoke beautifully; eloquent and precise. What a good model for the English language, I thought!
We went to bed early and then Thursday morning we rose early and started for Barr Al Jissah or Shangri La, a resort consisting of three hotels which is about a thirty minute drive from Muscat. It is set on a beautiful cove with a stretch of beach and surrounded by the signature brown rugged hills of Oman. Hubby decided I needed a break of scenery from Muscat and from work so I was whisked away to Barr Al Jissah to relax and rejuvenate my senses!!! We checked in around ten and I headed straight for the pool while hubby headed for the gym. I slapped on as much sun screen armed with my book and water and went to look for a chair under a palm tree away from the sun! It was a beautiful day. It was warm but there was a nice breeze so it felt less hot than normal. I headed for the lazy river that a friend recommended. You sit on a tube and the man-made river pushes you along the river and back to where you started. A beautiful and relaxing activity and the river runs through the hotel gardens and under small walkway-bridges and a restaurant. I thought it was such a brilliant idea! After one round of that I decided to take a dip in the sea. The water was cool it was very refreshing.
Hubby emerged from the gym so we rented a kayak and went kayaking out in the ocean. Fun and spectacular view of the hotels with the hills in the background. It wasn't long before hubby turned the relaxing kayak run into a bootcamp like left-right-left stroke activity, that I eventually resigned into lying down and enjoying the ride rather than arguing over why our paddling was not synchronised...:) Talk about training for the olympics. It's hilarious when hubby turns a relaxing activity into a serious must-be-done-right sport, didn't help he just came from the gym...choo hooo. Fell on deaf ears with me so he enjoyed power paddling the kayak while I stayed out of the way and relaxed on the kayak which was my idea of fun lol Halfway through I jumped off and swam after(more like being pulled by) the kayak to enjoy the cool water. So spectacular I wonder why we don't swim in the ocean often here!?!
Went back to the pool and enjoyed a water football game with other hotel guests. It was lots of fun with some adults being a tad too serious and not letting their kids touch the ball!!!
An hour of that back to the lazy river.... by three o'clock I felt my brain was fried so we retired to the room where I had a nap. Went to dinner at the Samba restaurant. The buffet was wonderful. I had all the oysters and mussels I could eat and then roast beef which was succulent with a baked potato. Dinner was really nice. We proceeded to the piano bar which was a beautiful lounge with a pianist playing some soft numbers. lovely atmosphere. We went to the Long Bar to have a look and decided to call it a night. Went to bed sunburnt, tired and blissfully satisfied. It was a great day indeed and the bed was also so comfortable I just didn't want to leave the bed this morning. Had breakfast which was also quite an affair. I was too sunburnt to even look out the window. It was warmer today so stayed indoors and read before we headed back home. Overall it was a great get-away in Oman itself and highly recommend the place to others. The service was excellent as well. All in all we had a wonderful time and definitely feel refreshed minus the itch of the sunburn hahaha!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rugby World Cup Build up

Here's a great article about one of Samoa's great rugby players written by a well-known commentator which I thought was excellent and captures the essence of what makes a Samoan star player. One who plays from the heart for the love he has for his country. Our players do not get paid big bucks like players of other teams because our country just doesn't have the money. So when players can get lucrative deals from other teams, most choose to play for the small island that gives them more than any country with millions can't. The pride of being a representative of a tight-knit community or the extended family that is Samoa.

Aug 15, 2007
By Keith Quinn

Every day is countdown now for those of us packing up and heading off to the sixth Rugby World Cup in France.

As someone who has been fortunate enough to have attended all five previous Cup tournaments I am often asked about highlights of matches I have seen and rugby personalities I have enjoyed watching.

Being a Kiwi I could go on about John Kirwan, Michael Jones, or Fitzy, Foxy and Jonah. They were all great All Blacks in their time. In the proper sense of the word those men each had moments at the World Cup when Kiwi hearts were pumping with joyous pride. But if you were to ask me my all-time favourite Rugby World Cup player from any country my answer might surprise you. I would plump for Manu Samoa's Brian Lima.

Let tvnz.co.nz know who is your favourite World Cup player of all time by using the message board below.

For the reasons why, let me take you back to a 1991 game on a murky afternoon in Cardiff, Wales. On that day the mighty home team, with all of their illustrious histoy, were setting out confidently on their march towards a possible victory in the Cup competition on their home turf. They were a confident nation. For them, their first match was to be against the unknown team of rugby's new kids on the block, the formality then called Western Samoa.

On the morning of the game it was obvious there was an education taking place for the Welsh people. A number of that day's papers published little world maps with arrows drawn across to the tiny group of islands nestled in the Pacific. There was scant knowledge of just where the Samoan islands were let alone any kind of rugby talent hidden in that place. Samoa was just that afternoon's cannon fodder for the Welsh heroes to devour.

Within the ranks of the visitors was a shy (and probably wide-eyed even possibly frightened) kid called Brian Lima. He was 19 years of age, just out of St Joseph's College in Apia. The journey from his tiny home village to the bustle of faraway Wales was his first time away from the familiar comforts of sun and warmth. Imagine the dissimilarity between the two places for the young lad.

