Five days later…
I board in Halifax; connect in Toronto; and land after sunset in Dubai.
I work my way through the fantastical arrivals process at the Dubai International Airport. Deplane; head down the escalator; stand on conveyor belt after conveyor belt as old ladies pass by in electric golf carts chaperoned by portly airport employees. Fleeting eye-based interactions with those passing me on the parallel track heading in the opposite direction.
Ads… ads… so many ads.
Posters and billboards and signs, oh my. Miles of rubber track; broken into hundred meter sections; separated by ceramic tile-work. Step off of one belt – click, click, click, click, click – step on to the next. The wheels of my carry-on bag strike the grout between the tiles in an almost musical fashion. The soothing pattern I notice may only be soothing as a result of my exhaustion and jet-lag.
The beer included on the trans-Atlantic flight probably contributed to my acknowledgement of this beautiful, rhythmic pattern.
Ascend an escalator to customs; passport stamped; proceed to baggage.
Waiting for our bags to hit the pick-up conveyor; I browse the duty-free liquor store. So much sauce; so much bank; so much confiscation if I tried to take it on base.
Not that I had any desire to; I wanted to take it back to Canada with me – but I was heading in the opposite direction.
Make a mental note to stop here on my next flight home.
Grab my bags then work my way through the hoards of people leaving the airport. We funnel into an underground taxi-queue; shuffling past the booths of car-rental companies.
While standing in line, I see a dwarf who appears to be from India or Bangladesh. A few feet away are a young child of three or four and his father. The boy is sitting in the basket of the luggage cart while laughing hysterically and pointing at the vertically challenged man who did him no harm.
The father laughs along with the child; making no effort to stop the unwarranted abuse.
The lack of politically correct behavior disturbed me.
I get into my cab; hand the driver the business card from the hotel I was at only a week before; and we depart. He calls his dispatcher for directions.
We arrive and I greet the doorman. Salazar comes outside and raises both arms. “Salazar!” I yell.
Salazar smiles and waves me over as he approaches me. We shake hands; each asking how the other is; and he shows me to my room.