BJG 02 - 11 - 2010

We just came from 5 or 6 days in one of the poorest developed countries in the world to Dubai - an artificial oasis in the desert, a city of wealth and excess. I seriously downplayed the amount of enjoyment I would get from our "cruise" down the Nile. It turned out to be much nicer than I expected - and the river was of course beautiful, warm, and relaxing. And what can I say about the pyramids? Not much that hasn't already been said thousands of times before. They were powerful and stand as a testament to man's ability to imagine and construct. One day, we rode camel-back through fields of I-don't-know-what. It was peaceful, despite the bumps and jerks from "Ali Baba" and I remember the wind blowing the tall grasses and noticing the lack of other sounds from traffic or anything else. The village was poor, but everyone seemed happy. Children were playing futbol in empty fields and running across pipes over small streams. We were right on the river: modest mud-brick houses on my right, 5-star tourist hotels of glass-and-steel on my left ... just across the Nile, within constant eyesight of the village. Despite being somewhat disgusting, the camel is a proud creature (and apparently wrestles and races quite well). Here in Dubai, everything is less than 40 years old. One guide told us that in 1950, the population was 5,000. Things are different now. I've been here for a few hours but I've already had a conversation with two elderly British women, a bartender from Sri Lanka (who gave me a free shot of cognac), a hotel clerk from Kenya, and a lady from the Philippines with a nephew who works in the city as an architect. Per enjoyment, I can't decide which is more expensive in Dubai: alcohol or internet. I guess when their oil fields dried up, the government decided to recuperate some money by charging tourists boatloads for wifi. From Ayn Rand: "...It's only real when it chooses curtains and desserts -- you're right about that -- curtains, desserts and religions, Peter, and the shapes of buildings. But you've never wanted that. You wanted a mirror. People want nothing but mirrors around them. To reflect them while they're reflecting too. You know, like the senseless infinity you get from two mirrors facing each other across a narrow passage. Usually in the more vulgar kinds of hotels..." -The Fountainhead From Lil Wayne: "I'm a dog / I should rap with a muzzle / Peyton Manning flow / I just go no huddle" -Throw Some Ds

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