Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Travel Mercies

Before I left, my bible study group promised to pray for me, for safe travel, and for travel mercies.

What are travel mercies? Travel mercies are blessings you don’t even know you need, small interventions that make a big difference. So many times on this trip to Kuwait, I smiled, thinking “I know my friends are praying for me,” I could feel the travel mercies.

The trip down to the Mubarakiyya for dinner – a serious travel mercy. It wasn’t a life or death thing, and I didn’t even dare to bring it up, AdventureMan was so busy. And yet, we got there, we had a wonderful dinner with friends, we got to see the lights of the Seif Palace. Oh Wow, and thank you, Lord, for these blessings, these unexpected mercies.

Our trip home was flawless. Flights on time, and although we were on a flight I don’t usually like, it was fine. Sometimes on this late-night flight you’ll get a blow-hard or two, guys that want to drink and share all their insights and knowledge in a loud voice, long into the flight, when everyone else wants to sleep. Not this time. 🙂 This flight was quiet, even the babies were quiet. Everyone slept. And slept. And slept. Perfect travel mercy.

Schlepping through immigration and customs was about as painless as it can be, given that it is a pain-in-the-neck. More travel mercies, the kind you can fail to even notice – unless these little things go wrong, so terribly wrong.

“Welcome home,” our immigrations guy said cheerfully. We grinned. It is good to be back.

We got into Pensacola with enough time to run out to We Tuck ‘Em Inn to pick up the Qatteri Cat, who let us know how annoyed he was to be left behind. We knew – from experience – that dealing with his annoyance was waaaaayyyy better than dealing with a traumatized cat at the end of those brutal flights. He is in great condition, maybe a little bored, but happy, and his fur is clean. Mercy. Merci.

Home again, home again. Our son and his wife had left AdventureMan’s car at the airport for us, and had left a delicious chile, vegetables and dip, and apples in our refrigerator for us, such a loving welcome home. We were able to drop by and hug the Happy Baby before he shut down for the night. All is well. Infinite mercies.

By the Grace of God, and in his mercy. I thank God for my believer-sisters, whatever their faiths, that keep me wealthy in travel mercies.

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Qatteri Cat, Relationships, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Travel | 3 Comments

The Crazy Ladies Say Goodbye

We were gathered at my place for coffee, so much laughing, so many topics. One friend stands up and I know, to my sorrow, it is time to say goodbye.

“If we go right now,” she says, “We can make it to the fabric souks before they close. Want to go?”

Her question is both a query and a challenge. That’s the kind of women my friends are. They push the limits.

“I can’t . . . ” I begin, thinking of the packing, the details that are still to be done before my departure, “Wait!” I finish, “Let me grab my purse,” and I run to the back to grab my handbag – and money. One more trip to the fabric souks? How could I say no? An opportunity for one more adventure with my friends? LLOOLLLL, bring it on!

I had shown them earlier a piece of fabric I could not resist, even though it was WAY overpriced:

When we first saw it, they wanted 6KD per meter, a price for cotton that would make any serious minded fabric connoisseur gasp. I didn’t buy it, but neither could I get it out of my head. I went back with another fabric-friend a few days later and bought a meter; this time the price was 5KD, and it is still shockingly expensive, but the store won’t come down and I will be leaving shortly. There was another piece, purple, with big Arabic or Persian letters, that I couldn’t get out of my mind. . .

The woman who I saw it with first said “why didn’t you buy it when you were with me? I wanted to buy it, too!”

“I didn’t dare!” I explained. “I knew you would think me foolish to pay that price!”

So off we went, back to the fabric souks, arriving just as many shops were closing. She bought a meter – at 4 KD/meter (oh ouch!) and I bought some embellished cotton for a summer dress, then she hustled me out of the store.

“But I thought we were meeting up with (our other friends) here!?” I resisted.

“I just talked with them! They told me to get the blonde out of the store so they could get a better price,” she explained. “We are going off to buy some thread and will meet up with them.”

I am NOT blonde.

“No, but you are the kind that makes the prices go up, you look European, we call you blonde,” she explained.

I am too amused to be insulted. LLOOLL, I am a blonde. I look too European. I love these ladies, they tell me exactly what they are thinking, and only a fool would take offense. We have such a good time together; I just need to remember to give them my money and let them buy for me.

I remember once, years ago, when I had a Thai friend in Damascus, and I lived in Amman. We would visit back and forth, and once, I gave her $100 and told her to buy me things with it.

“What should I buy?” she asked.

“Oh, some copper pots and pans, maybe some brocade, you’ll know what to buy, you have such a good eye,” I told her.

A month later, a huge carton arrived, HUGE. As I opened it, I pulled out enough beautiful Damascus-made items to start a store, each unique, gorgeous, and how on earth did $100 buy all this?

Same with my friends. They get the really good prices. As hard as I bargain, they have the advantage.

It was late in the day when I returned to the chalet, but oh, what a day, what fun, and what a great way to spend my last hours in Kuwait. 🙂

Thank you, my friends, for all the good times. 🙂

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Shopping | 3 Comments