Whybe a Traveler - The Power of Silence & Stillness (Dubai Day 3)
Have you ever heard silence? It's both loud and soft.
Have you ever felt silence? It's both heavy and light.
In a world where we're encouraged to constantly be doing and moving forward, it's easy to get caught up in all of the excess noise - traffic, cars honking, birds chirping, conversations, music, typing in the office, etc. etc. Most of the time I get uncomfortable when I find myself in a situation where I have to sit still in silence. I think that's why meditation is so hard for me. I don't think I've ever really sat still or in silence long enough to fully get what silence has to offer for me.
At least not until
we ventured out into Day 3 in Fujairah.
After our first two days in Dubai, being thrown into the middle of the fast-paced futuristic city pretty much as soon as we stepped off the plane, we headed back to my mom's base city, Fujairah. She had to go back to work on the 2nd, so we drove with her on the one-hour commute north along the coast, dropped her off, and headed out to explore the city.
One of the first things I had to get used to in the UAE is the driving. I thought Houston traffic was bad, and it definitely can be at times, but there's at least some sort of organization to it. It took me a few days to be able to breathe while in the car in the UAE. Think; cars driving in two lanes at once, going 100 mph, sometimes in the feeder lanes, never using turn signals, while drivers use their cell phones. I'm surprised we only managed to see one wreck our whole trip.
1st stop on Day 3
January 2, 2018: Le Meridien, Al Aqah Beach Resort
After dropping my mom off at her school, we went to the hotel resort, Le Meridien, to have brunch. The thing to note about the UAE is that even if people look like they're American, they're most likely not, and more often than not, they don't speak English -- and if they do, it's broken and very limited. There's really no way to prepare for this language barrier either because everyone speaks different languages (Arabic, Punjabi, Russian, Persian, Polish, just to name a few). And this brunch is not like you think of in America - no mimosas, and the "omelette plate" comes with eggs the size of your palm and one roasted tomato. Regardless, it was yummy, we managed to pay appropriately in our durhams, and got to enjoy the beach after we ate.
From beach to rocky mountains:
silence in the Wadi
Wadi is the Arabic and Hebrew term traditionally referring to a valley. After leaving the resort, we headed to Wadi Wurayah. We took our rental Ford Explorer up and down the steep rocky (literally, rocks everywhere) mountains, and parked ourselves out, in what felt like, the middle of absolutely nowhere.
Stepping out of the car, the silence was deafening. There was hardly any wind. No birds were chirping, no insects were crawling around, and there weren't even any green plants. Time became irrelevant (except we had to go pick up my mom at some point, oops!), and I really had a chance to STOP -- stop moving, stop doing anything, which allowed me to feel everything. We walked on the rocks just to walk on the rocks. We took pictures just to have fun. We stop dropped and did some yoga, just to do it.
The silence made my other senses even more powerful. I saw the landscape from eyes that wouldn't have seen such detail if I was looking at the same landscape in a noisy city. My skin felt the sun beating down on it in a way it wouldn't have back home. My nose smelled richer smells. My ears heard my heart beating in happiness. Without distractions, I was truly present.
I will always remember this day as I sit in traffic, sit on a noisy flight, or start to feel overwhelmed at work. I know that absolute and complete silence may not always be accessible like it was this day, but intentional presence is under my power. Putting my attention on how things feel, rather than on 'what can I do next?' will require some work, but it will be worth it because it will bring me back to what's real. What's real is what's in the present moment, and that's accessible when I take a step back, slow down, and allow distractions to fade away. No longer will I fear silence -- because that's when I get to really hear and feel what matters.
Day 3 dinner:
Al Meshwar: Shisha and Lebanese food
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, with dinner at a nearby restaurant called Al Meshwar. We sat outside so my dad could watch soccer, while we smoked a giant hookah and ate Lebanese food.
Baba Ghanouge (cooked eggplant mixed with tahini, olive oil, and other seasonings; similar to hummus) with pomegranate seeds
Hummus with pita (pretty much had this with every meal and I'm not mad about it!)
Greek salad (with thick creamy chunks of feta)
Mixed Seafood Platter including one whole Grouper, one whole Mackerel, one whole white-fish-that-looked-like-Tilapia, lobster tail, shrimp, and french fries
Al Meshwar Mixed Grill including lamb and a bunch of other meat I couldn't identify because I don't eat meat!