Lazy Day in Lagos

Mar 31, 2010

I wasn't sure what to expect of my one night layover in Lagos, Nigeria. I'd heard mixed opinions from crew. Some swore it was terrible, while others stated that it wasn't "that bad". Neither of the two seemed very promising. I arrived to my briefing and saw that the flight load was only half full. "It's a miracle!", I thought, happily. 90% of the flights I've worked have been booked solid. With half of the plane empty, it would be a relaxed, laid-back flight... right? Wrong. We may have only had 105 passengers, but they sure knew how to drink. They cleared us of every bottle of wine, Cognac, and Baileys onboard, and left 2 Heineken at the most. After serving them a tray full of food, they asked for seconds. When we informed them that we only had enough meals for each passenger to have one, they spotted the crew fruit and robbed us of our apples and bananas. It was 8 hours of chaos, the background noise that of constant call bells. One of the adjustments I've had to make with this job is getting used to different methods that people use to get your attention. In some cultures, they snap their fingers. In others, they tug on your pant leg. In Nigerian culture, they hiss. Throughout the flight I heard "Ssss... sssss! Sister, get me red wine!" While there are days that I wish I was working for a Canadian airline, with happy Canadian passengers, I still have yet to feel the urge to return to my former life of office jobs. After landing in Lagos, we headed for our crew bus, complete with armed escorts. Led by a police car and instructed not to open our windows under any circumstance, we felt a bit like royalty and terrified all at the same time. I'm sure that the mass amount of protection is a bit exaggerated, with our airline well aware that they are responsible for our safety. That said, I wasn't complaining about the men with machine guns sitting at the front of the bus. I suppose the negative side of this layover is the fact that not only do we get no meal allowance, but we are basically confined to our hotel. We do, however, get free meals. After checking in and quickly changing, it was off to the buffet with a few other crew members. The power went out a few times as we ate, but everyone continued eating and laughed "Welcome to Nigeria". I indulged in soft buttery bread rolls, spicy Nigerian dishes, prawn cocktails, fresh fruits, and barbeque pork (yes, pork!) ribs. After having my fill of more than I needed, I dragged my suddenly heavier self back to my room and collapsed in my surprisingly super comfortable bed. I woke up from a great sleep and grabbed my room service menu, reading it several times before finally deciding upon french toast and (obviously) bacon. Did I feel guilty for my binge eating in such a poverty stricken country? Yes, slightly. At the same time, most layovers I'm provided with a sum of money to pay for my meals, the majority of which I save to supplement my income. The lack of money meant that I was taking full advantage of my free meals. I enjoyed every bite of my breakfast. I contemplated going to the gym to run it off, but lying by the pool seemed far more favorable. I spent awhile lying in the African sun, chatting to some of my crew and crew from various other airlines. The extreme heat and humidity began to become a bit too much to bear, so I did something very uncharacteristic of me... I headed to my room, sipped a fresh pineapple juice, and then headed for the gym. I tried to pretend that it was my new healthy lifestyle shining through, but secretly I knew I was only stepping on the treadmill for an excuse to eat even more food for lunch. On the pathway to the fitness center I was met by a rather large lizard who stood directly in my path. We both paused and stared at one another, unsure of who should make the first move. Finally I gathered the courage to continue walking and he scurried away. I must admit, it wasn't how I'd imagined my first encounter with African wildlife would be. After successfully breaking a sweat, it was back to my room for a shower before lunch. I contemplated the buffet before deciding upon room service once again... prawn cocktail to start (GIANT prawns... amazing...) , followed by a dinner of grilled salmon. I'd expected small portions, so I was a bit surprised when I was delivered a huge plate of vegetables, a basket of bread rolls, and a bowl of rice on the side. I was determined to eat as much as possible, as I'd be spending 8 hours on a flight with much less appetizing meal choices. I ate until I could barely move, and then proceeded to get ready for my flight back home to Dubai. Once again we followed our police escort to the airport, only to find that our aircraft hadn't yet arrived. We sat at the departure gates for what felt like forever. The air conditioner blew out warm air and the temperature of the room was a balmy 34 degrees. Perhaps bearable wearing shorts, but dressed in a full uniform complete with pants, jacket, and hat, we were dying. I felt the makeup that I'd so carefully applied melting off of my face. When we were finally able to board, we discovered that we had no red wine, very limited juice and soft drinks... and 40 child meals. That is far too many children in one cabin. We were also informed that the safety video was not working and that we'd have to do a manual safety demonstration. I felt like a real flight attendant as I pointed to the exits and demonstrated how to unfasten your seatbelt. I was also quite embarrassed as it was the first time I've had to do the demo and I had to look across the aisle to make sure that I was doing the right thing. Fortunately the flight home ended up being only 7 hours, full of call bells and trying to stay awake as morning approached in Dubai. I finally made it back to my apartment at 9 am, falling asleep at 10. I spent the day sleeping and now I'll be up until the wee hours of the morning, once again. My job is making me nocturnal!

Melbourne! Auckland!

