Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Cross Culture at the Y: “Don’t Ever Say That to an African American”

I had just finished chatting with Leilani and was getting ready for class to start when my class friend who in in front of me came up to me and put her arm around me. We are always joking around, so I was laughing, and she said “I have something to tell you.”

I pulled back a little because I could see she was serious, and I wanted to see her face.

She said “Last week in the pool you said you were gonna kick my butt. Don’t ever say that to an African-American.”

She is black.

She could see I was confused. I did say it. We joke around, and sometimes there isn’t a lot of space. Her behind was right in front of me, a tempting target. I did say it.

“We never say that in the black community,” she continued. “Our Mama’s never allow that kind of statement. Remember, we were slaves. We’d be on the ground, and people would put their feet on us. People would kick us. To say that to a black person is one of the worst things you could say.”

“I am so sorry. I didn’t know.”

“I know you didn’t. That’s why I’m telling you.” She still had her arm around me. “We hear you people saying that to each other like it’s nothing. It’s something to us.”

I was so thankful she told me, and so embarrassed.

“I was oblivious,” I said. “I had no idea. I am so sorry.”

Later, as we usually do, we talked during class.

“Do you really just say that to each other?” she asked me.

“We do! It’s the kind of thing we say to friends; I would say that to my sister, it’s sort of mock-rivalry sort of talk,” I responded, thinking to myself ‘but I will never never never ever say that again to anyone!’

Later, I thanked her for telling me, and she said she knew I had no idea how offensive it was; it was a cultural thing. I am grateful she trusted that enough to clue me in.

As uncomfortable as that conversation was, I admire her for initiating it, and correcting me in a loving way, for telling me how it feels, and why. I am grateful that she trusts who I am, a person who would never choose to offend, but a person who had, nonetheless, offended, and who would want to know. I feel like it was a genuinely friendly thing to do, and she did it with good will in her  heart.

So even in my own country, there are cultural crevasses I can fall into in oblivious unawareness.

And all of that in one morning at the YMCA.

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Civility, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Exercise, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Pensacola, Relationships, Social Issues, Stranger in a Strange Land, Values | 2 Comments

Cross Culture at the Y

It’s a day I like in Pensacola; it may be summer and still hot and humid, but a little cooler today, with a cloud cover. I woke up refreshed, relaxed, having slept well, and actually, I sort of hoped for thunder so I could skip going to the YMCA for Water Aerobics, and stay home and finish up some quilting.

No such luck – no thunder. The skies were threatening, and leaky, but without the drama of thunder and lightning. No matter. The truth is, I don’t just go because I want to stay fit and strong, I also go because I feel better and more energetic after I’m done.

In retrospect, I would have missed a lot if I had missed today. In the fifteen or twenty minutes before the class, I heard some powerful messages, and I knew I was meant to be there. So my next three posts are about my cross-generational, cross-cultural experiences at my water aerobics class this morning.

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Aging, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Exercise, ExPat Life, Faith, Friends & Friendship, Parenting, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Stranger in a Strange Land, Values | , | 1 Comment

“You Go Into Southern Belle Mode”

scarlett3

 

I’ve added a new category; I’ve written so many posts in this vein, and it looks like I will continue so to do. Might as well add it as a staple:  Stranger in a Strange Land.

Probably the first mention of that phrase in literature is in Genesis; Moses kills an Egyptian and flees to the desert where he meets a nice girl and marries her. He refers to himself as an alien, a stranger in a strange land. Both Jewish culture and Islamic culture put a high value on taking care of the stranger. Our bible is full of references to taking care of the alien.

Here is one of my favorite stories about what my friend Donald Rumsfeld calls those “unknown unknowns. It’s what you don’t know you don’t know that gets you into trouble.

I was at a party, and in a conversation with two women who are widows. We were talking about some of the difficulties, and what has caught them by surprise.

I said I didn’t know how they got through it, that I had a feeling if AdventureMan goes before I go, I’m going to be really really angry, tearing my hair out and shrieking angry, shredding my clothes angry, not wanting to be around other people angry, so so so so angry because if I let myself feel sad I don’t know if I can ever pull myself out of that abyss.

The newest widow just looked at me like I had said something culturally inappropriate, which, it turns out, I had. There was one of those brief silences, you know, it may only be seconds but it feels like it goes on forever because you don’t know what you said.

“If you were from around here,” she said, “You’d know what to do. You go into Southern Belle mode. We’ve all seen it all our lives, so we know how to do it. You pick out your clothes. You smile and shake hands. You put your guests first. You stand and smile until the last guest has gone.”

I was stunned. “You hold yourself together through all that?” I asked.

“Well,” she said with a smile, “You have a plan. You know where you can go with a friend or cousin after the funeral, a place where you are safe and where you can get knee-walking drunk and do your wailing where you need to and no one will ever know.”

She didn’t even have to say “You must not be from around here” but I heard it, loud and clear. There are standards. No weeping and wailing, no public display of emotion, no lack of self-control, oh-my-goodness, I think I must be back in the Middle East. I am in my own country, and still, very much a stranger in a strange land.

