Saturday, August 13, 2011

...being taken for a ride

We've been here just over a week now, and are starting to feel confident in getting to where we want to go. There's a free shuttle that will take us to IKEA, where we can catch another free shuttle to Marina Mall. We found a grocery store just minutes away, and we know how to get to another small mall close by. We know that it costs about 20 dirhams (about $5 US) for a one-way trip.

Yesterday, Kristina and I headed out to Al Raha Mall. I didn't think much would be open except the Lu Lu's department/grocery store, but getting out for a bit sounded like a good idea. We got there just fine, wandered around and made our purchases (I found a lovely blue top for $49 Dirhams), bought some groceries (I really didn't need much, but it all looks so interesting), then headed outside to catch a cab back.

We got into the first taxi in line, and told him our destination. "Yas Hotel?" he asked. "Hmmm..." He fiddled with his GPS, then took off. I was sitting behind him and hadn't seen Yas anything come up on the screen, so asked him if he knew where it was. He said he had only had the GPS for six days, so wasn't used to it, but "No problem, I'll find your hotel." We traveled for a bit, then I told Kristina that it wasn't looking right. We should have been heading in the opposite direction, on a main highway. I kept looking for signs that said "Yas Island," but all I saw was "Abu Dhabi" and "Dubai." I finally spoke up and told him that we were going the wrong way, and offered the number of the hotel so he could call and get directions. He said he could find it. He took an exit and got us turned around--going in the right direction--but we were on a side road in a bunch of construction. The meter was ticking along, and we weren't anywhere near the hotel. Quiet, reserved Kristina showed me a side of her I hadn't seen yet. She spoke sternly to the driver and told him that she would be reporting him. She told him we would pay him 20 dirhams, and no more.

We finally made it back, and paid him the 20, even though the meter said the fare was well over 40. It was uncomfortable--I wanted to believe that it truly was an error, and he wasn't just taking us for a ride.

1 comment:

Leslie Morgan said...

Ugly Americans want to be pleasant, but not marked. We once went to the khan or souq (bazaar) in Cairo we'd been told would certainly have the kind of items we were looking for. We were targets, I am sure, as we arrived in Shahira's (my mother's best friend in all the world) Mercedes - she lives in a way that perhaps only 2% of Egyptians can manage, and she flaunts it. It was not unusual conspicuous consumption by our standards, so we were rather blase about it. We walked around in the clothes and shoes we normally sport, our entitled selves. We weren't finding any bargains. Well, duh. We were marked. "American$"! Shahira came along and observed some of the negotiations. Her face darkened. This is when I learned the Arabic word for "no". She lit into a few shopkeepers shrieking "la, la, la, la" ("no,no, no, no"). Our bargains miraculously appeared. This day reminded me in some places I'm not special for anything (like American) except that I'm a clear mark. And I learned that - mostly - in the middle east when you call someone on something, they usually remedy it.

WV-detiled. I'm loving your detiled reports from the front!