Mar 28, 2010

While I was on a 14 hour flight bound for Melbourne, Australia, my good friends Ran and Angie become parents to a beautiful baby boy named Riley! I'm so excited and happy for them, and I can't wait for the chance to visit home and meet him and bring him cute little souvenirs from around the world! Congratulations, you'll make amazing parents!
After what seemed to be a never-ending flight, we finally arrived in Melbourne. I was fighting serious fatigue as I checked into my hotel room, and debated taking a short nap. I decided against it, well aware of the fact that a 2 hour nap would turn into sleeping for the entire day and missing out on exploring a brand new city. Instead, I showered, got dressed, and ventured into the city. I found a coffee shop and grabbed my first of many espressos that day. I wandered through downtown Melbourne, taking in China Town, the Greek area, and watching trams drive by. I picked up snacks and coffee as I happily strolled through the city. After a few hours of aimless wandering, I decided that I'd head back to my hotel before I collapsed from exhaustion on the street. For a moment I wondered if I was asleep and dreaming when I spotted a Lindt Chocolate Cafe across the street. I pinched myself to confirm that I was in fact awake and marched inside. Walking by wasn't even an option... it was LINDT! My favorite! I ordered a delicious mocha... half espresso, half Lindt chocolate... pure amazing. Back at the hotel I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up at 5 am the next day to prepare for my flight to Auckland. For those of you who remember, I was meant to go to Auckland last month but the flight was cancelled. I secretly wondered if I'd ever make it or if I was cursed to never see New Zealand. I was even more convinced after I found a note under my door informing me that the flight was delayed. Much to my surprise, the flight was not cancelled and we arrived in Auckland later that afternoon. On the way to the hotel I was thrilled to pass by "Canada Street" and to see a Wendy's for the first time since leaving home. I knew where I was headed for lunch! I quickly checked into my room and then headed for a junior bacon cheeseburger. Much to my surprise and happiness, it tasted just like home! Greasy, crispy, BACON! With a map of Auckland in one hand and a camera in the other, I set out to explore. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time before the sun went down and it got dark. I managed to make it to the harbor and see the water filled with tons of sailboats. Apparently Auckland calls itself "the city of sails". There was so much to see and do in New Zealand, but 24 isn't nearly enough to see Auckland, let alone the entire country. I hope to come back one day for longer, preferably with my adventure loving boyfriend. New Zealand is an adrenaline junkie's paradise... right outside of my hotel was bungy jumping, and you can jump from the Sky Tower as well! Back to my hotel I headed, another early night for me. The next morning I woke up and since I'd already ate terrible the entire layover, I figured there was no sense in trying to be healthy now. Off I went to McDonald's for a good old Americanized breakfast. Mmm. I had a few hours to kill before my flight, so I decided to go up to the top of the Sky Tower. I stood nervously holding onto the railing as the elevator traveled to the viewing deck. Glass floors in elevators?? What a crazy idea!! The elevator operator got a good laugh out the fact that I was a flight attendant, mildly afraid of heights. I stepped onto the viewing deck and went snap happy, taking pictures of the view. I could see the ocean and the mountains and despite the dreary clouds that hung over the city, it was beautiful. It reminded me of Vancouver, and I stayed up there for quite awhile before heading back to the hotel to get ready for my flight. It was the 3rd flight of our layover and by the time we'd boarded the passengers we were all feeling the effects of jet lag. We arrived at our hotel in Melbourne around 10 pm, and I was ready to fall into my bed for many hours. Instead, I got changed and headed downstairs to meet my friends Maz and Simone. I'd met them when the 3 of us worked on Fraser Island 2 years ago. We helped each other to cope with the boredom and insanity that come with living on a remote island made of sand. We reunited in the lobby of my hotel before hopping into Simone's car to go do what we do best... overdose on unhealthy food. They giggled at my accent, which is apparently much stronger now than it was after I'd lived in Australia for 8 months. Exhaustion was beginning to overcome me, and I felt terrible that I was nearly dozing off as we sat at a table catching up after 2 years. It was a short visit, but I was glad that I was able to see them while I was in their city! Unable to stay awake any longer, I returned to my room and called it a night. The next day was my last before the long flight back home to Dubai. I was determined to stock up on Aussie essentials... makeup, hair spray, nylons... and of course Top Deck chocolate and Tim Tams. Once my shopping was complete, I took in as much of Melbourne as I could in the short time that I had left. There was a Greek festival going on, so I wandered through the markets and listened to the music, wishing that I hadn't just ate lunch... the food looked and smelled amazing. I wanted to get a bit of sleep in before my flight, so I reluctantly headed back to the hotel. On the way, I strolled through the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, admiring the trees and green and nature, as I always do when I escape Dubai. I walked past 5 weddings! Yes, 5! The photographers worked their magic and made me think of Ryan. He takes great wedding photos. You should hire him. I made it to my room, slept a couple of hours, and it was time to go. After an extremely long flight and 6 days away, I was finally home in Dubai!

An Interview With...... Me!

Mar 20, 2010

My good friend Ronnie Rabena just started his very own blog! Yay, I like reading other blogs, more things to fend off the boredem that plagues me during my days off. He writes about his photography, crazy photoshop skills, and posts entertaining videos of evil (yet hilarious) pranks pulled on friends. For his latest entry, he asked me to do an interview with him about chasing your dreams. Very fitting, seeing as how the title of his blog is "No Dream Too Far" and I'm a shining example of the fact that dreams actually can come true. I'm a celebrity now, I've been blogged about! ..Only kidding, it was fun, and we were a bit silly as usual.
You can check out his blog, and read the interview here!

