We spent our layover walking the endless alleys and going in and out of all the shops filled with everything from lamps and rugs to spices and chickens. We didn't buy anything, we just wanted to be present and take in the sights, sounds and smells.
We sat a sidewalk cafe, drinking ginger tea and smoking shisha (hookah)... I remember the tea was so strong it took us almost an hour to drink, and the hookah.... It was so strong that it made my face turn green.. We decided to chill and 'people watch' instead.. Once I regained feeling in my face we set back out on foot.
At some point we met a man who spoke English. I cannot remember his name, but he was one of the friendliest people we had ever met. He led us through the souq telling stories and buying us tea at different cafes. In the beginning, we thought he was being nice to us so he could eventually sell us something. That wasn't the case though. You can tell when the humility of a man is sincere.
This Arabian night only lasted maybe 6 or 8 hours. It seems like it was a distant dream.
Just like that, it was time to get back on a plane.
Our new friend offered to give us a ride to the airport. We tried to give him money but he refused. He looked me dead in the eye and told me the reason for our encounter was unconditional. He had no agenda except to be friendly and to use his English to see if we had any questions about anything. He genuinely cared about us, even though we were complete strangers. Katie and I were foreigners in a foreign land.
He wished us well on our journey to Africa and onward back to America.
When I look back on it today, I think about how that particular trip to the evening market impacted my life. Although the culture, language, sights and sounds were different - the commonality is community. It looks different everywhere we go but it's all virtually the same. We're all dealt various obstacles along our uniquely diverse paths. Thankfully, we've been given each other.