I set my alarm extra early this morning so that I could sit with my feet dangling in my own private pool while I read the New Yorker. It was totally worth it. Our performance at the University was pretty close to the hotel so we were totally relaxed about leaving and didn't actually check out because we knew we could come back. Our performance and talk was again a men's-only affair and once the students were reminded of the rules (no cell phones, no talking) they were just as good of an audience as any of the others so far. Many of the students were quite anxious afterwards to have their pictures taken with us, which admittedly does help boost the ego a little bit.
The school also graciously provided a really beautiful lunch during which we got a chance to speak to two of the students. One had absolutely perfect American English (quote: "Good times") and spoke to us about pop music in general (Q: Is there Emerati rap? A: Yes, but I don't condone such things) and explained the Emerati higher education system. His friend advised me to stick to English when I tried to say "thank you" in Arabic, a request that I'm happy to oblige but really, what's more culturally sensitive?
Following check out Susan and I raced down to the beach in a golf cart just so that I could say I dipped my feet in the gulf. The warm water and soft sand made me wish we could stay for another week but of course thats not why we're here. I felt a twinge of guilt when I saw the van already loaded and waiting for us but everyone was good natured and we set about our trip to the "empty zone." Empty indeed - several hours of desert as far as the eye can see. The sand shifted from an orangey color to almost white and then something in between the two with irrigated palm trees lining the road.
The Empty Zone is the part of the country in which racing camels is a really, really big deal. A good camel can go for upwards of a million dollars US. For this reason, they call the street where the camels are raised and housed "Million Street" and we passed it on the way to our new hotel (we also passed a helicopter pad.) Suddenly we saw them not too far away and clamored to get out of the van - camels! The sleekest most beautiful camels I've ever seen (and who would think to ever call a camel beautiful?) The closer the camels came, the more pictures we took - to the point that their riders started taking pictures of us!
Our new hotel, Tilal Liwa is literally situated in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by sand dunes. It's like being at the beach without any water. Tomorrow we do our final performance of the tour, this time for women.