Amo l' Italia

Mar 19, 2010

There are days when this job is far from the glamorous life that most people perceive it as. Multiple turnarounds, passengers so mean that you want to curl up in the lavatory and cry, and extreme sleep deprivation. That being said, there are days when I can not believe that I get paid for doing something that is so much fun. Take for example, my last layover. As far back as I can remember, I've wanted to visit Italy... this is quite likely due to the mass amounts of chick flicks that I've watched that were filmed there. When I discovered a flight to Milan on my roster, I was thrilled. I crossed my fingers that they wouldn't change it at the last minute. Luck was on my side, and as I headed to the airport and other crew members asked where I was going, I would reply "Milan...", with a smile. Stuck on terrible flights such as Cairo and Delhi, they'd sigh with envy.
The flight over was quite interesting. We had a full passenger load and 90% of them spoke little to no English. I quickly learnt the Italian words for chicken and beef to make the meal service much easier. Everyone was so happy and friendly, and it was an easy flight. About halfway through the flight, a chime started sounding throughout the cabin. It sound familiar and took me a few seconds to realize... it was a smoke alarm. Mass panic briefly set in as all of the crew rushed to find the source. We discovered that it was in the lavatory, which was occupied. One crew member stood with the halon fire extinguisher, while another forcefully opened the door to find a man standing with a lit cigarette as he went to the toilet. A cloud of smoke blew into the cabin. Stunned by the 3 crew members standing in front of him, he made quite a mess of urine on the lavatory floor. We confiscated his cigarettes and a box of matches and angrily told him that not only was he breaking the law, but he was endangering 300 lives. Knowing the possible consequences, he suddenly became extremely apologetic. We let the purser deal with him as we calmed down the passengers nearby, who had no idea what was going on. Imagine hearing a smoke alarm, seeing smoke, and hearing the crew yelling in a language that you don't understand. Once things had calmed down, we patiently waited to land.
Upon arrival, we had a 45 minute bus ride to the hotel. Once we had finally checked in, it was 9 pm and I was exhausted. However, I was in ITALY! I could have went to sleep and ate in the morning, but instead I dialed up room service and ordered a real Italian pizza. It came delivered it's own little box, with a knife and fork beside it, which I found amusing. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. Satisfied, I crawled into bed and called it a night.
The next morning I woke up to a phone call from my boyfriend, the birthday boy. As it turns out, calling Italy is much cheaper than Dubai, so we chatted for awhile before I realized that I had to shower and go meet Vivienne (who is from Vancouver and just so happened to be on my flight to Nairobi as well) to head out for the day. Confused with the time difference, the poor girl was sitting in the lobby waiting for me an hour early. I quickly got ready, grabbed my camera, and met her downstairs. The weather seemed decent enough, so we decided that we'd go to Lago di Como/Lake Como. Like sardines, we crammed into an extremely full train to head to the main station. We had plenty of time before the next train, so we found a nice cafe and ordered lattes. For future reference: Ask for cafe latte when ordering in Italy, or like us, you'll end up with 2 cups of hot milk. We went back to the counter to order 2 shots of espresso as well. Italy has the best espresso, and it was perfectly complimented with a fresh croissant... Vivienne swears that nowhere in the world can compete with Italian croissants. We grabbed some olive bread for the journey, and headed to catch our train. I found myself staring out the windows for the entire hour train ride. Fields! Trees! It felt a bit like home, and a completely different world all at the same time.
Once we arrived in Como, I fell in love with Italy. The atmosphere is amazing. The streets were lined with cafes and locals zoomed past on bicycles. Friends would greet each other on the street with a kiss on both cheeks, and as we walked by people would smile and say "Ciao!". It was cloudy and looked like it might rain, but the temperature was perfect and the rain never fell. I went camera happy, getting dizzy from staring at my surroundings rather than watching where I was walking. After awhile of wandering, it was time for gelato. Unable to make up my mind, I asked the man behind the counter which flavor was his favorite. He tried explaining the ingredients but didn't know the words in English. I agreed to try it anyways, and whatever it was, it was delicious. I happily posed for photos with my very first REAL Italian gelato. I couldn't have been more happy that I'd decided to spend the day with Vivienne. Like me, she was completely happy wandering aimlessly, stopping to take photos because every 4 feet that you walk, it looks more beautiful. Lake Como was quite amazing. Beautiful houses nestled in the mountains that stretched out as far as I could see. Apparently many celebs including George Clooney and Madonna own homes around the shores. I can imagine that in the summertime it would be breathtakingly beautiful, but even in the winter, it was nice, and we were spared from the massive crowds of tourists that the summer brings. After walking along the lake for a good deal of time, we decided to take a train up the mountainside. The track was extremely steep and made me a little nervous, but the views were incredible. On a clear day, you'd be able to see the Alps stretching out for miles, but it was quite cloudy. At the top, there was a small village with and many amazing homes. We took a walk around, fearing for our lives every time a car came speeding down the narrow and winding road. Every building was so amazing. So old, colorful, and detailed. It was all quite surreal. There I was, wandering around Italy... ITALY! Even better, it was for work! After a few hours of taking in the sights and atmosphere, it was time to catch a train back to Milan as we had to fly home that evening. On the way back to the hotel we stopped to see the incredible Duomo Cathedral. I was in awe... the architecture was incredible, and the walls, windows, and roof were so detailed. Not to mention, it's massive. We fought off men trying to sell us bracelets and ran from pigeons (Vivienne is terrified of them) as we took the mandatory tourist photos. We grabbed more gelato (this time pistachio for me!) and caught the train back to the station closest to our hotel. Before departing for Dubai, home of expensive and in my opinion quite boring food, we headed to the supermarket to grab a few essentials... pasta, cheese, coffee and Loacker wafers for me, wine and cheese for Vivienne. We rushed back to the hotel, quickly got ready, and it was time to go. I wish that I could have had at least one more day... 24 hours is never enough. The flight was full, but since it was overnight the passengers slept the majority of the time. I was jealous, trying my best to stay awake despite having been awake and busy the entire day. Due to fog and heavy traffic, we were slightly delayed and by the time I arrived home, it was 8 in the morning. I dragged my suitcase into my room, put my groceries in the fridge, and fell into my bed.
Milan officially takes the spot of my best layover so far.

