The first sign that we are leaving Al Ain soon is the advertisements we have placed on the Higher Colleges of Technology and University of UAE public email boards. They've been fairly successful, we've sold most of the big stuff we wanted to sell. We do have a refrigerator to go, but feel confident that will move as the weather hots up. Selling the cars shouldn't be a problem either.
When we arrived here, with only a half dozen boxes of memorabilia from home so we wouldn't forget our roots, we got 30,000 Dirhams to set ourselves up. That's just under $9,000 AUD. We had no idea how far it would go or how much anything cost here so we bought some cheap stuff we later replaced. We never really used all of the allocation, but some day we'd be sitting back and I'd say to Christina something like, "Have we got a can opener?" "No", she'd say, "we need to get one". Sometimes when it was urgent we'd walk off to Al Ain Mall immediately and buy what it was we needed.
We had to buy a stack of curtains for the unit which has very high ceilings and consequently, long curtains, a stove, washing machine and everything, nothing is provided here other than the house.
For the first few months we didn't have a car, so we walked to the Al Ain Mall to do our grocery shopping and wheel it back in a shopping trolley. The roadways in our housing complex are paved with concrete pavers, so the trolley would bump, bump, bump all the way to A25 which just happens to be the farthest away from the mall.
Sometimes we'd use a taxi of which there are millions here and they are so cheap I don't know how they manage to pay for fuel, even though it's also cheap. I fill the 60L tank on our Nissan for about 75 Dirhams or $21 AUD. I'll get a shock when I fill up at home since our diesel Toyota has a 110L tank ... probably have to take out a loan on the house.
We are looking forward to ending our tour and getting back to Australia, our kids and friends, but the downside is that we will leave behind some of the loveliest people we have met who come from Canada, England, Scotland, Turkey, the US and even Australia.
We will also miss some aspects of the way of life. Al Ain is a lovely city with a mainly pleasant climate. We have lived very comfortably here where there is no tax on salary and everything is very cheap, especially food, although in the time we have been here, prices have risen quite a bit.
We have a lovely Indian lady, Rosie, comes once a week to vacuum and mop the floors and iron our clothes and a Sri Lankan fellow, Bubblo, who washes both cars every Friday morning and waters our garden every day. For these services we pay a pittance by our standards although when the Dirhams are converted to Rupees, the value for them is much greater than it would be for us in AUD.
Guess who will do the housework, water the garden and wash the car when we get home?
Our experience here has been one of the highlights of our lives and one that I recommend to anyone fortunate enough to have the opportunity.