This entry will therefore serve as the belated asterisked disclaimer to that flippant statement, and a timely occasion to lament on the nostalgia of the Middle East /African Trip (The MEAT). Interestingly, The MEAT conveniently became The MET on the way back into Australia - customs seem to be far more obtrusive when African countries are involved.
More than 2 months have passed since The MEAT - and yes I acknowledge respectfully that Dubai, Egypt and Jordan are Muslim countries and so the acronym may be slightly 'cute'. My very cool, very dear friends (and one in particular) had organised The MEAT as a surprise for my age-that-shall-not-be-mentioned birthday. They even went to the trouble of masking it as The Indian Trip (TIT); a fake itinerary was produced and award winning faux enthusiasm for 24/7 curry was on display. Suffice to say that the surprise came undone quite early on in the piece - it's okay Shar, my supreme detective skills would have achieved the same end result.
The MEAT née TIT (okay that's the last of the acronyms I promise) was (and I don't use the next word lightly) perfect. It had a little bit of everything: reverence, relevance, grandeur, gaudiness, history, culture, shopping, cruisy days, hectic days, thought provoking moments, superficial entertainment, new found friends, lasting friends. The experience is nicely captured in Paul Theroux's “Dark Star Safari”:
“The pleasantest aspect of the river cruise was the combination of gourmandizing and sightseeing, gliding with the current and stopping every now and then at a resurrected ruin.”
A couple of things held true throughout the two and a bits weeks of travelling: 1) constant gorging of food; and 2) the realisation that it is quite a blessing to have a mix of good natured buddies with complementary dispositions to travel the globe with.
Yes, the MEAT surpassed all expectations. KS - you guys rock - thanks for giving me the best entry ticket to your old fogey party. Oh, and the other weedy surprise party wasn't bad either. I really shouldn't be allowed to complain for the rest of this year.
I'm not sure whether it is a bad omen that my actual birth day was:
- the longest day ever;
- in Dubai, which now has total debts worth approximately $59 billion USD; and
- I had blisters on my feet.
A mention of our 3rd time unlucky basketball finals. Mindy took some good shots. A sample shown below. Her other sets can be found here. Thanks to the usual crew for the support.