Birthday Wishes!

Mar 16, 2010

Today is a very important day. As of 4 minutes ago, that is. Yes, it is St. Patrick's Day, and across the world people will be dressed in green, drinking excessive amounts of green alcohol. More importantly, however, is that today my amazing boyfriend Ryan turns 25!
Sadly, I can't be there to celebrate with him this year, but I want him (and all of you) to know just how great he is. Here is a brief list of reasons why:

1. He is romantic. How many guys today can actually say the same?
2. He is smart. Not just the fact that he is a University graduate (and engineering at that!), but he always has answers to my many, many questions.
3. He is fun. Spontaneous, adventurous, carefree, and he loves to travel. We make a good couple.
4. He takes amazing photos. He can capture anything, beautifully. He inspired me to start taking my own photos!
5. He is mine. All mine. I love him.

Happy Birthday, Ryan! May you have a great, green day!

(Us + Burj Al Arab, January 2010)

One Night in Nairobi!

Mar 15, 2010

On Sunday afternoon, I was looking forward to my flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Not only was it my first layover in over 2 weeks (Dubai drives you to insanity by day 3, I needed an escape), but Kenyans are extremely friendly people and when it comes to passengers, what more can you ask for? It turns out that the majority of the passengers were not in fact Kenyan. We began boarding, and watched as about 150 Chinese passengers walked on, all wearing matching bright yellow "Dubai" hats. I was mildly amused by this. More amusing, however, was when the group leader (or at least I'm assuming) pulled out a MEGAPHONE and began making announcements. Seriously. We politely asked him to stop, as he was disturbing the other passengers on board. I must admit, it's quite challenging having a plane full of people who do not speak English. How do you ask them to sit down when they are all standing up during take off, or playing cards in the aisle? How do you explain that your meal options are chicken or beef, not fish? It was definitely an interesting flight, and we were kept extremely busy. A moment of relief came when one of the crew members from first class brought us a tray of leftover meals. Prawns and lobster? Don't mind if I do!
We landed in Nairobi at around 7:30 pm, and as I walked through the airport to my bus, I was giddy. For the very first time in my life, I was in Africa! It was a 45 minute bus ride to the hotel, and the purser found it hilarious watching me stare out the windows on both sides of the bus. "Are you expecting to see a giraffe or something?" he asked. Unlike the rest of the crew, I was excited to be in Kenya, and despite the fact that it was dark out, I wasn't going to miss a chance at seeing anything. There wasn't much to be seen, but I did catch a few ladies walking with baskets on their heads, and wondered how on Earth they manage to balance them. We arrived at the hotel, and it was amazing. 5 star, without a doubt. Everything about it was fancy, even the shampoos and lotions (which I take home from every hotel room) smelled yummy, and there was a cute little gift box with chocolates on my bed. I had every intention of going to the lounge for a cocktail, for the first time in a long time. I needed to satisfy my desire for a pina colada! I walked to the bar and none of the crew were anywhere to be found. I must have been early. I decided to come back a bit later, but after spending a few minutes sitting on my bed I lost all motivation to leave my room. I settled for a bubble bath, chocolate, and taking advantage of the free wireless instead. My internet in Dubai is terrible, so I jumped at the opportunity to catch up with Ryan on a video chat.
I woke up from an amazing sleep and wondered what to do with my day. Sadly, time constraints meant that a safari wasn't really possible. On a positive note, Nairobi is only a 5 hour flight from Dubai, so after I finish probation and get cheap flights I think I'll head down here for 3-4 days to find some lions and giraffes! I decided to head to the shopping mall to see what I could spend my meal allowance on. Food was priority, so I found a nice little seafood restaurant and ate amazing lemon calamari and veggie stir fry... it was so good, and so cheap. I wandered the gift shops, feeling as though I'd stepped into my mom's house. If you've ever been there you'll understand. She has a strange obsession with elephants, and everywhere you look in her house you'll find them, with a giraffe thrown in once in awhile as well. Every shop I walked into, I was greeted warmly by the staff... "Jambo! Welcome!". I wish Dubai would take a cue from them. The other day I was browsing a store in a mall back in the sandpit and a security guard stood 2 feet behind me the entire time. I actually wanted to buy things, but I was frustrated with the lack of personal space and left. Anyways, enough with my Dubai ranting already. As I wandered the nice little shopping center in Nairobi, I picked up a few random souvenirs, some snacks to take back to Dubai and postcards that I probably won't mail for months.... sorry, send me your addresses. I treated myself to a banana fudge milkshake as I read the local paper. The mall was all outdoors, surrounded by tons of palm trees and lush green grass. I never realized until moving to the desert just how much I appreciate nature. The sun was shining, and it was a warm day, but not as hot as Dubai. Strange, considering this is the closest that I'd ever been to the equator. I must say, walking by security guards toting giant machine guns made me a tiny bit nervous, but at least I knew the mall was safe. (Mom, Grandma... don't freak out, you know that they do the same in Mexico, where you've both traveled numerous times. Actually, my mom is currently having the time of her life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! There I go getting side tracked again...) Despite not doing much, I was having a great time, thoroughly enjoying my first layover of the month. Not only was I staying in a beautiful hotel, but I was given more than enough money to cover my meals, and the rest funded my souvenir shopping. After a few hours of browsing the shops, I headed back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Apparently I wasn't tired. I gave up on sleeping, knowing that I'd regret my decision at around 4 am while I was on a plane bound for Dubai. I decided I'd kill time by heading back to the mall, and eating more. The waiter came to my table to deliver me a GIANT sandwich, complete with a side of fries that I'd said I didn't want. "You promise you'll eat it all?", he joked. I stared at the intimidatingly large portion in front of me and agreed I'd try my best. Childhood lectures came back to me... "There are starving children in Africa", I thought, feeling ready to burst. Now that I was actually in Africa, I couldn't leave any food on my plate. It was a great effort, but I accepted my defeat. I couldn't finish it. I snuck away before the waiter could say a word. It was time to get ready for my flight home, so I headed back to my room where I reluctantly packed my suitcase and got ready. I never really enjoy returning from layovers. The hotel beds are far better than my rock solid bed at home.
The flight home was uneventful... the passengers slept until we landed, and I finally stumbled into my apartment like a zombie at 7:30 am.
On my list of life goals, visit all continents (except Antarctica because I'm not a huge fan of snow and I can see penguins in Australia) is high on the list. Thanks to my 24 hours in Africa, I've got 5 down, only 1 to go! Bring on a Brazil flight!

