How can every second be this amazing?
Yesterday, I woke up and went to the most delicious, grandious breakfast I've ever had. Mr. Bilal, the owner of ABODE Magazine, invited Kathleen and me to eat with him, his international reporter friend Judith, Katryna, and several other just fantastic folks.
"You have to make this place your home," Mr. Bilal announced at one point, staring at me and Kathleen over piles of pastries, cheeses and fresh fruit. "But go get some more. Go eat! Go eat." Of course we got more food. I went back four times, only to be sent home with goody bags that Mr. Bilal had previously arranged. Papaya and pastries and cold cuts, oh my!
Beach time followed. Friday is the Holy Day here in Qatar, so everyone has it off. The writing gang (so much easier than saying Bryce, Kathleen Tessa and me, isn't it?) trekked out for some serious sand and sun time. By sun, I mean I avoided the orange beast at all cost, hiding under layers of anti-stayaway-sunscreen. The beach was hot and the water was warm. Perfection.
I felt self-conscious in my bikini, as did Kathleen, so we rushed to the water quickly after taking off our clothes. Save for two women in birkas and one little girl, we were the only females around. Dozens of men filled the beach. Men swimming. Men grilling. Men just sitting together in clumps, touching each other in a casually affectionate way not quite common to us westerners.
After showering and catching a quick nap, le Writers headed to the Souq, a middle east styled outdoor market. Thin alleyways winding throughout adobe cream buildings, opening into hundreds of shops, make up the Souq. Vendors stood in each doorway. As we walked past, they would call out after us in a soft mumble. "Scarves. Scarves. Jewelry. Perfume. Scarves."
Birds, cats, food, nuts, candies, scarves, hats, art, beads, breads, here and here. Just step inside. The words trailed after us but on we walked, surrounded by hundreds of people. I saw more women in one hour than I had the entire two previous days. In their black birkas they brushed past, not speaking a word and again I found myself staring but trying not to.
Dinner was on the upper level of a Moroccan, sitting outside on pillows. We shared strawberry hasish while watching the people walk by and eating small plates of couscous. I have never tasted anything that delicious.
And today? What did I do today? I feel like this post has already gone on long enough. Today I wrote, worked for the magazine, interviewed people, collected information for stories. I visited the Islamic Museum of Art and the Islamic Cultural Society, where men in white quietly stepped up to me and offered black tea with honey. While reading about Islam and Mohammed, I drank every last drop.
After work, Kathleen and I went swimming again. It was late. The sun had already set. So we swam by moonlight in the warm water, this time wearing long shorts and t-shirts. Floating on my back, I looked up at the sky and realized I couldn't be happier. This is my dream. My life is really happening.
Now I'm going to bed. I'm exhausted and it's barely 9:30, but we start work early tomorrow and I have a long day ahead. There's a lot of writing to do, which excites me beyond belief. I get to write. I get to report.
And I'm doing it in Doha.