Thursday, January 22, 2009

We have arrived safely

Oh, we were on the plane for SOOOO long! We are here, but not without some great apprehension on our part. When we arrived, the Qatar foundation had sent a car to get us - but there wasn't enough room for all of us, so they called a taxi for John and I called a taxi (I had to go because only Tayler and I had been able to go to the ATM in the hubub of getting out of the airport.)

It was a little stressful because I have spent at least 4 hours studying Arabic. To me, when one tries to learn the language of a country it is a sign of respect and that is what my research on Qatar has said. It was great as they were checking our passports. The immigrations representative broke out into smiles when I said hello and asked if I did it correctly. He started teaching me the proper way to speak and handled me and the rest of us so quickly (much faster than the others.)

But then, when John and I had our cab driver - I was struggling to talk in Arabic - he looked at me and said, no, I do not speak Arabic - I am from India - let's speak English! Aurghh!

And then when we got here and got the money, I had to go to the front desk and have them explain the currency to me so that I could tip properly -- one US dollar is worth about 3.54 Qatari Royales -- So, for taking 15 bags up - they said that 20 QR was perfectly appropriate - that is the equivalent of $5.49 according to today's exchange rate. I can't believe that!

The amazing thing is that the Qatar Foundation, our official host for the conference, really causes everyone here to "roll out the red carpet." They arranged everything and we are so excited.

I will share some video a little later today but it is 7:04 pm here now and we are going to grab a bite to eat and MAKE ourselves sleep.

More on the 5 star, amazing airplane trip with Qatar Airlines - in all of my frequent flying days - I have never flown on such a wonderful airline!!! It was amazing and really worth the flight just to experience it! Wow!

OK, we're running down to eat in the hotel and things will kick up tomorrow! Much love to everyone back home and we hope you'll follow us on our journeys! Already been chatting with my sister back home on gtalk - almost like being just down the road except this road is all the way around the world!

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