Friday, March 30, 2012

Miracle Car

And a shout out to our trusty little Mitsubishi that swerved many a missing manhole, squeezed between lines of traffic and endured several dentings.

I previously told of our little car's loyalty to us in refusing to start for the soldiers who cleaned out all the other private cars.  Here is the extent of their efforts.

It will need some serious work, but we're quite good friends with a mechanic - one of my former English students.  All cars are imported so they go for quiet a premium.  It's nice to still have some of this investment remaining.

It's still parked at the school.  We took the paperwork with us and with all the checkpoints around the city, it wouldn't be safe for anyone to move it off the premises: it could be confiscated and then we'd have to find a way out of that mess, which would, no doubt, be very messy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Catch Up

So I thought I'd just publish some posts I started and never completed - an unfortunate trend in my blog writing ;) I tend to work in spurts, as you've probably noticed. But this is a good time to catch up on some photos and stories we couldn't get out before.

1 Year On

I tried to write a nostalgic post on the anniversary of our evacuation - but I just couldn't get it out. It was a strange week, walking day by day through the memories of what was happening a year ago; and also acknowledging that it was a whole YEAR since those events occurred. We thought we were leaving for a few weeks, and a year later...! Wow.

It was also the week that some dear friends were able
to enter our apartment and pack it out. We were being pressed by the landlord to vacate the premises and provide rent. Jared and I were trying to make a trip ourselves and attend to this, but we failed to obtain the necessary visas. With this closed door, some extremely gracious friends stepped in and packed out everything. The process was a bit anxiety-producing, but the end result is that we feel a great deal of closure knowing that our things have been attended to. It gives us more freedom to look forward rather than being focused on the past.

I thought I'd share some pix of our apartment in the last days. Some of you remember the early video, so this is the big reveal after some moderate transformation. I realized that it was unrealistic to try and change the 'chandeliers' (though I did sometimes scheme ways in which it might be accomplished), and tried to settle for small changes that might have big impact: throw pillows and blankets, change of rugs, addition of plants, etc. Here's the ode to our apartment.
Living Room
with traditional (old) desert rugs
and IKEA lamp and pillows :)

Balcony off Dining Room
Wall of Plants for Privacy Shield
Guess Room with Jared's Piano
(protected from sand storms)
Office Area in Guest Room

Part of the emotional difficulty of the evacuation was the loss of home because it took so much work to make it home. I sometimes wish we had the chance for closure and saying goodbye to the place, but I'm thankful that we still have many of our belongings so that setting up home next time will not be as difficult.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


My sister sent me an email today with a transcript of family emails of news and questions about us and what was happening a year ago. It motivated me to go back and see where we were one year ago: we were just on the verge on a hair-raising few days of trying to evacuate. We had taught what would be the last day of school (which is still closed), and we were deciding to go downtown the next day to secure exit visas.

Hindsight is interesting.

1. We did not end up needing the reentry visas that we fought so hard to obtain - our reentry date passed long ago - last May. But the commitment that was behind it was important, I suppose.

2. We agonized over what clothes to take, selecting the most special. Then we lost them in Tunis!

3. We only evacuated what we might need for London in February - we thought we'd only be out a few weeks.

4. The dilemma of when to set return airfare was also a mute point - we missed our return flights last April.

5. Maybe most significantly - getting out was the right decision, though it was such a hard decision to make.

We've had to work hard at letting our mistakes rest. We have constantly wished we made different decisions about what we evacuated. We keep reminding ourselves that it was an impossible situation in which to make decisions - too little information and too much confusion and trauma.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crisis Magnet?

Last night Pasadena was the "epicenter" of the hurricane force winds that rocked LA. We were driving home at 1:30am and it was surreal as we dodged palm trees that were littered across the freeway.  As we entered Pasadena we found downed traffic lights, lamp posts and benches in the middle of the road.  Our friend stopped at the head of our street as we looked down the avenue lined on both sides by ominously swaying palms, wondering just how far they could bend before they break.  We all decided that we'd start down our street and scream if we saw one coming down, in which case he would hit the accelerator.  Happy to report that didn't happen.

It does seem, though, that crises have been following us in an uncanny way this year - we visited all the countries in North Africa within weeks of the revolutions breaking out and we were in two of the countries when the wars began.  Just praying "the big one" doesn't hit LA anytime soon.

[And we don't usually return home that late.  That night we had been invited to a viewing of a new film, and also got to meet Martin Sheen, who was incredible nice and down to earth.]