Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The near-kidnapped story you asked for

I have had requests wanting to know more about my "near-kidnapping" experience. Here it is.

The following is a journal entry I had made after a frightening day (and night) in Egypt several years ago. We were with a group of BYU study abroad students who had all been anticipating the horse and camel ride to the pyramids at sunset:

..."The whole group signed up to ride. Kirk found a guide that had a whole slew of "well trained" horses ready to take us. Hannah was opposed to the idea and told me so all day. I kind of wanted to go, so I talked her in to a "slow, calm" horse insisting we'd walk side by side the whole way. I promised. 

Oh my heart! We got to the stables and out came these huge stallions prancing around. Hannah started crying. Levi was the first one on and we should have gotten a clue when just a few minutes later he cam walking back down the trail (with that grin smeared across his face) saying he needed a "different horse". He downplayed the fact that he had just been bucked off, because he didn't want to scare Hannah. The guide calmed Hannah and put us both on our horses. Two ten-year old boys grabbed our horses by their bridles and we were off. Half of the group were on camels, the other half on horses as we headed up the trail. Kirk was last to saddle up and shocked us all as he came speeding by as if the posse were chasing him. He was hollering and pulling back on both reins, the camera (my camera) was bouncing around his neck and we all held our breaths waiting for him to fall. His horse bucked and turned around and sped back past us all nearly brushing him off against the stucco wall off to the side. I don't know how he hung on, but he did, and he too got a different horse. (I'm thinking seriously that they gave him the horse Levi started with.)  We settled into our hike up the trail, Hannah was smiling and even let her horse trot a bit. I on the other hand, had not been smiling. My horse was a "show horse" I later learned. He was spooked by everything, and everyone. He’d pull back on his haunches, snort and ninnie, and start dancing in an effort to rid himself of this annoyance riding on his back. "Goumah" (one of the locals spear heading this trek)  went speeding by on his horse. My horse thought he should follow, so we bucked and danced some more.  Goumah came back, winked at me and called me Habbibi. (My baby). People say that all the time, it doesn't really mean anything, but for some reason this gave me the creeps.

Night began to settle in quickly as we started on the trail that led to the top of the hill overlooking the pyramids. Goumah seemed to always be near me somehow. He wanted to talk to me, or he'd run ahead and then before I knew it, he'd be back by my side grinning and trying to get my horse to trot. I wanted nothing to do with any of that. I was as scared as Hannah with this high-strung, huge black stallion that could read my mind! We all made it to the pyramids. Cool. Nice. Sunset at the pyramids... The sun started going down and I was anxious to get back. I was hoping to get back before dark, but that wasn't going to be.

I'm not sure what happened next exactly, but I grew increasingly more frightened. Goumah rode up next to us again, and told my little horse boy to hold my horse back, I think because the horse was so jumpy. But my mind started thinking the worst and I felt this awful feeling deep inside that I was going to be kidnapped and taken out into the dessert never to be seen again. I honestly don't think that was a totally crazy idea, because it happens, and girls are warned about this quite often. 

I watched the others in our group riding further and further ahead of me fading into the dark as they disappeared over the hill. My horse was still misbehaving and I was sick of it, not to mention quite sore. I wanted to get off and walk. I wanted to run really. I wanted to catch up with my group.I didn't want to be left behind. Goumah encouraged Hannah's horse to trot, and she was relaxing and enjoying the ride. Her horse boy was darling and led her carefully toward the others. But they were much faster than I was, and they too began to disappear.  Then as if things weren't scary enough, Goumah shows up again, he's trying to talk in English to me, but he's bad at it...and I'm worse at Arabic, and I don't even want to talk to him. But before I realized what was happening, he had climbed off of his horse, threw my little horse boy up onto his horse, and sent them both trotting back to the stables into the ever growing darkness. I felt my last hope of rescue was in that little boy galloping away.  Okay, now I'm seriously in trouble. It's pitch black, Goumah is walking my horse, and we are no longer even on the path everyone else was on. Me, the horse and Goumah in the black of night. I thought about kicking my horse real hard hoping he would take off on a sprint for home. Would I be able to hang on? Could I lose Goumah? I told him I wanted to get off. I wanted to walk over to that same trail I saw the last horse go over. "NO, no, it's okay, you stay..." I really wasn't sure what I was going to do next, but I knew this feeling in my gut was real, and I knew I had to do something. With every step I felt more and more panic.  Then miraculously, up over that hill I saw a shadow of a person. It was our tour guide. He yells out "BYU!?" Goumah said nothing. Again, "any more BYU?!" I didn’t want to scream and scare my horse, but  I screamed anyway,  "Yes!!! I am BYU! We are coming!" Goumah turned the big horse I was on toward the voice and started making his way slowly back to the trail. As we came nearer to that hill, I insisted on getting off my horse. I slid my leg over and jumped off the animal and started walking away as fast as I could.

I walked right into Levi. He had been worried that I wasn't back yet. He came looking for me! I could've cried. Really. In fact one of the questions Goumah asked me was how big was our BYU group. After I told him 30 plus, I wished I hadn't. In a group of 35 it might take awhile before you notice someone is missing. Now I've probably blown this out of proportion, maybe he were just trying to keep my horse calm by holding it back. But I didn't feel a bit good about it, and Levi was concerned enough to come looking for me. Which is what I was praying for riding there in the dark, "please let someone realize I'm not there". 

So maybe it's not really a story of a near kidnapping. Maybe it's a story of following that still small voice that can warn us of danger, and guide us to safety. I'm grateful my son was listening. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Camel Lot

 Camel Lot

    "A law was made a distant moon ago here;

Three coats, two scarves, can never be too hot.

And there's a legal limit to the "rain" here,
                                                                                                    ...In Camel lot.

