Monday, October 04, 2004

Bintu Has Entered the Building!!!!!!!!!

Dear Friends:

The big day finally arrived -- Bintu made it into this country on Friday, Oct. 1st. As you might imagine with an event with so many details to orchestrate, not everything went perfectly, but thank God she is here...happy, healthy, and beautiful. Since I last posted to my blog we had a pimple or two to overcome at the U.S. Embassy -- it seems that they wanted further proof of my job and my income, which was quickly provided, apparently to their satisfaction.

Bintu was expecting to be interrogated and flogged during her interview at the embassy and to show you how things go around and come around, the black lady who spoke very harshly to Bintu when I was in Dakar six months ago and warned me of the perils of going with a Dakarois woman is the very same woman who interviewed Bintu. She was all smiles this time and bent over backwards to accommodate and help her in the interview. No Joe Friday routine, no cat-o-nine-tails, no nothing. She just told her how happy she was that she would be going to America to be with her fiance.

Bintu went back at the appointed hour to pick up her visa and waited in a room with the other visa recipients. Someone finally came out and told them to come back the next day - more waiting. The next day the visa was ready and Bintu was supposed to go to her uncle's home to arrange for the airline ticket from Dakar to New York. He had promised to pay for her ticket. Well, uncle is in France having heart tests and is incommunicado. The aunt, in typical African fashion, knew nothing, NOTHING, of such a thing. So we were in limbo again.

I made one of those "executive" decisions. "Tom, it is either you pay for Bintu's ticket or you pay those bills that have been stacking up in the mail box." If you notice the lights off at my house for the next month or two due to lack of electricity you will know why. Also wave if you see me riding a bicycle across the bridge to teach in West Memphis.

Bintu flew from Dakar to Madrid, Spain and had at least an 8 hour layover. Then she flew to JFK in NY and had to take a shuttle bus to LaGuardia. This would be daunting even for me, but for a woman who has never been in this country before to negotiate such a hair-raising adventure as shuttling across NY in a shuttle bus and hoping to make it to her flight on time -- well, she deserves a medal at least.

Once at LGA she flew to Washington, D.C. and had to change planes again. This plane was to take her to Nashville, where I planned to pick her up at 11:00 p.m. The Nashville airport at 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night is a ghost town. There were maybe 10 people in the whole building. I waited. Waited some more. Slowly started to unravel. Other waiters informed me that the plane Bintu was on was delayed because an engine conked out. At 1:00 a.m. the plane landed and I had no idea if Bintu was on it or not. She called and quickly told me she was in New York and off she went. She tried to call again, but I have a Cricket cell phone and you of course know that Cricket's never work, especially when you are two miles outside the city limit. So, I was ready to freak completely watching person after person come off the plane.

Finally, a beautiful 6'2" vision came around the corner and damned if I would be stopped by the barriers. Envision one of those slow motion film clips and you get the idea. Overjoyed is a word that does not begin to convey the emotions we felt. Of course we were both dead tired and faced four hours of night driving to Memphis. Well, we made it, she had an extraordinary burst of adrenaline as she saw the house and I gave her the grand tour -- and we lived happily ever after.

Wave to me and don't run me over on the bicycle.

(updates to come)


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