Alhamdulillah, I just returned from my Rhode Island vacation earlier this evening. Since I took my laptop I decided to do a little travel bloggin’, recapping my day. Some of you may be scratching your head and asking why I chose to go Rhode Island. The answer is: I don’t know. For years know I’ve felt this inexplicable pull towards Rhode Island and Providence in particular. I’ve wanted to go for years now but never had the opportunity. I’ve also tried to get people to go with me but no one seemed interested. Finally an opportunity presented itself and I decided to go (and solo at that). Again, no one else had the time, money or inclination to go and I refuse to pass up an opportunity simply because no one else shares in my vision. So, I booked a flight, a centrally located hotel and off I went. Here are the journal entries I made:
May 28, 2009
I made it to Rhode Island at 11:00pm, hopped a taxi to my hotel and now I’m chillin’ in the room. The plane ride seemed like it would NEVER end. This feels like the longest domestic flight I’ve ever taken even though it’s not. (I’ve flown from Miami to Seattle). I think the reason the flight seemed so long is because I left Minneapolis at 2:30pm when it was sunny and bright and I landed in Warwick at night. Aside from that I had a layover in Detroit.
There isn’t much to tell so far since it’s late and I wasn’t able to see much on the cab ride over. The city looks pretty sleepy and the people I’ve met so far seem stoic. They don’t have the bubbly, over-the-top pseudo niceness that people in the Twin Cities have. I’m not sure which is better…maybe it’s a matter of adaptation. I don’t know. I’m anxious to get out tomorrow morning and explore the city.
May 29, 2009
I got up rather late today. I think I was jet lagged or something. Originally I planned to start out early, grab a bite to eat at The Creperie (off Thayer Street near Brown University) and then head to Jumah. However, since I couldn’t get up before 11:00 and since it was cloudy and rainy outside, I took the shuttle to the mall in order to get something to eat. I walked around for little while hoping to find a taxi stand. Eventually, I happened upon one. I had to peel the driver away from his group of friends (they were busy watching a woman who was passing by in skin tight jeans). I felt like I was back in Jamaica because I was all: “Yo, you wukking or wha?” (LOL).
Reluctantly, he bid his friends goodbye and we ventured on to what can only be called a death ride. Why was it a death ride, you ask? The taxi driver, like many Rhode Islanders, drove with wreckless abandon; running lights, nearly missing a car or two (cursing the other driver out in Spanish, lol), and speeding under wet road conditions. He couldn’t find the masjid and eventually gave up looking. I was thinking, What? You’re giving up? He pulled over and urged me to ask some young men that were in front of their house washing their car for directions. Again I was like, What? You want me to ask them? I felt a little shy to do so but since I really wanted to attend Jumah I knew I had to do it. Alhamdulillah, they were very nice. One of the guys had a GPS system and was able to provide us with directions. Wouldn’t you know the taxi driver still got lost?! He eventually called someone on his cell phone and asked her to give him directions. (I don’t know much Spanish but I understood ‘mi amour’ and ‘can you look this up for papi, please mami?’*wink*) Kiss the ground when I finally made it!
Jumah was cool. I wasn’t digging the separate men and women’s areas (esp. since the PA system kept going out) but I just said Alhamdulillah for being able to attend Jumah. The community in Providence seems very mixed. I saw Arabs, African-Americans, West Africans, Cape Verdeans and quite a few other ethnicities. No one ethnic group seemed to dominate. I didn’t speak to anyone. They pretty much scattered as soon as the salah was over. I just stood outside taking it all in.
Unlike the Twin Cities (and many other cities I’ve been to) there were no taxi drivers in attendance at Jumah. I usually see at least three when I go to Jumah. I was hoping to hitch a ride with one of those drivers. Fortunately, since I like to plan everything, even down to the smallest detail, I had written a few taxi numbers down in my notebook (just in case). I took a taxi back to the Providence Place Mall. Sidebar: Can I stop here to tell you I loved the Providence Place Mall? I found everything I needed and so much more. Stores like H&M had different merchandise from what we have at the Mall of America. I didn’t buy too much though- just a purse and two rings.
I walked around downtown Providence for hours. My feet were hurting so I thought it’d be a good idea to head back to the hotel and relax for a bit. However, once I was back in the room I looked outside and noticed it had stopped raining. Restlessness and curiosity took over instead of relaxation. I grabbed my camera and went across the street to India Point Park. I spent the better part of an hour there staring at the water, people watching and snapping pictures. I also conversed with a Muslim bro who was out in the park walking his dog. He told me about a Cape Verdean festival that is happening this summer. Insha’allah, I’d like to come back for it.
After that, I took the hotel shuttle to Brown University’s campus and found a place to eat. I love the area around Brown University. I kept walking up and down Thayer Street looking at all the little stores and doing more people watching. I probably looked like a real, live tourist. While I was wandering around aimlessly, I found The Creperie and insha’allah I’ll be returning for breakfast tomorrow.
A funny thing happened today: While I was walking down Thayer Street I ran into one of my friends from myspace. Since I’ve had this Rhode Island curiosity I started connecting with Rhode Island Muslims online and asking them about the community. It was weird to see a familiar face…my friend told me we should hang out some time before I leave. We’ll see…
Whew, what a day! My legs are burning from all the walking (these enormous Rhode Island hills!) and I know I’ll be doing it all over again, insha’allah, tomorrow. Time to start searching for seafood…
P.S. I love the Rhode Island accent and how so many people here keep calling me “hon.”