The adventure to the 21st CITES/IUCN Crocodile Specialist’s Groups began leaving LAX (with talking out a policeman of giving my brother a possible ticket), then flying into Fort Worth for the night to spend some time with family.  The following day I was to fly from Fort Worth to Houston.  When I bought the ticket on the internet, I made sure I was leaving DFW as my dad and step-mom were leaving the same day to head off to Paris and Ireland for their wedding anniversary.  I even had my dad double check my ticket was flying out of DFW before buying the ticket weeks ago.  All went accordingly to plan- I was dropped off at my terminal, I went to Self Check-in and did the usual- but I wasn’t coming up into the system!!!  I was freaking out!  Then I double checked the updated version of my ticket via the internet… my flight was changed to the other airport!!!!  

Holy crap I felt like a dumbass.  As I started to sweat, I over heard the girl next to me- same thing happened to her.  We ran outside together and got a taxi to DAL- all was good.  Got on our flight to Houston, and then I met up with my friend, collaborator, and travel buddy Dr. Mark Merchant.  In tradition of traveling with him, we hit up the airport bar for a drink, and after Mark wowing the bar staff taking three shots of Tabasco sauce (yes Tabasco sauce!) we were off to the Philippines via a stop in Dubai.

My first interaction with a local in Dubai was security – as Mark and I were heading out of customs, I was asked to step aside and open my bag.  They went through every part of my bag and page in my books- they even checked the lint in my shorts.  I guess with my temporary dreads I was stereotyped.  Security was just doing her job, and I of course wasn’t worried and just started talking to the officer.  After telling her what I did for a living and where I was going, she gave me a look of “you have to be kidding me!”  She then asked me why one of my books smelled- it was one of my data books.  So once I told her it was a book that had been near gators and the swamp, she then quickly put all my stuff back in and let me go.  I guess it grossed her out 😀

Dubai was absolutely gorgeous!  Our 9 hour layover was during the night, so we couldn’t’ take in Dubai in all its glory, but what we did take in was absolutely amazing.  I could only imagine the city is an architects’ eden- unique and beautiful.  Everyone was so nice and friendly, and the city was spotless of any trash and graffiti.  We went to the main beach resort area for local food and drink (which was absolutely delish!) and it was so interesting to see the mix of modern Western/local culture intertwining.  As we are walking along the main strip, I could hear music in the distance- some mini dance party in the middle of the street.  It was club music with a mix of middle eastern singing- I was loving it!  But then laughter soon came over me.  As we got closer to the music, a song that has been following me the last couple of months came on… “ai se te pego” by Michel Telo came on.  I have been hearing that song in the most random places, and of all places Dubai????  Apparently the universe is telling me something- and considering I really fell in love with that song while at Carnival in Bahia, I think the universe is telling me I must go to Carnival again next year.

So goodbye Dubai, you were amazing for the short time we had together, and I can’t wait to spend more time with you in the future.  

So after 30+ hours of traveling, and curtailing getting a shot of a kids’ vomit who was puking almost the whole flight from Dubai to Manila, I am relaxing at the hotel before the morning wake-up call to attend the CSG Steering Committee’s Meeting.  I’m looking forward to this night’s hibernation.