A Strong Hand

The trouble was I windsurfed to Saudi Arabia. The one time I attempted this sport I grasped the standing part, and I could do a decent job of staying up and traveling in any direction the wind would take me, but despite a week of lessons I could not learn how to turn the thing around. This was 1986 and I was in Jordan at the time, a guest of the late King Hussein and his fourth wife, the cool tall blonde half American half Syrian Queen Noor.

When I windsurfed to Saudi Arabia I was rescued by a flotilla of the King of Jordan’s servants who motored out and gathered me up and into their boat and lashed my sailing device off the stern, back to the Palace on the Gulf of Aqaba.

One day the King took me, and some other guests, in his power boat. He said it was the big brother to a cigarette. It sure went fast. All of us with crazy hair zagging to the side as we clung to padded handles and smiled at each other and felt the chattering of teeth from the force.

Christina and the late King Hussein of Jordan on the fast boat!

Then we slowed and bobbed nearby a promontory of crags with some sort of structure atop it. “Now we are in Egypt,” The King told us, and then he revved the power boat and we zoomed away, back to Jordan, keeping wide of Israeli waters and an eye out for submarines.

Also visiting were the King and Queen of Spain, Juan Carlos and Sophie. Cousins of mine whom I knew since childhood.

Christina and King Juan Carlos of Spain

There were times we joked we had a strong poker hand, with two Kings, two Queens and a prime minister. A highlight was one day, over lunch, witness to an extraordinary conversation between the King of Jordan and the King of Spain as they good-naturedly and a touch competitively compared notes on the multiple assassination attempts made on their lives.

Their Majesties Queen Sophie of Spain and King Hussein of Jordan

This was the occasion of my first wedding, to a Brit whose mother was friendly with the late King Hussein. It was a marriage arranged speedily. After a brief courtship the future hubby and I boarded a flight to Jordan, with a wedding cake from Harrods, and my future ex-husband’s mother. I invited no guests, looking for a fresh clean slate, but the groom’s mother was our witness at the wedding ceremony, held in the half excavated half restored tomb of Moses, on a hill overlooking the Dead Sea. Before the King flew us away in his helicopter we set free white doves.

King Hussein at the helm of his helicopter

Setting the tone for this marriage my mother-in-law remained with us on our honeymoon. Seven years later I would return hubby to his mother. All yours, I thought, and moved on with my life and gradually forgot about the details of this episode. Until today when I started opening up boxes and looking at old photos, having a laugh at the ancient memories and wondering if it’s time to try windsurfing again.

8 thoughts on “A Strong Hand

  1. You look SO beautiful in these lovely photographs.

    It seems that you were born to this lifestyle – oh wait – you WERE born to this lifestyle!! xxxxxxxxxx

  2. I love this piece. It gets straight to the point, and how you just build with your sentences make moments explode….damn! You go girl!…..

  3. Ah, Mark, you are an artist! Thank you for your generous words. I can tell from their melody you are the real thing and I am glad to know of your obsessive guitar-playing. Music is my greatest inspiration so I am grateful to you for your passion. Without which we might all be accountants, just kidding, I know that could never happen… And yes, as long as we are inspired all is most definitely ‘well with the world’.

  4. You are an exotic creature Christina . What extraordinary memories . Amazing stuff . I’m still bowled-over by the fact that you and Nile Rodgers are old friends . To many people , all over the world , he is a bright star . I saw the interview on your Timeline . What an enchanting accent you have , like a posh English New Yorker . And your life and times in Key West are so interesting . I do hope your immediate surroundings continue to inspire you . As for me , as long as I remember to read your evocative and funny writing , when I give myself the occasional break from my obsessive guitar-playing , I won’t run short of the feeling that ‘all’s well with the world .’

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