Thursday, September 23, 2010

'I lick soccer'

[Dubai --> Dar Es Salaam]

The Dubai airport is an explosion of glittery, glossy duty free. Perfume is helpfully sprayed onto strips of card so I am unable to douse myself in flower and fruity smells as I had hoped to after a 12 hour plane ride. I walk through the store slowly, hoping to absorb the sweet scents anyway.

Seated at my gate some hours later, I fight sleep by finishing the book I’m about to gift Hamsa when I see her. The book – I Was Told There’d Be Cake (thanks, Carolyn!) – makes me smile, and so does the little kid next to me. He’s probably 6, full of energy, and tiring everyone at our gate with his nonstop chatter. His exasperated mother hands him a notebook and instructs him to write, hoping it will quiet him down. The journal has a furry monster face on the cover and I am envious; mine is spiral-bound with birds on it. “Hi I am Luca I lick soccer,” he begins ferociously and again I am envious; I seem to take forever to put words on paper (and then, on my blog). His thoughts spill out unpunctuated, his constant questions go unanswered. I’m glad he’s not my kid, but he’s awesome!

It’s a significantly shorter flight from Dubai to Dar Es Salaam. Breakfast follows sunrise and then we are descending, 265 miles in 30 minutes. Perspective swims back into focus the lower we fly – ships leaving a white wake no longer look like tiny snails creating determined paths of goop behind them. We’re almost in Tanzania!

I memorize the ten Swahili words in my guide book while my Pakistani neighbor reads from his Qu’ran; the two of us quietly repeat words to ourselves in an odd parallel. My neighbor must have been very focused because he asks me, as plane wheels touch the ground, if I’m from Tanzania. Holding my conspicuously yellow Lonely Planet guidebook in my hand, I shake my head, no, hapana ;)

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