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Middle East Kevin Dispatch

Life, the Greatest Trek of All!
February 5, 2000

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Me and my favorite gals!
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I never thought the expression "All good things must come to an end" would have to apply to me and the Odyssey World Trek! After all, the World Trek has survived jungles, deserts, jail, storms, sleepless nights, sickness, and even Y2K, so surely it can't be over for me just yet! But, sad as it may seem, the time has come for the Team to continue on to Turkey, while I have decided to stay here in Israel.

Believe me, the decision to stop trekking hasn't been an easy one. There are many things that I'll miss about being a Trekker: meeting new people, eating exotic foods, visiting amazing sights, learning about the history of different cultures and petting interesting animals just to name a few. But without a doubt it'll be Jasmine, Monica, Kavitha and Abeja whom I'll miss most of all. In addition to being Teammates, they've been my co-workers, my family, and, above all, they've been really great friends. If I'm ever in need of a smile to brighten up my day, I'll always be able to check out www.worldtrek.org and see their shining faces, wherever they may be.

Living the Trekker life over the past year has been something like living several lives in rapid succession. It's been an ongoing journey from country to country, culture to culture. My mind is filled with foreign names and far-off places that now jump out of books and dance around my head as animated memories. Apart from the information I've already passed on in my dispatches to you readers, I'd like now to share with you some of the other things I've learned…

From the winding coastal road of California to the bumpy bus routes of Central America, I've learned that traveling is about moving forward until life begins to repay you with an ongoing satisfaction of "getting somewhere."

From the Islands of Panama to the snow-capped Andean Mountains, I've learned that people are good to you no matter how poor they are or how different they seem.

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Partying in Peru when it was 1999
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From the guest room of a Peruvian family to the dormitory beds of Harare, I've learned that it's possible to feel at home just about anywhere (even if your backpack suddenly disappears.)

From the sandy streets of Timbuktu to the cafes of Israel and Palestine, I've learned that hope is the tiny spark that can ignite the will to change the future.

I set off on the World Trek with a fair share of hope, and now, after traveling for a year, my backpack is filled to the brim. I've observed people who, despite all the difficulties they have in life, simply refuse to give in to discouragement or excuses and are as determined as ever to overcome the obstacles that block their world vision. Whether they've been adults or kids, women or men, their courage and dedication has astounded me and their individual stories have inspired the many dispatches I've written from week to week.

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Look at the cute little lamb I found back in Timbuktu!
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Often these same people have asked me, "Who is this for?" as if to wonder, "Who on Earth could possibly be so interested in our lives as to read about us twice a week on this thing called the Internet?" At first I responded, "Thousands of students back home are reading about you."

But week by week, "thousands of students" turned into Sam, Connie, Jon, Amanda, Carlos, Nicole, Cassie and countless others who have sent me email with great questions and ideas while wishing me luck on the World Trek.

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Alas, the donkey and I have to say adieu to our Odyssey fans!
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Perhaps by staying here in Israel and Palestine I'm able to satisfy the part of me that wished I could stay longer in every place I've visited. My girlfriend, Tamar, and I have many things to learn about here, and now we can continue to explore them together. I'm excited to stay and continue learning more about all of the fascinating things that we've been writing about for the past six weeks. I'm equally excited to know that you'll all be continuing with the other Trekkers as they journey to Turkey, Iran, India and China. I hope that from there each of you will choose to embark on your own unique journey in Life, the greatest trek of all.

Memories!

California, Guatemala, Abeja, Spanish, Monica, hotel, Kavitha, breakfast, Shawn, bus, Sol of El Salvador, la cucaracha, Honduras, platanos fritos, Nicaragua, Land-Rover, Managua, Costa Rica, student protest, San Jose, Internet, Oscar Arias, Panama, raspado, Darien Gap, Colon, Palenque, Senor Bornel, San Blas, cayuko, Kuna, lobster, Alalan, fishing, yacht, thunderstorm, 2-seater, Colombia, M-16s, Medellin, Ecuador, Peru, Moche, Sipan, Trujillo, gold, Ary, Chan Chan, Caballitos, Chimu, Cajamarca, Sonia & Lily, cuy, Banos del Inca, Atahualpa, Ventanillas, Minera Yanacocha, Nazca Lines, Colca Canyon, Charlotte, Julie, Estelle, hot springs, llamas, alpacas, small pox, Chiniiiiito, horses, Mama Africa, Inca, monasterio, mate de coca, Ollantaytambo, Kadima!!!, Inca Trail, Machu Pichu, sopa a la criolla, email, Genia, Tears of Tihuantinsuyu, Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni, jeep, viscacha, Argentina, Adolfo Peres, Gen. Oviedo, Buenos Aires, Malaysian Airlines, Capetown, jail, South Africa, stolen home, 25th birthday, Tamar, Harare, elephants, Shone sculptures and dances, Kanga Fry, sadza, mbira, Weedman & Felix, rape, Nathan, GCN, Jonathan, Phantom Menace, meat, Huange, lions, Vic Falls, CHIYSAP welding, Hillside Lodge, Mugabe, Dumisani, GALZ, constitutional reform, Accra, pineapple, Kumasi, orange bus, Lake Volta, sheep, goats, fainting, Baaaaaah!, motorcycles, Bonjour!, Mali, Riyad, Jasmine, taxis, pinasse, sand storm, Timbuktu, Ca va?, Tuareg, bottled water, Cisco & Christina, Sahara, wet camels, Ca c'est du the!, Mohammed, Bamako, flies, Dakar, mosquitoes, malaria, la clinique, Israel, Hebrew, Purple Rose, Jerusalem, Hebron, Herzl, Deheisheh, Jamal, Jaffa, kibbutz, Christopher, Shoah, Yad Vashem, Safed, Metulla, Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom, Golan Heights, Peace Now!, Hanan Ashrawi, Tomb of the Well-Known Soldier, Shalom.

Kevin

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

Abeja - Istanbul (Not Constantinople): They Might Be in Turkey!
Andrew - Strange Encounters in Turkey
Brian - Oh the places we'll go!
Jasmine - Odyssey Behind The Scenes: Secrets Revealed!
Kavitha - Interview With Courage
Kavitha - Kavi Gets MAD With Art

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