Yet Lima that day played in front of 72,000 with a high-aggression, tough-tackling intensity that he became part of one of rugby's greatest ever upset results. 'Manu Samoa' (The Samoan Warriors) won by 16-13.

Afterwards at least one could say Welsh humour did shine through. "We lost to Western Samoa," a clever quip began, "imagine what might have happened if we'd played all of Samoa! A Cardiff newspaper banner the next day shouted 'Rock bottom!'

Back home in Apia, the capital city, the Samoan population boggled for the first time at the wonder of live TV. A national network had not yet arrived in the tiny country. Instead seven giant screens were erected in Apia Park the main rugby ground and the game was beamed in via satellite in the middle of the night. Young and old huddled under blankets and saw TV for the first time.

Their tackling of the Samoans was so fierce two of the local stars hobbled off the field, never to play tests again and as the home captain Ieuan Evans admitted this year, 'we were simply not ready for the kind of aggression Samoa hit us with.'

My job that day was as sideline commentator. Standing so close to the action the sound of the Samoan tackles came to my ears like the impact of a wet tea-towel smacking against the side on a telephone post. Young Lima, along with the 'Samoan' Frank Bunce, who would later become an All Black, and the three loose forwards, Shem Tatupu, Pat Lam and Sila Vaifale, also were leaders in the mayhem. For me though, my eyes were drawn repeatedly to Lima, especially as the match programmes told us that this unknown was the youngest player of any team from any country at the tournament.

In the dressing room afterwards I saw singing, smiling, hugging, dancing and rugby joy such as I have never witnessed before. For TV I interviewed everyone I possibly could but to eke a word from young Lima was nigh on impossible. I gave up on him. English was clearly not a language he was most comfortable with.

But in the years since Brian's grasp of English has improved to be a reflection of his worldly travelling experiences. Since 1991 he has played in every Rugby World Cup fixture that Manu Samoa has ever been in, 18 games out of 18. Now in 2007, as a 35-year old the old master is heading into his fifth World Cup finals in France. By doing so he is breaking new world ground. Up to 15 others from other countries will have notched up appearing in four finals tournaments, but only Lima has been in a full 17 year spread of World Cup play with all five Cup final series. To me, he is setting a record unlikely in these times of shorter-term careers to ever be broken.

This year as you watch the World Cup matches unfold, keep an eye on Lima. You will note that his challenges are just as aggressive, just as fearsome as they have always been. They are not lessened by the passage of time. In the recent Pacific Cup test matches there was no let up in his crunch. In France he will live up to the descriptions various writers have come to dub him with. Lima is either, 'The Rib Rattler,' 'The Bone-Cruncher,' 'The Hitman' or the favourite, 'The Chiropractor' (as his tackles apparently can affect the nervous system)

Such nick-names reflect the media's outright admiration for the highest standard of aggressive play that Lima has always inflicted on all opponents. Not only as a tackler either, Lima was originally a speedy and elusive winger, though in recent times he has inched closer into the midfield. So that his teams can maximise his attacking defensive work. Just ask the Springbok Derek Hougaard in 2003 when Lima hit him with a 'kitchen sink' tackle in the Samoa v South Africa World Cup game in Melbourne. The crowd gasped that night, many thinking the unfortunate young Springbok might never get up. The All Blacks Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and the Fijian Norman Ligairi are several other high-profile players who have winced and gasped and a visit to a chiropractor seemed inevitable after meeting Lima head-on on the rugby field. In 2005 in the Southern Hemisphere v Northern Hemisphere game at Twickenham he was in vintage tough-tackling form.

In his long career Brian Lima has travelled the world as a rugby nomad and has played professionally for only the best club teams; Stade Fran├žais, Munster, The Auckland Blues, The Highlanders, Bristol and Secom (in Japan). The decision-makers from those clubs all have wanted Lima for a time. Possibly they have used the adage that 'it's better to have him on our team rather than in the opposition.'

Brian is a quiet, humble man who has always found himself pulled back to his homeland. Last time I spoke to him (it was at a World sevens event - where by the way - he has also played in every World Cup finals from the mini-version of the game too) he told me he was going into business at home (rental cars was mentioned then as a preferred option). Such an act is typical of this great Samoan. At his recent final 'home' test match in Apia v Tonga the crowds sang lustily for him and then cheered his every play to the echo. He gave a devastating display, back in his familiar place on the wing. Samoa won for him by 50-3.

Afterwards Brian faced the cameras, the media and fans. The previously reserved boy of 1991 is now a man of full eloquence. He said simply, "I want to thank the Head of State, who is the President of the Samoa Rugby Union, the Prime Minister, who is the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, and the Samoa Rugby Union. And to all our people I add that without all your prayers, I'm certain I wouldn't be where I'm sitting today." In typical fashion Lima also thanked his family for their prayers gtoo, especially his wife Sina and their three boys, Brian Telefoni, Maliko Ma'afala and Manu.

Here's hoping this man who has given everything in every game he has played for nigh on 20 years - and not for one of the world's top teams either - can leave the scene at the upcoming World Cup with his reputation enhanced. He deserves that. Brian Lima has my respect. I never saw any rugby player give so much, so often for so long.
source: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/1301613

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sign my Guestbook

Pictures from around Muscat

The museum in Mutrah

Beautiful sunset over Muscat.

