Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Days off finally - April 2012 edition!!

So again I am soooo behind in my posts and have not had much time to write any because of all the things I have been doing!! Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can start catching up on some of my adventures and at least give you guys a taste of what has been going on in my life. The last year I have worked my tail off but also have some time to enjoy life and want to share that with y'all!

After a crazy first few months of 2012 were I went to another course in Abu Dhabi for 1 month, worked offshore for 40 of 60 days working, and then after 2 days off worked another 60 days, I finally was given time off. In all I had accumulated 17 days off . . . not vacations! It was a good thing getting that much time off but man was I tired!!

With the days off I decided to go back to the states where first I went to Raleigh for Jake's 1st birthday party. I was so thankful for being able to make it in time because for once I could be part of the family not just seeing pictures and hearing about what fun the had together. I can not believe how fast his first year went!

Big birthday cake all for himself (I am proud of my little creation)!!
Jake all clean and ready for bed after his big birthday bash!

The Jake and I getting ready for the Wolfpack spring scrimmage!

Nothing better than a Wolfpack football game in the spring!
I then went home to High Point for a week. After working so hard I pretty much shut down, physically and mentally. I do not remember much of the week because I was zoned out. When the week ended I realized that I had done nothing that I planned to do, and I even forgot to eat lunch with my Grandma before I left . . . I am such a bad granddaughter ;). That week was another side effect of working to much . . . not good.

After leaving the world for a week I came back around in time to go to Colorado to see my bestie, Sarah!! I had not seen her in waaaaayyyyy to long! I ended up going for close to a week and it was great just spending time with her and fellowship with other people that I would say and similar to me!! I will write more about Colorado in the next post, but below is a taste of the beauty that is Colorado!

First time seeing the Rockies!!
After getting back to NC I stayed in Raleigh and hung out with the sisters and the Jakester. Lizzie and I decided to take a quick day trip to Wilmington so that I could see Memaw and Papa, as well as, for them to see Jake. I was very thankful to be able to make it down there to see them and of course spend some good quality sister time in the car!

The Jake running around before eating lunch with Memaw and Papa!
Feeding the turtles!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2012 in Review!

So another year has come and gone sooooo quickly!! So fast in fact that I am verrrrrryyyyyyy behind in posts. To try to catch up in the next couple of weeks I will be posting the last of 2012, which actually is the last +/- 6 months . . . oops!

In general, 2012 has had its many ups and downs and again I learned sooo much about my job and about myself. I feel like I am finally starting to get comfortable in my work, which probably very soon there will be another change because that is what SLB does! I would not change anything that happened this year, however, because I know everything is for a reason. I was so fortunate in many things . . . I have a interesting job, was able to travel to new places and learn new cultures, I have had good health, and most importantly was able to spend time with my friends and family! Yeah every day is not all peaches 'n cream but I don't regret anything.

Here is a quick glance of many of the great memories that went down this year, but more importantly I am excited to see what the new year brings! So keep a lookout for more posts to come very soon about the craziness that was my 2012!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The American Pastime . . . in Mexico?!

So I have not been to a baseball game in forever, may that be MLB or triple A and lucky for me the great town of Ciudad del Carmen now has a baseball team . . . and a professional one at that!! The Ciudad del Carmen Delfines (Dolphins) are part of the Liga Mexicana de Biesbol (LMB). The stadium right now is nothing fancy just the stadium for the university here but it does not matter because they is finally something to do here besides work!! Our company has some "box" seats and I was finally asked if I wanted to go which I jumped at!!

It ended up being a stormy night and it rained some but that did not stop us or the game! The Delfines played against a team from northern Mexico - Monclova. It was actually a pretty exciting game and we ended up pulling out the win!! But the best part had to be being so close to the field and players!! I could have easily gone up and touched the players of the other team in the duggout because there is not really security and the layout of the stadium is very open. Being so close and in a very open stadium made me be very aware throughout the entire game because if a foul ball was hit there is not really any protection to help save you!!

The most interesting thing about the game though had to be the chants! I felt like we did every chant possible even though it did not make sense at times!! We did the tom-a-hawk of the Braves, "charge" with a twist, and a couple of other chants that made me laugh because how they changed it!!

The food is also a lot different . . . there are not hot dogs, peanuts, or cracker jacks but instead tacos, chips w/ hot sauce, and churros!! All good but not the same, hahaha!!

Rainbow after the rain finally passed!

Watching the game with Fili and Tejeda in our "box" seats.

Delfines at the bat and you can see the lack of protection!!

Dugout for Monclova that I could easily throw things in!!

