Flying to South America via Dubai really is the long way around, and I certainly felt it on the flights. Even though Emirates was a blessing, you can’t escape the hours just sitting on a plane. I watched a number of movies this time, two of which I’d highly recommend: The Equaliser, and Pay It Forward. I won’t give away the storylines, except to say that both really resonated with me and my ideals (excluding the gory parts in The Equaliser, I like to fantasise I’m a female version of Denzel Washington!).
I do wonder, does flying mess with your digestive system, or is it because there is always someone waiting to use the toilet after you that creates the same effect as stage fright? I had a juice or water each time one was offered, and I’m not used to drinking that much (I know I should drink more water, I just forget on most days) so consequently I needed the loo much more often than usual too. Then there was all the food..
I don’t eat much unless it’s offered or free, and then I seem to have no self control and eat it all! This is an issue I’ve known of for some years now, however it’s most evident on flights and at parties :-/ and on these long flights, with that many meals being served, I wondered where all the food was going once it had passed my mouth, since it didn’t end up in the air?!
We arrived in Dubai and I was instantly reminded that there are still people the world who smoke – as flashy as the airport is, it stinks from all the smoking rooms dotted throughout the place and I was happy I wasn’t going to spend the night there since Emirates had arranged a complimentary hotel for my 18 hour stopover.
Arriving at the hotel I was asked if I preferred a smoking or non smoking room – I’m sure the horrified look on my face gave away my true feelings as I emphasised NON smoking. Upon inspecting the very basic room, and encountering a distinct smell of camel inside the wardrobe, I decided to do an organised city tour.
I was feeling the effects of crossing six time zones, and did not want to deal with any leering men I may encounter, should I attempt to explore the city myself. As much as I hate to admit it, there are some places where it is easier if you are seen to be travelling with a guy, and in my current frame of mind, I did not want a repeat of my time in Morocco..
The four hour city tour was unremarkable. We drove a lot, and fast, past various buildings and in my waking moments I heard “That building looks the shape of the Opera House”, and “This building looks the shape of the Empire State Building, that building looks the shape of an ocean wave” and so on. The best part of the tour was the sound and light show. It lasted only a few minutes, and we had to race through a large shopping mall to see it, but it was worth it.
There are so many lights and sparkly things in Dubai that even for me, who loves all things that shine and sparkle, there is a point where it becomes too much. My overall impression of Dubai – keeping in mind I was only there for a short time and didn’t see any of the real desert – was flashy nothingness. When everything is lit up, nothing actually stands out.
I wasn’t very impressed with my 4am wake up call to be back at the airport for my 7am flight, nor did I care much for the shuttle bus driver waiting until the bus was full before leaving. Effectively I could have rolled out of bed at 5am and still caught the same shuttle that I was woken up before the birds for. It struck me that perhaps that’s why the UAE is so wealthy – they make rules that everyone else follows (think 4am and not 5am), yet they don’t play by those rules until it suits them.. Or I was just grumpy at having to get up even earlier than I usually do.
Thankfully on the flight from Dubai to Buenos Aires (BA) I had a lovely guy from Brazil sitting next to me, and although he didn’t speak for the first 12 hours, after he’d had a few drinks he was happy to practise his English and chatted away for the remaining few hours. I’ve often thought how an airport generally gives a good first impression of a city, and the airport in Buenos Aires was very fancy – and did not smell of smoke!
My friend Nacho collected me at the airport in BA and drove me to my hostel. It was a novelty to have someone meet me at an airport that is not my home one, and after so many hours flying it was an absolute delight to see a familiar face. My happiness was soon overridden by intimidation upon checking into my hostel room, when I saw a few of the girls and realised they were all very pretty, made up, young and petite Brazilians!
My weariness kicked my negative self talk into action, and along with the party revving up in the courtyard below, I was swamped with questions and feelings of inferiority – am I too old to still be staying in hostels? Would I ever fit into, or look good, in the tiny shorts all the girls were wearing? Should I have packed my larger bag and brought a few more nice clothes with me instead of minimising everything? Etc etc. I had been quite proud of my 35L backpack (total weight just under 15kg) when I’d left Melbourne, and now even that decision was being questioned. I was sane enough to realise I was tired and should go to bed, and that I should assess everything in the morning. The allure of sleeping while horizontal was looming, and with ear plugs in and my eye mask on, the chatterbox in my head soon slept too.