Breathetaking

Entrance to the Muttrah souk in Ruwi. Beautiful place where you can buy silver, beads, cushion covers antiques, all kinds of old artefacts. It really gives you a feel of Arabia when you stroll through the souk.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Long week-end

So once again we have another holiday. So I get a three day week-end which is nice. Just finished my morning classes and what a head-ache. All the kids were in holiday mode I felt like drop kicking a teenager out a window.. choo hoooo. Frustrating. I caught some of them took a test from my desk. To punish them I gave them a test twice as long and will subtract some marks from their papers. What a headache on the last day of the week. And I wasn't the only one, my other colleagues had similar experiences today! So I gave a lot of writing exercises today to shut them up!
I'm working on my Mom's itinerary for her trip up and it is proving to be a a bit of a headache due to changes and unforseen Samoan circumstances. My aunty was supposed to come as well but now she's cancelled!
.
Hubby's folks are looking at coming up in October so we have visitors to look forward to soon. It would be good for me cos I haven't been out of Muscat much so this'll be my chance to do it. Moreover a nice break for them from the cold of New Zealand. Alex's sister will be visiting soon as well. Nice.
.
At the moment summer is dragging and the boredom is starting to eat at my brain. It's up to me to do things but don't seem to do much. My thing to do and get it over with this summer is to get my diving certificate! So help me God get this over and done with. Amen. In the meantime I'm heading off to meet a mate for coffee! Life and coffees heh heh

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Life as I know it

I have nothing to blog about but I just feel like writing. So I'm just going to talk about everything and nothing...simply because I can.
Oh actually my evening classes finished this week. I asked the students if they wanted to have a party after the test. Party meaning everyone bringing food and fizzy drinks to consume and just mingle in the classroom after the final test. One of my classes brought so much food and they presented me with a local perfume which the presenter announced was from Saudi. The bottle it came in is really beautiful. I opened the present in the class and took a whiff of the stuff and almost fainted. Hahaha! Their kind of perfume is very different from what I'm used to! So I've put it on display in the house because the packaging is just exquisite!
In the other class the only lady in it had bought a new car the day before and to celebrate she offered to bring the food for the "party" to which all the boys eagerly nodded in agreement...! It was cute but the lady insisted. That party consisted of cookies and chocolates and lots of fizzy drinks too. It was nice though.
Anyway I'm teaching teenagers in the mornings five days a week and its ok. One of them leave me exhausted but generally they're ok. Yesterday I forgot to set the darn alarm and I slept in. Luckily my taxi I ordered was still waiting 20 minutes later by the time I was ready! Not good. Weird how you dream about it happening and then it actually happens hahaha!
Today after class I went to the mall nearby just to look around. It was one of those days where you try things on and they just don't look right! Sometimes I look at the stuff I take into the changing room and wince that I actually took them off the rack! hahaha! The dilemmas of a woman.
We then had lunch at hamburger nation with two of my colleagues. It was nice. Came home with a burger for Alex as the kitchen was closed for the day heh heh. We just came from a movie called "Harsh times" with Christian Bale. A good movie. He's a good actor no doubt but the concept is scary and real. It's based on one man's life after the warzone. As hubby said how can they assimilate back into society after witnessing what they do and gone through such experiences. It's disturbing stuff but I wonder if there is enough support psychologically and emotionally for those poor souls. I think anyone who experiences the realities of war must have their hard times afterwards. The mind is a mysterious thing.
Anyway better go to bed or I'll be exhausted tomorrow and it's the week-end. Adios.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lost Father

A couple of weeks ago as I was driving home from work in the evening "Dance with my father" by Luther Vandross came on the radio and I turned it up to full blast. It transported me back to our wedding in Samoa on the 17th of December 2005. As the sun was setting and the party was still going, my eight year old niece Yvonne stood up on the platform to sing this very song for me. It was her favourite song at the time and she had learned the whole song but was too nervous to sing alone so she did like a duet with Luther Vandross. It was a beautiful moment and I'm sure many tears were shed during that very song. Anyway I looked across and saw my brother in-law Yvonne's dad wiping his own tears.
.
I wasn't very familiar with the song before then and as I was driving home I heard every word and I just started crying. It was so weird I just cried and cried while the song was playing partly because it reminded me that the song is about a little girl reminiscing about dancing with her father... and it hit me how ironic that it was sung at my wedding when I didn't even have a father to dance with me. Or maybe that the song was fitting because I would have loved to have danced with my father again if only at my wedding.
.
I only just thought about this in the car that day because growing up I never felt I needed a father as I was so little when my father died that I didn't really know the difference. Though later on Mom told us that I was the most affected by my father's death as it was a critical time in my life when he passed. I had just started school and I remember him dropping us off to school and picking us up. I remember bits where he would lift me up and swing me around saying I was a big girl as I had started school. I also remember a little ballerina figurine he gave me because I had finished a school term. Another very vivid memory of him in my head is him walking around the guest house, hands behind his back with a Mozart LP blasting from the record player as he hummed, lost in the music. Due to this attention I got with the starting of school Mom said I lost interest in school after he passed! I remember being tutored at home because I missed too many days of school. Thanks to Mom for that!!
.
Its healthy to cry as it is a natural thing and I always feel better afterwards. Funny enough I laughed at myself when the song finished as I felt a bit silly to have burst into tears like that. Anyway laugh like no one is watching and cry like the whole world is watching... or something like that.
.
I love my father for I wouldn't be here without him and he left us with a lovely big family. For the fact that he was Mom's true love and that no man could measure up to him in my mother's eyes...Or did she just have enough. The moral of my story is I guess most of my siblings share this... The truth is: I would never really know what having a father is like.
But one thing I know for sure: I have one of the best mothers in the whole world.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Funnies in class

