It was in September of 1998 that my boss/soon-to-be-sister-in-law decided she (we) needed to go on a dental mission to Europe. This was not unusual. She had already packed me off to Siberia and Venezuela for ‘missions’ such as these, and I am always up for a good adventure. This time, our mission took us to Fatima, Lourdes, Paris, Liseaux… Wait a minute. This was no mission! This was a pilgrimage! Still. I’m always up for adventure.
I had visited Lourdes a few years before while a student in Pau, France, and had been a bit taken aback by the feeling of entering a religious Disneyland of sorts. A bit overwhelming with a lot going on. Fatima, however, was so peaceful, so calming. Though full of life and color and food and vibrancy, it was soothingly mellow and hospitable. A Portuguese village, rather than a French carnival. The group we travelled with was quite a mix of folks, and there always seemed to be drama – often caused by our tour guide, now that I think of it. But R and I managed to sneak away from time to time and complete our missions. One, to “network” with a Portuguese dentist, one, to give away some toothbrushes, and one, of course, was a tea mission.
With a brief window of free time, we broke away and found a quiet cafe overlooking an empty, but pretty, courtyard. We ordered tea and sat there, reliving the crises-of-the-moment as they had happened over the past couple of days. And then R sat back in her chair, raised her cup and said, “Well, it’s just another international tea moment.”
“Ah,” I thought. “Yes it is.”