The Journey Starts…
The Leaving of Dublin
Well, the worst is over. I’m sitting in the departure lounge of Dublin airport waiting for my flight. Another hour to go. I just had a full Irish breakfast, with pitta bread on the side, fjs. Just sipping a coffee and watching the impossibly handsome guy with the great teeth at the bar serving the shivering denizens of king alcohol and his mad realm who were skulling pints of stout at this early hour. Thoughts of gratitude.
I enjoy this liminal space where I have no worries or responsibilities bar making sure I catch my plane on time. I will, ever if yer man with the teeth gives me the nod.
I finished work yesterday late due to some last minute cockups with my anti-malarial meds. I was hoping to leave work at 6pm and have the whole evening free but as it turned out, I didn’t get away until 9. I was well and truly exhausted. I think my body recognised that my mind allowed it to feel tired, that’s it’s ok to feel tired so it felt tired. Gosh, did it feel tired.
I watched tv until 1am and then went to bed to read for 15mins or so before I fell asleep with a slight apprehension about the journey I was about to undertale. Up to that point, I hadnt allowed myself time to really register what I was actually feeling. This led to a restless night with vivid but enjoyable dreams. Mercifully, no spiders.
I woke up at 6am and was wide awake so I got up and had a pot of tea. I had no food in the house as I had chucked all perishables out yesterday. As I was preparing to leave, I noticed that I was looking around my flat as if I would never see it again. I wondered, if that was the case, what the next pair of eyes to see my flat would see and think. I reflected that over the years, I have lived in many places and have left many places with hardly a backward glance. I like my little social housing flat in Dublin and remember thinking, when I first moved in, that I would probably leave it in a coffin. I was hoping that this would be a long term plan. Such are the meandering thoughts of someone almost 70 and a knockin’ on heaven’s door. Ho hum.
“Yer man in the photo” sez I to the young woman at the Turkish Airlines check-in gate who was looking at my passport photo “he was much older back then in those days”
She laughed. They usually do; it’s a stock joke of mine, one on my few.
“So you’re getting younger” sez she
“Sure, I am” sez I, “an advantage of failing memory”
She smiled at this
“Your bags are very heavy” she commented, looking at the weight on the scales. 39kg. The heaviest my baggage has ever been. Well, the type of baggage you bring to airports, that is! The other type would ground a jumbo jet, maybe a fleet of jumbos.
“I know, I’ll be away for 3 months and most of it is camping equipment”
“Ah” she said “that makes sense”
I also had lots of consumables I couldn’t buy on the road like anti-mozzie spray, sunblock, meds, vitamins etc etc.
I looked at the two big bags and thought to myself, ‘jaysus, if I took away the camping equipment, I could put everything else in a carry-on bag’
I was expecting to pay a heavy penalty for being overweight. My baggage, I mean. “Nah, you’re grand” sez she giving me a grin. I grinned back. I was grand.
Whoosh. I’m in Istanbul now. That was quick. Obviously yer man with the teeth didn’t give me the nod.
The journey was as predictably meh, as you would probably expect. Efficient and competent staff and services but not exactly memorable. I snoozed most of the time. We left and arrived on time
I’m sitting here in the transfer lounge of the magnificent new Istanbul airport. It’s huge. I remember the last time I was here, a year ago, on my way back from my Silk Road trip. I spent 4 days here and flew back from the old airport. It was very tired and jaded and way too small.
It’s great being in the neighbourhood of Asia again. Within an ass’s roar, as they say in west Cork. I’m sitting here having a coffee and a fresh orange juice while I look at people from all over the world milling about in that graceful patient way Asians and Muslim folk seem to have. We’ve been doing this for millennia, they seem to say, what’s the rush, what’s the problem. I’m liking it.
One of the, alas many, traits in myself I’m not too happy about and constantly try to change, is a sort of tutting, slightly red-faced impatience. I was making my way along the moving walkway to the departure gate. I was in no hurry, oodles of time, I wasn’t lost, I knew where I was going. I was enjoying the sensory overload of all the new phenomena. I was grand. There was a sudden blockage and heads craned forward, “what’s going on”, “excuse me, can you move” were some of the comments. I saw a woman causing the blockage, she looked harassed. “She’s holding a ..” said a Turkish looking guy mimicking a pram or similar. “Stupid woman”, I muttered to myself, but loudly enough to be overheard. When we got to the end of that particular walkway, she chose not to go onto the next leg but walked instead. I noticed she had a huge pram and it was about the width of the walkway. I understood that she wasn’t being awkward but had no choice really. I immediately felt ashamed of my impatience and irritation as well as my passive-aggressive behaviour. I understood exactly why I did it.
I remember hearing a story about buddhist monks of yore when they had rainy season retreats All the monks gathered together every year and would share their experiences of when their behaviour or practice of their spiritual principles fell short of their aspirations. They would publicly confess their shortcomings. If they didn’t actually turn red with shame, their confession wasn’t deemed true. I think the redness signified burning off the bad karma. I liked the idea of that. I felt red writing this.
Arriving in Nairobi
Whooooooosh. Another sweaty plane journey. I’m in Africa now. Woohoo.
The plane arrived in Nairobi airport at 4:30am, about 15mins late. Unfortunately, it was dark so I didn’t get to see much. The main Nairobi airport burned down several years ago. For info, see here. We disembarked and went through passport control and immigration at a temporary structure. It was so different from the antiseptic European ones.
I was glad I got a visa before I left home as there were huge queues and I was through in a jiffy. Those who hadn’t, had to fill in a long form and then queue up to get it checked and have their passport stamped.
None of the immigratiom officers wore uniforms and they were laid back and friendly. My passport was stamped. I was in!
I’m tired now but will write more later.