During one of my lessons this week I asked my students to make up general statements. I went around to check their work and was reading one of my Palestinian students work. He wrote a grammatically correct sentence but the content just made me want to run out of the room and laugh my head off. The sentence went like this: "Palestinian people are good at throwing stones." He looked at me and smiled and said.."but it's true" lol. It was hilarious. I had to keep it together to stay composed.
Two weeks ago we were doing present perfect e.g. I have known... This was one of the beginnings I gave them to complete. One student who was in his early twenties asked about what exactly to write. I knew this particular student just got married last year so I said "How long have you known your wife?" And he said "aaaah..." lightpulp moment, he thought for a bit and I was thinking.. How long does it take for one to figure out how long you've known your spouse of less than a year. "Twenty-four years" he said. I gulped thinking he's made a mistake and aske again are you sure? He is about 24 years old. Then it occurred to me that it was an arranged marriage of course he'd have known her all his life... Of course I proceeded to instruct him on how to write the sentence and not dwell in the details as it was just a different culture altogether!!!
Interesting things come up in the classroom at times.
Today was a holiday to commemorate the 37th year since Oman has been ruled by the current Sultan. I went to see a museum in Ruwi with my friend Lize. First we had lunch with a Kiwi friend who is moving to Saudi to teach English there for two years then Lize and I drove to Ruwi and saw the museum and an art gallery across the road. The art gallery was in an old villa that had a small court yard in the middle with a small fountain. I found myself lounged on one of the chairs there watching the soothing fountain and just enjoying the beauty of the small courtyard. It was a very random moment. It made me dream of Spain and their court yards. Reminds me we must travel to Spain in the near future!
Back to work tomorrow. I'm doing summer school in the morning and teaching adults in the evening. My morning classes are with students who basically speak very little English or none at all. Very trying and hard work but I'm slowly building a rapport with them and also figuring out how to get across to them. Not a bad bunch though. Now after a day out I'm exhausted and just wanna sleep. My body hasn't been agreeing with me lately and I've had different ailments that are just not nice! I guess life can't always be perfect:)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Nasty hangovers and upgrades!

Just got back from Dubai tonight. Tired as. Went out last nite with Alex and Rich, Net's hubby from the UK to the Irish Village in Dubai. Of course a few beers too many later we moved to Rock Bottom... Next thing we were just wasted hahaha Because I was drinking for Nets and I...lol Left the club at 2am and went home. Woke up with the WORST hangover. I was supposed to go skiing at 9am with Alex's sister... I was still in bed by 11am. I was just GONE. Of course famous last words : I am never doing that again...!!! We went to sister-in-law's place and I went straight to bed. Two hours later I woke up revitalised and headed for the mall to catch up with hubby, C and our friends that we had planned to have lunch with. Heh heh! Let's just say I was a wreck choo hooo. And because of it I didn't even want to shop...darn it hahaha! After lunch had a quick look around then went home. I caught the 10.30pm flight back. The airport was packed. I was lucky to get a seat. Got to immigration and the queues were long so I braved it and stood in the fast track/business/first class queue which had less people. I walked up to the counter with the confidence of a first class pax hahaha! And thankfully got away with it. I saw a guy ahead of me being sent back so I wasn't keen to be embarrassed infront of all those people I don't even know hahaha!
Anyway got to the flight and one of our friends was flying. Told the flight attendant to say hi to the captain and she came back to invite me to the cockpit to say hi. Nhen he duly upgraded me to Business class. I politely and graciously smiled and thanked him for such a kind offer... choo hooo.
All of the 50 min flight the two flighties in biz class were trying to get me to have some champagne or wine and whatever else they had. I ungratefully refused as I had decided earlier I'm not touching that stuff anymore hahaha OK I thought 'Am I reeking so bad for them to be so persistent?' The flightie looked shocked when I told him no thanks! I said I was driving home. Very nice of them though. They're hubby's colleagues hence the graciousness. Anyway got here okay. So nice to be home, to sleep in my own bed. Ok gotta go sleep have to work early tomorrow. Hard week this week.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday: week-end

