March 20. Monday, 6:30am. HOLY MOLY!!! What a trip yesterday!!! The car was a Toyota that held six (all our table mates) plus the driver, Nadir. That’s his name not the Arabic word for “driver”. He had an arranged marriage when he was 14 to his first cousin who was also 14. They had ten children, nine in a row every year after they got married. Wow!! He was in charge of all the other drivers, of which there were 24 cars in this caravan. We were the lead car. You have seen pictures of vehicles flying over huge dunes. That’s us!!! Screaming, yelling, hanging on for dear life! Probably did it for an hour or more. Nadir was sooo great. Not only driving but so full of information. Kind and helpful. We loved him. So, after being scared shi….., we arrived at a Bedouin enclave in the desert. They feasted around 500 people. We had Arabic coffee with dates, saw a belly dance show that lasted about 30 minutes. Beautiful girl and unbelievable gyrations. El watched her very carefully and will attempt some of those gyrations this evening. Oh my!!! She also rode a camel.(bonded with it). This is how she did it. Two people ride at the same time. One in front of the other. El gets on the front and I climb on behind her. The handler tells the camel to get up but it can’t. After several tries (while the camel is making these terrible sounding groans), Ellen says “John. GET OFF! You’re too heavy”. I do and the camel immediately gets up quite easily and this is how El bonded with her camel friend. This is not what happened but it makes for a funny story, doesn’t it? She did ride the camel, though. Solo. This was our best excursion to date. What an experience!!
3:00pm. Just back from visiting the tallest building in the world. Burj Khalifa. Burj means “tower” and Khalifa is the name of the ruling family of Dubai. We also visited a famous mosque. Couldn’t go in, though. Walked through some fabulous malls and visited “Ski Dubai”. We didn’t have the time to try it but we could have handled it easily. Looks much like our Bretton Wood’s runs but much shorter. It would cost us around 200 dollars for two hours skiing. Next trip, maybe. The big news today was not what we saw, but what we didn’t see because we were in a pretty big sandstorm most of the trip. Visibility was way down like our snowstorms. Sand in our eyes, ears, nose, and mouths. They don’t plow sand here, they vacuum it up. Cool, huh? If you have a chance, Google Burj Al Arab Hotel. Unbelievable!
We saw many, many people in traditional dress. Women wearing the Abaya (long black robe), the Hijab (head scarf covering everything but the face), some also wearing the Niqab (it covers the face only showing the eyes), and some wearing the Burqa (single garment covering everything). Men wear long white robes called the Dishdasha. Some wear a head scarf called the Keffiyeh (usually white) held on with a black colored rope called the Agal. Really impressive attire. Wealthy looking! That’s enough historical info for today’s lesson. No homework tonight. Snow day tomorrow, I mean “sand” day! Signing off, Captain Crook