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Is This Your First Time Here?

November 3, 2008

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  <span class="field-credit">
    &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.flickr.com/photos/70268842@N00/2063778704/&quot;&gt;colleen_taugher (flickr)&lt;/a&gt;  </span>
    Dubai International Airport. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/70268842@N00/2063778704/">colleen_taugher (flickr)</a>

It didn't take long for the airport officials in Dubai to peg me as a newbie when it comes to international travel, about 10 seconds to be exact.

The young man at the Passport Control desk looked over my crisp new passport and then asked, "Is this your first time here?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Do you have visa?"

"Um, no."

"You need visa," he said, purposefully avoiding my confused expression. "It used to be, you didn't need visa, but now you do."

"Okay," I said, looking around in a slight panic for Miguel, who had skipped past the same desk in 45 seconds. "So, what do I do?"

"Okay, you go back through there and find a bank to pay for visa. I'm thinking it is $2,000."

Wait a second...

I held his gaze for a minute and then saw the faint smile flicker across his face, quickly growing wider.

"I had you," he said, stamping my passport. "Joking."

Off to a good start, I'd say.