Wow I had 50 visitors yesterday on the blog! That's a record! I wonder why that was. Well it's the week-end here and I must say I'm enjoying it. This morning I woke up at 6am which was new and it wasn't too hot then. The pools looked inviting but wasn't inspired enough to make the effort! I know, hopeless. Ok the real reason: Last night I had one too many wines with dinner and I woke up sick as a dog... cliche but yeah I hate that feeling. It's moments like that, that I vow never to put that stuff in my mouth again! But seriously I wonder why I drink one too many at times. I wish I could just stop consuming alcohol altogether but hmmmm will do eventually.
So today I went to pay bills and do some grocery shopping which was not bad. Just something to do to get out of the house. Poor hubby has been working hard so I let him sleep in and tried to tip-toe to give him peace....for a little while. heh heh! At 2pm we went to meet friends for coffee. Our friends that we haven't seen since we got back from the holidays. Slack I know but we try! We then went to see Wild Hogs at the movies. It was hilarious... I just about laughed from the beginning to the end. A bit too many swear words for kids but it's great.
Last night I decided I spend way too much time on the computer so I was not going to turn it on today or come near it... Hubby turned it on to start with and I walked in and saw it on and put in the password to enter it...yep just couldn't help myself. Anyway so I left the house with checking any mails or anything. Came back went to coffee to see friends and now waiting for another friend who's getting ready, to go with her to a shopping centre to hang out!
It is the height of summer here surprisingly it's not too hot!(I think) as I can hear people using the pool which is not the norm on most days.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

7/7/07

I thought I'd write a blog today on the triple 7 day. We went to Dubai for the week-end to see Alex's sister who lives there and catch up with friends. Alex arrived from work then we went back to the airport to fly to Dubai. We waited at the Crowne Plaza for Cesca for about an hour before Cesca finished work. Because it wasn't very far we walked it! In 35 degrees heat, it wasn't exactly the best idea. 20 minutes later and drenched in sweat we arrived at the house. It felt like a mission due to the heat and the high humidity on that day. What was nice was that, it was after 6.30pm and the sun was setting so the sky was beautiful and we walked through houses where the labourers lived. It was busy and it was so different from the other parts of Dubai. We werwe stared at as we didn't belong there but otherwise it was an interesting walk. From then on we figured out how to ring taxis so we wouldn't walk anymore:):)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Pick-up Story!

Yesterday in one of my classes, I gave the students some exercises to complete and in the middle of it they erupt into a frenzy of Arabic speaking! They were obviously discussing something they felt strongly about so I asked what the problem was and to at least discuss it in English!
One guy pointed at the one lady and said
"She wants to buy a pick-up!" and shook his head.
"So? She lost her car in the flood", I was a little confused about what the problem was.
The lady spoke up, "Teacher, I want to buy a pick-up and they're all saying I shouldn't because ladies don't drive pick-ups"
A classic example of cultural differences.
And the lady continued that even her family were against the idea of her buying a pick-up!!! Moreover when she went to the showroom even the salespeople were discouraging her form buying one!
I asked her why she had decided to buy a pick-up and she said she just wanted one and she didn't see the problem. Though her sister told her that they wouldn't ride in it if she does buy it!
The guys looked at me for support to tell the poor lady that it was a ridiculous idea and I plainly said to the lady;
"If you want to buy a pick-up then by all means go for it, you will change some perceptions in your country by doing so" She laughed and said that she might even be in the paper as the first woman to buy a pick-up in the country considering the fuss everyone was making"
However not many people own pick-ups here. They're mostly owned by businesses or driven by the bedouin people who live in the desert.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Two-hundreth Post!

