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Margarita Wednesdays: Making a New Life by the Mexican Sea [Format Kindle]

Deborah Rodriguez

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Extrait

Margarita Wednesdays
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THE SUV ZOOMED AWAY FROM the Serena Hotel in Kabul as if in the middle of a chase scene. A decoy SUV and a taxi followed close behind as camouflage. We raced past cars, fruit stands, vegetable shops, and pedestrians, leaving a thick trail of dust behind.

In the front sat our Afghan driver and an Australian friend and customer, Jane, who worked for a private security agency. Calamity Jane, I thought, as I watched her chug the vodka she had neatly concealed in a water bottle, and as I saw her repeatedly checking the safety on her semiautomatic gun. This girl was locked and loaded and all business. In the back with me was my twenty-six-year-old son, Noah. We had just returned to Kabul together, two days earlier. My younger son, Zachary, was scheduled to fly in from Northern Cyprus, where he had been studying at Girne American University. It would be the first time we’d all be together in this beautiful country I had called home for five years, a sort of summer family vacation. Fleeing for our lives was not included in the itinerary.

But shit happens. And in those past two days, a lot of shit happened.

It was spring 2007, and I had headed home to Afghanistan from the States on top of the world. A whirlwind tour promoting my book about the Kabul Beauty School had left me giddy with pride, and I was looking forward to getting back to work with my girls at the school. But there were things that had to be dealt with, things that weren’t perfect. Even before I left Kabul, rumors had started bubbling up that the beauty school was a brothel, and that the Afghan government was planning on launching an investigation. I was also worried about the government’s reaction to my book, which they were supposedly rushing to translate into Farsi. My mention that I had first come to Afghanistan in 2002 with a Christian humanitarian organization could very well put me, and those around me, in jeopardy. Over there, you can be arrested and threatened with death if someone reports you for converting to Christianity. Of course, there was nothing religious about the school, nor was there anything illicit. I’m far from a preacher, or a madam for that matter. I wasn’t sure how seriously to take these rumors. After all, with all that was going on in Afghanistan at the time, how important could a redheaded hairdresser be?

And on top of it all, I had, to say the least, a challenging domestic situation to deal with. Three years earlier, I had married an Afghan man—Samer Mohammad Abdul Khan. The fact that Sam already had a wife and seven daughters living in Saudi Arabia turned out to be the least of his undesirable qualities.

It had all started off fine. For once in my life I felt like I was making a rather practical decision when it came to a man. Sam’s help in keeping the school running was invaluable, and he offered the kind of protection any Western woman doing business in a war-torn nation would—literally—die for. My association with Sam would work wonders for my reputation among the Afghan people, a reputation that was already in the toilet simply due to the fact that I was an American. Besides, I liked having a man in my life, and Sam was kind and respectful, and never imposed his religious or cultural values on me. We were introduced by friends, and after we had been furtively sneaking around for a while in a country where, for Afghans, dating a foreigner was strictly forbidden, marriage seemed like a logical option.

But about a year and a half in, Sam began a friendship with “The General,” one of the most notorious warlords in Afghanistan. There were warlords in my living room! I quickly learned to phone before entering if I saw an SUV with blacked-out windows and a running motor parked outside the house. The headiness that came from being that close to power had a bizarre effect on Sam. He began calling himself a general (or actually became one, it was never clear to me which), and was soon strutting around Kabul in full regalia like a bantam rooster cruising the henhouse. And he was drinking way too much vodka, not a good thing for a man who had been living in bone-dry Mecca, whose alcohol tolerance level was close to zero, and whose reaction to the slightest provocation was to reach for the nearest gun. Usually my defense became a game of possum—it was easier to pretend not to notice him or to feign sleep than to stir his macho blood. It didn’t always work.

It had become clear that Sam didn’t love me. I was just a war trophy, an American woman who came with connections, and better yet, cash, or so he mistakenly thought. I began to distance myself from him, learning Dari and throwing myself into the challenges of the beauty school and the coffeehouse I had also opened. But the more I worked and the more successful I became, the more he seemed to resent me. He took my independence as a threat to his manhood, no doubt humiliated by the taunts from his warlord buddies about his inability to control his foreign wife.

