Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Jaco’s on the Pensacola Waterfront

“Where do you want to go for lunch?” asks AdventureMan.

Sometimes I tell him “you choose!” but not today. “Jaco’s” I reply.

“Where is Jaco’s?” he asks, and I tell him it is down by the Pensacola pier. I have seen it, I have wondered about it, and every now and then I hear it mentioned in passing by some friend or another. I want to give it a try.

The minute we walk in, we love it.

First, there is this great place to sit outside, and if it is a little cool, they have these heaters, like they use in Kuwait and Qatar in cool weather, so people can still sit outside. Outside is beautiful, because you are right on the Marina, right on the water.

We got there just in time. Following us, the teeming hoards decended, and we were glad we had ordered and been served while it was still relatively quiet. Jaco’s has definitely been discovered.

The food is great. What? You thought we only ate barbecue? No, we love barbecue, and we seek it out mostly because for lo, these many years, we have been seriously barbecue deprived, it’s not so common in the Arabian Gulf countries to find good ol’ American barbecue.

Nor is it common to find food this good, this well prepared, in Pensacola. Everything we ordered, we loved.

We started with the spinach soup:

And then I had Antipasto platter, and AdventureMan had a ‘flatbread pizza’, which we found is a whole lot like an Alsatian ‘flammekeuchen.’ Oh Yummmmmmm.

I forgot to take photos of dessert – I had a berry dessert and AdventureMan had a cobbler, again, both yummmmmm.

We love this place. We plan to go there frequently.

We had been recently to another restaurant I will not be reviewing. It thinks a lot of itself. They start you off with ‘the water service.’ I had the ‘most adventuresome’ meal on the menu, the terrine, and it wasn’t all that great. It was just OK. Others at my table had similar experiences, except for the one who ordered the common hamburger, who said it was a really, really good hamburger. It means well; the first time I ate there I had a delicious risotto, but the dessert was only so-so, not worth the hyped up description. We won’t go back.

We will be going back to Jaco’s. Jaco’s is fun, unpretentious, with great, fresh tasty food, a view to die for, good service and a lot of happy patrons.

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | Leave a comment

AdventureMan’s New Talents

This has been a great month for AdventureMan.

He knew what he wanted. He thought about it, planned it, sought out resources. He now has three photo shelves in his office, where he can display a changing round of photographs. He bought the lumber, tacked on the trim and mounted them on the wall, all by himself.

All these years he has worked so hard – he has never had the time for a fun project like this, and he just sits there and grins that something he was able to do himself can give him so much satisfaction and happiness. Retired, maybe, but still learning new skills, scaling new mountains.

Last night, he baked his first pork tenderloin, and then roasted up some asparagus with an olive vinaigrette sauce. Oh, yummmmm. Still growing, still developing new skills, it is so much fun.

Today, he is going out to explore what kind of kayak he wants to buy. 🙂

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, ExPat Life, Experiment, Family Issues, Food, Home Improvements, Living Conditions, Pensacola | Leave a comment

You Can’t Take it With You

I awoke this morning from the most horrible dream, and it’s a dream I have had often, but this time, there is no reason. I am packing boxes. I have a deadline. I have a lot to pack, I am feeling very anxious, and I keep getting distracted from my packing. Soon I will have to go, and I haven’t accomplished what I meant to accomplish.

This dream is a very common dream for someone who has moved 31 times in her life, who had packed boxes and suitcases and never missed a deadline. Never once have I left a box with someone else to mail for me. I’ve had these anxiety dreams so many times, but never when I am not facing a move.

So I felt depressed, and I felt anxious this morning, wondering what my dream means. Does it mean that I am thinking about my mortality, and distracted by my attachment to things? Does it mean that I need to be clearing up and organizing my life so I can depart? Or is it just a remnant anxiety, like those leftover dreams about having to take a college exam you haven’t prepared for?

For me, the cure for depression, anxiety and morbidity is action. We hit the water aerobics class this morning and she worked us so hard we both fell asleep this afternoon. I got some tomatoes (not the Black Krim, which I have not yet found) and basil potted, and some weeding done. Depression gone. Anxiety gone. Inklings drift across my consciousness, but I sweep them away like cobwebs.

March 21, 2011 Posted by | Aging, Cultural, Exercise, ExPat Life, Gardens, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 7 Comments

In Search of the Seminole Pumpkin and the Black Krim

The big box stores are full of plants, some of which will grow in Florida, and some of which are nothing but heartache. They SAY these plants are all zone specific to our area – it’s a big fat lie. Many of the plants they sell will last a short while, but were never meant to grow here.

