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My Blog’s Been Recognized

I am very happy to share that recently I received two awards for my blog.  I am both honored and delighted.  It’s not really a nomination because there is no vote between bloggers to see who wins.  The fact that I was recognized is an award in itself.  Even though I’ve had my blog for more than 3 years, I am still trying to figure out how people get their blogs featured on different websites and in news articles.  And 3 years may seem like a long time but if you have been with me from the beginning you will know that I took around 2 years off after my first ‘crash and burn’ try at teaching overseas.  I picked it back up once I reapplied and started the journey over.  Well receiving these awards makes me feel like my blog is being read and ‘Hey’, it must be pretty good. So I guess I will stick with it.  But really, here are the requirements for receiving these awards.

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This is my second Liebster Award! Keep ’em coming!

I was nominated by Expat Panda. <-Click here to visit her blog) THANK YOU!  She is a beautiful young lady from South Africa, who like me, is teaching overseas.  She is teaching in Kuwait and I love the little memes she post in her blog.  It is her signature and I’m so jeolous that I did not think of using those first.

My blog was originally started to document my steps to teaching overseas.  I used to write when I was a little girl.  I loved to write poetry and books.  I even had a poem published in a book years ago.  One day I will write some children’s books when life slows down for me.  I already have my characters and storylines in my mind. Anyway, back to the brief history of my blog.  The first time I tried to teach overseas I did not get the job(s).   You know the rest.  Now I am here in Qatar teaching first grade.  And my blog is all about learning and growing over here.  I discuss the steps to teaching in Qatar, life in Qatar, traveling and eating.  Some might say, my blog is a little personal, but it is.  I like it like that.

My advice to anyone considering blogging or just beginning, make a list, so you don’t forget. And…

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Don’t ask me what this has to do with blogging.  I just like it.  But on a more serious note, have fun with it, but keep in mind that Big Brother is always watching.  I go by this saying “When in doubt, do without”.

11 random facts about me

    1. I call myself a Pesca-Vegan because I mostly follow a vegan diet but I do eat seafood. SMH (I love it so much)
    2. I am afraid of flying but I love to travel
    3. I have a facebook group called “For Women Living with Alopecia”
    4. I write reviews
    5. My birthday is a big deal to me and I act like a spoiled brat in the month of August
    6. I hate wearing clothes, but I love clothes shopping
    7. I like my food piping hot and if it’s not, I’m not a happy camper.  In fact, I will send it back in a heartbeat.
    8. Trey Songz could get it
    9. I want to serve more, maybe volunteer in a hospital to help kids or feed the homeless
    10. I will live forever, at least I tell people that, because I wish I could.  I really do love life!
    11. My favorite movies are…

So Expat Panda has created these 10 questions for me to answer.  Here goes..

  • What is your favorite thing to photograph?

I love to photograph sunsets, sunrises and scenery.

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  • Which magical power do you wish you had while you were traveling?

It is difficult to choose just one, but I think I would love the power to teleport then I wouldn’t have to worry about the plane ride.  But, I’m cheating now, I could make a whole list of other powers I wish I had.  A second one would be to clone myself, so that I wouldn’t have to go back to work but remain on vacation while my clone worked for me.  Or maybe the power to expand and deflate my stomach so that I could eat all I wanted and not worry about getting fat. But then that would be unhealthy, so I don’t know.  How about you my readers, what power would you choose while traveling?

  • If we had a day to spend together in your hometown, what would we do?

That’s easy, we would eat cheesesteaks and visit historical sites.  Philadelphia has a lot of history.

  • Which TV show would you like to live in?

Sex and the City!  I crack me up! Thank God, she didn’t ask, which character I would be.

  • What is your “take all my money!” store?

Homecenter, TJMax, Target, Macys, Oh, I’m sorry did you say store or stores?

  • What food do you crave when you need comfort?

Sushi

  • What has been your most valuable failure?

Being told no by previous employers, it brought me here

  • What’s your favorite Disney movie?

