Dubai. Findings. Days. A Secret Door.

First giving all honor and glory to whoever and whatever caused the glitch in the system that allow me and 7 friends purchase $187 roundtrip tickets to Abu Dhabi. Second, to the other black folk on the flight from JFK with us who simply responded with “the nod” when I looked in their direction. Instant connection.

It took just a few seconds to find a great chill space on the plane to congregate and talk about how we found out about the glitch, what we planned to do in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and exchange Instagram and Whatsapp information. Eventually it started looking like a potential revolt, so the flight attendant, Ahmed, came back to break us up.

And here I am, sitting on the bed at the Holiday Inn in Dubai to write something short. So here goes:

Day One: Landed at 10am, but because the rental was booked for 2:45pm, they wouldn’t give it to us until 2:45, so we sat in the airport, walking around, smiling at the other black folk. When we got the car, we made our way around Abu Dhabi, hitting the malls, collecting the stares from the locals, warning them about the coming exodus of black folk (roughly Memorial day-ish). Once our last Day One group member arrived, we made way to Dubai, hit the hotel, showered, hit the streets, shisha, then back to the room to crash. Happy birthday me.

Day Two: I took the group to a local fish market where I met a man named Ahmed. Ahmed was the point man I needed to get to a secret door in the middle of a hallway half a mile away. Three knocks on the door, and we’re in a world of Gucci, Louboutins, Hublots, Versace, and Ray Bans. I’m no shopper, but I am a negotiator. For lunch we had lamb testicles and water at Xiao Wei Yang, and played on the boardwalk before picking up the remainder of our group from Abu Dhabi airport. Dinner at a sports bar with subpar shepherd’s pie and martinis.

Day Three: Did someone say Food? Dubai Food Festival in full effect. Camel Burgers with Cheese on the beach, a few rounds of table tennis, and randomly running into my brother from the states who I had no idea was in Dubai. Stranger things have happened. Washed down the food with an amazing lemonade and headed to Dubai’s Global Village to see fare from all over the world, ride the ferris wheel, take amazing photos, and save a lost child (will write about him when I get more time).

Today is Day Four. The activities haven’t started. Stand by.

What I’ve found on this trip.

1. I despise how my energy feeds off the energy of others. It’s like a Remora fish. It’s most noticeable when traveling in a group. While we’re having a blast, there are moments when my energy drops because someone in the group decides to be negative about something. Traveling in a group is when you find the type of attitudes, behaviors, perceptions, etc. you will not travel with again. Especially with travel, for me, being freedom. When folks are encroaching on your freedoms, they should be killed (for lack of better word). They can still be invited over for dinner, but in LA, not Thailand or anywhere else that requires a check-in.

2. All my assumptions about the UAE were correct. Beautiful buildings, rich people, gaudy things, and edible foods. Great to visit once, but nothing to bring me back, except another cheap ticket. I imagine the women I met in Morocco who said “never go to a place twice” decided on that philosophy here in Dubai.

More To Come.

Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.