It was hard to see through Sam’s posturing exactly how much of it was a charade and how much a reality. Was Sam one of the good guys or one of the bad guys? And, I was beginning to wonder, was he really on my side? Sleeping with the enemy would be bad enough, but sleeping with my enemy? I realized I had made a huge mistake, and wanted nothing more than to leave Sam. But I had heard way too many stories about women in my situation, and none of them had a happy ending. Bringing shame to an Afghan man can have dire consequences, with women often having acid thrown in their faces, disappearing, or being murdered in retaliation.

Leaving Sam would have meant leaving Afghanistan, and all I had built there, forever, and that was something I could not bear to do. I was changing lives! Me, a hairdresser from Michigan, making a difference in a place few dared to go, at least not by choice. And it wasn’t by being a doctor or a diplomat or a philanthropist, but by doing the only thing I knew how to do—hair. I had fought tooth and nail for the school and was unbelievably proud of our success. And I wasn’t about to let anybody down. My only option was to come up with an exit plan that might allow me to continue my work and live my life on my own terms. There were still a lot of pieces of that puzzle missing by the time I was headed back from my American book tour.

During a layover in Dubai, Sam called to warn me that my security situation had gotten even worse. He said that two bombers had been intercepted near the beauty school. One claimed that he had been paid five thousand dollars to blow it up. But when I made calls to Afghan friends with connections to the police to verify Sam’s account, nobody had heard a word about it. It became hard to know who to trust. I’d seen so many foreigners go rogue from staying in Afghanistan too long that I couldn’t even be sure anyone was telling me the truth. Then Sam turned the tables to say my sources were involved in a cover-up. Next he told me that I might be thrown in prison if I returned to Kabul, only to change his tune an hour later in another call. What, I wondered, could have changed in one little hour? Though I wanted to believe him, I was beginning to suspect a setup. Of course, I was nervous. But I was Deb the Hairdresser, and I could deal with anything.

Then came the last straw. Jane, in the course of her workday, had picked up some chatter that made it clear my situation had become a dire emergency. Within forty-eight hours of landing in Kabul I was frantically dialing the embassy. I held the phone to my ear and heard the ring on the other end. It was five minutes after five on a Thursday, the start of the Afghan weekend. I bit my lip nervously. C’mon, pick up, pick up!

“Hello, United States Embassy. This is Mary, how can I help you?”

I heaved a sigh of relief. The embassy would help me. How could they not? My girls from the salon and I would go there all the time to provide haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and other treatments for embassy staff. Once I was even asked to powder Dick Cheney’s forehead when he was in town. I tried to speak slowly and calmly enough for Mary to understand, but my emotions were running high.

“Hi, this is Debbie Rodriguez from the Kabul Beauty School. I’m in trouble. I was just told that there’s a plan to kidnap my son. I need help. I need a safe place. Please, please help me,” I pleaded.

“The embassy is closed right now,” was the indifferent answer.

“The embassy . . . is closed right now,” I repeated in disbelief.

“Feel free to call back during open hours. Thank you for calling.”

“Please, Mary, you have no idea! I’m Debbie Rodriguez from the Kabul Beauty School!” I cried, raising my voice a few octaves. “I need help now! I could be dead by tomorrow morning! Hello? Hello?”

She hung up. Seriously?

WHERE MY GOVERNMENT FAILED TO help me, my friends could. That’s the lucky thing about being a hairdresser—you know everyone. Jane quickly sprang into action.

“You and your son have ten minutes to get outta there,” she said in a flat, clipped tone. “And that’s it. I’ll pick you up at the German restaurant down the road. Be ready.”

“Pack up your things! Now!” I yelled to Noah as I tore up the stairs to my bedroom.

“What?”

“We have to go!”

“Go where?” He stood in my doorway, bewildered, as I grabbed my two biggest suitcases and began to fling the rumpled, dirty...