BAM! Answered that already, see ^

  • What would you have told your 16 or 18-year-old self?

Go to college right after high school, it will save you time and earn you money faster

  • Tell the world the story of how and why you started your blog.

BAM! Answered that already too. See^

Now I have to nominate 11 bloggers that are deserving of this award and pose 11 questions to them.  But, unfortunately I don’t know that many bloggers that have less than 300 followers so I nominated a few that I think are deserving.

I have nominated you…

https://fiancevisauganda.wordpress.com/

https://nycteacherabroad.wordpress.com/

https://travelwithmeeks.wordpress.com/

https://beautyglossips.wordpress.com/

https://elizabeth8199.wordpress.com

…for the Blogger Recognition Award and the Liebster Award.  If you accept, here are your 11 questions:

  1. What is the title of your post that received the most views?
  2. What is your favorite place to visit in the whole world and why?
  3. If you were granted a redo, what would you use it for?
  4. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  5. Describe your dream job? (You can make one up if you want)
  6. What are your pet peeves?
  7. Apple or Android?
  8. Who is your best friend and why?
  9. If you could spend one more day with someone who has passed, who would it be and what would you do?
  10. What are your hobbies, besides blogging?
  11. What do you love most about your life right now?

Congrats!

 

What Do You Buy a Little Qatari Girl that has Everything?

When I go back to American this summer, I plan on purchasing some little American trinkets and toys for my future students as well as some small classroom incentive items. If you plan on teaching overseas, might I suggest doing the same.

Last Thursday, one of my Qatari students, Helima (not her real name of course) invited me to her birthday party at her house.  It is not often that we teachers are invited to a Qatari home so it is good manners to accept.  They usually tend to stay to themselves.  BTW, I received the invite on the same day as the party. As I prepared to go, I started to worry, what do you buy a little girl that has everything, it seems.  It is no secret that Qatari people are pretty well off.  Back in the day, they lived off of Pearl diving and in tents.  That was until natural gas was discovered underneath them and then everything changed.  (Does this remind you of an old tv show?) Anyway, their government takes pretty good care of them now.

I dialed up a coworker of mine who has been here for a few years and has a lot of experience with the Qatari.  She reminded me that Helima is still just a little girl and all girls like girlie things.  I stopped in a store and purchased some headbands that would match her school uniforms and some pretty ballies (head barrettes).   I also threw in a coloring book that I had in my possession and some rainbow colored pencils.  The WhatsApp location that the little girl’s mother sent to me was in a location unfamiliar to me.  As I drove to find the residence, it began to get dark.  All I could see was brown land and sporadic palace looking homes.  This place was in the boonies and nothing was around but a WOQOD petrol station.  I called Helima’s parent to get clarity of the location and she said I was close and would resend the location, but of course there was no internet service so I didn’t get the message.  In the end, I turned around and found my way home.

By the time I reached home, the parent called me and asked where I was.  I could hear the disappointment in her voice and words.  Helima was really looking forward to seeing me.  I felt terrible.  But to be honest, I was so tired.  When I saw Helima at school, I apologized and gave her the gift bag.  The next day my heart melted.  Helima was wearing the headband and one of the ballies I gifted to her.   She wore the headband everyday that week.  I guess in the end, Qatari, American, rich, poor, it doesn’t matter, we are still people and generally like similar things.

When I go back to American this summer, I plan on purchasing some little American trinkets and toys for my future students as well as some small classroom incentive items. If you plan on teaching overseas, might I suggest doing the same.  It will come in handy, when you don’t know what to buy a little girl/boy that has everything or nothing.

Missing the Little Things While Overseas

I like living here in Qatar but there are some things that I really miss, that I never thought I would.  Before moving abroad take some time to enjoy some of your favorite things (outside of the obvious things like family, friends, etc…).  Here are some of the not so obvious things that I miss in no particular order.

