“Oh my God! where is the tour bus? Have they left us ?” I asked my sister panting and out of breath, I was sweating and almost hyperventilating the ground was super hot I had to keep lifting one foot after another so that I didn’t get blisters through my shoes kind of like a matching bad routine….I’m sure the temperature was about 85 degrees Celsius. I schooled in Minna Niger state and had served my country in Adamawa state both in the north. Adamawa is one of those states bordering the desert but still I had never experienced this kind of heat. “Jesu! is this even real?” that was all I could think to myself.
I look over at my sister and I see her mirroring exactly what I am feeling but much worse. First of all because she was the reason we were in this predicament to start with and secondly because her one year old toddler was screaming uncontrollably and there was nothing we could do, the tour bus had gone leaving us behind.
I went to Dubai recently and it was “winter” or at least that’s what I was told. (for my Nigerian peeps the winter weather is kinda like Jos during the rainy season cold at night warm during the day). The weather was awesome the activities and events where spectacular everything was perfect and although there was some drama I had a tonne of fun. However I couldn’t help but remember the first time I went to Dubai and all the drama that went down so sit back relax and take a trip down memory lane with me.
So it was the summer of 2013 and my wonderful sister invited me to travel with her and her one year old toddler to Dubai….. Please who thinks about that kind of request? Needless to say a few weeks later I took time off work and we were on our way to Dubai.
So we arrive Dubai early hours of the morning it was the first time for both of us and as expected we oohed and aahed our all the way through and out of the airport… Dubai is quite beautiful and a lot of deliberate effort is put into making it as beautiful as it is. The first thing that took me off guard was the heat wave that hit us as we stepped out of the airport. Nobody had ever mentioned heat in Dubai to me ….. But it’s all good we entered our airport pickup and the A.C (Aircon as Nigerians call it) had me forgetting soon enough . So we arrive our “room” we eventually stayed in one room ’cause we figured the bed was big enough and besides we needed to save cash because there was shopping to be done.
Now let me backtrack a little. When you arrive the Dubai airport in the summer and every where is so cool and nice….. Nothing! Absolutely nothing, prepares you for the heat when you get outside. Dubai is located in the desert I don’t even know what desert its located in right now but all I can say is that place is HAWT in the summer … Now in the “winter months it gets cold especially at night like I said earlier but at that time we went it was summer and it was SUPER HOOTTTT outside even at night . I am putting this information out there for emphasis later on in this story.
So we had arranged to do a couple of tourist activities one of which was the Dubai city tour. So the day after we arrived Dubai, the tour company called to let us know what was to happen and when we got on the tour bus, the first thing we were told or warned about was not to do any shopping on the tour or else we would be left behind and we all agreed. Tour began and all was good until we arrived the “Gold souk”(“souk” means market in Dubai).
When we got there the tour guide repeated a very stern warning “do not shop in the golds souk during this tour”. “You have 15 minutes and then the bus will leave and if we don’t see you the bus will leave without you”. We all agreed and so we came down and went looking at the shops “sightseeing” like every normal tourist you know, bought a few candies/souvenirs, looked around, took pictures and then we got to one “shiny gold shop” and all of a sudden my sister had the unquenchable desire to change her engagement ring. I tried to talk her out of it but her mind was set on changing her ring. I figured it wouldn’t take too long do what th big deal.
The moment she made a small inquiry and they heard our Nigerian accents (Nigerians have a notorious reputation in Dubai for being biig spenders) Hah! Mugu don land! and trust these Pakistani/Indian/Arab merchants (Igbo boys are learning work) by the time they brought out so many shiny gold rings we were in too deep.
Needless to say my sister chose and paid for a lovely ring in less than a minute and we would have been fine but then the ring was slightly too small and had to be expanded the impression the “gold merchants” gave us was that it would take less than a minute to expand . LIES………that’s where our wahala began. We were sent to another shop to wait for some other Indian dude that took another maybe 10-15 minutes eventually it was sorted out and we sprinted as fast as we could in the scorching sun to where the tour bus had been stationed. Let me remind you we were still carrying around one year old toddler who was not having it with all this unnecessary movement, made worse by the excruciating heat.
By the time we realized how big a mess we were in, my nephew was basically screaming at the top of his lungs…. This was our first official day in Dubai and we were lost.?!
We started trying to ask around….to our bewilderment most of the people in the souk did not understand English and barely spoke a few words like “welcome” and “fine gold” or “very good bargain” and that was it. They had to go looking for someone who supposedly spoke English in sentences for us to even have an idea of where we were…….Nightmare.
By this time we had entered full panic mode, they were no taxis, nobody really understood us, the heat was getting worse, we were sweating uncontrollably and I had tears in my eyes. I was upset with my sister and kept asking her “what are we going to do?” but she was in an even worse state because she felt guilty as hell, her son was screaming and his diaper bag was on the bus so we couldn’t even pacify him with anything ;they were all on the bus. We both started crying…. the two adults and the crying toddler in the middle of the parking lot in the “Gold souk”.
Eventually after crying and realising nothing would happens our brains kicked in and we remembered that the tour company had called our phones earlier to inform us of our itinerary. So we called them and painfully explained our predicament to them with their limited understanding of English Gosh! it was hell. Anyways because of my sisters baby they decided to be kind to us and called the bus to wait for us at a particular location they then called a taxi to pick us up and take us to this location. Chai! For all we know the taxi driver could have been a serial killer or robber but it was a huge relief to enter a cool car and get away from the souk.
We eventually reunited with the rest of the tour but ….. it was ruined it wasn’t fun anymore. As for being robbed, that’s a whole other story. I tried to put it here but it was too long so next blog post please….