What do green wigs, sardine hats, music, beer, and Saint Anthony have in common?
That’s what I thought anyway — at least until recently, when Lisbon reminded me that travel is full of surprises.
I arrived June 12th, on a slightly delayed flight from London, super excited to be back in Portugal after a five-year hiatus. It turned out to be anything but your usual Monday night.
The first hint something special might be underfoot was a message my Airbnb host had sent the day before my arrival, which I only noticed as my plane was taxiing to the gate at Lisbon Portela Airport: Continue reading “Lisbon Travel Packs the Unexpected”
Sometimes, shit comes out of my mouth, and I don’t know where it comes from. I’ll be thinking one thing, but something completely different will escape my gob. Usually it’s something embarrassing.
Does that ever happen to you?
A random Intro!
Maybe that’s why I like writing as a form of communication. It gives me time to think about and to craft exactly what I want to say. I’m not a fast enough thinker to be able to come off as elegantly in verbal communication!
Therefore, I really admire those who are gifted orators. For example: the genius that is Russell Brand. I appreciate his quick wit and the vast trove of vocabulary he has at the tips of his clever-little neurons.
See exhibit A: an interview improvisation where Brand brilliantly impersonates Willam Shakespeare. True genius. (He really starts to get warmed up a few minutes into it — worth watching the whole thing if you’re fascinated by verbal gymnastics and equally captivated by the bizarre.)
Perhaps I have a somewhat decent-sized vocabulary (nothing compared to Brand’s), but at times it takes me ten-plus minutes to think of the word I want to use! Which isn’t very conducive to verbal dexterity! The darn words often get stuck at the tip of my tongue, and — “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Yesterday was a prime example of my thinking one thing and saying another. I turned to my coworker and good friend, Rosie, and excitedly said, Continue reading “Turning 41: My Top-10 Highlights of the Past Year”
“Coffee or tea?” Abdul asked when I entered the breakfast room. It was November 30th. I had woken up, gotten ready, and gone to breakfast as usual that morning — although it was anything but a usual day.
“Coffee, thank you.” I sat at one of the breakfast tables and unwrapped a few slices of my gluten-free bread on which I generously spread the butter, honey, and jam Mohammed had laid out.
Abdul came later, with the coffee. And I thought, as I sipped, about what the day might bring. Abdul had been helping at breakfast that morning and was also there to ensure everything went smoothly for my excursion.
Not your typical excursion: after breakfast I was scheduled to meet the English-speaking driver Abdul had organized to assist me on my mission. We would depart the Fez Medina and head east to try to find the forty-plus-year-old address of my birth father, who passed away thirty-seven years ago in Germany at the young age of thirty-two.
Half way through breakfast I realized I was feeling fairly tense. I really did not know what to think that morning. It’s only natural that I was full of the feels. After all, I had only been wondering what I might find at that address since I was eight. What would the day bring? I had no idea. Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: Finding My Roots”
My alarm barely made a peep before I switched it off and got up. I brushed my teeth and got dressed, putting on my jacket and scarf. It was sure to be cold out.
I unlocked the double doors separating my room from the breakfast room, trying not to let them creak. Stepping out, I was surprised to see Mohammed asleep before me on a breakfast-room bench.
He stirred, looking up at me as I entered the common area. I had no idea he’d be there and felt terrible for disrupting his sleep. But he put his head back down as swiftly as he had raised it. I shut the door behind me, heading out the adjacent entrance to the stairwell leading up. Up. Up.
It was pitch dark. I didn’t dare switch on one of the lights, so I used the display of my phone to see my way up the narrow stairs.
After a careful ascent, I stepped into the cold, fresh air. It was still dark, just beginning to show signs of light. And it was quiet. Shapes began forming as the dimness dissipated. Deeply breathing the crisp air, I enjoyed my solitude up there immensely.
Eventually I was rewarded with the early bird’s worm. Or something rather more appealing: Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: Lost in Fez”
“I’m almost half way to Fez, Morocco. My flight departed at 12:40pm — a delayed departure, so we should arrive in Fez around 4:00pm Central European Time. I’m not sure what time that will be locally, but I’ll find that out when I get there. This is a moment I’ve been anticipating most of my life…”
That’s how my November 28th mid-flight journal entry began.
I had departed Germany’s Frankfurt Hahn airport and was anxiously anticipating my arrival in North Africa, in the medieval Arab city of Fez. My journal entry continued with a brief synopsis of the background story that had led me to take this flight, and then proceeded along the following lines:
Because of these events, I’ve had an acute awareness, ever since, of how my life would have been different had I not been adopted. Would my father still be alive? Would I be living in Morocco? Would I be Muslim? Would I speak Arabic and French? Or would German be my mother tongue? Would I cover my hair with a head scarf?
The myriad might-haves are endless.
Would I have grown up in Germany and passed easily between two cultures: the Moroccan and the German? Or would I have left Germany as a baby and grown up in Morocco? What would my place in society be as a Moroccan woman? Would I have wanted to travel? What would my outlook on life have been?
Would I be the same person? Continue reading “Morocco Beckons: The Ancient Medina”