Category Archives: Travel

The Way We Were

They hadn’t told us there was no passport photographer in the embassy. We only found out that Monday afternoon, when we tried to get in line there, in order to have our small mountain of adoption paperwork finally approved so that we could bring our new adopted son home to Texas with us.

But no, now we had to search for a passport photographer. Luckily, that didn’t take long because several such photographers were parked in vans in the backstreets around the embassy building. We handed little Nick to one of them, he took three photos and handed the baby back. We waited a few minutes, then walked back to the embassy with our Polaroids.

By that time the long line had grown longer, filled with couples and the babies they were trying to adopt. Several more lined up behind us, too, however, as the clock ticked on toward 5 p.m., we were the last couple to have our papers processed. We were happy and relieved. This long adoption ordeal was coming to a close after all this time, and tomorrow we’d fly back to the United States and baby Nick would see his new home.

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Or so we thought.

We were up early the next morning, packing up, double-checking our plane tickets, ready to grab a cab to the airport. Then the phone rang. My father-in-law from back in Texas. Turn on the TV, he said. And there was the plane, flying in slow motion through one of the World Trade Center towers and into the permanent memory banks of my brain.

Sept. 11, 2001, in Guatemala City. No, we soon learned, there’d be no flight. America was closed.

Also posted in Family, Kids, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, War

Anybody Home?

Wow, no one’s been here for weeks and the places is full of cobwebs and stacks of junk mail. Sorry about that. Let me move these papers out of the way, have a seat, I’ll get you something to drink.

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We came through the flood merely inconvenienced – yards and a shed full of mud, the tomato garden and fig harvests pretty well ruined – but it was and remains painful to watch as neighbors up and down the street haul their damaged furniture, carpet, appliances and rotting wallboard out onto the curb. Giant garbage trucks with attached metal grabbers were on patrol for weeks, lifting the roadside refuse and hauling it out.

Our house, and those of about 12 adjoining neighbors, sit high enough on the banks that even this last historic river flood failed to seep into our homes. However, dozens of other housess and trailers suffered damage of varying severity, with some taking on as much as 7 feet of water. Whether the owners can rebuild, and how they go about doing so, is in the hands of city inspectors or, outside city limits, in the hands of Federal Emergency Management Administration officials. You do what you can to help, but recovering from a disaster like this one is beyond individual effort. Great sustained work by volunteer organizations and government agencies all have helped, but I suspect the neighborhood never will be the same.

Long before the flood, we’d scheduled a vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, which provided some welcome relief and perspective. We rented a home for a week, in the mountains outside Asheville, and rested in cool breezes and the hot tub in between trips to the city’s excellent restaurants and arts community and parks and street performers.

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Now I’m back slogging through the Texas steam-heat, rebuilding the gardens here and repairing the watering system at the farm, where parched rodents or rabbits have taken to gnawing holes in my plastic irrigation tubes in search of water.

Soon, very soon, I’ll haul out a few of the Asheville photos for a new gallery, and give the place a good dusting. Thanks for stopping by!

Also posted in Brazos River, Family