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11/16/09 Redball Serendipity

A cheezy movie had the tagline, "When destiny has a sense of humor, it's called Serendipity."

That's actually a terrible definition of a great word.

Serendipity is when unexpectedly delightful things happen. When challenges suddenly work themselves out. When you have to laugh and shake your head and say, "!"

Some may attribute serendipitous moments to destiny. Others to God. Others to their own karma. But if it happened due to your own deliberate efforts to make it happen, it doesn't count as serendipity, so regardless of your belief system, it's a thing to be thankful for.

Today, I had a moment of serendipity.

The day didn't start out fabulously. I slept on a friend's floor (not uncommon, here in the Peace Corps) and peeled myself out of my chubby sleeping bag at 4:30am. Several of us were trying to catch an early-morning transit. We expected it to pass at 5:30am, but knew that it didn't adhere to a strict schedule, so we wanted to be on the side of the road at 5am.

We pretty much made it - 5:08am, according to my new phone - and spent the next hour stamping our feet, huddling for warmth, and watching shooting stars. (NB: the Leonids have begun, and are already a *great* show, and they haven't even peaked yet! Tonight should be great, and tomorrow night should be breathtaking, with more great nights throughout the week!)

After 6, our host called the transit driver...who informed him that the transit had rolled at 3am, not 5am.

We grumbled and mumbled and trooped back indoors, some to sleep, others to get coffee and/or breakfast, still others to try to work out another solution.

Nine hours later, we were back on the side of the road. The transit had been spotted heading back, having returned its round-trip into town, and our host had gotten the driver to agree to take another trip, to bring us all down the mountain. The transit had rolled up...but what goes up doesn't necessarily come down *quickly*, so we were, again, waiting. For something like an hour.

As we waited, I tried to decide my route. After getting out of my friend's site, I could either head to SouqTown or go straight up to Berberville. I really, really, really wanted to get home...but I'd promised my host mom that I'd teach her how to make pizza, which requires redball cheese, which is only available in SouqTown.

If we'd gotten off the mountain at 6am, I'd've gone into SouqTown, bought some redball, Skyped anybody awake, run various other errands, and then ridden back up the mountain on the noon or 2:30 transit. But to head into SouqTown *now* would mean having to spend the night there. The earliest I'd be home would be around noon tomorrow.

So I had a dilemma. Not a massive give-into-the-terrorist-demands-or-watch-innocent-people-die kind of dilemma, but still, a tough choice: go straight home and apologize to Ama for delaying our pizza party by another week OR spend yet another night out of site and away from my friends/neighbors/kitties/family.

I owe Ama some quality time, plus my kitties don't have enough food to last till tomorrow, so both options were unpleasant.

And then came the serendipity.

Redball serendipity.

I had found a mediocre solution to my dilemma: go home, but ask one of the friends heading into SouqTown to pick up some redball cheese and send it up on the morning transit. I don't like asking friends for favors, nor do I like exposing myself to public commentary (and "she sent cheese up the mountain on a transit" is definitely interesting to somebody), so I wasn't thrilled with the choice, but it seemed like the best one I had.

And then.

When I asked my buddy for the favor, another friend - adopted name "Mina" - overheard.

Mina clarified, "You want 20dh worth of redball cheese?"

"Yeah," I confirmed.

"I have some in my bag," she announced, as though this were a perfectly ordinary thing. As though cheese is usually tucked in shoulder bags, along with chapstick and a novel for the transit. "Want to buy it off me?"

"Yes!" I exclaimed.

"I picked it up in Marjane," she explained, pulling out the wedge of plastic-sealed gouda. "It was on sale - that's more than the usual 20dh worth."

I nodded my agreement, still grinning. "That's 30dh, maybe even 40dh worth of redball. Sweet!"

I even had exact change in my pocket.

I handed her the 20-dirham note. She handed me the wedge of cheese, which I promptly slid into my own bag, next to the chapstick and the novel.

And just like that, everything was perfect. I'm equipped for some pizza fabulousness with Ama, I'm headed home tonight, and Mina - who had gotten the cheese for the previous weekend, and had no pressing need for it now - is 20 dirhams richer.

Oh, and the transit showed up only a few minutes later.

Luck? Destiny? Karma? Divine Love meeting *every* need? I have my answer; you're welcome to yours. :D

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