My best wrong turn was onto the "Dubai Bypass" road. As we went past where we should have gone, the desert stretched out in front of us, and the few U-turns along the way were blocked off. I am told that this is due to many deaths resulting from their use, drivers misjudging how quickly the oncoming vehicles are travelling and getting T-boned at speeds greater than the speed limit of 120 km/hr. (75 mph)
I was going 120 and people were flying past. The man I was meeting to buy a Gevalia coffeepot, Mohammad, but known as Mike when he lived in Bellevue, WA (small world, huh?) emailed me the following encouraging bit after I (finally) got home, having been unable to reach my destination not just on the outgoing drive but also trying to get home as well:
"If the long stretches, without signs or turn-offs are not bad enough, the mad driving habits of the locals completely freaks me out. And I've driven in and around crazy LA for 20-odd years!!! This is much more scarier when someone in a giant SUV tail-gates, you with flashing lights and cuts you off at 200 Km an hour!"
He is Muslim, a single father of a 6-year old, and he provided poor beleaguered Bethy and Thomas grilled cheese sandwiches and mango juice. They turned their noses up at the sandwiches despite it being well past lunchtime as they prefer Tillamook. Spoiled.
Having no such compunctions myself, I ate Thomas' sandwich. I figured I'd need the strength and fortitude to get us back home.
We'd seen a giant black column of smoke rising from the highway which turned out to be a semi truck that had been in some sort of horrific accident; the entire cab was raging flames and twisting metal. I warned Bethy that the "might be something sad" to see as we went by, but fortunately nothing was obvious. I did the well-adjusted Mom thing, saying "See? SEE? That's why Mommy can't turn around and look at your drawing or find something on the back floor for you while she's driving. DON'T ASK."
The circular clusters of camels in the shade of trees only enthralled me as the trip dragged on, the children having long since written their mother off as hopeless.
By the time we were fruitlessly circling, trying to find a entrance to the Sheik Zayed Road that went towards rather than away from home (my all-encompassing goal became to see the dark spire of the Burj Dubai in the rear view mirror), there was plaintive whimpering from the backseat...something about hungry, mama, hungry...
Though the bananas were gone and water wasn't cutting it anymore, (these kids are so demanding, geez), the second Burger King we tried was open and I flung a couple of cheeseburgers at the small people, resulting in a much quieter and more contented back seat.
When we finally got home, one coffeemaker and other small helpful items richer, including a beautiful handmade silver coffeepot, creamer and sugar, and a more mundane but still welcome toaster, we were all pooped.
I felt we'd seen enough stretches of desert and giant billboards proclaiming the great and wonderful amusement parks, the skyscraper business complexes, and the housing developments with not much beyond the portrayals but empty desert and roads that go to nowhere, to last us a while. I couldn't help but be impressed once again by the visionary spirit that will indeed make these grand ideas a reality before too long. There is no doubt of it, though for now it has the tang of a Hollywood set, all plywood and props. This place is magic, and just like Hollywood, somehow, they will make it happen.
At home, not exactly upset, but hardly the laughing girl I had been the first 4 wrong turns (ancient history by now, though the kids and I all had cheered "Home! We're home! Yaaaaay!" when our yellow hotel came into sight), I opened my email. There I found a message that really made my day. Here is what this friend of 30 years had written from Seattle:
I wanted to let you know I was thinking about you the other day when we were having a nice drenching rain in August. I thought, geeze, I should try to enjoy this seeing that some people in the world don't get this type of weather, and it is so soothing to sleep with the sound of the rain on the roof, so, I tried to appreciate the Washington rain for you and I wanted to let you know. Tonite, I will enjoy a good micro brew for you!!!
Wow, I thought, she really gets it. The best part was that I didn't feel much more than a pang of missing Seattle, just overwhelming happiness that the blog is doing just what I hoped and dreamed it might.
I have gotten more kind, wonderful emails that I could possibly have imagined about how much people are enjoying the blog. I love gettting these! They have really helped me feel able to explore our new home but feel connected to you back in the USA.
Thank you all.