I planted a lot of seeds last year, and got tomato plants of many varieties, but only one actually produced fruit, a golden drop tomato. I bought plants, and one plant, bought from a local gardener at an annual gardener’s fest, produced copiously – the Black Krim. We tried growing crook neck squash and zuccini, but one day our plants looked healthy and fabulous, and the next, they would be withered and broken, eaten from the inside by some boring insect. Literally boring, not figuratively speaking.

At a meeting this week (which I am so glad I attended) the director of the local Manna Food Pantry program was telling us about the Manna community gardens, and he mentioned a squash that will grow, the Seminole squash or pumpkin.

I’ve spent two days touring nurseries and open markets to see if I can fine one. One nursery had heard of it but said you usually see it later in the season, you plant it like in July so that you will have first fruits in September.

The rules for gardening are so different in Florida. I am learning, but it is all counter intuitive, except that in Kuwait gardening was similar – people yearned for October, when you could set out plantings and hope they would not be destroyed by the heat.

Bougainvillea is an exception. You would think it would grow beautifully in this heat and humidity, but I am told that the cool winters kill it off. It doesn’t really get that cold for that long, but it seems it is cold enough and long enough to kill bougainvillea, which breaks my heart. I love the flamboyant lushness of bougainvillea.

Meanwhile, we will be planting other zone-hardy plants, and we will see what works. If you see a Seminole Pumpkin / Squash plant for sale, let me know, will you?

Tonight the full moon will be closer to the earth than at any other time for many years to come. AdventureMan and I are heading out with a little picnic to watch the moon rise from a tiny park we know. 🙂

March 19, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Experiment, Florida, Gardens, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Shopping, Weather | 4 Comments

You Must Not Be From Around Here

When I got back to Kuwait, I had to regain my driving courage all over again. I remember growing up, when we would go to fairs and carnivals, where I loved to ride the bumper cars. We were all aggressive; we wanted to win. It never occurred to me that there would be countries where people would drive real cars that way. Touch wood, I never had an accident in Kuwait, and I learned how to drive aggressively but somehow stayed safe.

Driving in Pensacola is a piece of cake – most of the time. Suddenly, we have some TRAFFIC. There are cars on the road from all over, never fewer than two or three in every car, usually dressed in beach gear, and full of high spirits. It is Spring Break. People are flocking to the gorgeous white beaches of Pensacola, spilling out of the lively beach restaurants, and even some of the restaurants in downtown Pensacola. College students, families (local schools are also on spring break) and the snow birds are filling our roads, not entirely sure where they are going.

In one of our favorite nearby restaurants, we saw some college age kids come in, and then another group, all greeted familiarly by the owners, and then their tables were joined so they could all sit together – locals, back home from university for Spring Break.

It’s a sweet time of the year. The weather is in the high 70’s, cooling down at night. We have the a/c off, we keep it off as long as we can.

March 19, 2011 Posted by | Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Travel | Leave a comment

US Embassy Kuwait Warden Message re Bahrain Embassy in Surra


Kuwait City, Kuwait
March 17, 2011

To: All American Wardens

From: Consular Section

Subject: Warden Notice 2011 – 8

Please circulate the following message without additions or omissions
immediately to all U.S. citizens within your area of responsibility.

According to the Kuwait Ministry of the Interior, public gatherings may take
place starting March 17 and continuing throughout the Kuwaiti weekend (Friday
and Saturday), at the Bahraini Embassy in Surra – Block 5, Surra Street 1, House
2. The Regional Security Office reminds all personnel and family members to
remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, avoid large crowds and practice
personal security awareness.

Spontaneous and/or planned demonstrations take place in Kuwait from time to time
in response to world events or local developments. We remind U.S. citizens
that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and
possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid the
areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the
vicinity of any demonstrations. U.S. citizens should review their personal
plans, stay current with media coverage of local events, and be aware of their
surroundings at all times.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
Internet website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel
Alerts, as well as the Country Specific Information for Kuwait can be found.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside
the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These
numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through
Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

If you are a U.S. citizen in need of emergency assistance in Kuwait, you may
reach the U.S. Embassy by calling +965-2259-1001 and requesting the duty
officer.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Kuwait are encouraged to enroll in the
Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that they can obtain
updated information on travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet
access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By
enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact
them in case of emergency. For additional information, please refer to “A Safe
Trip Abroad”.

This message may be accessed on the Embassy website, http://kuwait.usembassy.gov

Please note that the Consular Section is closed for U.S. and most local
holidays. The current holiday schedule for 2011 is posted on
http://kuwait.usembassy.gov/holidays.html.

