E Komo Mai (eh koh-moh my-ee) – Hawaiian for ‘welcome’ or ‘come in’.
|A KoOlina Tradition|
|E Komo Mai - welcome|
|KoOlina - O'ahu|
Welcome – (as a verb) – greet someone arriving in a glad, polite or friendly way.
-- Dictionary Definition
|Wadi Rum - Jordan|
As a travelers who’ve been to any number of countries that require tourist visas we have a healthy respect for the variety of requirements each country has for entry into it, if even for a short visit. Some require nothing more than paying a fee upon arrival, a computer scan of your passport followed by a stamp in it. Some require that you fill out an application on-line, pay for it, and print out a copy for the authorities upon arrival. Others, like India, have a such a complex application process, high fee ($400 per person) and relinquishing our passports to their US representatives for a week or more, that had our cruise a year ago not required us to have had the visa to board the ship, we’d have simply never gotten off the ship in India.
A smile is the universal welcome.
However, once we had the visa, we have never been made to feel unwelcome in any country we’ve visited.
|Our guide in Petra and The Scout|
Like most who travel, we find that the every-day people we've encountered are simply normal people living in a different culture and religion than we know. Sometimes we don’t fully understand it, but that is why we’ve gone there in the first place – we want to learn more about them. And in the course of our travels, we’ve given those everyday folks a chance to meet everyday Americans as well. More than once we’ve been told we don’t ‘act like Americans’ – at least how they have believed or thought Americans would act.
|A new friend, a business traveler we met in Cairo, Egypt|
One reader of a post I wrote about our time in Cairo told us to be careful because ‘they don’t like Americans there'. Well, I suppose that if I were to survey everyone of the more than 20 million people in the city, I’d find some that didn’t like Americans for whatever reason. But I can assure you those that we have met not only welcomed us but thanked us for visiting their country. (When’s the last time you thanked a foreign visitor for coming to your country?)
|Greek olive grove|
We’ve actually had people ask us “How do you find the Greeks?” when they learn we have a home there. “Find them?” we respond. “You know. . . do they like Americans?” Now I have to admit we find those questions absolutely absurd based on our experiences. We have been made to feel more than welcome from the locals we have met in our villages.
|Our village children lead a parade through Kardamyli|
We are feeling so welcome, that as we’ve said in earlier posts, we are seeking resident visas which would allow us more time in that country. I can assure you, this visa process makes those tourist visa applications look like a piece of cake. It is neither easy nor inexpensive but it is definitely humbling.
And probably not unlike what the United States requires of those wanting similar status here.
|Welcome Mat at The Stone House on the Hill|
So aloha from Hawaii where our timeshare life is drawing to a close for another year. Again, the 'e koma mai' spirit makes it difficult to leave but new travel adventures await. May your travels be safe and may you always find a welcome mat waiting for you.
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