Yes, you read that right and with our family it should be no surprise. Our big trip to New England and then S. America began with a very animated drive to the airport. We have headed out for a three week trip to attend my niece’s Bat Mitzvah, a family reunion of sorts in Vermont and Connecticut and then our family’s two+ week trip to Peru. To avoid weeks of parking and travel headaches, we hired a driver to pick us up and take us to the Seattle airport about two hours away, with morning traffic. We used this same driver a few years ago when we went on a very long summer trip too, and all remembered him being a super great guy. He still is.
Fuaz (name change) arrived early for our 7 AM departure and waited patientyl as we all ran around doing the flurry of last minute things that happen when you’re taking off for a long trip. I found myself adding more notes to the already too many notes I left for the house/dog sitter. He’s extremely capable and knows our dogs and house, so the notes were probably unnecessary all together. A lot of the running around before big trips and once I’m on that plane, it all fades away. No doubt much of the worrying is for nothing. I was proud that I was able to get three weeks of clothing, including trekking, formal events, hot and cold weather, and 4 pairs of shoes all in one carry on. Bonus points please. After all the chaos of the past few weeks (see Sh^t), it was such a relief to have Fuaz calmly take the bags and herd us into the giant Escalade, knowing that there was nothing else to get done… we were on the road.
And then the fun began for real. Our family isn’t the family who chats about the Mariners or school getting out, the conversation started almost immediately with circumcision. A typical discussion right? Middle Man noted that circumcision is now outlawed in Finland, and a serious debate ensued regarding the religious right to circumcise a baby vs the individual rights of a child to decide whether to be mutilated in this way. Middle Man gave solid arguments for why it should be a personal choice (when said child is old enough to do it) and Principessa feels strongly that it’s a religious tradition for Jews and Muslims that is absolutely sacred and holy, and should be upheld. The discussion remained passionate, though respectful… surprisingly. I added that when I first had my sons this was a real stumbling block for me, knowing that it was unpleasant and that (at the time) a lot of pediatricians were against the custom. Middle Man argued that “if a religious group wanted to cut off the pinky toe of babies for religious reasons (the pink toe being unnecessary also) would that be ok,” and Principessa eventually agreed that if it were religious reasons it should be accepted. Throughout, our driver Fuaz watched from the rear view mirror. After about twenty minutes, when Middle Man said “I can’t believe you’d be ok with cutting the pinky toes off 0f babies!” Fuaz glanced back at us and I exclaimed Gee, I’m so excited that we get three weeks together to explore all of this, a broad smile finally spread across his face as he looked at me in the mirror.
I bet you don’t get this kind of conversation very often, I asked him. He smiled again. “No, this is very unusual, but I am really enjoying it.” Oh yeah, we’re a barrel of fun, I responded sarcastically. “No truly. I drive a lot of families back and forth and most often when I get a family in my car, they get in excited for their trip and within a few minutes they are fighting. First one argument and then another and another. Give us another minute, I countered. “You all have had a very good discussion while remaining respectful and intellectual, no insults despite the fact that you feel strongly about the subject. I am enjoying this. Most families I drive would be fighting. If it were my daughter, we would be arguing by now!” I remembered that when we last drove with him he’d had a young daughter and I asked how old she is now. “She is 13.” Oh, well… it’s hard to discuss anything with a 13 year old girl and not have an argument. Fuaz laughed at this and agreed that raising a girl is trying at times.
He then discussed his family a bit more, and shared that he’d been back home in Pakistan this past year. He spoke fondly of his former home and the people he loves who still live there, how beautiful much of his country is, but how difficult it has become since the war. “No one trusts anyone anymore, where once everyone knew each other and you could count on everyone to help you and be friendly.” He continued to explain that while it’s still a beautiful place, the war in surrounding areas has impacted everything, and this is sad to see. And then he shared the most amazing detail of his trip. While visiting in spring 2011 they were awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of helicopters and gun fire. As they all came out of their homes, word spread that Osama Bin Ladin had been killed. He lived two blocks from Fuaz’s home. “Seriously?” We all exclaimed. “Yes, it was really incredible, we had no idea” he continued. You had no idea that Osama Bin Ladin was living two blocks from you? “No, we had not returned to our family home in ten years…it was all very amazing.”
To hear him discuss the events of May 2nd, when Bin Ladin was killed by U.S. Navy Seals, as a local event was stunning. The drama of the day and the international impact was enormous in such a small Pakistani area. Some of the locasl knew that Bin Ladin was there, but many did not. The military might that swooped in to complete the mission were a huge thing by local accounts. Fuaz, who has lived in the states for many years, talked of it as nothing short of incredible, to wake to the swarm of military and then news agencies. Wearing a UW (Univ. of WA) hat, he was picked from the crowd to give a comment on the news and his family back in the states saw him as it was all going down. His wife, wisely, suggested he remove his hat.
Against all this animated discussion, the Olympics and the Cascades surrounded us. The sun was shining and the mountains, the fields of Skagit County, and the waterways on route to Seattle, and at the end: Mt. Ranier, reminded us all that we are leaving a very special place for a different kind of adventure. I am always sad to leave what I have, and grateful to return, no matter how wonderful the destination. We are blessssed. As conversations about religious traditions and Osama Bin Ladin filled the time, I watched the beauty along the way, a superstitious sign (as this adventure begins) that we will have an amazing time.
Do you have big plans for the summer? Family reunions or travel? Share your adventure. Is your family colorful as well? Jump in and share your thoughts. **Please take a moment and support this blog. Share your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this post (hit the title to open the link), and join in the conversation. Or post your comments on the Tales from the Motherland FB page. If you appreciate this post, click on the title and then hit the Like at the bottom of the post. And if you’re really a fan, consider subscribing. It’s easy and painless. Your information is private; I see only the log on you use. Once you hit the subscribe link to the right of the post, you will get email updates each time I post a new story… No spam, no junk mail… nothing but my deep appreciation.