Long Distance Love

Mar 12, 2010

Caution: Sappy love stories ahead. Stop reading now if you can't handle it.

I must make a confession. When I first got this crazy dream in my mind to become a flight attendant, I didn't once stop to think about what would happen if I fell in love. The idea in itself was so far fetched, that it didn't really cross my mind. No, I wasn't battling a major self esteem issues, convinced that nobody would ever love me. Yes, I believed that love could exist and that it must be amazing for those people who got to experience it. I was the poster child for independence and single girls everywhere. Not a feminist, by any means, just a girl who enjoyed my life to the fullest and chased my dreams, rather than going on dates. I told everyone that one day I'd be a flight attendant. I didn't know how long it might take, but I'd get there. It was taking longer than I'd anticipated, so while the rest of my friends bought houses and settled down with their significant others, I bought a backpack and set off to travel the world. I spent a year trekking through Southeast Asia, Australia, and Fiji. I was perfectly content with traveling solo... discovering new places was what I loved, and no person could ever replace that... or so I thought.
I came home, ready to start my next adventure. I applied to any airline that I'd ever heard of, praying for a response. My home town felt like a trap, a place that I'd never feel happy. 3 months after returning home, I received an email inviting me to an Emirates Open Day. Emirates was one of the best airlines in the world, and flew daily to places like Paris, New York, Tokyo... places I could only dream of going. "Why not?" I thought to myself, and with encouragement from my mom and my close friend Ryan, I headed to Vancouver to try my luck. When I arrived and found 230 other hopefuls, all sporting perfect flight attendant hair and clear, beautiful skin, I wasn't expecting to make it past the first stage. Imagine my surprise when a week later I was attending my final interview, one of only 13 others who had made it to this phase of the interview process. I headed back to Alberta, waiting for news, hoping and wishing and dreaming of Dubai. The world was in the midst of an economic crisis, and the airline industry was not spared of the consequences. Emirates put all recruitment on hold, promising to contact me in 6-9 months, once they'd resumed hiring. I'd felt that all hope was lost, and considered giving up on my biggest dream. I accepted the fact that I'd likely never hear back from the airline, and began to move on with my life.
Since returning from my trip, Ryan had played a more prominent role in my social life. We'd been friends for a few years, but only grew close when we began talking online, late at night while I was in Australia. Many great conversations came out of hours spent in internet cafes across the State of Queensland. When I came home, he was the first to meet me at the airport, making me the happiest girl in the world as he handed me a Tim Horton's iced cappuccino... a craving that I'd had the entire duration of my stay in Australia. We began spending a great deal of our time together, and he soon became one of my closest friends. It took 8 months, but with his true romantic ways and incredible charm, he became my boyfriend. Me? Single, independent Krysta? In a relationship? Things don't always work out the way that you think they will. Sometimes life surprises you, and this was a welcome surprise. I was truly happy, and for once in my life I understood that being in a relationship didn't mean giving up my freedom or tossing my independence out a window. I had somebody to share adventures with, somebody to dream big with. This had been an unexpected twist in my life plans, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
One afternoon, as Ryan and I were driving, I received a surprising phone call. 9 months after the email that I'd convinced myself was a rejection letter, Emirates Airline was calling me, asking if I was still interested in a career as cabin crew. I fumbled for words, gave them my email address so that they could send me details of a reassessment, and then hung up the phone and looked at Ryan. "That was Emirates." I said. I explained that I'd need to go through another interview, still in disbelief that they'd called. He was happy for me, encouraging me to go to Vancouver for the reassessment. "It's your dream job, you have to try."
Before I'd even went to the interview, we discussed what we would do should I pack up my life and move to Dubai. I wasn't too concerned, it still seemed like such a long shot that I didn't want to get too ahead of myself by making any plans. I tried to convince Ryan to come to Vancouver with me... it would be fun, we'd take photos and explore the city and he could be there to support me in the build up to the biggest interview of my life. He explained that he couldn't make it, and I understood. It was a lot to ask, spending hundreds of dollars on plane tickets just for a weekend. The morning that I left, he brought me to the airport. At the security gates, he kissed me goodbye, wished me luck, and promised to pick me up on Monday evening. I never would have imagined that he'd rush back to his car, change into an in-cognito outfit (which looked ridiculous, might I add), rush back into the airport, hurry through security, and board my plane without a minute to spare. All while I sat cluelessly staring out the window, sending him text messages. When I arrived in Vancouver, he surprised me by being there. I was so confused, surprised, and ecstatic. While I'd been trying to convince him to join me, he'd been making up excuses while booking his flights. It was the sweetest, most romantic surprise ever.
