On my last day in the UAE I was feeling pretty good about everything. I’d been able to say goodbye or “see you soon” to all of my close friends and had some time to relax and enjoy the last few moments. I was not looking forward to the 25 hour journey that I would embark on the following morning, but I went to bed with confidence and excitement for the future.
I left my hotel room exactly when I wanted to and drove through the nearly deserted town of Al Ain, toward the foggy Al Ain-Dubai road. I successfully made it to the airport and that is exactly when the morning went a little crazy. But, before I get into that, I have to say that I am so, so grateful that I survived the two years without a single traffic accident. Getting into an accident was my number one fear before I arrived in the UAE and for the entire two years I was thankful every time I made it to my destination in one piece. So, to arrive at the airport and finally return the car to the rental agency was a huge relief.
And that, is where the morning drama began. Generally when I take my rental car to Dubai International airport I meet the agency rep at the Terminal 1 parking area. So I drove there on Friday morning, took my ticket and entered the parking area. While I waited for the agent I cleaned out the car and dumped some old CDs, papers, etc in the trash nearby.
The rep called me and through our conversation I realized that he was in the Terminal 3 area and that I would need to drive over there. As I was leaving the parking area I realized that I didn’t have the parking ticket with me. I then quickly realized that I must have thrown it away while cleaning the car out! The agent in the ticket booth was not having it. I told him I’d lost the ticket and asked what the fine was. He said it was 150 dirhams, about $40 USD, so I started to hand him some cash. I then remembered that I might want the cash for the airport and the other parking area, so I handed him my card instead. He then proceeded to take FOREVER to charge me. Insisting that I go back to the parking area and look for the ticket. I had to ask him two different times to just charge me the money and let me go. Finally after about five minutes he did process the charge.
So, I quickly got myself to Terminal 3 and found the rep, returned my car and got on my way. Terminal 3 is a very efficient area and with nearly every single ticketing counter open I was not in line for very long. I got my boarding pass and both my bags were within the weight limit, so off I went to passport control.
At passport control the officer questioned me about why my residence visa didn’t have a sticker on it. I explained to him that it was cancelled a few weeks ago and they stamped it. He said, “yes, yes, but it is not canceled, it is still in the computer”. I didn’t really know what to say, so I just stood there and stared at him. He then spoke with the officer next to him and I gathered from their conversation that the other officer was telling him not to worry about it. But he was still worried and would’t let it (or me) go. I explained to him that I would be leaving and I would not be back for a very long time, so it wasn’t a big deal. But he wasn’t convinced. Eventually, after inputing my information into the other officer’s computer, he stamped my passport and I was on my way. Thankfully, as that could have gotten very tricky.
After walking around the Terminal 3 area trying to find some water and snacks, I headed toward my gate. I had my ticket and passport checked two times (which is normal for an Emirates flight) and headed toward the gate area. I noticed that there was another agent checking passports and tickets, again, and that his line was a little backed up. I saw to my left, two other agents with no one in line, so I headed in that direction. I handed the agent my passport and boarding pass and he promptly took my boarding pass and asked me to have a seat. Huh? Was my reaction, then I realized that I was now in a special “random” screening area. I had just inadvertently nominated myself for a more stringent security check! I couldn’t help but think that after all this, the flight was going to be a piece of cake!
I eventually did make it onto the plane and just a little over 24 hours after I had departed the Hilton Hotel in Al Ain, I was standing in the Eugene Airport giving my Mom a hug! And, despite the crazy morning, my flights and everything else went very smoothly.
I was greeted upon arriving to my parents house by my family and one of my favorite meals, pork ribs and corn on the cob. And, my favorite Rosy Cheeks wine from Sweet Cheeks winery. Saturday was spent hanging out with my Mom and sister. Today we braved some very black skies and headed to another favorite place of mine, Mt. Pisgah for a hike. It was a very fun morning even though we had to run the last few meters of the trail to get out of the rain and lightning!