27 Aug 2021
It has become clear to me that trying to synchronize posts with dates (kept sequential, of course!), travel, experiences, and thoughts is a Sisyphean task. So – I’m giving up on it. Posts will be titled with the day of my trip (not when I wrote the post) measured from 29 May 2021 – the day I left Namibia to “go travel” with one way tickets. While I will return to Namibia, I honestly don’t know when.
Getting here was really pretty pleasant after literally days of ensuring, tediously, that the COVID rules for entering Canada were strictly followed. Once I got over the panic of the original COVID testing site not being able to do the test, it was finally arranged with a new testing site two minutes before the deadline for Wed appointments. The test was done on Wed AM (for a Friday flight) and I had the (negative) results within an hour, for free! Nice start! Then my daughter took me to SFO…
Landed and proceeded (slowly) through immigration, customs, health, etc. Canadian laws concerning crossing the border in this day of COVID are very stringent. I studied and prepared as much as possible, and it paid off. I cleared immigration, customs, and COVID screenings painlessly. Fortunately I was not randomly selected for post arrival testing so I walked out of the airport yesterday free to move and explore with no further travel obligations! One now-amusing event was convincing the immigrations official (who was delightful, just incredulous) that I really did come into Canada just to ride the train! She kept saying “what else will you do while you are here?”
This was my first hostel experience in many decades, and it’s interesting and welcome. The beds are comfortable, and the hostel was 100% full last night. I haven’t seen my three roommates at all since checking in about 19:00 last night and it’s now about 16:00 Saturday.
When I toured Western Europe on a motorcycle in the summer of 1971, and again in 1981 when crossing the USA from Connecticut to California dipping into both Canada and Mexico enroute (on a different motorcycle), I camped out most nights. On both trips, sometimes a friendly local would invite me to sleep in a spare room and take advantage of a shower (probably in self-defense), and often invited me to a meal with the family.
In one way, I think of my “real” travelling just beginning from the San Francisco area. I’m solo now, by intent for the first time. Three weeks ago I took the train to Chicago (discussed in the previous post), then was in Maize, Kansas visiting with a few members of Marilyn’s extended family for a few days, then visited with Roger and Kris, good friends for almost 30 years, who now live in, and are originally from, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, my high school buddy intending to go on the trip from Chicago to Seattle on a train had to cancel at the last minute so I flew to Seattle for a four day visit (in a later post) then back to the San Francisco area for some family events. Yesterday I flew from SF to Vancouver because wild fires had knocked out the train tracks heading up the coast so Amtrak cancelled my train. I’ll be in Vancouver for two days and depart here Monday on “The Canadian” train to Toronto – four days and four nights on the train.
Then a couple of days in Toronto, and taking trains through Niagara Falls to head back to Washington D.C. where I’ll see more friends, and then to North Carolina for a Peace Corps service friend from Namibia. After that – I’m not sure yet. Most likely (but not fully decided as yet) I’ll work my way back across the USA to end up on the west coast and put my boat back in the water to live aboard when I’m in the USA but keep my home and residence in Namibia, also. That’s the current plan.
Serendipity is often the result of the kind of coincidence that springs from planning and anticipation. A while back I purchased the ebook version of “Out of Instanbul: A Journey of Discovery Along the Silk Road” by Bernard Ollivier which I think is the perfect book to read as I start this journey. A two hour airplane ride slipped by in only minutes as the author – a journalist in his 60’s who was a journalist and teacher for over 30 years – described his inner life as he prepared for his solo trip of 3000 km walking from Istanbul to Tehran. I was moved by his writing as it related so closely to my own life at this moment, and had to share the experience. So I drafted my own inadequate prose to a new friend I’m making in Illinois and hope to meet on a trip back across the USA in mid to late September.
And therein lies the constant challenge for me: comparison. As much as I know there is ALWAYS someone that is “more” of something than I am – and there always will be for everyone – I can’t help but want my own ability to express a story or a feeling and capture a reader’s interest, and often am in awe of an author’s ability to do just that. Of course in Bernard’s case (I don’t think he’ll mind me calling him Bernard), he’s been honing that craft for many decades, he’s travelled all over the damn place, experienced the death of a beloved spouse, has memories of shared international journeys with her, and rejoiced in a close family. I don’t have those experiences – I have my own. I just hope to be able to express the depth of personal experience with a fraction of his skills, or of the skills of many “real” authors.
People often react to the number of life experiences I’ve had, but I feel it is a pale reflection of what I have been able to touch upon in yearning for a greater experience. The world, and life, have so much to offer but I live with the constant feeling of having fallen short in self-satisfaction with progress . In fairness, I am able to appreciate and cherish being able to do more, and learn more, in my 70’s. I would rather “get it” now, than never. Heile Selasse is quoted in “A man who says, ‘I have learned enough and will learn no further,’ should be considered as knowing nothing at all.” For example, I have never had the richness that comes from decades of building a relationship with a life partner, but perhaps there is still time to do what I can in the time I have left. And the deep friendships I am building with some are incredibly satisfying and challenging all at the same time. I am grateful, and fortunate and have had advantages that were not available to many, many people.
That’s MORE than enough “naval gazing” for now! Stay tuned.