First stop.... 5 nights in Dubai with two friends, Chloe and Rui who I once spent 3 years working with when we were teaching in a bunker-like staff room in South London. They're with me in the photo above with Cath (with the dark hair), who was at the same school with us and has also escaped to the Dubai sunshine.
Perhaps the fact that Dubai is the ultimate car culture was on my side? People don't seem to do a huge amount of walking anyway. I managed to get much further one day and generally got a lot stronger as I rested up from the crash. ME/CFS wasn't really much of a thing while I was here. I was brilliantly looked after. There isn't a huge amount else to report... I mostly rested on the roof with Chloe, talking about teaching, life, love, everything. I soaked up the brightness of the sky and the sun on my skin in the 23 degree winter heat. We ate really well. But here are some snapshots and brief impressions.
The creamy pink glow that marks the beginning and end of each day, the screech of car tyres in the sand, a call to prayer..
I get the impression from most people I talk to that Dubai is seen as a bit of a pit stop. A place that you inhabit to make money before getting the hell out. I have some interesting chats with taxi drivers, a Filipino nanny and go to a choir rehearsal with a few ex-pat wives (and my voice is doing pretty well).
Dubai is place full of superlatives and contradictions. It's world beatingly ostentatious while the post office runs out of stamps. The city can claim the world's tallest building, a ski slope with snowy toboggan runs in a shopping mall in the desert that keeps penguins. It's glitzy, dusty and permanently in construction. I arrived just as the government is introducing VAT. Will be interesting to see if this changes anything.
90% of the population are international and while the airport claims the world's fastest wifi, no one it seems, is able to Skype or WhatsApp (or use any other facility) to call home. While I'm there Chloe and Rui find out that Zoom, the conference calling app they've been staying one step ahead of the authorities with to talk to their families, has been blocked. One local alternative is available, only it barely works and costs a few limbs.
After the scare at Heathrow it's wheelchairs all the way for my flight out. As I'm wheeled along I start to accept that there is no way I would be able to walk this distance. Not right now. But I leave feeling good; recharged and optimistic. And in strangely familiar territory. I don't know why, though I've passed through this airport without leaving it so many times. The kind man pushing my wheels is from Kerala. Maybe I think I'm on my way back to India or something?
An ME/CFS Thriver