We had an amazing weekend together, and he kept me distracted from the massive stress that was taking over in the days leading to my big interview. We headed home, still not thinking seriously about what we'd do if by some chance I ended up with a job on the other side of the world. Reality hit me a week later, when we were awoken in the night by a phone call. I can still remember exactly how I felt at that moment. "I'm calling from Emirates... I'd like to congratulate you on being successful in the final interview..." the voice on the other end spoke for several minutes, and I responded with short answers, unable to take in all of the information being thrown at me. I was stunned. Happy, terrified, excited, and a little bit sad, all at the same time. Ryan knew me well enough to read my expressions, and he was well aware of what was going on. He even pulled out his camera to document this once in a lifetime phone call. Everything that I'd ever wanted had just become mine. I hung up the phone, looked at Ryan, and didn't need to say a word. I called my mom to share my big news, and then sat down next to my boyfriend, hugged him, and cried for hours.
In the weeks that followed, I did my best not to discuss the inevitable. Our days together were dwindling. If I ignored this fact, maybe it would be easier. We both agreed that we could handle a long distance relationship, and that breaking up was silly and simply out of the question. I didn't once fear that we wouldn't make it, but on many occasions I wondered how I'd be able to go a day without seeing him. How would I sleep at night without a goodnight kiss? I know what you are thinking... "Why did you go if you were that upset to leave?" Sometimes I asked myself the same question. I'd always lived by the motto that you'll only regret what you don't do, and I knew that it would ring true here. I had to go. How often are you handed such an amazing opportunity, a chance at something you've been dreaming about for years?? Ryan was amazing, supportive, and even though I knew it was just as hard for him, he was happy for me. We took advantage of what little time we had left and made the most of it. We went on many dates, celebrated early Christmas, had a romantic mountain getaway, and spent all of our spare time together.
Time went by too fast, and before we knew it, I was leaving. At the same spot where we'd kissed goodbye before I'd left for Vancouver, I sobbed and cried as I said goodbye to my mom and Ryan. I knew that unlike Vancouver, he wouldn't be there to surprise me in Dubai. I kept waving until I couldn't see them anymore and then walked through the terminal with tears streaming down my cheeks, not caring that everyone was looking at me. On what should have been one of the most exciting days of my life, I was heartbroken.
It took awhile before I was able to enjoy Dubai. Eventually, I remembered the reason that I was there and it cheered me up, a bit. Training was intense and stressful, but I survived. At the end of January, Ryan came to visit me in my new home. Suddenly all in life was good again, as I proudly showed him around and shared my Dubai life with him. Even after he left, things were easier. When I told him I was going to dinner at the cafe downstairs, he knew where it was. When I talked to him online while lying on my bed, he could visualize my room, having been there before. The 2 weeks he'd spent seemed to fix everything, and take away a great deal of homesickness. Since then, I haven't felt as sad as I did before his visit.
Still, there are times when I miss him so much that I question what I'm doing here. Sometimes I feel like a bad girlfriend, for choosing my career and leaving him at home to miss me. Next week is his 25th birthday, and I won't be there to celebrate with him. I feel terrible, and even though I'll make every effort to make it up to him, I still wish that I could just go home, just for that day.So you might ask what I'm still doing here in Dubai, when clearly my heart is back home. I'm happy, I really am. I love my job, I love the places I get to see, and most days I can find ways to cope with homesickness, like a walk through Brisbane, or planning my next layover. Most days, it's great. I love my job just as much as I'd imagined that I would. I talk to Ryan every day, and he is proud of me for chasing my dreams. Long distance relationships aren't impossible, contrary to popular belief. With a great deal of trust and the determination to make it work, it's possible. But I won't go as far as to say it's easy. On the positive side, time apart makes you really appreciate the small things, and learn not to take them for granted when you reunite.
We will reunite. I don't know when that will be, or where our lives will take us, but I know that one day my heart will lead me home. The poster child of independence, won over by love. Sounds like a cliche chick flick, doesn't it?? Think of me the next time you watch View From the Top.