Camel Lot

Now kissing is forbidden 
till December

And for a ride they charge you quite a lot

By order, camels must not lose their temper,

               In Camel lot.                     

I know it sounds a bit bizarre,

but in Camel lot, 


Camel lot,


That's how conditions are.

The camels never poop til after sundown

By eight a.m. it all must disappear

 In short there's simply not

       ...a more congenial spot


For happily ever-aftering

than here, 
Camel lot!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What You Are

"What you are speaks so loud I can't hear what you're saying."

I read that quote when I was a student in college.  I found it in my psychology textbook. I read it, and then I read it again. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, this is deep Linn. You're gonna want to remember this." It has stayed with me all these many years, and I have pondered on it at the strangest times. Like when I was hollering at my children to quit yelling. Or telling them to be nice to the kitty as I chased it out of the house. There were times while sitting in the bleachers watching my kids play ball that I would exclaim to the ref, or the ump, or the official, that they were missing a good game. Then I would sit back with my drink and congratulate myself on being the model, nonjudgmental fan, and parent. (It's just that I had a better view of the court from where I sat.) I also have a deep understanding of the game...no matter what game it is.

But when it comes to horses and children,  I get a little scared. See, they have a good sense of "what you are."  I've seen it clearly while volunteering at the elementary school with a favorite friend of mine. The children adore her. They flock to her, and they listen to her. There is an instant connection because she really sees them.

That's why horses terrify me. I'm pretty sure they know what I'm thinking before I do.  I can act like I'm tough, pretend I'm not afraid, but it's no use. The horse knows. A horse is a horse of course (of course). Yet they have that sense. (It doesn't help that I've been bucked off twice, ridden bare back on a race horse that was whipped upside his fanny in an open field, sat atop a feisty big horse as he ran and jumped into the back of a horse trailer...chest level; and nearly kidnapped on a black stallion one dark night on the edge of the Sahara Desert.) All of those horses knew what I was thinking! 

Children see through the facades. They know when someone really cares. 

I saw the same connection with the students and the children at the orphanage last week. I'll bet any one of these students could hop up there on that horse and become one with the animal.

I was humbled to see all the number of students who wanted to volunteer. They outnumbered the seats in the taxi. I hope you can see in these pictures what I saw through the lens. It's in their eyes.
This is the little guy that won my heart. I sat down and started putting a puzzle together with him. 
I was trying out my terrible and limited Arabic and asked him his name. He got frustrated after he tried to tell me three different times that his name was Ahkhmaqdekhahliim and I couldn't repeat it back to him correctly. Out of frustration I  looked at him and started talking "jibberish." He tilted his head to the side, questioning and waited for me to repeat what had made no sense to him the first time. After I did it again, he started to grin a little and noticed the smirk I was giving him. Then he started laughing and demanded that I do it again! "Kaman! Kaman!"--"again, again."   He slid right next to me fiddling with the puzzle pieces and looked up into my eyes.  It didn't matter that I couldn't speak Arabic, and he couldn't speak English.  For a few magic moments, we spoke the same language. 

As we were preparing to leave, I was invited to go upstairs with Esther and one of the nuns to see the living quarters of the children. Sun shining through the windows brought added light to the clean and organized rooms. The beds was made immaculately, with a stuffed animal on each. With everything so bright and colorful I found myself quietly following the nun out of the room feeling a heavy sadness that took me by surprise. I didn't want to think of the children at bedtime. I didn't want to imagine them crawling into those beds without someone to tuck them in, or wondering who would bring them a drink of water when they cried out in the night.  The words "Who will cry for the little boy" suddenly came to mind. The line is from a poem written by Antwone Fisher that has impacted me since I saw the movie years ago. 

“Who will cry for the little boy, lost and all alone?
Who will cry for the little boy, abandoned without his own?
Who will cry for the little boy? He cried himself to sleep.
Who will cry for the little boy? He never had for keeps.
Who will cry for the little boy? He walked the burning sand.
Who will cry for the little boy? The boy inside the man.
Who will cry for the little boy? Who knows well hurt and pain.
Who will cry for the little boy? He died and died again.
Who will cry for the little boy? A good boy he tried to be.
Who will cry for the little boy, who cries inside of me?
                                                                        ---Antwone Fisher

I was grateful as I rode home thinking about the nuns that give all their time and love to the children. Their continual service and sacrifice makes a difference in the lives of each child there. I was grateful too, for students who through their selfless acts,  show me constantly "What they are."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Linnea Belnap and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bi'det"

No Good, Very Bidet'

Funny that my last entry was titled, "Water, water, everywhere".
Who knew? ...
That's exactly what we had! We use our bidet exclusively as the drain for the washing machine. I'm pretty sure everyone in the building does. (not sure about the "exclusive" part for everyone else.)  If you'll look closely at the picture I'm sure you'll agree that this setup 'was not smart'. It's like laying the garden hose down on the driveway and turning the water on full force and expecting the hose to remain stationary. When in fact, what you have really is a "water weenie"!

Kirk and I were sitting in the front room eating lunch while the washing machine was running. Probably an hour later I went to get the laundry.  I kid you not when I say that water was everywhere! Both bedrooms, the bathroom and the hallway had water 1/4" deep.
Apparently there is a measure taken to prevent this kind of flooding.
It's this round little white thing on the floor.
I thought it was an eyesore so I hid it under the rug. That 'was not smart'.
That is another drain. Had it not been occluded, the water would have stayed mainly in the bathroom.
As it was, Kirk and I grabbed those squeegee tools and went to work. Always thinking,  Kirk put a little soap in the water and mopped the floors at the same time.
What I want to know from my insurance agent, my sister, is this: Am I covered under my homeowner's policy against water weenie's flipping out of bidets?