Win for the Delfines!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pizza and Puzzles

So when I am finally on land and in the office for a while being able to do fun things with some of my colleagues is a must!! A lot of time we just end up going to the movies, but this time one of the older engineers asked if I wanted to come over his house for homemade pizza!! Of course I said yes to homemade pizza because that is probably my all time favorite food, especially my Mom's homemade pizza!! This engineer was the one that when I first arrived to Carmen asked many questions to get to know me and when he found out that I can make homemade pizza he wanted the recipe to try it out! He made it for his wife the first weekend he could and said that it was a moderate success. After a couple more times he finally invited me over to try out my recipe. He said when he made the dough that he had an accident while making one of the batches, so he was afraid that it was not going to work. When we got to his house after work to start cooking the pizza, he went to get the dough that was left rising from lunch and gave out a little scream. I had no clue what was happening and then he brought out the 2 balls of dough. One had risen beautifully, overflowing the bowl and the other did not really rise at all. He asked if it was normal for it to rise over the bowl like that and I said yes, that is what is supposed to look like!! He was so excited because he has never been able to get the dough to rise like that, and it just so happens that the "accident" dough ended up being perfect!!

After the dough ordeal we made the pizzas! It was interesting seeing what Mexicans think as a good topping combination . . . they definitely have a very different opinion on what flavors go well together then me!! We put homemade sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, chorizo, Mexican sausage (pretty much hotdog), ham, bacon, pineapple, red pepper, and goat cheese. I do not think I would ever put that combination together, but it tasted great!! And again it was just nice hanging out with people and socializing!!

Chef Krusty making one of his masterpieces!!
Final Product . . . Mexican Style Pizza on my crust!
After some very good food, we decided to finish a 3000 piece puzzle that they had started earlier. We were just going to do it for while since two thirds of it was not finished, but then seeing the progress we could not stop until we finished it!! Somehow we did . . . it is funny how proud you feel after completing a puzzle no matter how small or big it is!!

Team Puzzle Force after completing the 3000 piece puzzle!
Hopefully, we will be able to hang out more and start a tradition of eating/making food at someones house every Sunday!! We will see if that every comes true!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New Year, New Apartment

With the new year came another change. I had to move right before I went to my ACTive course because our contract on the house had ended and the other 2 girls were moving out so I did not want to be in a big house all by myself!! My roommates moved out because one got married so she got a place with her husband and the other was transferred to another location in Mexico. I was sad to see them go because they both are great friends and it was fun making dinner and having movie nights with them!!

I did not really have much time to find a place but with luck one of the older engineers in my group was being transferred and she lived in an apartment 5 minutes from the base. When I was at home for Christmas I told her I would move in there sight unseen so she set that up with the owner!! When I got back from Christmas I meet with the owner, signed my contract and saw it for the first time!

The apartment is a loft style apartment, so a very open floor plan which I like. There is a small kitchen, living and dining area, and full bathroom on the ground floor, and the bedroom, half bath, closet, and area to do laundry (outside) in the upstairs. It is a perfect size for me (possible a little to big) and works well for what I need it for! Another positive is that I can walk to work in the morning (I get a ride back at night since that would not be too smart to walk in the dark) . . . I get exercise AND I do not have to get a taxis!!

Right now I do not have much in the apartment. I have a bed, hammock, tv, and a dining room set that I bought from the engineer that lived there before. I also bought a washing machine from her which is nice to have!!

When I moved in I realized that I am living by myself for the very first time in my life!! It has been nice because it is my space and I do not have to worry about disturbing anyone but it is hard because now I am in charge of now of paying all the bills!! It is hard to sometimes pay the bills because I cannot get my online banking to work for my Mexican checking account and I have been offshore like crazy this year!! In my first 4 months in the apartment I have actually only slept in my apartment for 15 days (stories about that to come)!! Evidence of my not living in my apartment came when my first electric bill came . . . it was only $4!!

 Picture of my empty apartment which to date is still the same!

Thanks Lizzie for the hammock . . . it has come in handy since I have no furniture!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Oh man for Oman . . . part 2!

After a full 1st day in Oman, we decided to pack in lots the 2nd day as well! We slept in for a little bit then hit the ground running! Since Saturday is a normal workday there (weekend is Friday and Saturday in UAE and Thursday and Friday for Oman) we were on our own the first part of the day while Salim worked. We went first to the grand mosque of Oman located in Muscat. It was really interesting going to another mosque to see the differences in the architecture and design. The grand mosques of UAE and Oman are very different. The mosque in Oman has more wood and ornate ceilings with lots more color than the grand mosque in Abu Dhabi. I also did not have to wear the full traditional garb but still had to wear a head scarf in Oman. The grounds are also a lot different too since the gardens are more green and complete in Oman.

