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Middle East Brian Dispatch

Oh the places we'll go!
February 5, 2000

Brian

One morning long ago, while walking to school,
I spotted a lorax in a tree on a stool
And he called out to me in his particular way
And motioned that he had something to say.

Now a lorax itself is a peculiar sight-
In a tree on a stool is a sizable fright.
As he motioned for me to come his way,
His tree top stool began to tipple and sway.
As the branch he was on bent low to the ground
He slid to the end with the following sound:
"fffwwwshhhhhp!"

And he imparted to me these words of advice
Disappearing before I could ask him twice.
But as he left I heard the echo
"Oh the places we'll go!"

"You will be a part of the Odyssey
a traveling group of possibility.
The places you'll go and the people you meet
In some ways are the same as the ones down your street.

Click image for larger view
Look- we're one big, happy family already!
Caption

Monica, Kavitha, Abeja, Jazzy and Andrew
Will all be waiting in Turkey to meet you-
Except for wonderful team member Kevin,
Who stayed in the land where the bread is unleavened.

So pack up your bags although you may be frightened-
There are backpacks to wear and belts to be tightened.
And before you depart we'll really pile on
A computer and stuff to use while you're gone.

You will talk every week to friends 'round the world
Who travel with you as the trip is unfurled;
From the deserts of Africa to the polar ice caps,
This global classroom covers the maps.

And travel, my friend, is not always as it seems-
We can travel on land or travel in dreams
But wherever we go there's one thing to remember:
An open eye and heart will warm the coldest December.

So I packed up my bags and hopped on the plane
And in my mind I heard a familiar refrain,
The words of the lorax so long ago:
Oh the places we'll go!

Bucharest, Romania was my first destination-
The capital city of this former Communist nation.
The air was bitter and the sky was gray,
Cold times for a country finding its way.

Speaking of cold, I had one too-
Or some crazy kind of wintertime flu.
And on the flight my condition had eroded,
My eyes started watering and my nostrils exploded.

I began to question my expectations
As I labored to maintain clear respiration.
I didn't know if I could handle all this drama
My nose was running and I wanted my mama!

I bought a ticket on an overnight bus
That would cross through Bulgaria with minimum fuss.
The bus was to leave at an hour past noon,
So I arrived a bit early, not too late, not too soon.

But minutes turned to hours as I waited for the ride;
There was a small metal booth and we were all crammed inside.
When the bus rolled in over two hours late,
We squeezed ourselves out and up to the gate
And despite the long wait and no personal space
There seemed to be smiles all over the place!

Seventeen hours later it plopped me right down
In Istanbul, Turkey, a bustling town.
More than a town, a city in fact,
The only one in the world with a balancing act.

You see, the city of Istanbul is on two continents.
Both Europe and Asia claim a share of the rents.
The Bosphorus River is the line which divides
This beautiful city into two different sides.

Click image for larger view
Kavi and Monica can't contain their excitement about meeting me!
Caption

I wound my way through the bustling streets
Past beautiful mosques and stands selling sweets,
And after some time I made my way
To the hostel where the Team was to stay.

Pausing a moment before I knocked on the door-
I wondered if I was ready for the adventures in store.
And were they real, these trekkers I'd seen,
Or were they just pictures on a monitor screen?

All of these questions were answered for good
When I knocked on the door and there Abeja stood!
And sure enough they were all there
They took me in under their care.

Introductions were made and hugs were exchanged,
Bags were unloaded and beds were arranged,
And for several days we enjoyed our time together,
Drinking warm apple tea in this wintertime weather.

Click image for larger view
Having a spot of tea with my new teammate!
Caption

And as we explore we just want you to know
"Oh the places we'll go!"

Brian

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...briwingate@bigfoot.com
 

Abeja - Istanbul (Not Constantinople): They Might Be in Turkey!
Andrew - Strange Encounters in Turkey
Jasmine - Odyssey Behind The Scenes: Secrets Revealed!
Kavitha - Interview With Courage
Kevin - Life, The Greatest Trek of All!
Kavitha - Kavi Gets MAD About Art


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