After weeks of preparation and anticipation, I’m here! And, yes, it’s hot and humid.
So, a few updates:
As I sat down next to my first-class traveling companion to get ready for the flight from Dulles to Dubai, she said: “I guess we’re safe, the president is on the plane.”
I, of course asked what she meant and she said I just missed Bill Clinton making the rounds in first class, shaking hands. My response was to go find him.
I wandered over, extended my hand and said “people say I look like you…” True story. I’ve had many nicknames over the years, including a group of middle school students who called me “Clinton” back when I was a substitute teacher in Tucson, Arizona in the mid-1990s.
Then I did what I almost never do: I asked for an autograph – for my wife, of course. He obliged (and now I have to make sure I don’t lose it…)
I figured getting a picture at that point would be pushing it, especially since an aide appeared out of nowhere and stood at my shoulder as we talked about the tsunami and resilience of Sri Lankans.
The former president looked good and appeared pretty relaxed, saying he was headed to Dubai “for three days.”
As I find often when traveling abroad, people move at a different pace than Americans. It took about an hour to get my luggage, but I was serenaded by Christmas music in the airport, including several variations of “Silent Night.”
The drive from the airport to the hotel was interesting. Turn signals are definitely optional but every time one car passes another (which is often) a gentle beep is issued. And passing as another car or motorcycle comes at you is shrugged off.
Also present on the drive were many signs for ‘unity.’ This was a country at war not long ago and the signs and the military presence on the streets act as a rather stark reminder…