January 3rd – 5th

The past 24 hours have been such a surreal blur. After spending my entire week stressing about the “agony” that would be the twelve and a half hour flight to Dubai, the whole thing flew by (pun intended). I slept for a good part of it, and even made some light conversation with the Afghani gentleman who sat next to me. He told me about the places he had traveled, how much he loved Miami, and that he did undergrad in India. I’m sure the acronyms are similar to how they are in America, probably something like UIM (University of India-Mumbai). I almost struck gold at the beginning of the flight. Sitting in the middle seat and dreading the thought of being squeezed in between two portly gentlemen (or women, I don’t want to be sexist), these two gentlemen strolled towards the row, offering the window seat so that they could sit together.

“Oh hell no, I’ll take the aisle,” I replied (this may not have been my exact response verbatim, but I was definitely thinking it). It wasn’t until a later conversation with the aforementioned well-spoken Afghani that he informed me that his friend spoke limited English, and that he had trouble with his prostate. “If you had told me that sooner, I would have just taken the window seat,” I said, albeit with some feigned sincerity. Twelve hours is a long time. The prostate issue perplexed me for the rest of the flight, since the dude flagged down the flight attendant every chance he got so that he could get another beer. Was it a prostate problem, or was he just an alcoholic who wanted easy access to the restroom? Who am I to judge? I watched two movies on the flight, A Walk Among the Tombstones, which I was hoping would be a bad-ass Liam Neeson flick (it was, sort of), and the Rock’s new iteration of Hercules. I went into each movie with minimal expectations, and enjoyed the former much more than I did the latter. Still, I love the Rock in any action film.

We landed in Dubai, a nice airport with all sorts of amenities. The place was absolutely buzzing, even as we neared our two o’clock departure. At Ocean Basket, Zoe, Kasey and I split a wonderful seafood meal family style. I opted for the “Feesh and Chips” and even pronounced it as such, somehow managing not to crack a grin. We got a little sushi and also some salmon with avocado. After dinner, we adjourned to chez lounges and went over some municipal finance (I won’t delve into this, for obvious reason). After this, I went to the bathroom, as it was almost time to fly. In the bathroom, after attending to some business, I turned around to find smiling gentlemen in a suit. He beckoned me over and took a selfie of him and me. I can honestly say that I had no idea what was going to happen in that moment, I was delirious. I thought I was going to be robbed or conned. Thankfully neither occurred, and I was able to leave the bathroom without incident.

Aboard the second flight and fueled by a cappuccino from Costa Coffee; I was somehow too awake to nap. I decided to watch “Boyhood,” a movie I had heard many good things about. I was blown away that the entire cast signed on to do a movie for twelve years. Zoe told me that the main character looked a lot like me, and she was definitely right. He was like a weird amalgam of me, my stepbrother Dave, and Dave’s ex-roommate Pietro (Pietro tended to be a bit gloomy at times, as did the main character). The movie was excellent, it was interesting to watch the characters age. My excitement over having an aisle seat was muted by the fact that the carts came by frequently, and the gentleman next to me had the broadest shoulders I’ve seen in a long time. Not exactly a recipe for comfort, but somehow I managed.

The plane landed and on we went to customs. There was a bit of a snafu with my visa, as the numbers for my birthdate had been transposed (to clarify, I was born on September 1st, 1987, not January 9th, 1987). I wasn’t mad at myself, I was just disappointed. The driver who picked us up managed to spell all of our names right, which was impressive. In my sleep-deprived haze, I nearly left my debit card in the ATM when I was taking out money. Thankfully Kasey had my back. Man, two mistakes in a span of twenty minutes, I need to get some sleep. We arrived at our hotel, and the rooms were not yet ready. We sat down to Sri Lankan chicken with egg noodles. It was spicy and delicious. We then tried to sleep for roughly an hour and a half. Four hours later, we awoke. I was pretty much dead to the world. It was a very dreamless sleep.

We ended the day with a walk around the area. Cars and scooters and tuk tuks zipped around the streets, and traffic is always pretty insane. Our driver on the way to the hotel handled it very well I thought, always with his hand on his horn ready to strike. For dinner, I got cuttlefish in hot garlic sauce. It was delicious, and I finished Zoe’s Lion Lager and we headed back to the hotel. We were all zombies at dinner, and after a quick Skype call to Sue, I wrote this blog and then passed out. I hope you all enjoy reading this and sorry it wasn’t written daily, the Internet here is, err, spotty. Peace, love, and hair grease.

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