Saturday, June 30, 2007

Best Summers

Before sleeping last night, Josh and I came across our old photo albums and decided to take a trip down memory lane. I opened our old photo albums which contained pictures of the places I've been to. As i went through the pictures, I could not help but wish I could go back - NOW, at my age, to experience everything all over again.

The year was 1989. I was 6 or 7 years old. My Aunt, who was working for the UN-FAO
back then invited me to join my 2 older cousins (who have been spending their summers with her) to spend the summer with her in Tanzania. I remember having to get a minor's permit to travel from our Social Welfare Dep't and having to get malaria shots. I was to spend the next 2 months away from home, away from Mom and Dad. So off we went, on one of the most exciting adventures of my life. I had no idea what to expect of Africa. I remember having one of the longest stop-overs at Schipol Airport. Our days were spent hanging around my Aunt's office and when we got too noisy and restless, she would bring us to one of the town's more popular resto's which served chicken and sweet potatoes. On other days, we would play with children of ex pats, on other days we would make quick trips to the library. Before leaving Tanzania, my Aunt brought me and my cousins on a week long safari to Ngorongoro.
If I remember correctly, we left Tanzania towards the end of April and made a short side trip to the Netherlands. We visited the Miniature City of Holland in Madurodam. I was so amazed. Today, I wish more than ever that I could go back to Europe and savor every moment of it. We proceeded to visit relatives in Canada. And then went on to Disney World in Orlando, Fl. Back then, there were only 3 parks open - Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom and Disney MGM Studios.

We traveled almost every summer after that summer of 1989. But one of my most memorable was our trip in the summer of 1991. I was in 3rd grade then and this time we were to go spend the summer with my Aunt in her new country of assignment. We were off to Sierra Leone. This time, I experienced living in the town of Kabala where there was no running water - we had to fetch water from a deep, deep well, had no electricity - we were all off to bed as soon as the sun went down and would be awaken by the man at the mosque who would wake everyone up to go and pray.

We met my Aunt's very close friend and office mate. Her name was Mrs. Razzak, she was Lebanese and supported a household of 11 children and a couple of grandchildren- all whom she "adopted." We would spend hot summer afternoons in their backyard, picking and eating ripe mangoes. We would go on picnics during the weekend and stay entertained by the children's dancing and singing. One time, my Aunt 'ordered' us to join the African women on a trip up country to collect vegetables from the farmers. Boy was that an experience. We rode on a very run down white big truck and rode on a very bumpy road. On our way home, we stopped by Freetown and enjoyed the beach there.

Shortly after my Aunt left her assignment there to move on to another assignment in Yemen,war broke out. We later found out that my Aunt's office, where we used to spend the day roaming around had been bombed. All of her workers were killed. Her driver was able to escape. We asked about Mrs. Razzak and her children. All of Mrs. Razzak's children were killed by the rebels. One time when Mrs. Razzak went back to their office to salvage whatever she could, she did not know there were rebels hiding there. They kidnapped her and held her hostage. She was released after 2 months - never to be the same again. The last we heard, she was brought to the U.S. to seek Psychiatric treatment.

As I look back, I cannot help but regret not paying more attention to what was happening around me back then. I was a child, unaware of how blessed I was to experience different cultures, to meet so many people from so many different places and different backgrounds. This just be one of the best spent summers of my life.

1 comment:

Shoshana said...

Louann, what a wonderful summer that was. You must have so much fun. At your age, I probably wouldn't pay as much attention to the world around me as I would now that I am a "grown up"

What a great summer that was! Have you got a chance to travel with your aunt again?