Because I was sick.

I cooked spinach and beef korma, and chicken pilao. I cleaned up the house (as best I could) and invited my daughters over too. Just finished washing up the big pot and putting it back in the pantry, and I’m bone tired.

But it was lovely.

We spent the afternoon together. Didn’t check my email, didn’t play spider solitaire or anything. Just talked, and they laughed and they told stories about the other cruises they’ve been on, and spoke about the one they’re going on Saturday.

To Spain.

Spain has always had a special place in the heart of all Muslims. We yearn for what was Andalusia.

Who hasn’t heard of Jebr al Tariq, (which became Gibraltar) where the great Muslim general Tariq ibn Ziyad landed with his Muslim forces in 711. He burned the boats so they could not go back.

Muslim Spain was at the height of a glorious Islamic civilization.

I know it’s hard to imagine, what with the way the Muslim world is today.

It was shortly after the Muslims lost Spain and the Spanish Inquisition, that the Muslim world–at the height of scientific and cultural sophistication–withdrew into itself and began its slow growth into stagnation and decay.

My father is particularly keen on finding out what four characteristics of leadership are engraved into the walls of the Al Hambra. He knows one of them: justice.

My parents are very unusual Pakistanis. They’re world travelers, they’re curious about other cultures, they take the verse of the Quran that says to ‘go out and see what became of civilizations before you’ seriously.

And while I was sitting today watching them tell about their adventures, I couldn’t help but get a big goofy grin on my face.

One of their last cruises was to Antarctica. They caught the cruise ship to Rio de Janeiro and rounded the treacherous waters of Cape Horn to finish in Chile. When they were coming back, they had a connecting flight in Miami.

My father wanted to pray on the continent of Antarctica. He wanted to celebrate God’s praises in a place that might not have heard the way we do it.

That’s just the type of guy he is. And my mom is quite the trooper too.

When we were just kids they drove us all across the country, right up to Alaska. My parents drove everywhere in Canada and the U.S. that a car can go.

Yes, we grew up poor, but my father figured that we had to buy food anyway, it was only the cost of gas because we’d sleep in the van.

And the neat thing was that we went up to Alaska when I was thirteen, right about the time that I had read Jack London’s Call of the Wild. I was fully prepared for the beauty of the Yukon and Alaskan wilderness, but I wasn’t prepared for the silence.

Whenever we turned off the engine, my ears would ring with it.

I fell in love with the Yukon, and the arctic then and I fell in love with the country of Canada.

Up to that point in my life, the Canadians I’d known had been pretty mean to me. But the country… It is magnificent!

No place like it.

And now that my parents had exhausted their backyard, they were using cruises to see the rest of the world.

After Antarctica they went to China, and now Spain.

And one day, I want to follow in their footsteps.