 

June 6, 2016 Posted by | Aging, Character, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Local Lore, Pensacola, Relationships, Stranger in a Strange Land | 2 Comments

Sunset Cruise, Dolphin Cruise and Moonlight Cruise in Destin

It was our house guests’ last night in our area, and we wanted to do something special and memorable with them, so we booked on Olin Marler’s Sunset Cruise out of Destin. We found this trip several years ago, and while our guests enjoy it, we do, too!

 

It is mid-season in Destin. The Spring Break craziness has just ended, and the Summer Madness has not yet begun. A boat for forty holds ten of us tonight, plus the crew, and the crew knock themselves out to show us a good time.

 

We had a gorgeous sunset, with dolphins

SunsetDolphins

We had a whole bunch of dolphins, grown ones and little ones, and they were having a great time. They stuck around, and we watched for about half an hour, no other boats in sight.

DolphinsPlaying

As we were leaving, the full moon rose and gave us a glorious ride home:

MoonightOverDestin

We can’t promise future house guests this experience. We’ve never had it this good. Maybe our guests brought this good luck?

April 23, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, Entertainment, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Photos, Qatar, Quality of Life Issues, Wildlife | | 2 Comments

The Bird Man

At Kailua Beach Park, people are enjoying the last minutes of daylight before the sun sets and it’s time to get ready for the upcoming week. This has got to be one of the most laid-bak places on earth.

 

KailuaBeachPark

 

We see a man who has birds everywhere. Clearly, the birds know him, they are flocking to him. He has some kind of food for them, and they sit on his arms, they sit on his head, they love this guy!

BirdManKailuaBeach

 

The locals know him, and these little boys brought him a sick bird to take home to heal.

BirdmanGivenHurtBird

 

Back at home, the light dims and a full moon rises. Life doesn’t get any sweeter.

BeachMoon

 

Our flight back is late in the day. We spend the morning walking the beach, down to the Marine Base, past the Obama house, the waves are high and eating away at the beach. We pack, we drink more coffee. I’ve only shown you the fun day trips, but the meat of this trip, the finest part of this trip has been the conversations, the laughter, and the deepening of a life-long friendship.

FarewellKailua

 

I no longer have negative feelings about Hawaii. 🙂 We hit the local drugstore to pick up some great Kona coffee and bags of Japanese rice crackers in a million varieties, which we love. It’s been a great trip.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Relationships, Travel | , | 8 Comments

Buzz’s; a Kailua Classic

Our last night in Kailua, and we are on our way to Buzz’s, a Kailua institution, where the wait staff greet our friend by her first name and show her to a table.

BuzzExterior

 

BuzzSign

 

This is our table. It is right next to the President’s table. We are sitting where the Secret Service bodyguards probably sit when Presidents dine there.

BuzzOurTable

 

PresTable

 

 

 

PresPlaque

 

We speculate what would happen if the reality-star Republican were elected, would he sit at that table or buy the restaurant and tear the plaque down? It’s a glorious night, we drink our drinks, look at the menu and we all decide, after our huge ramen lunch, we are ready for Buzz’s famous salad bar. Buzz’s is also famous for fabulous steak and even better local fish, but we just aren’t hungry enough.

 

BuzzStar

 

 

SaladBar

It’s a grand night, we visit the beach, we take a drive and we head back home, where we have the best time of all.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Kona Brewing Company: One of the Best Meals I have Ever Eaten

I’ve been doing reviews on Trip Advisor for ten years, starting with out trips into Zambia, and the Robin Pope Camps. From time to time, when I give a restaurant five stars, Trip Advisor asks me “Is this one of the best meals you have ever eaten?”

We’ve eaten some fine meals in our lives and travels, memorable meals, in Monterey/Carmel, in Germany and France, in the Middle East. Some stand out. Maybe only once or twice have I said “Yes” that this is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

At the Kona Brewing Company, in a little marina on the back side of Diamond Head, I had one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

 

Brewery

 

It started with a ginger lemonade. Have I ever mentioned how much I love ginger beer? This was one of the strongest gingery drinks I have ever had, and it was magnificent.

GingerLemondade

 

My lunch was Shoyu Chicken, with spinach and carrots. The chicken was divine, with a teriyaki marinade and sauce. The spinach was equally wonderful, very garlicky. The rice was rice, but I was so far gone over the chicken and spinach that it just wouldn’t matter.

ShoyuChicken

 

My Kailua friend had a root beer.

Root Beer

 

With Shrimp Tacos

FishTacos

 

And a mango slaw, which she said was surprising and also, wonderful.

MangoSlaw

AdventureMan had fish tacos, which he thought very good.

ShrimpTacos

We left very happy people. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten.

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cold Drinks, Eating Out, Food, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Kailua to Honolulu; A Day of Wonders

We are all early risers, and we are off on a great adventure today, seeing the island as our friend sees it.  One of her favorite places is Bellows Beach, next to the Air Force Base. We loved it, too, for its beauty and for its seclusion. The parking lot was full of cars that seemed to be doing business with one another, so we made sure to take our wallets and cameras with us.