  • The Kroc– a community center located in the north Philly section of Philadelphia.  It has a fitness center, pools, water park, chapel and more there.  My family and I went there at least once a week.  I frequented it more as my schedule was very flexible last year.  I attended several of the fitness classes: yoga, pilates, tabata, etc.  I enjoyed swimming laps and lifting weights there.
  • Sitting on my steps/front porch, enjoying a beer or glass of wine watching the cars go by.  My compound is small here and on a back street so we don’t get much action. This is a good thing and a boring thing.
  • Shopping at my favorite stores: TJ Max, Home Goods, Macys, Target. Oh how I miss you guys.
  • Corner stores: Wawa, 7-Eleven
  • The food- A few of my favorites: Little Delicious is a Caribbean restaurant located on Woodland Avenue in Philly.  It’s a hole in the wall but the food is so good.  I miss the curry goat, ox tails, rice and peas, cabbage and jerk chicken.  All The Way Live is a Vegan restaurant located in the Germantown section of Philly.  I found out about this place just before I left as I began to make the vegan transition.  It is owned by the mother of an associate of mine, it is true vegan food and it is delicious.  Atlantic Ocean Lobster and Snow crab legs, bought right from the market and home-cooked just the way I like it, by hubby himself.
  • My car, my sweet, red Valentine.  I recently paid it off and haven’t even driven it since.  That’s me and Valentine in the featured image above.
  • Hearing music blasting from the car next to me and blasting my own favorite jams as I cruise down the highway with my windows open enjoying the FRESH air (well fresher than here anyway)
  • The ease of knowing where everything is that I love and enjoy
  • Scenery- Everything looks the same here, brown, dry and dusty except for the buildings down town.  I miss the mix.  I miss going to the Poconos, getting a room and enjoying outside activities like the shooting range, ATV’s etc..
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ATV riding in the Poconos when an unexpected friend showed up
  • Road trips to another state- Without applying for a visa and driving to another country, there is no where to drive outside of Qatar.  In the U.S., the family and I would load of the car and hit the road.  We could be in another state in under 30 minutes.  It may not have been far but we felt like we had gotten away.
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A quick trip to the Beach with my family
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Another trip to the beach with family and my Zoey

I would love to hear from my readers: What do you miss about your home country or what do you think you will miss?

Seeing a Dentist in Qatar

The outside looks shoddy, like most places here, I would not go in, had it been in U.S.. But the inside was clean, again like most places here.

Before I moved here, I made sure to visit the doctor, the GYN, an optometrist and the dentist, because I wasn’t sure how these things worked here.  I could wait until I came back to the U.S. to visit them again and I would still be within a year.  I’m pretty regular with check-ups.  But things happen and all this eating has led to a cavity.  My friend, Jennifer, recommended a Dental office that she visited that wasn’t too far from my villa so I made an appointment.  Green Health Dental clinic’s location is Opp Dar Al Salam Mall, Mesaimeer road, Abu hamour, Doha, Qatar.  I called and had an appointment for myself and Zamir within 2 days, a weekend at that, at 5:30 pm.

The outside looks shoddy, like most places here, I would not go in, had it been in U.S..  But the inside was clean, again like most places here.

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We were seen and on our way home within 45 minutes.  The first visit was just to confirm I had a cavity and sensitive teeth, and Zamir needed a cleaning.  OK.  We made another appointment to return to get the services done.

On our next appointment only took 29 minutes.  As soon as we walked in we were seen. The filling was completed differently than in the U.S.  I am not a dentist so I can’t really explain how the procedure was but I didn’t get a numbing agent and I didn’t feel any pain.  Zamir said all the dentist did was clean between his bottom teeth and ‘Wala’.

For this visit I paid QAR 122 ($33 USD approx) and the remainder was billed to our insurance.  In all, the experience was very efficient and pleasant.  It perplexes me how quick some services are and how slow others are here.

