There are three cities I wish I had visited earlier. The multiple missed opportunities might be my only source of regret…
-Cold War Berlin. Summer 88, Samih suggested it but I had to suggest London and Amsterdam …and of course the wifey won. Honestly, how could I have predicted that two years later Berlin would be a different Berlin, a Berlin where Checkpoint Charlie was a tourist attraction.
-Hong Kong under the British flag. This time I wasn’t taken back by surprise.
Since the Handover agreement was signed in 1984, I have known that the British rule over its last colony in China will end in 1997, and chose it as the Eid getaway for winter 96.
However, the required two weeks visa-processing period made it impossible to get our visas on time before Eid so we ended up going to Bangkok instead! Still, we could have gone during the summer holiday, but for some reason, while up strolling on the terrace of a stupa in Bangkok, I felt alienated in these exotic surroundings and longed to be in Europe. Six months later, we toured Germany- clock road & romantic road – and I missed my last opportunity to witness this chapter of the British history…
-Palmyra…I think my dear parents and my dear husband should bare the guilt trip: despite many childhood visits to Syria and a later one 17 years ago, Palmyra’s proximity to our homeland was the “opponents’ ” trump card in the recurring battle of wills linked to each trip.. Their “we’ll go another time” turned my objections to mute mode, always…
Again, I could have joined my friends when they explored Syria but I thought I would rather take the kids, which we did, 5 years later. Damascus, Aleppo but not Palmyra…sacro-saint “we’ll do it another time”. Definitely, these trips weren’t meant to be…definitely.
Checkpoint Charlie – 5 June 2016 Berlin Wall – 3 June 2016
Last year, I had such a great time in Hawaï that I considered getting a tattoo; not exactly, a Hawaiian design (too macho), just a tiny one on my inner arm to commemorate this extraordinary trip on my skin…
My wish astonished my husband:
-I have a needle phobia… I dread the medical test I undergo every other year before the renewal of my UAE residency.
– I was against my son getting one when he was a teenager (his wife is happy about that now)
I didn’t leave Hawaï with a body imprint, but I left Mexico with one : it seems the famished mosquitoes broke their fast on my poor body and had a feast on my skin….The significant amount of bites in a certain area made it look like cellulite…. red, painful and itching cellulite
PS: I left Hawaï with an ephemeral “ piece of Hawaï”: I brought as many macadamia nuts as the expiry dates on the packaging allowed, and whenever I felt nostalgic I helped myself to some… their distinctive flavor – the way they’re roasted – was enough to make me feel I was back there…eventually they ran out after a few months… I knew I had a temporary “souvenir and enjoyed it while it lasted.
As opposed to my first swimming with sharks’ experience, the newest adventure was less adrenaline charged.
The first encounter 8 years ago was absolutely unplanned, and definitely wasn’t included in the Great Barrier Reef diving package ‼️
We were told that we might spot turtles, but never warned about the possibility of getting cozy with the dreaded white tip shark!
“You were lucky!” smiled the guy on the boat once he learned about the incident… And I’ll always wonder what he meant by that…Is it because sharks were uncommon in this area or because we made it back unharmed?
I genuinely regret that I didn’t dwell on his “lucky” back then and inquired further about its real meaning. Well, I was breathless – quite normal given the circumstances, the adrenaline rush helped me rush back to the boat and achieve a speed record. My only concern at that moment was to regulate my heartbeat, which had gone wild, my heart suddenly a war drum beating a mad rhythm. Xcaret Park, Playa del Carmen Mexico – 10 May 2018
Off the Riviera Maya, while snorkelling in the waters of the second largest coral reef between the “butterflies of the oceans” – stingrays – I felt overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness triggered by the following thought… I realised I love all creatures except the Homo Sapiens found in my birth country: the rulers and those electing them…the greedy and corrupt as well as the ignorants and bigots who put them in power…
The maligned animals of prey hunt out of hunger, ONLY…if they were to duplicate those Homo Sapiens’ greedy and auto-destructive behaviour, many species would have been extinct by now…
After reflection, I realised I didn’t feel that way during the previous encounters with the animals in their natural habitat…
South Africa – 12 April 2009
On the contrary, I had some of the most exhilarating experiences while scuba diving in the beautiful Great Barrier Reef ( crossed paths with a white tip shark )
The Maldives – 12 July 2012
The Maldives – 10 July 2012
And in Sharm El Sheikh – 24 November 2015
Ditto on terra firma during our safari in South Africa – 11 April 2009
As well in Madagascar’s tropical rainforest – 3 May 2009
And again in the Andes mountains in Peru’sAlto Plano – 24 October 2011
And lately in the cloud forest in Carara National Park Costa Rica – 20 March 2018.
My moodiness must have been induced by the elections taking place at the time in my birth country…this charade had affected me despite the disttance…
During our “US, Caribbean cruise & Mexico” trip, every time I checked my Facebook account, I was taken back to our last US trip due to the frequent “on that day” notifications. Here we are again, a year later, pulled to the other side of the world as if by a magnet.
However, nothing is the same… different destinations to discover and no Facebook posts: last year some of my friends requested to follow my trip on Facebook so I was keen to oblige and actually relished my established routine.. I usually wake up early, much earlier than the hubby, so I’d have my coffee, check my WhatsApp and Facebook messages and dutifully send the mandatory replies. It was a slow and peaceful way to start the day…My friends felt they were with us and were happy about it, the hubby felt my friends were with us and he wasn’t happy about it !! He had jokingly complained “throughout the whole trip I’ve been feeling that it was me, you and your friends”.
Did I miss this whole routine? Not really…I thought I’d miss the adrenaline that comes with each post and comments but strangely though I’m not.. however I’ll definitely miss having Facebook chronicled memories of our latest adventure!!!
Part of being grandparents is that you can’t pick the dates of your holidays anymore: you have to choose them according to your children’s holidays as there might be some babysitting involved…once you receive the seal of approval you can go ahead and proceed with your booking…
We followed the protocol and once we had the green light, we got the US flight tickets early on in order to secure our “dates” with the kids and to prevent any change of mind from their part. However, due to some circumstances WE had a change of mind and decided early in March to reschedule our trip and plan it for September instead of May.
However a laid back attitude from the hubby’s part led to the following situation: with only three days before we were due to start our journey as per our initial plan, he called me with the News :
”Either we stick to the original dates or we go for one week only in September!”
For me it’s a no-brainer…My inner Speedy Gonzales showed up and showed off her skills apologized for all the RSVPed invitations and managed a marathon suitcase packing while the male version, Speedy Sam, matched the rhythm and in the blink of an eye booked us the internal flights, the hotels and a cruise in the Caribbean.
So throughout this journey, we had a daily ritual: a recurrent topic of conversation..We were stuck in a state of disbelief and happy about the way everything worked out despite our initial reluctance : if Samih thought of changing the dates earlier, if he succeeded when he tried it later, if he didn’t secure our type of accommodation on the cruise ship (the last one available),we wouldn’t have been there !!
Definitely, this trip was meant to be, definitely …