 

BellowsBeach

 

BBTree

And then, the brides started arriving. We had no idea that this was a “destination.” We stayed far back, not wanting to intrude, and watched them arrive, marry and depart. The limos were lined up as we left, with bridal parties waiting their turn.

 

BBWedding

 

P1110929

 

This was a day when we were in and out of the car constantly, each sight more beautiful than the other.

P1110943

 

P1110945

 

At one of my favorite places, the waves crashed against the lava rocks, so beautiful. We would have stayed longer but we were choking from the smell of weed coming out of the surrounding cars.

P1110950

 

P1110970

 

In the Kona Crater, the plumeria are beginning to bloom.

P1110994 (1)

 

And the bougainvillea provided a riot of color.

Bougainvillea

 

Diamond Head lighthouse from Diamond Head road.

P1110998

 

Foster Botanical Garden was a pool of serenity in the middle of the chaos of Honolulu:

P1120003

 

P1120005

 

P1120007

I loved that they had an Alaskan totem; the Alaskans and the Hawaiians are related.

AlaskanTotemFosterBotanicalGarden

 

P1120010

 

 

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Gardens, Living Conditions, Photos, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Pah Ke’s in Kaneohe; Really Good Chinese Food

I had asked my friend if we could eat “really good” Chinese food at some point while I was visiting, and she knew just the place.

My friend is a very laid back driver, but she is puzzled, she has never seen the parking lot so full before. It is so full we have to park across the busy street and walk across. The lot is full of small busses, and vans, and there isn’t a parking space to be had. Even all the illegal spaces are taken!

When we walk inside, we are filled with horror. There is an event going on at Pah Ke’s. Does this mean we won’t be able to eat there? There are about thirty very large tables, ten or twelve people at each table, eating some of the most delicious looking food I have ever seen. The waitress ushers us to a table over at the side; there are maybe three or four tables for people not in this large group.

“What’s going on?” we ask the waitress.

“Special celebration for this retired group; Chinese New Years,” the waitress replied.

The place was packed, many of the Chinese women in traditional bright red silk.

PakHeExterior

 

PakHeCrowd

“It doesn’t look like much,” my friend said, “but everyone who loves Chinese food eats here. We have to start with their special salad”

 

The food came quickly, in spite of the large crowd. We got to watch the crowd depart as we savored our own delicacies.

I had never heard of a special Chinese salad before, but this salad is special Chinese-in-Hawaii salad, with tropical fruits and a sweet dressing, and watermelon. It is fabulous.

PkHeSalad

 

Scallops and asparagus on a bed of spinach. Great!

PkHeScallop

Our very favorite: Szechuan Eggplant and pork

PakHeEggplant

Huge shrimp with walnuts

PakHeShrimp

We ate it all. We didn’t take home a drop. We ate at Pah Ke’s again, on our way to the airport the day we left, and it was just as good. What a treat.

This is where we spent the rest of the day . . . 🙂

P1110847

 

P1110852

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Holiday, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Hawaii Daze; a Sentimental Journey

My friend has been urging us – for years – to visit her in her Hawaii home.

I’ve been to Hawaii before. I wasn’t excited about going back, but when our long and happy friendship hit the 50 year mark, I looked at AdventureMan and asked if he would like to go to Hawaii. He really wanted to go. I booked the flights, and booked a car. Talking with my friend, she told me to cancel the car, we wouldn’t need one. We could use hers if we weren’t going to all go together.

Arriving was such fun. My friend was there to greet us with traditional Hawaiian leis, and we drove from the airport to Kailua, where she lives, stopping here and there to learn the lay of the land.

 

Her house is beautiful. She calls it her “happy place” and she had a firm idea in mind when she had her home built. She wanted it in a local style, and she wanted it to be able to sleep a LOT of people. My friend is the soul of hospitality. There is a gathering wing, with the kitchen, living room and dining room, there is the entry and her private living quarters, and there is a a very large guest wing.

FoodlandPoke

 

She looks out over the Pacific to the north of the island, and the sound of the waves crashing on her beach provides a constant, lulling background.

KailuaBeachSunset

 

“What do you want to see in Hawaii?” she asked me as we were planning our trip.

“I want to see your life,” I replied. “I want to see where you go, what you do, where you shop for groceries. I want to see what makes you happy.”

So our first day there, she took us to the Kailua Farmers’ Market, and to several places she shops. I loved it.

 

FmrMkt2

This is the view behind the Farmers’ Market.

ViewFmFM

 

Beautiful flowers, beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables, and exotic fruits, apple bananas, ugly oranges (but they taste wonderful). We bought food for dinner that night.

KailuaFarmersMkt

 

FM3

In front of the Kailua Foodland, there were wild chickens, and she explained to us that chickens roamed wild everywhere. Once she pointed it out, we could see them, too.

WildChickens

 

“You won’t see this in Seattle,” my friend said, and showed me the Poke Bar in the Foodland. Poke is a fish native to Hawaii, and the locals love it fixed a hundred different ways.

Poke

 

They also had wonderful fresh vegetables.

FoodlandDeli

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Travel | , | Leave a comment