Monday, May 12, 2008

Colin of Arabia

Yet another sunny day in the United Arab Emirates. Today marks the first day I didn''t leave the Palm Jumeirah. I am actually quite relieved after almost dying approximately 5 times last night.

Yesterday started with a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque (I have now officially gone to mosque more than church in 2008) and we continued to visit the souks once again. I had the intention of purchasing a lady Rolex for my mother and with the expertise of Mr. Terry, we haggled him down to a very acceptable price. I will not disclose the terms.

After the souks we decided to play in the pool, well I decided to play in the pool, others decided to merely sit in the pool. We were expecting our desert safari driver to arrive between 2 and 4. That was a little bit vague so later on they said between 330 and 4.

245 rolled along and we were still in the pool when Jason came to say our driver had arrived. It was pretty much Home Alone style from then on as we were in a panic to get ready. We took an impressive 10 minutes and were heading out the door, forgetting only a water bottle. I noticed a dark man lying on the floor when I was running up the stairs but I was in too much of a hurry to ask questions. Kelly found him and luckily he was our driver, not some stray mooching the villa. We were all short of breath as he said we didn't have to leave for another 25 minutes. Since we were too scared to go into the fun room where he lay quite comfortably, we all went to the patio. Our driver, Mustapha came to tell us when he was ready.

It was another ridiculously fast drive. Mustapha kept saying things to me and I had no idea what my Pakistani friend was trying to say so a polite smile and nod was appropriate. We reached the Middle Eastern version of Ken's corner. Many shifty eyed men, filthy washrooms and extremely overpriced snacks were enough to make us want to leave. Let alone the man who put a bird on us and tried to make us pay 10 Dirham (3 dollars) each for holding a stupid little bird that we didn't even want to hold. We refused to pay and wanted to leave but our big driver was chowing down with some ice cream in the back so we got in the truck with birdman following us, saying something, all I heard were groans and his eyes seemed to be wondering(Leg 1 of near-death experience). As we were leaving, Mustapha furiously beeped the horn and some of his co-workers were yelling some language at him and they decided to twist the Toyota ornament on the front of the truck, bend the side mirrors and mess up the windshield wipers. He stormed away from his co-worker/enemy and we got out alive (Leg 2 of near-death experience.)

We were all in bad humour as Mustapha began to blare his Indian music and made sure we all had our seatbelts. His fast driving continued (Leg 3 of near-death experience) and then came the desert. It never occured to me what "dune-bashing" was until we took the truck over the dunes and were flung around like ragdolls despite having seatbelts on. This caught us all by surprise and pardon my french but it scared the shit out of us. Sarah tried to videotape it and all you could hear in the tape was very loud Indian music and a series of "We're gonna die!", mainly by Katie. We came to a stop (Leg 4 of near-death experience) and I glanced at the outside temperature. 50 degrees celsius. We were outside looking around and taking pictures and it was 50 degrees. Meanwhile to our surprise, Mustapha was playing hero by helping his stuck co-worker/enemy as his truck was buried in sand (Ya see what happens when ya screw around?). We got out of the heat (Leg 5 of near-death experience) and continued our dune-bashing. We were flying all over the place, smacking heads, holding on for dear life and still screaming "We're gonna die". We had actually become accustomed to it.

After our drive, we began camel riding and then a belly-dancing show. So the intensity eased off. We had a barbecue and crap-etizers. I still don't know what I ate. Perhaps that could have killed me too. Maybe we will say 6 near-death experiences. All I know is, there was a lot of sand and possible other things in all of our knickers at the end of that evening.

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