BACK FROM DUBAI
I woke up at 1:00 a.m. on Monday, after a two-hour sleeping stint. I painfully realized that I slept instead of taking a trip to Dubai Mall, as planned. It took me no less than three hours to re-pack. By 4:30 a.m. the bellboy was knocking at my door to pick up my luggage. I went down with him and oversaw the precious pieces being gently nicely deposited in the ad hoc trolley.
Then I walked around the lobby hugging and kissing everyone at the reception and every co-traveler I could put my arms and lips on. I was euphoric, because so many things, beyond our control, could have happened during this Dream Trip to Dubai. We did have some snafus, but nothing that could overshadow the excellence of our stay at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and in Dubai. The whole thing was a blast, and everyone in our group was kind of nostalgic. “See you next year in Cartegena…” was the most common phrase heard during the pre-boarding hours.
It took 13 hours and 45 minutes for Emirates Flight 201 to cover the distance between Dubai’s DBX and New York’s JFK. It is to wonder why it took 45 minutes longer to the return flight to cover the same distance? Services onboard was impeccable. Three meals. Two hundred TV channels on a personal monitor. Sufficient leg room. Attentive hostesses. I spent most of my time moving from row to row chatting with co-travelers. I also used a good chunk of the flying time to sort out the 5,000 pictures collected from different photographers.
At JFK, for the first time, I used an automatic scanner, instead of the services of human being, to clear immigration. Quick. But it took forever for my luggage to arrive; well, there were 526 onboard; so their luggage took time to show up on the carousel.
Outside, Mustafa’s cousin was waiting. Mustafa, was still hurting from a fall. I crashed on the back of the limo. I felt lucky and grateful for this Dream Trip to Dubai. I was thinking.
Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine… are so many volatile and violent foci in the Middle East.
But Dubai is so calm, so entertaining, so rich, so clean, so stable. One more contrast in a sea of contrasts. I thought of the poor Indian or Ethiopian who works for $1,000 a month in the service industry, but who still considers himself lucky since in his country, he would earning a fraction of this salary for the same work.
Yes, Dubai is fine; it recovered nicely from the 2008 recession. It is growing, open for business. It is divorcing from an economy centered on oil to a service economy. Its oil reserves will dry out in 2020. Just on time for the World Expo.
In the meantime, we must work at changing the suicide bombers into bridge builders, bridges of bitume and bridges of human hands.
Travel is the best university. I learned so much in this trip to the Persian Gulf. Once again, I took a trip abroad, this time not alone, but with many friends and colleagues. A dream trip in the context of a shared experience, a common human experience on our small blue planet, where lacks humility and farsight.
I am a Citizen of the World. If Haiti is my homeland, the world is my patria and Warrenville is my home. I am now back home back to the rat race. Exhausted. Jet lagged. It is so good to be back home.
Until the next adventure, it was the Traveller.
(The Traveller, Thursday, October 17, 2013)
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