Went back to work last week. It's nice to have an aim in life once more, something to wake up to and sleep stressing about hahaha! Ok not stressful really. I work from 4pm to 9pm which I think is pretty good. The boss has been trying to get me to work in the mornings too but I think I would like a quality of life rather than money. Or am I just lazy...well somebody shoot me... I also have a husband whom I think would like to see me at some point in the day. heh heh. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
So Muscat is still recovering from the remnants of cyclone Gonu and they're doing great. Though there are some areas that still don't have running water however water trucks are sent there every now and then to replenish people's private tanks. Today before class I went to help David move one of their cars to the school compound where his partner works in case there's flooding tomorrow and their cars turn into floaters again. (See David, your name's mentioned) David said he enjoys reading the blog and yet he's never found his name on it. I try not to use people's name to protect their identities and use fake names at times. This is my blog and I wouldn't like it if someone else was blogging about me without my knowing!(unless it's nice things of course)
.
Another friend who also follows this blog expressed her concern that I'm publicizing myself to the world on this. Thanks for the concern but I really don't see the harm in blogging away about my little world. There are billions of people in this world and millions of blogs and websites I don't think the bulk of the globe would come across my blog much.
.
I started this blog for our families and friends because we live so far away. Instead of writing the same email a hundred times I can just write it once on here and everyone who gives a damn can go ahead and update themselves about our fabulous lives!
My brain
When I try to go to sleep at night, my brain chooses this time to operate at 150mph!!! I think of all sorts of things when I'm trying to fall asleep. My mind wanders to all corners of the globe and beyond. I would also mentally calculate numbers, for example how much I should be getting and how much I would've gotten if I worked after hours and on and on. Or I'll try to figure out how old my nieces, nephews and cousins are or how old we might be if we had a child in the near future. I get so carried away that I forget that I was trying to fall asleep in the first place!!! Anyway I have this mental journey most nights and then there's the odd night when I just fall asleep with no hassles but I have to be really tired to do so.
Last night I thought of my schooling as a child in Savaii at St Theresa's school. I was trying to remember all my old teachers' names and where they were from... One teacher stood out and that was Sr. Maria from Ireland! She took me in year 6 and 7. She was fairly small in build and had bright green eyes(I think.) She was lovely, and I remember she taught our class some Irish song like 'Danny Boy' and some other Irish favourites that we all learned by heart. She even introduced St Patrick's day to the school and it was great. Of course we had to wear green and decorate our classrooms with green decos and all. She even told us some stories that included leprechauns and the four leaf clovers. From then on I filled in the bus-waiting time looking for a darned four leaf clover!!! I wonder where in the world Sr. Maria is today. Wouldn't it be funny if she came across this entry due to divine intervention...
Ok it's late and I better take my brain to bed I have to work tomorrow at 9am to cover for another teacher. It's 1am now and I hope my brain will be nice and sleep early tonight with the rest of my body. OK I sound really loony now.
To all four of you my dear readers, have a lovely day tomorrow and blessed week.
Manuia.
E iai leisi taimi na o lou fia tusitusi lava i le gagana Samoa ina ia aua ona galo lau gagana. Ia ae leai lava ni tala e ono faaaoga ai le tatou gagana matagofie. Ou te manatua ai aso o ou aoga i tauvaga tusiga solo ma tala i le gagana Samoa ma le faa-Peretania. Sa iai taimi na malo ai au tala ae ou te manatua pea pei o ananafi le tasi tausaga pe a o le 10 poo le 11 o ou tausaga. Na ou fo'i mai i le aoga ae valaau mai si ou tama matua o Lealali ma si ou tina tausi o Faleasiu ou te alu atu i le fale ona e iai le la tala malie la e fia ta'u mai ia te a'u. Ma lo'u alu atu ae fusi a'u e si ou tama o Lealali(o le faafafine) ma fai mai, "sau si au tama ua tu tolu lau solo lea na lafo i le tauvaga a le 2AB." Na pei e tutupu ni ufi i o'u tino i lou fiafia tele i lena aso. Ua ou oso atu i luga o le moega o Faleasiu ma ou kisi atu i lona alafau. Na alu lena vaiaso o o'u savali i luga o le ea talu ai lo'i fiafia tele ona ua lau mai lo'u igoa i le leitio! Tiuhuuuuhuuuu!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back to normal!

Here I am blogging from home once more. The phone came back on last night along with the internet and showtime TV. Just as well as I've just about read every book on our book shelves and have had enough of conspiracies of taking over the world and lawyers making and spending too much money...! I think I should move on to more philosophical stuff for a little while...or not.
Lately I would pick up a book and start reading and if I'm not in the mood for it I would drop it and look for another. Maybe this is normal for others but I never used to do that. I got a list of books from my nephew Ben in Brighton so I'm now on a quest to find them and start reading some more.
.
First of all let me go back to work. Hopefully on Saturday our classes will start again. The school was totally flooded and they were working on re-wiring the whole place due to water damage! And air-conditioning is a must as 45 degrees Celsius is not exactly an ideal classroom temperature! I hope for my boss' sake(and my sanity) that things are back to normal and we start on Saturday.
.
I just found out that my sister's house got robbed last week-end in NZ which is sad. Luckily they were out of the house but the thieves took all their electronic equipment. The worst of all, their laptop was stolen with all the pictures of their new baby. Once again just as well we all have copies since day one of baby that I'll just make a CD of all the pictures and send it to them. Still I wouldn't want to lose our laptop let alone our hard drive..arrrgghhh. Well the police have the thieves' DNA and hopefully they'll be caught. Two other houses on the street were also broken into. Thank goodness that my sister and her family are all okay. Just the thought of your private space being violated is just disgusting and unthinkable. I hope those thieves get what they deserve, many years behind bars.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Destruction by Cyclone Gonu



Photographer: anonymous


Photographer: anonymous

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Post-Cyclone Gonu

O lea e lelei mea uma. E leai se mea o faaletonu ai maua. Faafetai i le alofa o le Atua ona o lana puipuiga alofa mo i maua i taimi o lologa ma matagi malolosi. Faafetai foi tatalo mai i aiga ma uo. Ia God bless.
I was in the middle of updating during the cyclone when the internet got disconnected. We still don't have the internet at home but will post some pictures afterwards. We continued to have electricity up to now. Water got cut off just for one whole day. After the cyclone we drove around Muscat and were shocked to find that there was heavy flooding, roads and cars were washed away. Houses were flooded as well. We were very lucky compared to many people around Oman. The damages are estimated at around $1billion! BUT this is an oil rich nation so it won't take long before everything is up and running again. I must commend the effiency of the government departments in issuing warnings to residents before the cyclone. Even their post-cyclone efforts have been remarkable. Our running water is already back on and the power never got cut off. Choppers and army vehicles and personnel have been working around the clock to get water and food to villages that have been cut off! More than 50 people died as a result of the cyclone so far according to the local newspapers. Businesses that could were already back in business as soon as they got power and water.
I went to check my work place because I couldn't get through on the phones and I found the boss and admin staff cleaning out the building because it got flooded. Luckily it was only floor level though they lost some books and equipment. So I had the week off until the work place is up and running again.
Otherwise praise be to God that we are fine and our friends are all okay as well.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cyclone Gonu Updates!