Adventures in Old Dubai

Mar 6, 2010

This morning I awoke to find that it was only Saturday. I still had a full day off, with nothing to do. Not wanting to spend the day alone, I called up my friend Fran, who I haven't seen in far too long. By some strange stroke of luck, we were both in the sandy land of Dubai on the same day! (Speaking of sandy... it's been ridiculously hazy over the past few days, the result of a sandstorm, or so I'm told.) Both of us extremely bored, we decided to meet up and head to the cinema to catch whatever was playing. I went to meet her in the lobby of her apartment, where she emerged from the elevator proudly holding a "Lonely Planet" guide to Dubai. "Do you want to go explore the city", she asked? There are few things that I enjoy more than wandering aimlessly around a city, discovering new things. We flipped through the book and decided that we would venture out to the Gold Souk... a market full of all things gold. It took 3 tries, but we finally found a taxi driver who knew the way and was willing to take us. We were thrilled to find ourselves in Old Dubai, quite the contrast from the massive skyscrapers and shopping malls that seem to define the city. We happily wandered the busy streets, filled with tourists and locals alike. Shopkeepers rushed up to us offering a selection of designer handbags and pashminas. It was chaotic, crowded, and great. An entirely different side of Dubai than we typically see, which was quite refreshing. After admiring beautiful silk scarves, staring in awe at extremely large diamonds and marvelling over shimmering gold necklaces, we found a small hole-in-the-wall type restaurant and ate the best falafel schwarma I've ever tasted. We asked a local man which direction the creek was, and after a few moments of confusion he pointed in a direction that we chose to trust. We wandered into a few shops to inquire about and bargain prices of perfumes, fake I-Phones, and carpets, and left with a bag full of random Arabic candies. We didn't know what to expect, but they were in such pretty wrappers that we just couldn't resist. Some were good, some tasted like chalk. Turns out the man had pointed us in the right direction, and we found ourselves at the creek. We walked alongside it for awhile, until we reached the abra (water taxi) pickup point. We tried to ask where the small wooden abra would take us, but the man at the dock didn't seem to understand and just shuffled us onto the boat. We couldn't argue, it was a bargain at only 1 dirham... approximately 30 cents Canadian! We ended up across the creek in a market that was an electronics lover's paradise. Cameras, televisions, I-pods, you name it. Rather than risk spending our paycheques, we caught a taxi and headed home, satisfied with our Dubai adventure! Back to work tomorrow... just 3 dreaded turnarounds before my layovers begin this month!

killing time in the sandpit

Mar 5, 2010

My next layover isn't until the 14th of this month, so my days until then are spent working exhausting turnaround flights, or lazing around Dubai on days off. Days off in Dubai generally pass by uneventfully. On an ambitious day, I'll clean my apartment, attempting to rid it of the mass amounts of dust that accumulate within 24 hours. Oh the joys of living in the desert.
Recently, I've found motivation lost months ago, and finally made my way to the gym. At home I was so dedicated... I attended crazy boot camp inspired fitness classes several times a week, and rarely missed a day of working out. I have no excuse for my lack of exercise since moving Dubai. My apartment building is equipped with a pool, gym, steam room, and sauna, all of which I've been too lazy to take advantage of. While I'm not overly concerned about my weight or fitness level, I'd still like to be in the habit. I eat a lot of bad food, and a bit of cardio makes it seem much more acceptable. This week for the first time, I hopped on the treadmill. I was running like the wind, breaking a sweat, thinking that I was doing great, until I looked down at the time... 4 minutes, 27 seconds. Apparently I have a long way to go before I get used to the habit of daily workouts. I fought past the exhaustion and managed to stay on the treadmill for 30 whole minutes before giving up and going to lie by the pool. Today, I ventured upstairs to face the evil machine once again. I'm slowly but surely getting back into the routine, in preparation for a layover in Italy later this month. I intend to spend the entire 24 hours indulging in pizza, pasta and gelato.
I'd reached the point of extreme boredem today, and cleaning my mess of a room didn't sound at all appealing. I hopped on a crew bus to headquarters, where I caught a taxi to the mall for much cheaper than the ride would have been from home. I spent hours wandering the shops... picking up things that I'd like to own, and putting them back on the shelves as soon as I looked at the price tags. I treated myself to a huge cup of frozen yogurt, topped with amazing fresh fruits. How can something so delicious be healthy? I wandered into an athletic store, leaving with a yoga mat and 2 tiny little free weights. It's the effort that counts. After I'd seen all of the mall that I could handle, it was off to get lost in my most favorite place... Ikea! There I was, alone in the giant store, with a shopping cart and all of the time in the world. This could be dangerous. I spent forever wandering the showrooms, planning out my apartment and future home, some day when I actually have a permanent-ish residence. I contemplated a giant fuzzy carpet, a variety of kitchen products, and the same beautiful bookshelf that proudly sat in my bedroom at home. I was about to head to the checkouts, with a couple of pillows and candles, when I realized my need for the chocolate brown pillow cases that I'd decided against only minutes earlier. When I first arrived, I decided to go for a new color scheme... completely different than home. I bought all sorts of red and black decor, only to decide shortly after that I missed my blue and brown room at home. I've slowly been phasing out the red and replacing it with my beloved blue and brown. I left my cart near the checkouts and raced to the pillow section, where I picked up the pillow cases and headed for the exits. I was distraught to find that my shopping cart was nowhere to be found! The smart girl inside of me said "This is a sign that you should not be spending your money. Just leave." Of course, the stubborn reckless girl inside of me grabbed another cart and headed back through the crowds of people to pick up every single item that was in my original cart. I happily paid for my purchases, grabbed some dinner, and caught a taxi home.
Sitting in my apartment at night consists of one thing... battling the internet (which cuts out approximately once every 5 minutes) to chat online with Ryan. Long distance relationships are tough, but possible. I miss him a lot these days, but that has remained fairly consistent since our tearful goodbye in December. His 10 day visit was great, but I'm greedy and I want more time together. I'm looking forward to my vacation time in the next few months, when I'll finally get the chance to go home and see not only my amazing boyfriend, but my mom, my brothers, my friends... and my puppy! I'm also quite devastated that I'm missing Tim Horton's "Roll Up the Rim" this year. I was going to win the car!!
One more day off, and then it's off to Chennai, India. Oh how I despise India flight. The passengers bring more carry on luggage than they are capable of carrying (come on, CARRY ON... Not drag and expect me to lift into the overhead bins!) and demand whiskey for the duration of the flight. It could be worse... I could still have a 9-5 office job. Ick.

