“The first word that comes to mind?” James asked, as we stepped from the airplane into the crisp breeze. “Pleasant,” I said.
It was certainly pleasant to be out if that tightly packed “patchwork” airplane. It was a deeper pleasant feeling to look out at the mountains in the distance as we walked along the tarmac.
After dropping our bags at our bare apartment, we set out to reach the hotel where we would stay, at least until we purchased a mattress…
It was dark outside and after a long, but successful day we were ready for rest. Thankfully, our driver was a gracious, English speaking friend. We plugged in the hotel address into GoogleMaps. Great, it is 600 meters away. We’ll soon be resting and hopefully find dinner.
In the darkness the neighborhood surrounding our new apartment did not look like one that would house a hotel, especially not the one pictured on our map. What do us new foreigners know anyway…. we slowly circled the block.
The first time around the block we found no sign of any type of lodging. We checked the address and tried again. In the darkness, it was difficult to see road signs. Did any of these intersections have signs?
We checked the address again. This time we slowly drove looking for people to ask about the hotel. Doorways were locked up for the night. Not inviting. At a corner in the distance, a light shone with a few men standing around, dressed in warm hats and thick coats. We parked and our friend stepped out to speak with the men.
On this illuminated corner I could see a handful of cats jumping in and out of the light, a few cats munching bones in the gutter. Small dusty store doors were closed all along the street. A mural painted on a wall was barely touched by the light. Cars trundled by on occasion. The men huddled around the light at a street side grill, inhaling cigarettes and chatting. When our friend broke the circle to inquire about our hotel, I could see spices, sauces, dough and meet piled beside the hot grill.
Our friend got back into the car. “I don’t speak Arabic,” he offered. We sat, thinking, hungry…kind of floating. At least I though we all were floating, but in a few moments, “I’ve found another location!” James called.
Keeping our hope in check, we drove across town to investigate the potential sight of our hotel booking. The new pin drop took us outside a hotel….We stepped inside…
“You must be Mr. Covey” the receptionist welcomed us.