Jeff, myself, and Rolando in the gardens of the grand mosque in Muscat.

The ceiling in the main prayer hall. The picture does not give justice to the detail and color!

After spending a couple of hours at the mosque we worked our way down to the marina/port in Muscat. The port is surrounded by mountains with forts on every peak. The main fort was also there since just over one mountain is home of the king or sultan of Oman. On one of the peaks is also the largest incense burner in the world. Unfortunately it was closed for maintenance so we were not able to climb on it. We walked around more around the area and climbed up to some of the fort outposts and the main fort. I am not completely sure we were allowed to do this but there were no signs or locked doors that prevented us to go up on them!! Many moments that day God showed his face . . . the beauty was unbelievable and it was so different than anything I had ever seen.

Largest Incense Burner in the world

Jeff and I in front of the principal fort at the port which we later climbed up on.

Checking out the beautiful view on top one of the fort outposts. The water was so blue . . . I could spend hours looking at the contrast of the smooth, blue water and the rough, tan dirt of the mountains.

Rolando checking out the floor of a fort which is on a cliff that is starting to recede into the water.

After a late lunch we hung out a little, resting and cooling off while until Salim arrived. While waiting for him Rolando and I (while Jeff took a little nap) had some VERY interesting conversations with a Pakistani and Omani that just stopped talking to us!! I wish I had a video camera to record all that was said . . . I can't even start explaining all the random things that were conversed!! Once Salim arrived with his wife we went to a museum about the city and Omani culture that was very interesting. After a couple hours at the museum we headed to the other side of the mountains to palace of Oman. The palace is where the sultan of Oman lives and many Omani's take a pilgrimage there to touch the gate that enters the palace.

Jeff and I showing off our height compared to Rolando outside one of the gates to the old city of Muscat where the palace is located.

 Outside the Sultan's Palace

The 2 women of the group, Salim's wife and I, outside the gates to enter the palace.

After a quick trip to the palace it was dark so we went to a place in the city to see fireworks that were going on for a week long festival of the Omani culture. At the fireworks we had to say goodbye to our great hosts and headed to the airport to get back in time to be in class in Sunday.

Thank the Lord for such an awesome experience in another interesting culture. It was a quick trip but I can not wait to go back someday and really get to dive into what Omani's and middle eastern culture is really like. And thank-you Salim for taking time away from work and your family to take a group of westerners around for a couple of days. It was fun seeing being around someone that truly loves their country and is excited to show a piece of it to us and let us in on the secret that is Oman. You were an unbelievable host and even better friend!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh man for Oman!!

The last free weekend of my course Jeff, Rolando, and I decided it would be fun to go to Oman. Jeff originally was supposed to work there but then he was changed to Saudi. He had already done a lot of research and knew quite a few people there so the whole course he was asking if anyone else wanted to go. I wanted to go because when else would I get a chance to go to Oman . . . one because I did not have any visa issues like many of the other people in the class and two why not!! Rolando also decided to go since we had a visa to work in the UAE. Normally Mexicans only have a visa to enter UAE once but since he had a work visa for UAE it allowed him to leave and return to UAE without any problems.  

We fly to Muscat on Thursday night and when we arrived one of Jeff's friends picked us up and went for dinner. The next day we met up with the cousin of one of Jeff colleagues in Saudi. He was kind enough to be our tour guide for the day. He drove us to the out skirts of Muscat where you can see forts on every hill and mountain. Oman looks so much different then  UAE. There is actually mountains though they are dry and have no plant-life on it. The mountains were so different then I was used to I kind of fell in love with them . . . especially when an oasis of palm trees sprouted from nowhere. After a couple our drive we arrived toan older city that had a large market and fort in it. When we first entered the city (which was walled and gated like you here in the Bible) there was a large market. Since it was the weekend everybody was out selling their goats and sheep, birds, guns, you name it. It was soooo much fun because I finally felt like I was really experiencing Middle Eastern culture. It is different in UAE, it is all about what you have and is very modernized. I could have spent hours walking around this market and just soaking the people, smells, and culture.

Veggie market with Omanis in traditional dress. (they do not wear scarfs but have really cool hats)

 Awesome shop in the old city!! At some moments I felt like I was in Biblical time!

Camels ready to be sold at the market.

 The gang with the best tour guide and friend ever, Salim!!

Salim and Jeff ready for battle.

Jeff and me at the top of the fort.

Normal "fastfood" meal on the road. Rice and lamb with your hands!!

Hiking on a river bed that at the moment is completely dry!!

 Just one day in Oman and I love it and can't wait to see more!! I wish pictures could give justice to the beauty that I saw!!