Revue de presse

“Deborah Rodriquez is an inspiring, brave, and giving woman. She has embarked on a voyage of healing, self-discovery, entrepreneurship, giving back to the community, and finding love. I'm so glad that she has once again fearlessly allowed us to join her journey.” (Lisa See, NYT bestselling author of CHINA DOLLS)

“A brave and often hilarious tale of reinvention, told with pioneer woman brio and wicked humor.” (Wendy Lawless, New York Times bestselling author of CHANEL BONFIRE)

“This inspirational read is bound to appeal to anyone contemplating their second or third act.” (Booklist)

“Fans of Rodriguez’s brash and honest tone will thoroughly enjoy this next installment in her remarkable story.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Readers who fell in love with Rodriguez’s chronicle of life in Afghanistan will surely revel in this candid, intimate tale of starting over in middle age in a new country.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Rodriguez's story vibrates with the determination of a woman who wants to make a difference in the lives of others in the only way she knows: teach them to do hair.” (Shelf Awareness)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 5839 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 288 pages
  • Editeur : Gallery Books (10 juin 2014)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00GEEB8SE
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°112.347 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  79 commentaires
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deb writes about the Mexico I know and love 13 juin 2014
Par Nancy D - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
As a disclaimer I should tell that I am a friend of Deb's and live in Mazatlán, Mexico.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book as a peek into what makes Deb tick but also for its truthful and warm look at Mexico. Her perspective as a part of a Mexican family, as an owner of a business, and as a philanthropist running an organization to help Mazatlán's girls is what makes the book so heartfelt and true.

If you are looking for a follow up to her life in the middle east, you'll be brought up to speed here. And if you're looking for a book about what it's like to live and travel in Mexico, Margarita Wednesdays will satisfy you, too. Deb has a unique voice and her books are enjoyable and fun, just like she is.

I'm a big fan of expat stories, and this book joins Under the Tuscan Sun and On Mexican Time on my expat tales bookshelf.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Threads of Rodriguez’s life continue to weave new colors and patterns as she settles in with a positive look at the future. 16 juin 2014
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Deborah Rodriguez closes the pages of this story telling how she was forced out of Afghanistan in the spring of 2007 and came to a new life in Mexico with these words: It’s a long story. MARGARITA WEDNESDAYS begins with the dangerous departure from Kabul with one of her sons and takes her to sunny California for months of sitting and waiting for the healing to begin. It does not happen. She wants to be home, but is not sure where home is.

Rodriguez searches and is encouraged to seek help. However, her disdain for professional therapy is heightened when, after paying an exorbitant fee and waiting too long for the session, her therapist says she has some homework for the next time: “I want you to go into the fields at night and sit with the glowworms.” You can hear the sneer, and the ridiculousness of this homework is mentioned again and again. Glowworms? A friend she makes in Mexico will help save her and restore her to a place of self and worth. That friend is a trained therapist, but the friendship and the culture of spirituality are the important catalysts, not glowworms.

Rodriguez’s first nonfiction book, KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL, describes the adventure and success she found in establishing a beauty school and changing women’s lives in Kabul. This second memoir moves forward several years, taking Rodriguez on another kind of quest.

The search for the old Debbie (or, perhaps, a better, newer model) begins as she spends months in unsettled, jumpy moods, alternating between blurting out her whole history and keeping absolutely silent about her past. She becomes enamored with Mexico while listening to a gardener tell of his family there, and she takes a Mexican cruise with her then-boyfriend in a half-hearted attempt to salvage their relationship. From others on the boat, she learns about a small village, Mazatlán, and is fascinated with the culture, the unknown and the possibilities of change. She then learns that one of the main roads in Mazatlán is called Carnaval Street. She is hooked: Carnaval Street has promise.

After she and her boyfriend break up (actually, her boyfriend’s mother breaks it to Rodriguez that the love affair is over), she takes another chance and buys a house on Carnaval Street. The details follow her moving, decorating, meeting neighbors, and making choices in a nation where she does not speak the language. The humorous moments over the next few months are laced with a real and imagined “you-had-to-be-there” mentality, but they fall short more often than not.

Her insights into the ex-pat Mexican community, however, ring true. Americans move their lives to this country where stretching a dollar is feasible, and they embrace the ancient cultures and customs and learn a new lifestyle. Conversational exchanges among them focus on the here and now, and Rodriguez realizes that “for all of them, dwelling on or even talking about their pasts was a waste of time.” She finds comfort in the new friends who invite her to join them, sharing margaritas and gossip and wearing a swimsuit in the warm magic of the blue waters. She feels that no matter their differences, they all shared a huge, undeniable fact: something peculiar inside had drawn them all to this odd little city by the sea.

