Just a little note to acknowledge the good people I’ve encountered on my trips thus far. The people I met at the airport waiting to board my flight from the US to Dubai, and my seatmate – a nice gentleman named Corey who was passing through Dubai on his way to Africa – were wonderful. Here’s the thing, people: all you have to do is be a little bit friendly towards someone at the airport, on line to check in to or board your flight, at the airport bar/restaurant – really wherever – and you might seriously improve their travel experience! Corey and I had some nice chats between restless catnaps on the over 12 hour flight, and it really made the time pass quickly. We shared stories of our families, our work, and our other travel experiences. When we arrived at the gate, we thought we were parting ways as he was transiting through, and I was stopping for two nights, but as it turned out, he had to get his luggage from baggage claim and go through customs there as well (despite it not being his final destination) and after bidding each other safe continued travels at the gate, we found ourselves quickly heading in the same direction again. Then, we thought we parted ways again, only to be reunited at baggage claim. We parted ways again when I was pulled out of line to have my luggage scanned. Oh joy. I thought that would have been the last I would’ve seen of Corey, but as I emerged on the other side of the customs, there he was, waiting for me. He had some time to kill before his next flight, so he figured that he would wait there for me, just to make sure I came through the luggage scan without any complications. It was a very small gesture, in the scheme of things, but nonetheless, I was touched. I mean, here’s some guy that I had just spent a half a day with on a plane, whose last name I will probably never know, and who probably wouldn’t have been in much of a position to do anything HAD anything gone wrong for me, but the fact that he waited just to check on me was really nice. In this day and age, where people don’t often do things for perfect strangers, I thought that was really nice. So, Corey, wherever you are, thank you for your kindness, and there should be some good karma coming your way!!
In addition to Corey, I a few other kind people along the way to Dubai – a friendly woman named Denise, who was relocating to Dubai with her husband; a few military guys on their way to dangerous places in Afghanistan and Iraq, who, despite what dangers may lay ahead for them, were in very high spirits and were quick with a smile. Be safe guys!! Denise seemed concerned that I might have trouble getting to my hotel, and had offered to follow in her car to make sure I got there safely, despite the fact that she didn’t seem entirely sure it was in the same direction. I appreciated her concern, but upon emerging in Dubai I went to the taxi line and found a “ladies taxi” (there are separate taxis with female drivers for women traveling alone – perhaps a little sexist and in keeping with traditional Islamic culture, but quite a comfort to a female first-time traveler in the middle east, traveling alone!) and was comfortable going it alone.
Then, between Dubai and Djibouti, I met another lovely woman named Jackie. She was going to meet her husband, and had been transiting through Dubai. She had been in the airport already for almost 7 hours by the time I met her and we got to chatting, and had come from England so she was quite knackered, to say it the British way! She said she doesn’t manage to sleep on planes, so that added to her exhaustion. But we passed the time, talking about her experiences in Africa, and about the perils and advantages of long-distance relationships, as she and her husband live separately for much of the year as he sets up his business in Africa. After the flight we found each other once again by the baggage claim and waited together for our luggage to arrive before heading off in our separate directions.
The moral of the story here folks? When you’re bored in a waiting area, smile at the person next to you, and strike up a conversation. Who knows what you might learn from them, or what new perspective you might take away from the conversation. And if nothing else, it will make the time go faster, and hopefully the trip more enjoyable. If you happen to strike a conversation with a total dud, just excuse yourself to go to the rest room and then sit somewhere else and try again with someone else! 🙂
That’s all the travel wisdom I have to impart today! I’ll post again with details of my stay in Dubai soon. Time for Breakfast here in Djibouti!!
PS – anyone in this area of the world looking for a good “budget” airline, checkout Fly Dubai: http://flydubai.com/english.aspx