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Vacationing: American Style

By Bahar M. Jaberi
Portland, Oregon

In late August, I set out to go to Westport, Washington a tiny coastal town of about 2,500 people. I work and go to school at Portland State University. I badly needed a vacation.

A friend of mine has a friend who owns a tiny cabin there and she graciously offered to give me the key to the place. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It was around 80 degrees, sunny with a bit of a breeze. What can anyone ask for? Well, a television, a radio, and a firm bed wouldn't hurt. As far as I was concerned, I was "roughing it." That's a lot to ask an Iranian woman who grew up in the city.

There were four of us. We got into a car and headed out to garage sales. Apparently during Labor Day holiday weekend garage sales are the best, because people save their junk for an entire year. You know what they say about "One man's garbage is another man's treasure." At one garage sale, the owners of the house apparently had a business and they were getting rid of their overstocks at "low, low" prices.

I bought two pairs of earings, genuine surgical steel, for $1.00. I wanted to buy some souvenirs for my family, but if it's not gold, they won't wear it. I remember I once made a pair of beaded earings for my grandmother to later find the cat playing with it. Oh, well, so much for the souvenir idea!

Then I went to another place where they had emptied out an addition to the house and had filled it with garage sale stuff. I was walking around the place when I saw that they were selling a set of twelve textured glass cups and saucers for $4.00. What? It can't be true!!! I had found my treasure. They were the perfect size for tea, and they are the exact kind my grandparents had before their china cabinet caved in on itself many years ago. Now I can invite my family over to have tea!! You see, when they drink tea, they like to see the color of it. "Een cha-eeye ya ab zeepo?"


I consider myself to be a true Iranian-American. There is a lot of Iranian in me and there is also a lot of American, but I had never experienced assembling jigsaw puzzles. One friend had bought a brand new, unopened box of jigsaw puzzles and that was our entire life for two days. We woke up in the morning, drank coffee and sat outside on the porch working on the puzzle.

Out of my excitement for the puzzles I traveled 25 miles eastward to Aberdeen. Lo and behold, like a shining star in the sky there was Walmart, the great American store. I bought two jigsaw puzzles.


There was a hefty looking wasp nest on the side of the cabin. Wasps were happily buzzing around, moving in and out and having a wonderful time until the humans arrived. They were angry that we had invaded their paradise. But all in all they kept away when we waved them away. One morning I was sitting on the porch, having a cup of coffee thinking how lucky I was that as long as I've lived I've never been stung by a bee. I especially felt lucky that no wasps had stung me yet with as many as them flying around.

I was in my reverie when I suddenly felt that the middle finger of my right hand was on fire. There was a wasp sitting on my finger just munching away. After calling the poison control center in Seattle, Washington I figured if I swell up like a watermelon, then I'm headed for disaster. When the poison control center finally called to make sure I was still alive, I found out that the best thing to put on a bee sting is Tartar Control Baking Soda Toothpaste (the only thing we had in the cabin with baking soda in it).


What is a vacation without music? I had hauled my entire stereo system to the cabin with a wide array of music, from Gypsy Kings to Fereidoun Foroughi. You know what they say: "You can take a girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of a girl." Give me Iranian music, or give me death!!

We listened to lulling music of Shahin & Sepehr, and the sad wail of Googoosh as we performed many of our daily tasks. It's amazing how much my American friends enjoyed the music I had with me. It just goes to say: Music is the international language of communication.

The next time you decide to go to Small Town, USA, make sure you take your Googoosh, and your Baking Soda Toothpaste. They are life savers.

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Last Updated: 2-Oct-96
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