A short two-day trip to a land not so far away yielded a wealth of interactions and acquaintances that made it hard to leave. Oh, the people you meet!
- A fellow passenger in a grand taxi, who spoke to me only a few minutes before inviting my roommate and me to her niece’s evening wedding.
- A lady passing by on the street who helped us pound on the locked riad door and stuck with us until the owner and his maid came back from the market.
- The riad owner with a surprisingly Western perspective and his maid who loved engaging in deep conversation about cross-cultural marriage and religion. But just when I thought I was making an excellent point, the owner leaned back in his chair, grinned, and said that if he had met me 24 years ago, he would have married me. The maid, an adorable but hopeless romantic, kept returning to the cross-cultural marriage part of the conversation.
- A young lady who seemed to know everyone in town and was delighted to take us around to her favorite places…and even fish out a party invitation for us (which we turned down). But before we parted, she took us to a crumbling café for evening tea above the sea. There, she told us about her life. At the end of her story she shrugged away any traces of self-pity, smiled, and said, “Well, what are we going to do? Praise God.”
- An old gentleman who led me to a store to buy water, waited for me, and led me back. He escaped before I could thank him.
- A taxi driver who took us to an ancient ruins sight and then meekly offered his phone number in case we couldn’t find a taxi back into town.
- Our guide at the ruins who led us through the layers of sights on the hillside. But he stayed far ahead of us to not disturb our sight-seeing. And he topped off his hospitality by calling the taxi driver to return for us (thus saving me a phone call in Arabic).
- Our guide at the music conservatory who didn’t seem to mind that class was in session as he banged around on a piano in the courtyard… and then tried to get us to show off as well. He made my heart swell in hollow pride when he mistook me for a local.
- The owner of a souvenir shop who seemed sincere in his beliefs, but wanting to listen as much as explain.
- A family on the train who knew how to enjoy each other and the people around them. What fun to be a part of their lives for that ride. And before they got off at their stop, the father found us seats with other women so we wouldn’t have to travel alone in our cabin.