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El albergue

El albergue

Monday, June 27, 2011

En route to Bangladesh

Saturday, June 25, 7:15 am CA time

I still have over two hours left of my 15 hour flight to Dubai, and I'm grinning like an idiot.  Why?  Not because I'm going to get off this plane relatively soon, although that will be quite lovely.  No, it's because of where I'm sitting...I have just spent the past 13 hours in airplane heaven...That's right, I got upgraded, baby!  They called me to the ticket counter at the boarding area in LAX and told me that my seat had been reassigned, but I didn't realize the full implications of those words until I was in the airplane, confusedly trying to find seat 7F in the economy section.  Well hoo boy howdy was my seat not where I was expecting it to be!  I think I amused the flight attendant as a dazed look of baffled delight overtook my face as she showed me my seat.  I still feel like a did in a candy store now, 13 hours later, wanting to play with all the cool buttons that control my seat and watch movie after movie from the many available for viewing. As if a fully extendable bed weren't enough (although that in itself was indeed amazing), the food and service have been phenomenal.  When we boarded, they offered me champagne, for pete's sake!  All drinks have been served in real glass (my orange juice even had an actual slice of orange in it), and I've been getting more real silverware than I know what to do with at every meal.  Dinner? oh nothing much, just some fancy mixed nuts in a little porcelain dish followed by a beautiful salad (there were flowers in my salad! - oh the luxury) and then a delicious plate with okra, pita, lamb, and rice with raisins.  And breakfast?  Everyone got a colorful array of fresh fruit and some yogurt, which I accompanied with some simple french toast (simple in contrast with the omelet my neighbor was eating).  Of course, not that I've tasted of the joys of Business Class, I may never want to go back to economy, where the only real sleep I've ever gotten was when the seat next to me was open, allowing me to sort of curl up while trying not to kick the businessman on the other side of the empty seat.  However, I'm pretty sure that God isn't going to bless me with an upgrade on every other flight I take in my entire life, so since I don't quite have the money to perpetually upgrade myself, I guess I'll just have to take this one change to fly in style as the blessing it is...and perhaps someday I'll be able to get back into an economy seat without that little sigh of longing for what I can no longer have.  Oh Business Class, I shall miss you!

Dubai Airport, 2:35 am local time

The hours stretch out before me in a sad vista of sleeplessness and idle waiting.  I have roughly seven hours before I can board; although, however doleful that may sound, it also means that I'm just about past the midway point of my layover.  Well, in that light things seem much more positive.  However, it would be even more positive if I were able to sleep rather than simply rest my eyes as I sit huddled in awkward positions between the two immovable armrests that partition off every seat on this otherwise bench-like piece of furniture. Not exactly very conducive to repose...

8:47 am, local time


At last, my layover seems to be drawing to a close.  True, I still have almost two hours 'til take-off, but I've come through security and now am sitting in the bustlingly invigorating environs of the departure gate rather than the rather un-energetic space of the waiting area I was in earlier.  Here, there are people milling all about, some searching for the bathroom, some running so as not to miss their flight, some simply strolling along, and other sitting calmly in one of the many little cafes in the terminal.  And then there's the young family making a jungle gym out of the row of seats next to me.  A minute ago, I was graced with the presence of a large, sugary, rapidly-disappearing donut in the sticky hands of one of the boys.  Now, he has wandered to the other end of the row, his face still showing the telltale signs of having devoured his treat, and his previous seat has been taken over by his little sister, who's about two and who is painstakingly unwrapping one starburst after another so she can smash them together in a little ball in her tiny little hands.  Oh no!  She's dropped the ball on the ground!  Well.  That doesn't faze her one bit - she clambers down, chases the ball a little, clambers back up, and starts unwrapping another piece to add to her masterpiece.  (and yes, she does finish off the act by eating that tasty and well-traveled work of art)
...Oh wait, I got distracted earlier and forgot to write about my little excursion out into Dubai - super exciting!!!  When my plane landed at 7:30ish last night, I meandered on over to the Metro station, and on recommendation from the ticket clerk, I bought enough ticket to get myself to the Dubai Mall and back before the Metro closed and I got stuck outside the airport all night with no place to go.  This isn't just any mall, mind you - it's purported to be among the biggest malls in the entire world, and it certainly is quite large.  It even has an ice rink and 2008 Guiness World Record's largest continuous sheet of plexiglass enclosing a huge saltwater tank full of sharks, rays, swirling columns of mackerel, and sundry assorted fish.  Out back is the Dubai Fountain, which goes off in an impressive display every hour that reminded me of 4th of July fireworks.  Also figuring prominently into this lovely outdoor scene is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.  Of course, I just barely made it to the last metro going back to the airport - elbows might almost have started flying in the rush from the shuttle bus to the cars, but I got just enough ahead of the herd so that I don't really know.  And now here I sit, apparently having successfully finished waiting out this 15-hour layover, as the gate for my flight seems to be opening.