The sun rose quickly and the moon continued to hang in the sky and soon the ground could be seen beneath us, orangish brown jagged undulations climbing upwards, stretching into the distance. I tried to find our location on google maps–what country was I seeing?–but it wasn’t updating for me. Then we passed over water, hidden a bit by the clouds and full of ships, huge and not, headed every which way, fires burning on some, others grouped together, some lone wolfs, some perfectly lines up like they were preparing for a game of battleship. I’ve seen an ocean, I’ve seen brown orange undulations but there was still that feeling in me of “yes, but now you’re seeing it here.” Then we passed below the clouds and there was land again, and all the sudden there it was, Dubai, the giant skyscrapers all bunched together looking like toys from our height, highways and roads flooded with cars. Then all around the city and its high risers came the suburbs, flat gridded communities laid out house after house, bright green grasses defying the desert, the sand that edged around all of the communities. And then those subdivisions faded and the green faded and the sand took over, rolling with its clefts and patterns across the ground, dotted with squares of buzzing cars and people here and there, small areas of several houses grouped together, all connected now with sand roads. And then in the distance you could see the sand taking over, going on forever, into the horizon.
It was one of the most incredible sights, the juxtaposition of dubai’s city to the desert, the green and trees growing where they didn’t “belong”, the desert waiting on the outskirts, always a reminder, always there, so much of it, more than I’ve ever seen before.
Next stop, Nepal.