Blue Jeans and Seashells
First of all, the missing blue jeans were found, and the suitcase keys were in one of the pockets, so Lauren has her seashells, and I have my clothes. We had fun going through the seashells, and Lauren loves them, although she says if she lived to be 100, she wouldn't be able to make jewelry of all of them. The important thing is that she loves them, all the seashells, the colors, the shapes, the textures. She will have to get a very tiny drill for the little red ones that look like pomegranate seeds. It feels like some kind of completion that Lauren has the seashells, and my responsibility for the sea shells is over.
Etihad really responds to travelers' need. On this trip, Etihad was overwhelmingly wonderful. Many smiles from the personnel. You can only smile back.
I remember reading comments on the Etihad site last time where an American had posted that, on his Etihad flight, it had taken a long time to receive a requested glass of water. Well, on this trip, from Johannesburg to Abou Dhabi, from Abou Dhabi to Chicago, at least three times each long lap, they served everyone water.There is no doubt that Etihad Airlines means to please.
In South Africa, in all of Africa, in The United Arab Emirates, security isn't as stringent as it is in the United States. You don't have to take off your shoes. You don't have to have cosmetics in small sizes in plastic bags. You have to take out your laptop, but you don't have to open it.
However, in Abou Dhabi, before boarding for Chicago, there is an extra security check. This extra check is for flights to America only. I gathered that Etihad, the airline of the United Arab Emirates, has established this extra checkpoint with respect for the U.S. At this second checkpoint, shoes come off. There are body searches with a wand. Etihad takes every precaution and responsibility to protect the United States. Etihad bends over backwards, and everything they do, they do with extreme courtesy.
Waiting in the Ethihad airports, I noticed that some people from the United Arad Emirates would go to an out-of-the-way corner of the waiting room. The wife would supply her husband with a prayer rug, and the husband, with his shoes off, would put the prayer rug down and face Mecca and bow down and touch the floor in prayer. Then afterwards, it is the woman's turn. I find myself especially touched to see how important worship of God is. Even while traveling, God comes first.
Welcome to U.S. Soil
My daughter and Teeny and Bujo gave me a wonderful welcome. Of course, this was as expected.
Lauren's apartment building has valet service. When I stayed with her before leaving for South Africa, there was one valet from Africa -- I forget which country -- who was unforgettably kind and friendly. I had promised him my Heavenletter card, and never got around to it, and then I was gone.
Lauren told me that this valet asked about me every time he saw her.
Yesterday, Lauren took me clothes-shopping -- she got me some great clothes -- I'll get batteries in my camera and take pictures soon. She also bought me a folding table to put my computer on and a standing lamp to see by when I am on the computer during the wee hours, a chair etc.
We did food-shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. We bought a lot of stuff. In the parking garage at her apartment, Lauren took a big dolly. Before we could start taking purchases out of the car, the kind smiling valet appeared, opened his arms to me, gave me such a warm welcome, wouldn't let Lauren or I lift a finger, and then he loaded the dolly amazingly efficiently, everything packed in for one trip. This is the same warmth and courtesy and love I had experienced in Africa, and here it was waiting for me in Chicago.
Flowers in Bloom
My heart is still longing for South Africa, yet, here in Chicago, are beautiful tulips in bloom wherever you look. There are forsythia and Korean lilacs. There is sparkling Lake Michigan. And there are the same sun and moon here that shine in South Africa. Maybe there are no separate countries. Maybe there is simply the world.