Some of the green traffic signals in this part of the world — the Northern Arab Emirates — light up in the shape of a heart, and some of the red ones are aglow with smiley faces. That is all I know on earth, and all I probably need to know.
We lived at the Ramada Hotel in the Emirate of Ajman for a month before moving to a beach-side residential community about 30 kilometers north in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The pace in both of these places is sweet and slow, as evidenced by their traffic-light emojis.
We’re only an hour from Dubai, but I couldn’t possibly feel any further away from its glittering skyscrapers.
Here’s a glimpse of what I see on my commute to work at Ajman University: single-humped camels, either walking freely or riding in the back of trucks; sand dunes intermingled with sandy beaches (which are useful for swimming as one sign reads); the Arabian Gulf with tankers in the distance; and, just off the highway in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain, I’m ever-delighted to come upon a deserted Soviet-era aircraft emblazoned with the words “Palma Beach Hotel.”
That out-of-place airplane has a story to tell, but no one can figure out exactly what that story might be. This whole region is rife with the inexplicable and the ineffable. And Bedouin have a history of letting things exist in quiet ambiguity. Bercaws, especially this one, do not.
I’ve landed in a place where some things beg to be deciphered, and others demand to be left to the imagination. A location where many things are felt inside rather than said out loud. How will I ever learn where these lines are drawn in the sand? Maybe I’ll just go with heart-shaped flow.