If you’ve never felt small and insignificant on this planet, try standing in the middle of the Dubai desert, sand silking beneath your feet, and the gargantuan sun setting right in front of you. I tell you this, you will feel as small as you feel great to belong to a world as beautiful as this.
The desert was our first stop after arriving in Dubai from Singapore, and maybe that was not such a great idea for two people tipping just below and above the fifty-year age bracket. We enthusiastically got ourselves wrapped with head scarves in preparation for the desert heat and sandy air, grabbed onto our armrests, screeched gleefully as our driver raced us over the cusps of sand dunes, and oohed and aahed at the wonder of pink sand stretching as far as our eyes could see. And then, in true Jamaican style, we got a flat tire on the side of the desert road. This was when our downfall began - having waited for another vehicle to come and collect us from the roadside, the heat set in. Now, let me just explain, we have experienced heat in Jamaica. Of course, we are a tropical country. But, desert heat cannot be given the gentle name of ‘heat’. It is fire. No lie, my hubby kept twisting to look behind to see if someone had set him ablaze. So, let me just categorically state – my hubby and I are not totally to blame for our sleeping episode at the desert camp. We were jet lagged, and we were heat stroked. No, we were heat slammed!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the desert camp was magical. We sat on brightly coloured cushions and ate delicious Arabian food in true Arabian style. The belly dancers and fire breathers were fantastic ….I don’t really know what happened after this point, but from the looks on everyone’s face when we woke up, it seemed to have been pretty amazing.
As I said in the “Sweet Singapore” post, my hubby and I are blessed to have his sister in Singapore and my brother in Dubai. Again, we got the local tour, scraping off the ‘tourist’ layer and digging into the essence of the culture of Dubai. My sister-in-law buys her spices at the souq, so we accompanied her on the journey across the Dubai Creek on the abra. The experience of sitting amongst the workers coming in from their day’s toil, paying one duram to the driver who dropped our money into his antique wooden cash box, was like being on a movie set a hundred years back. Our trip across the creek followed the same route that traders used many years before. We passed old, brightly painted boats laden with their wares, and entered the souq where pungent spices and thick tapestry were waved before us to lure us into the game of haggling.
Then we jumped from old world Dubai, to new world Dubai….the construction around us was flabbergasting - office buildings of glass that scraped the sandy sky, hotels that arched across magnificent pools, penthouses in hues of creamy pink that seemed to grow naturally upward from the sand…..I have never seen so many cranes in my life. Not to mention Palm Island! I was given renewed faith in the capabilities of man just from seeing what has been created in the midst of an ocean. The tram took us above and through this feat of mankind, with its jogging trails and parks and spectacular homes….all solid, all stable, all dredged ….all set in the midst of the ocean.
My hubby and I braved the journey to the top of the Burj Al Khalifa, at present, the tallest building in the world. We were able to get a birdseye view of just how far Dubai has overflowed, not just into the surrounding desert, but into the sea. We were able to understand clearly why Dubai is listed as one of the fastest growing cities of the world.
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the newly opened ‘Ting Irie’ Jamaican restaurant. Why go all the way to Dubai to eat Jamaican food, you ask? Well, if you know us Jamaicans, you know that we just love anything that reminds us of ‘home’, anything that allows us to ‘big up ourselves.’ When we walked through the doors of ‘Ting Irie’ to the strains of reggae and ska, we were home. The whole roasted jerk chicken was one of the best I’ve ever had; the oxtail and cocoa bread ….pure heaven; whole coconuts served ice cold and Jamaican coffee served in Grandma’s enamel mugs ….tears came to my eyes! I was so proud to see the smiling faces of Jamaicans waving from the kitchen and serving with the humour that you know is truly from ‘yaad’. We learned that most of the ‘Ting Irie’ staff are graduates of Jamaica’s H.E.A.R.T. academy, and believe me, they do Jamaica proud!
Well folks, I think my travels are over for a very long time. I am so happy to have been able to experience the cultures from two very special places, and my memories will have me smiling for years to come. Till next time, keep life Schwapping good!