Vietnam #1, #2, #3, and #4

After a hiatus of about a year, I returned to work at the local college this week. I accepted the job when I was still in Athens, Greece, and almost put myself in a bind as I did not realize at the time that I had two appointments with doctors and a dental cleaning appointment this week. However, I was able to work out the appointments and do the job I had been assigned–teaching for four days a class of English as a Second Language beginners and an advanced class of the same subject. The beginning class met from 8 to 10:00, Monday through Thursday. The advanced class met from 10:10 to 12:10 on the same days. I realized that the challenge was to maintain the confidence of the students for four days, and I aimed to be successful. Knowing that I probably would not remember their difficult-to-pronounce names, I opted to call on them using their country name–Miss Mexico, Mr. Colombia, Miss Costa Rica, Vietnam #1, #2, #3, and #4. Not only did I feel success when I bid the last one goodbye, but I enjoyed the gratefulness of these students. Many of them came by and shook hands with me as they departed. I’m glad I’m a teacher who never tired of the classroom and one who is grateful that I can still enjoy the interaction with students.

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Universal Courtesy

While in Athens with my partner, I rode city buses many times. I learned that it was all but impossible for me to get on and off buses without using the cane for balance. Frequently, the bus was crowded–standing room only. Always I was offered a seat by someone already seated. Frequently, these caring individuals were young people. I’ve not yet had the need to travel by bus in St. Petersburg, but I would certainly hope I would be offered a seat. I’m counting on this kind of hospitality being universal. If not, my hat’s off to the youth of Athens, Greece.

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The Gold Hidden in the Backyard

On March 31, 2015, I found myself on the island of Rhodes with my partner. How lucky we are to be able to travel. Before Dimitris and I met, I had done some traveling but not much. Most of my traveling had been on cruises. What Dimitris has taught me is that spending money on travel, when done carefully and rationally, can be managed on a school teacher’s retirement income and a retired postal worker’s investments and savings. Because Dimitris is Greek, many of our trips have been extensions of visits to Athens. They have included trips from Athens to Dubai, Finland, Estonia as well as several Greek islands, including Santorini. While making these trips, I have continued to maintain all financial obligations, including financial support for my church and my ex-wife. My friends are amazed. My brother, who has a lucrative retirement income, thinks I have gold buried in the back yard.

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The Fall

On March 22nd, I observed my second month following my knee replacement surgery. Our plans were, after arriving in Athens and re-connecting with Dimitris’ family, to make a side trip to Dubai. After arriving there, I had been as careful as possible, walking with my cane only when there was no alternative to getting somewhere. We decided to take a double-deck bus tour of the area and had arrived at a drop-off site for taking pictures of the Burj Al Arab, the iconic hotel that is in the shape of an Arabian sailing vessel. Dimitris hurried to get off the bus for picture-taking and motioned for me to follow. When I approached the step-down from the bus, I realized that it was steep. As I touched my cane to the ground, I lost my balance and fell. Fortunately, I fell into a sandy area or I could have hurt myself badly. It took that fall to make me realize that exiting busses must be a slow and deliberate process no matter how beautiful the scenery. This is a picture of me taken by Dimitris just after the fall.

Me, after the fall with the Burj Al Arab

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Take Up Thy Bed and Walk

When I departed for Europe less than two months after having a full knee replacement, I knew that I was pushing myself. The only alternative to walking had to be using a wheelchair. At the airports, that was no problem. I was treated like a VIP which, on an airplane, means business or first class. Not only did I fly to Athens, Greece, but I also flew with Dimitris to Dubai for a week. Upon our arrival in Dubai, I exited through a private door on the opposite side from which the regular passengers departed where I was greeted with the wheelchair and transported through customs miraculously. One of our first excursions in Dubai was to the enormous Dubai Mall where we found wheelchairs available at no charge. Dimitris readily put me in one and made what would have been a walking challenge, a sitting pleasure. Of course, I began to realize that I could become very accustomed to this kind of codling. I now understand better why, when Jesus said, “Take up thy bed and walk,” there may have been some hesitation.

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My Mis-Happy Birthday Eve

On the eve of my 77th birthday, my partner and I closed the room curtains carefully and headed to bed at 10:00, promising to have a good night’s sleep. The sound that awoke us both was electronic and, to me, it was the alarm clock indicating that the night was over, and it was time to wake up. When he asked how I had slept, I felt even more certain that it was indeed morning after a full night of sleep. My final confirmation of this “fact” occurred when he began to sing “Happy Birthday.” However, when I glanced over at the clock and saw that the time was midnight, I realized that the electronic noise had been an incoming text message and not the alarm clock. My inner time clock never recovered, and I spent a sleepless rest of the night before my birthday. I’m happy to say that the remainder of my birthday was excellent with dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant at the Madina Jumeirah resort in the city of Dubai.

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Off We Go

Yes, Dimitris and I are headed to Europe again. He will stay three weeks longer than I do this time, giving him quality time to spend with his mother and sister. Also included in this trip will be side trips to Dubai in the UAE and the island of Rhodes. I am healing nicely after my knee replacement surgery in January, but I’m still going to limp at times and will utilize my cane when necessary. Thanks for bearing with me while I’m away as it is impossible writing and publishing blogs from Europe. I rely on Dimitris’ laptop, and it doesn’t like me because I’m such a rapid typist. So, please come back to visit “bobosbest” on April 9th. I appreciate all of you and love to receive your comments and encouragements as well as occasional corrections.


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