It’s supposed to be Money Monday. And I’ll find a way to make this work: I’ll talk about the price of admission for this nifty event we attended today.
Anyway, on the the subject. Today’s recreational event: go to Dubai. To do this, we have to find our way past at least two closed roads to SkyDive Dubai, within sight of the Palm Jumeirah, which is hosting the Mondial 2012 world parachuting championships. Our agenda is simple enough: watch skydivers from all over the world compete. What we end up doing instead is watching them practice their formations on the ground and pack their chutes. While this is kind of interesting, there isn’t anyone actually coming down in parachutes. So we hang out and talk for a while, and basically do a bit of baking in the sun. ‘Cause it’s still pretty hot. Shorts weather, easily. And finally, after what seems like forever, we almost leave when there’s still no parachutists descending. Our friends, Frank and Melissa, who have their baby in tow, are getting restless, and so are we. “Let’s wait five minutes,” I say, hoping, but quite doubtfully, that we might yet get to see some action. And then, as we are on the verge of leaving, to our delight, the distance championship event begins.
Here’s what it’s like: you’re standing in the sun, a tad too warm, the sun blazing right at the point that the plane has just dropped sky divers from. That makes it hard to see them, because you’re squinting and covering your eyes. But you can see them, nonetheless, even though you’ve scrunched your face up like a kid who just sampled his first lemon. And you watch as they gently float along the air currents, turning now and then. Then one of them, a bit lower than the others, kicks up his feet and tugs on the lines, and he leans forward, the leading edge of the parachute tilting, and he picks up speed like mad. You hear the speed, the sizzling of air cut by the parachutist and his canopy, and then he’s skimming the pool in front of you, before he pulls up at the end of it to try to gain some height and fly the greatest distance possible before he touches the ground.
Now, in between all of this boredom and drama, we decide it’s high time to grab some lunch. There’s a camel tethered near the gate, on display for tourists like us (and like the Asian skydivers who were posing and photographing each other next to it when we arrived). It’s keeper, an old Emirati guy wearing a tan kandora, spies the beast spread his legs a little and start urinating. What’s the old fellow do? He goes over and sticks his hand under the stream, cups it, and lifts it to his face. “What’s he doing?” Asks Melissa. “Is he smelling it?” says Frank. “I don’t know,” I say, but I have my suspicions. We can see more clearly the next time he does it. Yup. He’s drinking the urine. It is like a horrific car accident–you can’t take your eyes off it, it’s so terrible. Sadly, or fortunately, in Jenia’s opinion, we are too far away to capture this singular act on film. Anyway, the women making repelled faces and Frank and I wearing rather more intrigued ones, we we make our way to the dining hall. And when we get there, we end up, quite by accident, with front row seats for a stunt show by a young Polish motorcyclist named Rafal who goes by the moniker Stunter13.
Now, allow me a switch to the past tense as I finish up.
There were also BMX stunt riders and a motocross team on hand doing hourly shows. At one point there was a standing invitation to go take a leap from a tower into a huge airbag below. Would’ve done it, but by that time we were all ready to go.
Oh, I forgot to mention the part about money. Want to guess the asking price? All of this was entirely free.
Tired of baking in the sun, regardless of the nifty stuff going on, we moved on to the huge Mall of the Emirates to eat a real meal (because there wasn’t much available at the Mondial) and enjoy some air conditioning. Thank goodness for technology, and particularly for navigation systems, because Dubai’s roads are nothing if not confusing, and several were closed so we had to take more circuitous routes.
For some video of the parachutists and the motorcycles stunt show, click here: (I shot it myself, using that dandy iPhone of mine).