 

A Fun Filled Weekend in Qatar

We drove amongst the Arabs speeding, and dodging each other, going in and out of traffic, some honking at their camels (not allowed btw), kids heads popping out of the tops of sunroofs, handsome men smiling and dare I say flirting with us through open windows, yelling “Yalla!”, watching the foamed mouth camels running together with remote controlled jockeys on top, some whipping the camels.

Often I hear people say this country is boring, and it can be, if you let it.  Lately, I’ve been somewhat of a hermit, just eating, working and chilling.  But this weekend, I decided to change all of that.  I began to evaluate my situation:  the school year is just about 2/3 done, there are only 3 months left, I will be returning home for summer break, my son will be leaving me to finish his last year of high school in the states, my husband will be joining me next year.  I want to make the most out of the rest of this school year, my son’s last childhood year and my last few months of being a married/single mom.  There is always events happening here in Doha and a lot of them are free, especially for QF employees. Just last weekend, my son and I went to the CHI AL SHAQAB International Equestrian Competition.  We watched as horses pranced, danced and modeled, ran and jumped hurdles.  It’s actually pretty exciting to watch in person.

Thursday night I went to happy hour at Zengo.  It was a goodbye get together for Dee, who started the Come Dine with Dee Facebook page; she is returning to Ireland.  I went alone, had good conversation with strangers and it was a good start to the weekend.

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Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.15.38 PMOn Friday, I pampered myself with a manicure and pedicure.  Yes, you can get nice nail treatments here, gel on my fingers and regular polish on my toes.  It’s a little more expensive, usually ranging from $68 USD (250 QAR) and up for these services.

Then, Zamir and I went to brunch.  We tried Nozomi at the Pearl (335 QAR).  There is a small salad and sushi buffet. The sushi was good.  You can order 2 main dishes from the menu and a dessert as well as mocktails.  Our stomachs did not make it to dessert.  Afterwards we walked around the Pearl and made our way back home.

Check out my first slideshow.

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The highlight of our fun filled weekend was Saturday.   We got up early and met up with my friend Sue and her son.  She was nice enough to go on this adventure with us and drive. We headed to the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack.  Camel racing is a traditional sport of Qatar.  It was a cloudy day and we were praying that it wouldn’t rain.  Rain here means everything gets canceled.  Sue had read that the camel race at 6:30am then again at 9:30am until 1pm.  It was about an hour drive.

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You don’t see this in the U.S., Camel crossing. lol
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Camel underpass

We were shooting to be there by 9:30.  When we got there, after getting slightly lost, we saw trucks in the parking lots and camels walking across the lots.  Then out of no where, the trucks all headed toward a large screen on the outside of the track.  We followed the crowd, as there aren’t any instructions on what to do.  Then all of sudden everyone starting pulling off and the camels began trotting past.  I yelled for Sue to “GO!” and we got in line.  We drove amongst the Arabs speeding, and dodging each other, going in and out of traffic, some honking at their camels (not allowed btw), kids heads popping out of the tops of sunroofs, handsome men smiling and dare I say flirting with us through open windows, yelling “Yalla!”, watching the foamed mouthed camels running together with remote controlled jockeys on top, some whipping the camels.  It was such a rush and so much fun.

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But just as fast as it started, it was over and many of the trucks disappeared.  We were left wondering, what next?  We waited awhile and even checked out the bedouins nearby. Women fully covered were selling stuff out of tents.

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Then we left and hit the road.  It was still early so we decided to take a road trip to Zekreet. We were already pretty far West so Zekreet was within a 30 min drive.  Zekreet is a village in north-western Qatar near Dukhan and about 90 km northwest of Doha.  Here you can visit the beach and some other interesting sites.  Here is a list of things we did and saw along the way.

  • Murwab Fort- or what’s left of it
  • Zekreet Peninsula– Art in the Desert- East-West-West-East, 4 large, plates of iron, sticking out of the sand in the middle of no where

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  • Zekreet beach– we stopped here and enjoyed a picnic on the beach
  • Bir Zekreet– large, interesting, geological, rock formations, climb up and take pictures

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Me and Sue in the Desert
Sue and I

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  • Film City– replica of an antique Arabic village.  Some say it was built as a set for a movie.