Creepy Men and Bacon Withdrawals.

Mar 4, 2010

I feel that it's about time for another rant. I can't always blog about happy tales of traveling and how perfect everything is... let's face it, it may be great, but it's still real life. Today's topic of complaints... Dubai.
Don't get me wrong, I actually do enjoy living here. However, in the nearly 3 months that I've called this desert city home, I've managed to come up with a few things that irritate me beyond belief.
  1. The lack of nature. Okay, I get it, it's the desert. This isn't going to change. I just miss trees and green grass and flowers that aren't planted by the city and drowned in water in an attempt to make them grow... in sand. I'm from western Canada, a land of forests and fields and things that are alive. It's only natural that I'm experiencing withdrawal.
  2. The STARING. Seriously. Without fail, every single man stares when a girl walks by. After spending time with girls from a variety of cultures, I've noticed that it is worst for the Australians, Canadians, and English... those of us with white skin, clearly the visible minorities. It's not that I wear even remotely revealing clothing. I always ensure that my shoulders and knees are covered when I leave my apartment, but I can't even walk to the grocery store without being stared at by every single male that I walk by. It's creepy, it's uncomfortable, and they don't even try to be subtle about it. Tonight I was over at Priya's house. We had ordered food, and when it arrived she answered the door. I came around the corner and the delivery man immediately stared at me, and in a creepy tone of voice said "Hi", with a stupid smirk, still staring intently. I quickly rushed away from the door, disgusted. Come on, you live in a city that is made up of 80% foreigners, don't act as though you've never seen anybody who is not from the same culture as you. I pity my mom with her blond hair when she comes to visit. Maybe throw a wig in the suitcase.
  3. The taxis. Getting into a taxi in Dubai is never a pleasant experience. It seems that taxi drivers are exempt from the rules of wearing deodorant. Each ride is a near death experience, and half of the time you have to direct the driver, as they don't seem to know where anything is. The same goes for delivery drivers. For the time spent on the phone describing every shop and street in the vicinity, you may as well go to pick up your meal yourself.
  4. The lack of pork, and alcohol. I'm not a big pork fan, with the exception of bacon. The fact is, I can't have bacon because this is a Muslim country. Pigs are not to be eaten, which is heartbreaking to bacon lovers across the city. Fair enough, I'm living in their country, I should respect their religion. I just miss it, that's all. As for alcohol, I'm not a big drinker either. That said, it would be nice to have a glass of wine once in awhile, and I'd do anything for a pina colada. To drink in Dubai you must do one of 2 things: Go to a ridiculously overpriced nightclub, or, obtain a liquor license. Yes, a license. Doing so costs 160 dirhams, hardly worth the rare pina colada that I'd drink, so I'm alcohol free, for the past 3 months. I likely wouldn't have drank during that time anyways, but the fact that I'm not allowed makes it so much more annoying.
  5. Lack of PDA. Not that it matters, seeing as how my boyfriend lives on the other side of the world and I don't generally support public displays of affection unless moderate... but that's not the point. I met him at the airport after a month apart and I couldn't even kiss him. We had a bit of a nervous hug... wanting to embrace in each other's arms for far longer, but fearful of the consequences. We spent hours walking through the mall unable to hold hands. Meanwhile, the locals who made the rules are walking hand in hand. There are double standards for everything here.
Okay, maybe that is enough for now. Although there are other things that irk me on a daily basis. There are some great things about living in Dubai as well... the lack of winter, the amazing architecture, and the vast array of cultures all living together. My attitude towards the city varies on a day to day basis. Fortunately, I spend the majority of my time flying or in other countries on layovers. I can't wait until I have the chance to go home for a visit and embrace the familiarity.