Dubai

This is how big the Dubai Mall is: 45 minutes after I decided I was leaving, I was whimpering pitifully down three layers of parking garage after passing the aquarium, the ice skating rink, and the waterfall.  I’d managed to leave the building once, but the sidewalk shuttled me right back in through Bloomingdale’s.  My brain was flagging, my tired body had settled into a shuffle in inverted-v, and I just. could. not. find. an exit.

This place is nuts.

I was only in the mall because it’s the only way to get to the top of the Burj Khalifa, which- as the current tallest building in the world with 160 stories- is even nuts-er.  It stands pointedly over all the other skyscrapers like Yao Ming on a Lilliputian basketball team, and basically just says to the environs, “screw you, desert, I got this.”  Look:

I had to go back to the hotel for a nap after, but I’m not even mad about it.  Got to see a lot of Dubai in a mere couple of days, up to and including a dinner with the woman who literally wrote the book on the Spiritual Orgasm.  If you are wondering what a Spiritual Orgasm is, it is this:

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and the author, Gloria, has devoted herself to personal happiness and the spreading of joy.    She has a badass home, too, and I know that because she invited all 18 of us over for a home cooked meal and for the circle-sharing of our non-negotiable dreams- how nice is that?  The milk of human kindness is flowing in Dubai, y’all.  I talked about how I wanted a meerkat to stand on my head.

The next day we had to be consummate professionals again here:

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where you can get a certificate in “To Whom It May Concern” which is a great example of forward-thinking in our global world.

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We met with this handsome and well-spoken gentleman who made me want to sit up a little straighter, and over the course of the next few hours I learned a lot about how inspiring and knowledgeable are the group with whom I’m traveling.

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(Whoops- the waiter and I were just talking while he poured me some wine and he ended up filling my entire water glass with it instead of just splashing the bottom of the wine glass.  This could get interesting.)

Anyway, our cohort here is professionally impressive and I’m learning a ton, especially since I also get to speak with top educators in all of these countries.  Yesterday I even got to do a presentation at the Ministry- when the Emirati teachers heard about the demographics of Portland, they asked me to get up and speak about strategies for being a global educator- and I’m including the picture even though it’s not aesthetically pleasing because it appeals to my intellectual vanity and maybe my parents will be all proud.  But you guys- I don’t even want to hear any guff about the fact that I’m wearing a suit, okay?

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A highlight of last night was Diann, an expat ex-Texan who happens to have double balconies on the 47th floor of a building overlooking the Palms.  The Emirati generosity was strong in this one, and she invited us over after the meeting to watch the sunset over the Gulf.  I can’t believe I got to do that!  Look:

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We tried to hit the Palms Atlantis after sunset to see a belly dancer, but unfortunately we were an hour late and subsequently got kicked out for not ordering any food.  Went home, hit the sack, and boom: up for the Burj this morning.

It’s time to go to Abu Dhabi now- gotta go finish this pint glass of wine…

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