I’m all packed up and ready to get on a plane back to the United States! A bus is coming in a few hours to pick us up and take us to the airport. I can’t believe how fast my time in Dubai went. This has definitely been the fastest and best three months of my life, and I am really going to miss this experience once it’s over in a few hours. However, I am EXTREMELY excited to go back to the USA to see all of my friends and family! And tomorrow afternoon I will be heading to Cocoa Beach, FL for a week of spring training with the crew team! It will be a nice transition to the cold weather and will help me get my butt back in shape for the spring season.
I haven’t updated my blog in a while because week 10 and finals were pretty busy in addition to trying to fit in everything we still wanted to do in our last weekends here. So I will try to give you a quick recap of what I’ve done recently, before I get back to the US and have no motivation to write blog entries.
On Thursday, February 10, Allie, Nina, Maddie, Thistle and I (aka Team RIT Running with Scissors) rented a car and drove Dibba, Oman where we camped out on the beach. We didn’t get there until about 11:30 at night because there was some trouble getting the car, but we went through with all of our nighttime plans anyway. Thistle built a fire while we set up the tent, and we sat around it and ate the pasta that we brought with us. After we made some s’mores, but due to the lack of common s’mores ingredients at Carrefour, our s’mores were made of digestive cookies, flavored marshmallows and hazelnut chocolate. They still ended up tasting delicious. The next day we were running a 72k (about 45 mile) relay race up a mountain and back, so we figured we should probably get some sleep before we had to wake up early the next morning.
When we woke up in the morning it was still dark out and the teams in all of the tents around us were getting ready to start the race. The start times were 4am for solo runners (the crazy people who wanted to run the whole thing themselves) and 6-8am for teams. When the sun finally started to rise, we saw that we were surrounded by mountains! We hadn’t seen them the night before since it was dark when we left Dubai. The beach we had camped at was on the Indian Ocean/Gulf of Oman, and was nice and blue!
The beginning of the race was on a road and pretty flat. We each took turns running about 2-4k each. The rest of us followed in a support car (which was a tiny Toyota Corolla) and stopped to wait for the runner at each of the transition areas. A few legs in, the paved road ended and we were driving up the mountain in a wadi (which is why the race was called the Wadi Bih Run). A wadi is like a dried river bed through the mountains. The farther up the mountain we got, the rockier the terrain. Our car started having a tough time climbing the mountain so we had to drive really slow and let all of the huge SUVs pass us. Eventually the person running started to make it to the transition area before the car because we had to stop so many times to let cars pass. The steepest part of the mountain was still to come, and we were afraid that our little car wouldn’t make it up so Thistle said he would just run the whole top portion. Little did he know how steep the top portion actually was, and thankfully some nice people saw us suffering and offered us a spot in their car to go up to the top of the mountain. Maddie went in the car with them, so she was able to give Thistle a break after he ran the extremely steep leg.
Nina, Allie, and I waited at the car for them to come back down, so we were rejuvenated by the time they were back. The way back down was definitely a lot easier, although we were all pretty exhausted from the way up. It also was around noon and started to get really hot out. Finally, we made it back to the start at the beach, 7 hours and 20 minutes later. And boy was it great to be done! While it was probably the most fun and unique race I’ve ever run, it was also one of the most exhausting too, even though we weren’t competing to win. Since Dubai is flat and we can only really run around the track at the dorms, we weren’t really prepared to run a race like that, but we did really well for our current condition. That race, although painful, was probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in Dubai. It was possibly the most beautiful and scenic run I’ve ever been on, complete with goats roaming the mountainsides.
The next morning we woke up early again, and this time the whole group headed to Khasab, Oman for the day. Even though we had gone to Oman the day before, we didn’t need to cross through a real border crossing so we didn’t get a visa. Our UAE tourist visas only last for 30 days with a 15 grace period, so RIT Dubai sent us on an Oman adventure to leave the country for a few hours. A bus took us to Khasab, where we got on a Dhow boat to go for a lunch cruise through the fjord complete with snorkeling. After cruising through some beautiful mountains similar to the ones we had seen the day before, someone pointed at the water. We all rushed to the edge of the boat to see a few dolphins riding the waves next to the boat! There was even a baby one! We all spent a while trying to get some good pictures, and then we headed to the snorkeling spot. Everyone put their masks and flippers on and one by one we jumped into the water. I had never been snorkeling before, and when I first looked into the water and saw tons of fish below my feet, I freaked out a little bit. So I swam over to the coral area without looking in the water so that I wouldn’t have to see how many fish were surrounding me. The fish in the coral area stayed in the coral, so I was able to swim over the coral without having a heart attack. It was really a sight to see, filled with colorful fish, anemones, and even sea slugs! After snorkeling, one of the guides cooked us lunch which included fish that they had caught that morning! I’m not really a big seafood fan, but the fish was pretty good! On our way back to the dock, we passed an area that had a lot of small boats containing boxes covered in plastic bags. Our guide told us that the small boats smuggled in goats from Iran (which was only 60k away, about a 1.5 hour boat ride) in the morning and were smuggling electronics and other items back, because of the embargo and high tariffs. We even saw a boat that was smuggling a car! I have no idea how they managed to get it in there.
The next Tuesday, we finally went on our desert safari! Our previous one was cancelled due to wind and the possibility of rain (like it ever rains in Dubai…). We split up into two land cruisers and they took us dune bashing out in the desert. Our driver took us up and down huge dunes, practically sliding sideways down them. Every time we slid, a huge wave of sand would spray up at the windows, it was great! They stopped out in the desert to let us take pictures and run up some dunes, and then we headed over to the camp. At the camp they had camel rides, sand boarding, henna, and of course food. We all took a turn on the camels and then headed into the camp for some food. Allie and I got henna and lady was so good at it! I don’t think she spoke English, but I stuck my hand out and about a minute later I had an awesome design on my hand! After we had a huge buffet of food, and when Nina went up for more kabobs, they gave her a huge plateful instead of just a couple. All of the food was great! After dinner was the entertainment, and there was a spinning dance man (which wasn’t as good as the guy we saw in Egypt) and of course a belly dancer.
Well that’s all I have time for before I leave…hopefully I can find time later to write about our last few adventures in Dubai. See you in AMERICA!!!!