Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No, I am not paying you 100 dirhams for a 15-minute ride

Unfortunately, that's how my trip to the beach ended. We'll get back to that.

But here's how it began: I put on my brand-new swim trunks--thanks, Mother of the Fiance of the Blog--put track pants over them, and headed out to catch a cab. There was this spot I rode by yesterday evening on my way to dinner that seemed ideal for a photograph as the sun set. And happily, it also happened to be where the Corniche beach was.

A sweltering day turned into a mostly tolerable evening, with nice onshore breezes and a sun descending slowly into a Tony Scott haze near the horizon. Here is a rough approximation of the shot I was trying to get, taken with a cheap cell phone.

A setting sun, a gigantic flagpole and the Abu Dhabi Theater.

The real thing, and I took several at different angles, was taken with my Nikon N65 SLR, and I really, really hope they turn out because the light was magnificent. The island at that point is angled just right so you can watch the sun set (roughly) over the Persian Gulf.

The beach doesn't close until midnight, and as the sun touched the horizon--it actually just disappeared into the haze and diffused into an orange glow--more and more people came out. So I walked west-ish along the Corniche, heading toward the Palace Hotel and a giant portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE. They're really big into royal portraits in this part of the world. And this is what it looked like:

When you found a country, you get a big portrait at a major intersection.

So after watching the sunset and hiking a couple of miles, I was drenched in sweat and ready to head home. Which brings us to the end, which is really the beginning.

I finally found a cab, and he didn't want to turn his meter on. I said Dh10, which is what I paid to get there from my hotel. He seemed insulted. I shrugged and started to walk away. He called back after me. I turned around and said 15. He shook his head: "Not fair price." I kept walking.

The walking, by the way, was somewhat of a bluff. I was not near my hotel. About a 15-minute cab ride, and a good portion of that was on a Lake Shore Drive-style road with a high speed limit. So when he finally accepted Dh20--about $5.75--I hopped in.

As we drove away, he asked me where I was from. I should have said Canada, but I answered honestly, and his response was, "You are from American but no give fair price?" And when I asked what a fair price was, he said Dh85. And that's why you don't take the taxis without meters after dark. Tourists staying at the Hilton can be persuaded to pay $25 for a $6 ride. Sweaty journalists, not so much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you also used that # 77 sunscreen included with the swim trunks!

Mother of Fiance of the Blog