We spend several hours at the ‘tourist village’.
We eat atop cushions in the sand, sitting around a circular stage. I drink cans of Budweiser – as per protocol.
A female belly dancer and a man dancing in the Sufi whirling fashion take turns on the stage entertaining us tourists.
We finish our meal; take photos with the entertainers; then load up in our vehicles to head back into civilization. I, relatively full of Budweiser; take my spot in the front – beside the driver. Because, why not?
The night is dark and humid; the stars are bright. I am drunken and near-sleeping as we rip and roar through the streets of Dubai. Flashes of neon signs and the night life of the city are burned in the back of my brain. My eyes half-cocked; taking in a small percentage of the visual stimuli present around the vehicle. I’d really like to spend more time with that man’s wife. Nice lady, I thought.
The couple and their friend get out of the SUV at some uncertain location; the driver tells me we should be back to my hotel within 20 minutes.
We get there; and I disembark to the warm embrace and welcome of the friendly security guard who arranged my impromptu adventure. He was delighted to hear I had such a good time. I thanked him warmly and repeatedly for suggesting the tour.
A quick chat with Salazar; and then up to my suite to shower and pack my things for my flight. Drunken and ridiculous, I make my way to the lobby. Beautiful and dark walls of stained wood fill the elevator and reception area.
They give me back my passport; and they hail me a cab. This was no ordinary taxi, there wasn’t a meter or a rooftop sign. This was some guy’s car who said he’d take me to the airport. Most of the rest of the past 24 hours had transpired in a similar fashion; so why not?
I make sure to take a business card from the hotel. This is the best way to ensure you make your way back to a place you have once been.
He takes me to the airport; I thank him and make my way through airport security. I check my bags; get my boarding pass; and make my way through the endlessly commercial international circus that is the Dubai International Airport.
Diamond stores, electronic stores, fashion stores, drug stores and liquor stores; a shopping plaza primed for international travellers. Inflated prices (though the booze was moderately priced) and exclusive designer clothing filled the miles of commerce.
I locate the general direction of my gate; and stop at one of the many pubs along the way to have a stiff beverage – the undying friend of a weary solo traveller.