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Kuwait, Law and Order | Leave a comment

Red Laser

I waited and waited for the Verizon iPhone to come out, and while I waited, I met an app I loved. When we were out buying for the Salvation Army Angel program, one of my friends would read the bar code on a product and instantly, it would show where the product was also available (and how far, in miles) and would also show mail-order prices online. So if we found a bike, it would tell us where it was cheaper, and by how much. Oh! I wanted that app.

So when I got my new phone, it was one of the first apps I downloaded (after amazon.com) and it was FREE!

It is so much fun. You press the Red Laser icon, the program opens. To scan a barcode, you press the lightning bolt at the bottom of the screen, get the bar code within the block shown on your screen, and it does all the rest, seconds later you have all your comparison costs.

Wow. It is a frugal shopper’s delight.

So if you have favorite things, and you are running low, you can scan them in your own home and your phone will tell you where the best prices are. I love this app.

What I can’t figure out is how do they make money on this when they give it to you for free?

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Financial Issues, Shopping, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

Irish Jokes for St. Patrick’s Day

IRISH HUMOR

Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting
and couldn’t find a parking place. Looking up to heaven he said, ‘Lord take pity
on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the
rest of me life and give up me Irish Whiskey!’

Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

Paddy looked up again and said, ‘Never mind, I found one.’

++++++

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and asks the first man he meets, ‘Do
you want to go to heaven?’

The man said, ‘I do, Father.’

The priest said, ‘Then stand over there against the wall.’

Then the priest asked the second man, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’ ‘Certainly,
Father,’ the man replied.

‘Then stand over there against the wall,’ said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O’Toole and asked, ‘Do you want to go to
heaven?’

O’Toole said, ‘No, I don’t Father.’

The priest said, ‘I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die
you don’t want to go to heaven?’

O’Toole said, ‘Oh, when I die , yes. I thought you were getting a group together
to go right now.’

++++++

Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the
obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend, Finney.

‘Did you see the paper?’ asked Gallagher. ‘They say I died!!’

Yes, I saw it!’ replied Finney. ‘Where are ye callin’ from?’

+++++++

An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in
Connecticut . The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest’s breath and then
sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car.

He says, ‘Sir, have you been drinking?’

‘Just water,’ says the priest.

The trooper says, ‘Then why do I smell wine?’

The priest looks at the bottle and says, ‘Good Lord! He’s done it again!’

+++++++++

Patton staggered home very late after another evening with his drinking buddy,
Paddy. He took off his shoes to avoid waking his wife, Kathleen.

He tiptoed as quietly as he could toward the stairs leading to their upstairs
bedroom, but misjudged the bottom step. As he caught himself by grabbing the
banister, his body swung around and he landed heavily on his rump. A whiskey
bottle in each back pocket broke and made the landing especially painful.

Managing not to yell, Patton sprung up, pulled down his pants, and looked in the
hall mirror to see that his butt cheeks were cut and bleeding. He managed to
quietly find a full box of Band-Aids and began putting a Band-Aid as best he
could on each place he saw blood.

He then hid the now almost empty Band-Aid box and shuffled and stumbled his way
to bed.

In the morning, Patton woke up with searing pain in both his head and butt and
Kathleen staring at him from across the room.

She said, ‘You were drunk again last night weren’t you?’

Patton said, ‘Why you say such a mean thing?’

‘Well,’ Kathleen said, ‘it could be the open front door, it could be the broken
glass at the bottom of the stairs, it could be the drops of blood trailing
through the house, it could be your bloodshot eyes, but mostly ……. it’s all
those Band-Aids stuck on the hall mirror.

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Cultural, Humor, Ireland | 6 Comments

Beirut Knows How to Have Fun

I’m sure most of you have seen this, but it just rocks my heart! Beirut Airport duty free! Rafic Hariri International Airport! They are having so much fun! I would love to see this on the catwalk in the Kuwait airport or Qatar airport, LOL, I am guessing in the Gulf it would have to be just men, but some of these Lebanese girls are amazing dancers!

All this dancing is so good for your health! Look, there isn’t a fat person on the floor! They have all danced themselves skinny!

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Events, Exercise, ExPat Life, Experiment, Health Issues, Living Conditions | 1 Comment

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Someone in my book club in Qatar mentioned this book, Cutting for Stone, a while back, and I bought it, but it has sat for months on my to-read shelf (LOL, there are actually several, but one with the most important books, and another with the ‘guilty pleasures,’ the ones I am addicted to and save as a reward for good behavior, like vacuuming.)

When a good friend said she was reading it, and that it was good, I decided to move it up in priority, sort of like taking medicine, read a book that is good for you.

Oh WOW.