June 07, 2007
It's still pouring rain here. Power is still on and so are the phones so its not too bad. Our bedroom window started to leak through earlier so we're just mopping it every now and then but otherwise all is well. The cyclone is supposed to pass Muscat and head up to the coast of Iran. Due to the dry air from the desert it has supposedly slowed down the winds and breaking up the cyclone so hopefully it'll pass soon. All I know for sure is that Muscat plants are now well watered for the next few days. There's flooding in some areas apparently and our friend by the beach didn't call us back to pick them up. I take it they left with their neighbours as that's what they were about to do when I last spoke to them.
My other friend who lives in a house at the university in Al Khoud texted to say their windows were all leaking through and the trees around the area had fallen and there was debris around the area and she had had enough of Cyclone Gonu! So I say we have it pretty easy so far. Because we're on the third floor of our compound we're pretty sheltered from the wind from all sides so we're okay. Just 3 hours ago a plastic table fell off someone's porch. I say that was pretty dumb to leave stuff out like that when there are strong winds. Someone's porch umbrella was also blown off their balcony!!! Some very smart people around. I shouldn't be too mean because I guess most people haven't seen anything like this before! Well just letting our families know that we're okay.(I lost the internet connection right about here so I saved this on word) Alex's flight last night got cancelled so he's watching DVDs to amuse himself while I blog away in between reading a Harlan Coben novel. I'll post some more updates soon if the internet is still running. Ta daa

June 08, 2007
So the rain finally stopped and so has the wind. Today was nice and calm and the sun even peaked through the clouds in the afternoon. The hills looked so beautiful and clear. However around Oman some people suffered devastation. Houses near wadis and the ocean were flooded. So we had it pretty easy. Some idiots sent text messages around that there was a tornado coming during the cyclone(?!?) which sent some poor souls into a panic. This afternoon we decided to go for a drive to check on friends and to get out of the apartment. One of our friends ‘Sera’ was by herself as her husband was stuck overseas. The poor lady looked so relieved that it was finally all over. Her house looked like she just experienced a major cyclone. Poor Sera was so stressed about the cyclone hitting that she was delirious with panic and packed up a lot of their things. To make matters worse she kept receiving messages from people about a tornado coming so she cleared out the closet for refuge!!! I just can’t believe how mean and inconsiderate some people are. I spoke to Frieda as well and she said that her neighbours called to say they were all in the closet with their kids due to the tornado warning. So while we were bored out of our minds yesterday, other people were really going through a crisis or rather, getting themselves into a frenzy about the cyclone. Hilda said she just slept, glad to have the time off work to catch up on her sleep.
The highway was flooded yesterday and we saw evidence of it today while driving around. Lots of road damag by the heavy rains.
Sometimes people are just negligent. They like to go out and have a look around during these disasters and then become victims in the process.

In the middle of cyclone Gonu!

Here we are in the middle of Cyclone Gonu in Oman. It has been raining since about 2.30am last night and its pouring down now. A bit of wind but not too bad. It's cooled down a bit too but so far we still have electricity, phone and internet. The TV satellite is down. The power has been flickering. Compared to what I've been through before this is mild and thank goodness it is so. However I just called friends that live by the sea and I was told that the waves are pretty big out there and that their garden has started to flood. We're waiting to see what the next plan of action would be. Over and out from Cyclone Gonu.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cyclone Gonu

It's 6.40pm here in Muscat and the country is in a state of emergency due to Cyclone Gonu heading for the coast of Oman. Everyone was sent home from work today to await or sit out the cyclone at home. It hasn't arrived yet and hope it has missed us altogether. It is predicted to hit the East coast of Oman and Muscat would just get heavy rains and gusts of wind as we'll only get the fringes of the strong winds. So Inshallah as they say here it doesn't affect too many people and it breaks up soon. Its apparently unusual for these parts to get hurricanes or cyclones but somehow the Indian waters thanks to global warming has now provided the perfect conditions for a cyclone to form. I am not one bit excited about this because I thought I was far away from the Pacific prone to cyclones and here I am in the Middle East and it has followed me here! Isn't it ironic. This would be my fifth cyclone in my young life! Oh well such is life!!!
.
On a lighter note I heard yesterday on the local news that according to an UK survey, Oman was deemed the safest country in the Middle East and North Africa and was rated 22nd of 121 countries that were included in the survey. I am not surprised by this because this is a peaceful country.
.
I got lovely news from home last week that our family won the case to do with our family's Tuisafua title. Mom was the leader of our side and had researched the case and our genealogy for many years. God bless you Mom for a job well done for us and for generations to come. Thanks to all our family that had supported Mom and those that made it on the day and those like me that prayed for such an outcome. May the Tuisafua family prevail!
Malelega-a-le-Toelau suli(descendant) o le Tuisafua

