Saturday, January 31, 2009

Can I Eat It?

Does someone own all these goats?
Are these tires taller than those potholes are deep?
What's this? Can I eat it?

For me, traveling is all about the questions.
  • Is that really alabaster? (Alas, no: soapstone)

  • What's frikandellen? (Ground sausages deep fried and dipped in peanut or curry sauce. Um. Yes, please.)

  • How do you get an urchin spine out of a body part? (You don't, really.)

Sort of like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, once the basics are handled (how much, how far, what time), up the pyramid I go (how long have you...? how old are your...? have you ever been...?).

And soon, the pinnacle - an actual discussion (what do you think about...?).

Curious? I'm the very essence.

Patient. Appreciative. At what point on the plane ride did that happen? I'm a traveling love fest. In Cairo, I realize there is no smile like an Egyptian smile: a fast, bright, dimpled invitation to get in on the joke, and I am smitten.

I like me so much more outside the confines of my suburban enclave, where I am testy with the Indian customer service reps for United. Who would want that job? And yet, I can't dig up a modicum of respect? Jeesh.

So, living overseas...would that more-patient me become more permanent, or slip away when the cable goes out for days at a time, as it did during our week in Bonaire? What if, instead of just missing the Mega Millions numbers, the outage caused me to miss a work deadline (or, worse! an assignment to travel to Palau for a month!). Could I have held my tongue and my temper?

That's the question.

Photos (c)Rick Collier ( Take a look at Rick's site for more pics of Bonaire diving and Egypt dancing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Can I Dive There?

Any time now, say within the next 6 to 260 months, we will give thousands of dollars in slightly frayed suits to any charity with a truck, check "yes" to convert all our paper statements to email, and turn out the lights. We'll hop in a Dulles Airport taxi, stomachs churning, checking for passports and ATM cards. A few giggly beers and many miles later, we'll stop at the top of the staircase on wheels, breathe in the warm, moist, frangipani/jasmine/gardenia air (depending where we land), and pity the poor, pale tourists. Because we aren't going home.

We've (okay, I've) been preparing for the moment for years - maybe forever. Definitely since 1979 when I stepped off the plane in Cartagena, Columbia with my Spanish Club classmates. If there's a book on expat anything, I've read it. If anyone enters my orbit with a Caribbean experience, I'm on it. I am meticulous, focused, bordering on frantic with all the options on a fast-approaching horizon. But my husband has only one criterion: Can I dive there?

We are perfect together.