Or should I call this post: Reunited and it feels so good!

Even though having Donn back means I have to listen to a lot more Bob Dylan than I really want to, we are all doing great and very happy to have him here.

Elliot and I arrived at the airport and were standing outside, waiting, when a young man swigging a bottle of Coke came up and asked me who I was waiting for. “Mon mari,” I said (my husband) and he said, “Ok, come inside.” Surprised and mystified, I followed him. He spoke with the policeman at the door, who nodded at me, and then Elliot and I went into the main room of the airport. The airport here isn’t very big—there’s a main hall, very basic and echo-y, a hall for departing flights with molded plastic seats and one for arriving flights without seats but with a conveyor belt, and that’s basically the whole place. You walk outside to actually board your plane. There’s a man who wanders around holding a tray with some tea glasses and a spring of mint, and for 10 or 20 ougiyas he will pour you a glass, expertly and quickly getting the foam on it. Yes of course the glasses get washed sometimes—only an American would think of that!

Once inside, we stood for a while at the barrier that separates the main hall from arrivals, but soon the young man came and ushered us all into the arrivals hall. I was amazed. It’s years since visitors have been allowed back there. I still don’t know why we were among the lucky ones, while others waited outside. We were able to smile at Donn through the glass as he went through customs. It was fun to see the surprise on his face as he looked up and saw us grinning at him!

He got through quickly. I’d run into another friend there—a Mauritanian man—and it was rough that HE got to hug and kiss my husband, in the warm greeting style of Arabic men, while all I could do was smile at him and wait impatiently until we were behind the closed doors of our house to even hug him. Sigh… Darn cultural sensitivity!

The porters hopped and skipped all over the moving conveyer belt. Donn found his first 2 bags quickly, but the 3rd didn’t come and didn’t come. Others were also waiting impatiently. We had two cases but were waiting for the box containing books for Oasis and some medical supplies for a local clinic. Finally the conveyor belt stopped moving. No more bags to come.

We stood at the only counter while someone rapped hopefully at a door behind it. We know that door—it leads to an office where we spent some time the FIRST time we came to Mauritania, with 11 bags, NONE of which arrived with us. Eventually we got 9 of them but 2 never did come, and no, not a penny was reimbursed to us either. That was the now-defunct Air Afrique. Would Royal Air Maroc be any better?

Not apparently. No one was there. We waited, and after about 20 or 30 minutes a man strolled casually, even sleepily, behind the counter and opened the door. He came out with a large accounts book, and began writing down people’s names and claim numbers. People crowded round. He coincidentally stood RIGHT IN FRONT OF DONN but others, with an ease born of elbowing their way to the front of lines from birth, effortlessly pushed him right out of the way and got their claim numbers in first. It was rather impressive to watch. We have such a long ways to go to be able to do it like that, although I do try and practice sometimes.

Finally, the man seemed about to take Donn’s claim number—but then he hesitated and changed his mind. He went back into the office, came out, and stood at another place on the counter. Donn found himself again at the back of the line. It was just after 4 a.m. We gave up and went home.

Our guard gave him an enthusiastic greeting. Hug, hug, kiss, kiss. Elliot and I hurried ahead to unlock the door so he could rush in and wake up the twins. As Donn came up, I did remember to “casually” notice the message stuck in the Christmas bow.

We opened the door. Elliot waved the light saber. Abel, obviously still half-asleep, tumbled through the door shouting SURPRISE. Ilsa slept on, for a few more minutes anyway. Then we had a joyous reunion. She showed him her decorations. He managed to eat a few cookies. Through it all, Michelle, our house guest, slept on, undisturbed. She’s found an apartment and is trying to get water and electricity. More on this later.

It was after 5 a.m. by the time we got to bed.

The last piece of luggage arrived today, Tuesday, 3 days later.

He still has jet lag and since I’m a light sleeper, it’s like I have it too. But the kids are on vacation this week (Vacances de Toussaint) and after today, so am I, so who cares? We’re enjoying late mornings and lots of extra hugs.

Even the Bob Dylan is sounding better than normal.

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