Arrival

We landed in Heathrow at about 6.30 pm then went straight to the hotel to see Rudi. We hung out with Rudi for about 2 hours until Netia and Rich came after work to fetch us. We had a couple of pints at the bar before we headed to Winchester. We got there and went straight to bed in our comfortable beds in Nets and Rich's spare bedroom.
.
The next morning after a hearty English breakfast cooked by a Samoan :) Alex and I walked down to the village and caught the bus into Winchester. We got to town picked up a map and followed the walking tour route. It's a nice little town and we had a look through the museum about the history of the area. We then went to the Cathedral which was amazing. Huge and had many extensions over time. And the main architect was named William and the renovator was another William and a diver that saved the church by diving under and replacing wood with cement over a period of five years was also called William!!! Many of those buried in the crypt were archbishops and headmasters and their spouses. We walked along and saw a cricket game being played near ruins of an old castle. We continued on and walked along the river which was just beautiful with the plants and trees hanging over it. Something out of a painting. We walked all the way and stopped at other sites before we reached the bus stop and caught the bus back to Bishops Waltham at 6.30pm. Got home and went with our friends to their village pub for dinner. Got home sang songs and played music on the piano and guitar. Later there was a challenge on wii but I was quite happy to sing away with Nets and our out of tune intruments!!!
Needless to say we had lots of fun.
.
Next morning we caught the train to Hounslow in London to stay the night so we could head downtown and meet up with my cousin Mark whom I'd never met before that and James our old friend who used to work with Alex in Samoa. By the time we got to the hotel it was about 2pm and half the day was wasted on travelling. The hotel wasn't as close to the train station as we thought and there were no cabs insight!!! London is a HUGE city be warned. After gathering our wits we headed out again and found a tube station two stops away and headed into down town. We got off at Leicester Square onto Charing Cross and straight into the Brewmaster. Had a snack while waiting for James. One hour later James showed up confused by a message I left on his phone!!! We reckon he was lost in his own city heh heh. While waiting for James I walked out of the pub and stood on the street so he can spot me if he was nearby. While waiting I was enjoying watching people. It was crowded. People coming and going and everyone looked like tourists. This was corrobarated partly when an accented man stopped to ask me where the Cambridge Theatre was. I said sorry I had no idea I wasn't from there.
.
When James arrived around 5pm we decided to start walking to look for Exeter St at Covent Garden where the restaurant was that we were meeting Mark and Kaye. We found it all right. Mark and Kaye arrived about 10 mins after us and then we sat down for dinner. It was really nice to meet Mark since we've been emailing for the past 5 years. They went to Samoa in 2005 and met the whole family there. We had fun and got on with everyone. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Alex's cousin Matt and his girlfriend Cherna joined us later. We headed for Leicester Square to O'Neall's and left town late. We had a great time and was in need of sleep for the rugby was the following morning.

Rugby

Alex in his team colours

Nets and I flying the country flag.

Afeleki Pelenise after scoring a try.


Samoans in action.

NZ performing the haka after beating Samoa in the finals...arrrggghhh

Rugby

We were woken up by Nets and Rich who drove in from Winchester for the rugby. WE all stayed at the same hotel which was not far from the stadium. Matt and Cherna arrived and then we all made our way to the Twickenham stadium. We met up with other Samoans who lived in England and around Europe and we all sat together to do our cheer together. As Samoans it turns out we all know each other one way or another and some were old schoolmates. Small world this is. The rugby was great, our team won all our games and the people we were with made it even more fun. We went home around 6pm and went to get dinner from a nearby pub which served Indian cuisine. Went to bed early ready for another day at the field.
.
We woke up early to catch the huge inclusive English breakfast and caught a taxi to the stadium. Once again great rugby and we were having more fun off the field than on. Our team lost at the finals to NZ. Upside was my cousin Alf was playing for NZ and he had a good game. Our team didn't seem to have it from the onset of the game and so lost miserably. NZ went on to win the cup that day. All of us Samoans went straight to the hotel where the boys were staying by invitation and waited around for about an hour before a room was ready for our contingency.
.
We did our good ol' dancing and singing to amuse ourselves and one would think we won the tournament with the way we carried on. We were enjoying ourselves and then the power went out at the Crowne Plaza. I wonder now if it was a ploy to get rid of the supporters that were at the hotel but then the whole hotel power was shut down. The came around with glow sticks while waiting for the power to come back on. Well who needs light we kept on singing and dancing to the glow sticks and cellphones lights lol. It was quite funny. And as Polly pointed out later, the boys from Samoa probably thought we were nuts with the way we carried on with our singing and dancing but then it's the fact that being so far away from home when Samoans come together you just want to do everything that's Samoan hence the singing of old Samoan favourites that the younger ones didn't even know hahaha!
It must have been good because the Fijian star player William Ryder trekked over with two of his mates to join our party!!! And then we ran into another Fijian that we met in Hong Kong. It's such a small world when it comes to rugby and Pacific people. I also ran into another Fijian girl that I went to university with in NZ nine years ago!!!
.
Once again it was a fun day and our boys proved to be good sportsmen once again. We enjoyed ourselves until hunger tookover we left the hotel and drove through one famous fried chicken outlet to get our fill for the evening. We slept fitfully as Rich pointed out, 6 more hours to the English Breakfast hahaha! Choo hoo.