London

Travelblog: Held Hostage in Style by a Volcano

There are advantages and disadvantages to being held hostage by a volcano in London.

In terms of disadvantages, if you are being held hostage with hundreds of thousands of other people trying to escape, I’ve discovered the UK island is virtually impossible to leave. If you aren’t flying out, your only options are by train or ferry to reach the European mainland. And if you and hundreds of thousands of other people are trying to leave at the same time, your chances of finding a spot on a train or ferry in time to reach a functioning airport with an actual seat on a plane back home for you are quite slim. London is also a very expensive city to be held hostage in. Yesterday I had a tuna sandwich and some sort of fruit juice concocted from every kind of artificial flavor and sweetener one could imagine. It cost me 5.40 GBP. That’s a whopping 45 Egyptian Pounds. In Egypt, I could buy a really nice dinner with that.

In terms of advantages, if you do have the money, there are quite a lot of things one can busy oneself with while one’s volcanic captor is busy spewing ash.

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Travelblog: Stranded in London Update

It’s over. There’s no way out of the United Kingdom. A friend took his scooter down to the Eurostar office in London and found a line 200 people long in front of it. By the time he would have reached the front of the line there would not have been a single space on any train. I can’t drive out because I’d need to take a ferry or book a spot on a train for the car out of this large island. The ferry ride is very long and the drive would make it longer. It would make more practical sense to take the next available flight out of London, which is Tuesday, April 20. I’ve made my reservation on that flight now. I’m stuck in London for four extra days. I can only hope that the winds are in my favor and that the volcanic ash will allow me to leave on the 20th.

I’m absolutely heart-broken. I travel all the time. But I organize my home and work schedules very delicately around all my travels. Now that it’s disrupted, my home and work schedules are also disrupted.

Most importantly at home, two of my children needed my help in their studies as their final exams near. They were so happy that I was actively involved in their studies. Now I’ve left them alone to fend for themselves. Their aunt is staying and will help out. But they still need their mother.

My work schedule has gone all a muck as well. I’ll need to seriously consider cancelling a business trip to Italy in May because of what this trip now has done to the children. After this, there is no way I can jump on a plane in less than three weeks to come back to Europe. No way.

Regardless of all this, I’m going to try to forget everything and have a nice day in London. It’s beautiful out this sunny Saturday morning. I’ve been to London several times but have never had the time to do some sightseeing. Perhaps this is a sign from the Gods that it’s about time to get on with it and see the sights of London.

Book Review: Little Bee

I’ve never written a book review before, nor do I know how one should properly be written. But if there’s ever been a book that deserves my time to be reviewed, it’s Little Bee.

I bought Little Bee at San Diego Airport while I was waiting for my plane on my way home to Cairo. I do this frequently, but I rarely end up actually reading the book and if I do, I rarely make it past the first few pages. Air travel exhausts me and serious reading takes a lot of energy out of me.

I read Little Bee throughout the three flights I took to Cairo when I was not sleeping. And I read the remaining few chapters when I got home. I could hardly put it down.

Little Bee is a story about humanity. It is a fictitious story told by two women who are worlds apart. A dramatic event brings the two women together in the midst of a Nigerian oil war. We then watch as they are separated and their stories unfold only to bring them back together more than two years later.

We meet Little Bee as a 16-year-old Nigerian refugee in the United Kingdom. Through her very personal story we get a very human feel for the life of refugees; both before they arrive in their chosen country of refuge and after.

Sarah O’Rourke is the editor of a fashion magazine in London. Sarah yearns for the days when she felt she could save the world.

Little Bee speaks to us in a language she has taught herself so we can understand. She tells us stories about her village in Nigeria in a way that makes it easier to relate. At once, we learn how different life in her village is from ours in our globalized cities and towns, yet how similar the human spirit is no matter where it resides. This concept is magnified by delving into Sarah’s spirit as she navigates through one life-changing event after another.

Little Bee is a story that shows how love, acceptance of one another, and understanding can not only change lives but save them.

The book is written by Chris Cleave, a columnist for The Guardian. Cleave brilliantly embodies the spirits and personalities of many women in this book. He writes as if he was a woman or has delved into their souls. The women in Little Bee come from many countries and backgrounds. He uses their words, their languages, their motions, and their thought-processes in a way one can only do after years of close observation and understanding.

Little Bee was published in 2008 by Simon & Simon Paperbacks, New York, NY. It was originally published in Great Britain by Sceptre, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton.