Sunday, August 05, 2012

On vacation in the States

Yes it is August again and t'was the time to get the phuck outa Dodge.

So I left Kuwait right after Ramadan started.  As usual, to spend the summer with my family.  Travelling is nice, but I don't have people to travel with really - unless it is for short trips around the Gulf or whatever.  Plus, I don't want to miss an opportunity to be with my mother.  Every summer for the past 16 years, I have been back here at home so that I can be with my people.

This year was a big birthday for my mom, so I took her on a road trip.  She mentioned that it would be our "Thelma and Louise" trip.  I said no, it would be more like Miss Daisy and Holk.  1000 miles of greenery, mountains, and sea along the Eastern coast to Block Island in Rhode Island.  I haven't seen some of my friends in Rhode Island for over 20 years and really should re-connect, but alas, this wasn't the trip.  This trip belonged to my mom and it was all about her.  (The drive isn't bad at all and I hope to catch up on another future trip.)

Nothing has changed much - it all looked the same even after all these years.  Only smaller.  We spent a summer at a vacation cottage on year when I was maybe 10 years old.  We stayed in a 2 room cottage on Point Judith close to the Block Island ferry and beaches.  I have always been very independent.   I had my Labrador Retriever and used to take the ferry with him, alone, to the island where we would spend time just wandering around and sharing ice cream. He was my best friend.  No one ever bothered us, but a 10 year old alone with a dog today on a 1-hour ferry trip out to a busy tourist island today would be unheard of.

My mom and I stayed with her friend in a very similar summer cottage, right down the street from where I stayed as a child.  I don't believe any of the houses in the area have air conditioning; at least not the one where we stayed nor the hotel where we stayed on the island.  I'm still getting the salt air dampness out of my clothes and my hair was impossible to dry even with my professional-salon-quality hair dryer.  It really made me miss the AC in Kuwait and the dry air.

I had a favorite beach that summer; an out-of-the way place that few people knew about. It was very clean and right next to a long break-water.  There was a little cave in the break-water and we used to play in there.  I found a dime there once from the 1940's (and lost it again).  Mom and I drove down there and it is now a "gated community".  The gate was broken and we drove through.  Not what I would have expected of a "gated community":  It was full of expensive, decorative double-wides that resembled small-sized replicas of opulent beach homes.  I wish I could have taken pictures.  It was so weird!  I've never seen mobile homes like that in my whole life!  Some of them were 2 storeys high and had big bay windows.  They even appeared to have atriums.  My sister has a REAL beach house in a very nice area and these double-wides seem to resemble that neighborhood (only my sister's doesn't have a trailer hitch in the front of it).  We were told that some of the "homes" in the "gated community" sell for as much as $600,000.  Whaaaaat???

I learned more Naragansette history on this trip than I ever had.  I didn't know that the whole area around the Point used to be a military base and that during World War II, the Government set up fake houses to make the Germans believe that there was a community there, so that the Germans couldn't land and infiltrate.  Who knew?  That explains some of the older, really small pre-fab cottages.  And from what I was told, many of the German U-boats were sank right off the coast and people dive in them.  Fasssscinating.

There is a glut on lobster at the moment and prices have plummeted.  We had lunch at a place called Champlains at the docks.  I had a 1-pound lobster and noticed that other people were getting 3-pounders.  Lobster envy!

We were able to take the car on the ferry over to the island with reservations way in advance.  I was a little surprised at the cost - $100 round-trip - but it was worth doing.  We had a cooler with us (my mom would have a thrombosis if she didn't have her nightly glass of wine) and all of our luggage.  I'm one of those people who has anxieties over logistics; I need to know all the details and have things worked out well in advance, so having our own car with us was a huge relief to me.  (I felt the same way when my car arrived in Kuwait from the States, six months after I first arrived to work there.)

We stayed at a small hotel. Everything on the island is Victorian-style.  Some of the hotels date back to that era; hundreds of years old.  Mom and I both agreed that staying in one of the older hotels would freak us out too much.  We are both too worried about fire and hundred-year-old structures made of hundred-year-old lumber and going up several floors make for a bad combination.  We stayed on a 1st floor of a 2-storey hotel with no air conditioning.  It was okay - we both slept well with a fan on.  With global warming, these people are seriously going to have to offer AC as an option at some point.

Rhode Island is like no other place on Earth. They have their own dialect, their own food groups, their own culture really.   If you haven't been there, you should sometime.  There are many different cultures mixed together in the smallest state in the US:  Italians, English, Irish, Portuguese, Cape Verdian.  Because there are so many cultures living in the same area, the food is amazing as you can imagine.

(Stella, you would LOVE it.  Newport is the place for you and my Irish Cousin to go check out.)

Newport is where all the mansions are and the streets are small and European-style.  Many still have cobblestones; many are hundreds of years old.  Ocean Drive is full of gorgeous mansions woven into a rocky sea shore with crashing waves.  The mansions are the Victorian-era homes of the uber-wealthy (Rockefellers, Dukes, etc.) and date back to a time when there was no property tax.  After the homes were taxed, many became museums, gifted to the State by the families.  My favorite is Mable House.  Maybe compared to some of the "villas" of the royal families in the Gulf (UAE for example), these mansions could be similar.  The difference is that they are steeped in history.  Passing them, you can almost see ladies with perrisols walking down the boulevard while horse-drawn carriages passed.

The beaches are different in Rhode Island:  I love the stone and rock beaches with miles of washed up seaweed, fishing rope and lobster pots.  My mother and I walked along a beach at Point Judith on a foggy morning.  You couldn't see very far off the end of the break waters, but you could see the tide washing in, hear the sound of the sea rattling the stones up and down as the waves rolled out, seagulls overhead, and the fog horn from the lighthouse at the Point.  Yes yes, I have been to the most romantic places on Earth with my mother.  It is my destiny.  It is the Universe phuckin with me in the most major way. But then hey, I can't tell you how much I adore my mother and how I would do anything in the world for her.

Food!  I had clamcakes, lobster, Del's Lemonade, Gray's ice cream, and lobster and corn fritters that were out of this world.  I know I shouldn't have, but they are vacation calories and they don't count.  My mother lost 2 pounds.  I don't believe in scales. I won't get on one.  I'm SURE that I have lost weight too.  Yup

To get to Rhode Island, we took a longer route than straight up 95, going through the Pocono Mountains.  I saw a few Amish people in buggies and we stopped in a small town for lunch (Litiz, Pennsylvania) at a restaurant called the Tomato Pie Cafe.  Very odd little place.  My mother got out of the car before me and an old man looked at her and told her, "You need to go home."  and walked away.  It became the joke of the trip.  I had never tried tomato pie before and yumm - very good.  I'm going to have to look up that recipe.

So far, I have been carded for ID twice on this trip.  I think my sister is starting to feel jealous.  I'm not going to laugh or make fun of that.  That wouldn't be nice.  So wrong.  Both times, I have been with my nephew.  the first time, the waiter took my ID, looked at it and let out a shocked, "OH!"  The second time, I told the waitress that my nephew and I were a couple and that I used to be his math teacher, and now we could be together openly because he just turned 18.  My sister had a giggle fit.

The trip isn't over yet.  I'm here until Eid and then I go back to Kuwait.  I miss my friends. I miss my Desert Dawg.  I wish Kuwait was closer.  It is going to be very difficult (again) to leave here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

gud to kno u r having a good time..