Monday, October 13, 2008

Trina's Travel Status

We are at 14 weeks. We fly back to the US on October 14th, which is tomorrow. I have five interviews and both sets of our parents have booked flights to come visit us on the East Coast.

I am ready to be back in the US for a bit. I have really enjoyed myself. Being sick for a few weeks sapped some of my energy. I’m guessing that knowing we are going “home” soon is part of why we are starting to feel ready for a travel break.

Turkey has been a fantastically different place. It is great to have a whole new category to explore. It feels like a different part of my brain that I still have space to fill, as opposed to the European history/culture/religion section of my brain which is overflowing.

I am surprised at the ways that all the places we have been share similarities with “home.” I find myself in a grocery store or airport or public festival stopping and listening to the PA system for instructions, at which point Ron usually reminds me that he too can’t understand it because it is in Turkish/Hungarian/German/Czech/Slovakian/Polish/Lithuanian. I go into the store and am always surprised that I can’t read the label to find out if I am buying yogurt or buttermilk (not a great thing to mix up by the way). There are billboards on the side of the road, gas stations with mini marts, buses that drive slower than cars, fast food joints manned by sullen teenagers, lovers being reunited at airports/train stations, people playing with their dog in a park.

I am curious/afraid/expecting to be surprised at how it will feel to be back in the US. I’m sure there are many small things about either Continental living or a traveling lifestyle or both that have become so “normal” to me that reentering old normal will feel strange. For instance, I imagine that it would be kind of weird to be in Boston and eat natural (plain) yogurt and muesli for at least one meal of every day. Probably rotating three pair of underwear (flipping it inside out when necessary) would be kind of strange. I really hope I’m not a snob, “In Europe the mass transit is so much more efficient; in Europe the people are less fat; in Europe I wouldn’t pay so much for this medicine.” I’m guessing that actually all those things will be true, but I hope I can spend my energy soaking up all that I have missed about the US while I’m there…rather than missing where I am not.

I think it is fun to realize how very little you really need on an ongoing basis. I could probably write you a list without looking of everything in my two bags. Sometimes it feels a little frustrating or stifling, but most of the time it feels kind of nice to be simple.

I’ve had way more headaches on this trip than I normally get. I think it is at least in part because of carrying around the heavy bags…that always makes my shoulders a little sore. Plus, we have spent a fair amount of time in the sun and heat, and that can give you a headache. Ron, aka Captain Hydration has been very vigilant about our water intake, so I’m pretty sure I haven’t had any dehydration headaches.

Turkey has been a bit of a gastronomical challenge for me. The vast majority of the foods are very tasty, but really really high in fat. Lots of oil, full fat dairy products and did I mention oil? We have definitely fallen for kebaps (called kebabs in the rest of Europe which are more like a pita with meat, vegetables and some sauce than what I always think of as a kebab – they call those shish kebabs). It’s the only place we’ve been so far where we can’t drink the water and have to be careful about un-peel-able fruits/vegetables. What I wouldn’t give for a big pile of vegetables and a fruit salad right now!

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