Months after moving to Mexico and meeting a brave new world of hopes and failures, Rodriguez opens Tippy Toes salon and spa in Mazatlán. She discovers that preparing young women to hold jobs and become responsible for themselves will help her. She sometimes wishes she had not heard their stories or seen their limited lives, because once she did, she knew she had to act. “The minute you open your eyes and really see something, there is no turning back.” She does not disappoint.

Threads of Rodriguez’s life continue to weave new colors and patterns as she settles into life with her sons, her grandchildren, and her friends. She ends this memoir with an upbeat, positive look at the future and what she has to offer the women of Mazatlán.

A final comment about MARGARITA WEDNESDAYS: Read the ending first. It doesn’t matter that you don't know the “I”, the family members, or the sense of release she describes. It doesn’t matter that you don't know why she has traveled to or settled in Matzalán. Instead, read Chapter 19 and believe in beauty and growth during the celebrations of the Day of the Dead as she creates an altar for her father, a man she thought she knew but realizes she did not. Her description of the cemetery and “renovated” graves, her respect for her family and herself, her understanding that the veil is thin between worlds will reveal a Debbie Rodriguez you will want to know. Then turn back to page one and find her.

Reviewed by Jane Krebs.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Phabulous Summer Read! 13 juin 2014
Par karen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Debbie Rodriguez with barely a chance to unpack her bags from a successful book tour finds herself fleeing for her life from Afghanistan with her oldest son, two suitcase and her scissors. Now a refugee in her own country Debbie takes us on her journey of healing from Wine Country in California to the shores of Mazatlan Mexico as she works through her PTSD. Her candid and often funny assimilation as she tries to put her life back together from living in a country with Warlords to one with Drug lords as only Debbie can tell. I found myself crying, laughing and cheering her on with each turn of the page. Pour yourself a Margarita and enjoy the best summer read of 2014!!
9 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Self Imposed Drama, Chaos and Inconsistencies 17 août 2014
Par javajunki - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Typically I enjoy reading about the lives of those who have done something different; from growing up on a hippie commune to climbing mountains living on an African preserve to becoming an opium addict...in general, I find these personal reflections on life to be interesting if not outright inspiring. This is the exception. Frankly, I can barely stand this author. I've met people like this who seem to be legends in their own mind; the conflict and drama in their life (usually self imposed) always leads to a crisis that require the intervention of others...in this case usually men who figure both large and loosely in the story. The once savior falls out of grace only to be immediately replaced by yet another who fails to live up to expectations. Meanwhile the author constantly contradicts herself; once the mother tigress only concerned for the safety of her son and forced to flee for his behalf but later showing a distinctive lack of maternal concern much less support. The author claims to have been a bastion of strength while in Afganistan yet can't manage an overnight camp trip due to her PTSD...another self imposed dx that makes a mockery of those who truly suffer from the condition. The author relocates single handedly to Mexico but then suddenly fears for her safety when a male waiter tells her she shouldn't walk home alone in the dark streets at that time of night....either the author doesn't have the basic good common sense of a 12 year old child or is so out of touch that she can't put 2 and 2 together. Throughout the book the author has a tendency to use people, create a lot of drama, make a mess and move on again. This is not inspiring but rather a good look at self imposed chaos.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Part Travel book, Part Start over Story 9 septembre 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I read The Kabul Beauty School by the Deborah Rodriquez but not read The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.

Advertised as were Kabul Beauty School leaves off. That's true, but this has a different feel, with a different style.

Kabul had a solid pace with a deep rich story about a different culture. This is more about the woman writing the book.
In Margarita Wednesdays, the author is honest about her mistakes and wise in her hindsight. The book skips back and forth at times and she talks to herself constantly which slows down the pace of the book.

The author starts the story by her fleeing Kabul and her then husband, afraid of threats on her son's life. The issue with the start is it is just a outline of what happened little details of why, who, although we know where, Kabul. Slightly vague about the when. Maybe the author herself didn't know exactly who or why. But the fleeing is quick and has little detail.

Before going to mexico the books is a mixture of dealing with PTSD, memories of Kabul, various failed relationships and jobs that lead her to this point.

Then Mexico. This book with out giving too much away is about a woman that we know from Kabul restarting her life and a business in Mexico. If you are looking for a biographical story about a woman constantly reinventing and restarting her life in exotic locations then this is for you.

It was funny, amusing, heart felt and warm, even with the slower pace. It was a good stand alone book.
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