Mafi Mushkila (No problem in Arabic)
Trip Start Nov 24, 2011
16Trip End Jan 24, 2012
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Where I stayed
First day of my trip. So excited to see my friend, Julia, who transferred to Doha from the Four Seasons in Chicago. Most jobs in Doha come with accommodation, so I'm staying with her.
Right away when you land in the airport, you know you are in a very conservative, Muslim country. Signs everywhere pointing to the mosque in the airport, the women at the customs desk are all wearing abayas and hijabs on their heads, and the mean are wearing those sexy white robes, called dish dashes. There aren’t any addresses here (all mail is sent to a PO box), so it’s sometimes hard to get around in a taxi. I say the name of the resort that Julia works at and he takes me right there.
After a good night’s sleep (I have no problems sleeping, so jetlag is not an issue), Julia lets me sleep until almost 1p Doha time and checks on me to make sure I'm still alive and off we go to explore. Wouldn’t you believe it?!?!? It only rains a couple times a year here in the dessert and today, my first day in Doha, it rains! I’m calling it "good luck".
Weekends are Friday and Saturday here, so we jump in a cab to go sightseeing.. .indoors because of the rain and flooding. The sewers jam up with sand so quickly, that they are almost useless when it rains. The “disco taxi” we’re in is playing a combination of Euro-disco, Metallica, and Justin Bieber….very loud! We have to ask him to turn it down and he answers, “Yes, Mom” (he really said, “maam’, but it sounds like mom). A truck filled with goats drives by (so for a very new, rich country, it still has some of its traditions!) You won’t see a pig truck here, though, because Doha, until last week, was halla (no pork). They just recently allowed bacon into the country…for the westerners, of course.
Just driving around, you can see how incredibly rich Doha is
The men are allowed up to four wives, but most just have one
Prayer is five times a day. I absolutely LOVE hearing the muezzin sing his adhān call to prayer. Because the Muslims pray so often, there are mosques in Doha like Chicago has Starbucks…one on every corner. Each one is so beautiful.
Since it has stopped raining, Julia and I decide to go to the Souk (shopping area). Here is where I get a taste of old traditions. All kinds of little shops selling spices, fabrics, and blue, pink, and purple rabbits (I guess they dye them, which is cruel, but they are so fun! I do want a blue rabbit.). Along the one side of the Souk, the air fills with sheesha from the hookah. Love that smell! And, the men in their dish dashes and the women in their abayas make the scene surreal.After the souk, we walk outside along the Persian Gulf (it is probably actually something else here, but part of the Persian Gulf). You do feel very safe here. You don’t hear any sirens ever. And there isn’t any garbage…although, like I said, the government is ALWAYS watching, so you do feel like you need to be on your best behavior at all times (difficult for me).