After strapping in for the landing, and an exceptionally rough landing with a TON of side-to-side movement, the plane rolled to a gate. Since I was in the middle of the plane, I really couldn’t see out the windows, and it was, according to the captain’s announcement about quarter till five in the afternoon. OK – So I was gonna feel a bit “off” till I adjusted my body’s time to the local time. No biggie. I expected that. Collect all the stuff, and start following the crowd.
Going through customs – I was expecting to walk up to a big desk with foreboding guard behind it saying “papers please”…. No such animal. According to TV on back of seat in airplane, first you go through passport control, then to baggage claim, then through customs. Well, not quite like that, but close…. Passport control at the Dubai airport is like nothing I’ve *(ever* seen before,….. hundreds and hundreds of people queued up in a set of lines that would have made Walt Disney proud. Calm, no shuffling, no fussing, quiet except for phones ringing…. And they ring ALL the time. No airport announcements, though – incredibly quiet…… read on one of the brazillion TV screens around “Airport announcements kept to a minimum to enhance your airport experience”. But back to the process….. passport control – I was in a queue that had about 40-50 people in line ahead of me and had been standing there for about 15 minutes. Gent in white traditional ME dress and voice of authority said “this way please” motioning to empty queues with new people staffing the counters…. I thought “yippee! Faster lines!”
Not to be. The line I got into was staffed by someone that apparently took about 4x longer than the gent processing the line to my left. It got so funny watching 4 passengers go through the left line that the couple in front of me, a Spanish couple, began commenting between themselves about it, then the gent turned to me and said “they go much faster” to which I agreed, and said “much like the supermarket, the line I get into seems slowest there as well” and the wife laughed and said “always”…..
Anyhow, got up to the counter, and the woman there put her hand out for my passport, motioned me to step to my left, pointed at the retina scanner, then pointed to the overhead camera, stamped my passport twice, handed it back to me, and motioned to the next person in line. That was it. I was done, right? But wait, what about the “what are you doing in this country? How long do you stay? Who do you know?” kind of questions that I was anticipating? *shrug* dunno. I followed the people heading down this hallway towards baggage claim, and I thought that sounded like what I read on the back of the plane seat. Had this sudden scary thought that I was basing decisions on the stuff I read on the back of a plane seat and it sorta frightened me just a bit. Shrugged it off, and decided that United Airlines had to know what they were telling folks, right?
Next thing that all the people in front of me were doing on the way to the baggage claim, was to stop of at this unassuming looking place, kind of like the carry-on-luggage-scanner thing at small airports. And that’s exactly what they did, x-ray our carryon luggage….. then, straight ahead of us was baggage claim, holy COW was it baggage claim. Looked like the roll out of a luggage factory, actually…. Tons of bags. Now, I haven’t mentioned yet that I had a ton of checked luggage, have I? Like three gi-freekin-normous bags? When I calculated it out, it was dramatically cheaper to carry excess baggage as opposed to shipping personal items…. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars less. But wait, I told you that already, right? Forgive me.
Now there were no porters around, but there were these luggage carts (kinda like grocery buggies) that wouldn’t separate. Really. So, I waited and watched someone else use them, and voila! You gotta push the handle down to “unlock” the wheels…. Let go and the wheels stop turning, kinda like our self-propelled mower does. Got them all piled on, and turned to see which direction most others were going…. “nothing to declare” was the line I wanted to be in, and there was no line, just another small baggage scan machine, with this incredibly helpful young man that put the bags on the belt for me. I was grateful, because the backpack was plenty heavy because of the extra pounds I had to transfer to it, and the rolling carryon was no lighter, and a handful… Hate that evil thing.
Anyhow, scanned all my baggage again, smiled and motioned me through the doors with indecipherable writing on them, and voila! I was officially in Dubai! Outside. Not in the airport. Wait, that’s it? I’m finished? Through? Did I miss something? Whooo hooooo!!
I came out of the airport, still pushing that dang little locky luggage cart, and was looking for TBG’s face. I had no phone to call him, no clue if he was there, and was starting to feel an “uh oh” moment…..
THERE HE WAS. There. I smiled and started tearing up, and tried so hard not to cry. I had spotted him towering over the top of the group of shorter dark-skinned men hanging over the rail outside the airport perimeter – what a welcome sight!! As I made my way past the barricades and towards the cattle herd thing that would let us all out, I heard the wailing call to prayers, I think. But understand, by this time I was pretty dang jet-lagged and tired and cranky and had to pee because I thought that I would have time inside the airport between passport verification and queuing up for Customs. That didn’t happen!
But it didn’t matter. I was here, and he was here, and my world was better. You see, we have one of those weird marriages where we are truly better together than we are apart. We’re both sort of “less” without the other somehow. Not impossible, just a bit less. *shrug* Make what you will of that.
Couldn’t even kiss TBG because of local customs – had to settle for a hug. And more tears, which he hates, even the joyful ones. Put the luggage in a white SUV thing called a Pajero guided the cart back to its friends, and headed out of the parking area. He held my hand.