First, it is a great, absorbing story. Twin boys are born, totally unexpected, to an Indian Catholic nun and an English surgeon, working in Addis Ababa. How they were conceived is a mystery. The mother dies in childbirth, the father flees in horror, the children are born conjoined at the head and must be separated. The boys are adopted by an Indian couple, doctors at the hospital, and are raised with love and happiness.

That’s just the beginning!

I’ve always wanted to go to Ethiopia and Eritrea. I want to visit Lalibela, and some of the oldest Christian churches in the world. When my father was sick, he had a home health aid from Ethiopia, Esaiahs, who told me about the customs in his church, and how Ethiopian Christianity is very close to Judaism, with men and women separated in the church, and eating pork forbidden.

Reading this book, I felt like I had lived there, and I want to go back. The author captures the feelings, the smells, the visuals, the sounds, and if I awoke in a bungalow at the MIssing (Mission) Hospital, I would say “Ah yes! I remember this!”

I kept marking sections of this book that I loved. Here is one:

They parked at Ghosh’s bungalow and walked to the rear or Missing, where the bottlebrush was so laden with flowers that it looked as if it had caught fire. The property edge was marked by the acacias, their flat tops forming a jagged line against the sky. Missing’s far west corner was a promontory looking over a vast valley. That acreage as far as the eye could see belonged to a ras – a duke – who was relative of His Majesty, Haile Selassie.

A brook, hidden by boulders, burbled; sheep grazed under the eye of a boy who sat polishing his teeth with a twig, his staff near by. He squinted at Matron and Ghosh and then waved. Just like in the days of David, he carried a slingshot. It was a goatherd like him, centuries before, who had noticed how frisky his animals became after chewing a particuar red berry. From that serendipitous discovery, the coffee habit and trade spread to Yemen, Amsterdam, the Caribbean, South America, and the world, but it had all begun in Ethiopia, in a field like this.

We live inside the hearts and minds of doctors, some practicing under the worst possible conditions, and learn how they make their decisions and why. Verghese is a compassionate author; while his characters may be flawed, they are forgivable and forgiven.

Another section I loved, the man speaking is Ghosh, the man who adopted the twins with Hema, another doctor:

“My genius was to know long ago that money alone wouldn’t make me happy. Or maybe that’s my excuse for not leaving you a huge fortune! I certainly could have made more money if that had been my goal. But one thing I won’t have is regrets. My VIP patients often regret so many things on their deathbeds. They regret the bitterness they’ll leave in people’s hearts. They realize that no money, no church service, no eulogy, no funeral procession no matter how elaborate, can remove the legacy of a mean spirit.”

Things in Ethiopia get sticky, politically, and one of the twins is forced to flee, implicated in an airplane hijacking only because he was raised with a young woman involved. He is spirited into Eritrea, where he awaits his ride out to Kenya, and he helps the Eritrean rebels when large numbers of wounded are brought into his area. When the time comes to leave, his thoughts will strike a chord in anyone who has ever been an expat:

Two days later I took leave of Solomon. There were dark rings under his eyes and he looked ready to fall over. There was no questioning his purpose or dedication. Solomon said “Go and good luck to you. This isn’t your fight. I’d go if I were in your shoes. Tell the world about us.”

This isn’t your fight. I thought about that as I trekked to the border with two escorts. What did Solomon mean? Did he see me as being on the Ethiopian side, on the side of the occupiers? No, I think he saw me as an expatriate, someone without a stake in this war. Despite being born in the same compound as Genet, despite speaking Amharic like a native, and going to medical school with him, to Solomon I was a ferengi – a foreigner. Perhaps he was right, even though I was loath to admit it. If I were a patriotic Ethiopian, would I not have gone underground and joined the royalists, or others who were trying to topple Sergeant Mengistu? If I cared about my country, shouldn’t I have been willing to die for it?

The book has a lot of observations about coming to America; some of which made me laugh, some which made me groan. Coming back is always a shock to people who have lived abroad for a time, but it is a huge shock to those coming for the first time:

The black suited drivers led their passengers to sleek black cars, but myman led me to a big yellow taxi. In no time we were driving out of Kennedy Airport, heading to the Bronx. We merged at what I thought was a dangerous speed onto a freeway and into the slipstream of racing vehicles. “Marion, jet travel has damaged your eardrums,” I said to myself, because the silence was unreal. In Africa, cars ran not on petrol but on the squawk and blare of their horns. Not so here; the cars were near silent, like a school of fish. All I heard was the whish of rubber on concrete or asphalt.

As I neared the end, I read more slowly, unwilling for this book to end. It is one of the most vivid and moving books I have ever read. AdventureMan has gone online to find the nearest Ethiopian restaurant so we can have some injera and wot.

March 15, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fiction, Food, Interconnected, Leadership, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Social Issues | , | 8 Comments