We pay a modest fee and gain access to the mosque where two women in floor-length black gowns go over the tennants of Islam. I'm struck by the contrast of the place: compared to the white heat outside, the place is cool and comfortable. We sink onto the carpet as our guide talks. I tune her out and remark the intricate calligraphy circling the inside of the dome. More contrast: plain walls dotted with elaborate windows surrounded by complex carvings and paintings. There is a ferocity in the Islamic aesthetic. The patterns take on the shapes of thorny bushes or flames. But there's also so much practicality built in to the mosque: like the small low windows to let the cool air in and the high windows around the dome to let the hot air out.
We rise and I take a family's picture for them. They're Americans I discover. Moreover, they're Texans! We chat for a while and me and the father wax Islam. He's an opthomologist that travels the world helping to raise money for and awareness of the need for medicine in developing areas. He's on vacation here but headed to Egypt. He indulges a couple of gringos intent on biking India and is one of the few who we've told that seems niether unimpressed or shocked. He instead comes across as ... sympathetic?
From the mosque, we grab a quick bite at a restaurant nearby. The place is imaculate and serves a version of local quisine that is clearly adjusted to the western palate. It's good, very good in fact, but the atmosphere and the Aussies & Brita chatting loudly around us hasten my leaving. We're off again shortly - this time to the Dubai Museum.
The place is a pretty typical museum complete with dioramas, video and explanatory plackards. What's interesting about the place is 1) it's built in one of the old forts that used to protect the bay and 2) it's focused entirely on the history of Dubai. The people, traditions, flora, and personal history of the place is laid out. It's amazing to chart the city's growth even over the last fifty years. I won't try to do it justice here, but the city went from tens of thousands to millions in under fifty years. The changes have, accordingly, been extraordinary.
We hop a boat over to the other side of the creek with the intent of seeing one of the souks (markets). It was closed so we grabbed a mango smoothie and headed back. After a quick nap (that sun'll kill you) and a tea, we're heading out for dinner, shopping and a hookah.