After an 1.5 hour drive back to the city, we ordered Thai food.  My son and I ended our night by attending a Paint the Night event at Misk restaurant in the City Center Rotana hotel.

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The decor at this restaurant is very Moroccan and blue. Love it.

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We were exhausted by the time we reached home, but happy at all we had done.  Other expats have lived here for years and have never taken the journey to Zekreet.  This was one of my favorite weekends in Qatar, full and tiring.

Spring break is around the corner and I can’t wait.  Hubby is coming to visit, then Zamir and I are off to see more of the world.   We are going to EGYPT!  I am so excited, words can’t even explain!  Stay tuned…

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Why the Friday Brunch at the St. Regis Doha is and isn’t the Best!

Reviews are just people’s opinions of their personal preference. Take it or leave it, but respect it!

Many people in Doha write reviews on the restaurants.  Reviews are just people’s opinions of their personal preference. Take it or leave it, but respect it!  Many people have said that the Friday brunch at the St. Regis is the BEST in Doha.  That is their opinion and this is mine…
I was so excited to sit at another Gordon Ramsey restaurant since I had been to Burrger’s in Vegas years ago and had, hands down, the best burger in my life.  I was more so excited because I was finally going to eat at the raved about St. Regis Brunch.  My group sat down at Opal, avoiding the long line in front of Vine.

The restaurant is beautiful and the view of the bay is too.  Since this was our first time here, I thought someone would explain how the brunch system works here, but no one did.  I asked for a drink from the young man who poured us some water but I could barely understand him through his thick accent, not uncommon here though (one of the things I love about Doha), I’m sure my accent is thick too. lol.  Finally, I understood that I needed a bracelet to show that I was here for the alcohol.  He bought them out a little while later and through curiosity I learned that there were bar stations set up all over serving different drinks.  I liked that I hadn’t researched this brunch before I came, because once I stepped out of Opal and into the back patio area, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  There was food everywhere.  Stations upon stations upon stations.  There are tables set up outside and inside Opal, Astor Grill and Vine that you have access to.  You can get your fill of seafood, beef and chicken.  There is sushi, salads, kabobs, live cooking stations, sides, veggies, desserts and more.  The live reggae band was great.  I love reggae. There were people everywhere, dressed in everything from almost nothing to full coverage.  It was very resort like and I loved the scene.  Quickly I realized why many people believe this to be the best brunch in Doha.

The walk from the stations to my table in Opal was a bit of a distance, so once I sat down to eat, my food was cold.  Granted it was a little chilly on this day 24/2/17, but never do I enjoy food that is supposed to be hot, cold.  I am very particular about this.  When I go out to eat, if my food is not hot, I send it back every time.  For this reason, I will always choose a  a la carte brunch over buffet.  Some people have said, they really enjoyed the grits at this brunch.  I did not.  When I saw shrimp and grits, I got all excited but they were not like home at all, bland, watery and tasteless.  Outside of collecting our plates and refilling our water, the table service was non existent and cold.  I know that it is a buffet but checking on customers is always a plus.  And all of that food couldn’t possibly be consumed within 4 hours.  Where does it all go?  Waste?  For these reasons, the brunch at the St. Regis isn’t the best in Doha.

Maybe my expectations were too high based on shared experiences or the fact that this was a Gordon Ramsey restaurant.  I know many people would disagree but that is why it is called a review.  I speak my truths based on my personal preferences.  I would love to try Opal again but not for Brunch.

In summary, the Friday, Buffet, Brunch at the St. Regis is 450 QAR with alcohol, 350 without, offers lots of food and a variety of it, great views and scenery, has good drinks, a wonderful live band, unimpressive service, average tasting food and sit outside or be prepared to eat cold food!

Side Note: One member of my party got sick afterwards for two days, unfortunately.