continued from 12/9...
So...there I was getting ready for a new adventure. I shopped for my new wardrobe at Army Surplus and purchased a new backpack. I updated the passport, got my shots and purchased several bottles of Lomatil and Antibiotics. I sublet my apartment to a wild and crazy artist and before I knew it--two weeks from the time I saw the sunset and decided on India, I was on a flight to London. I'm not one to let too much grass grow under my feet. And I needed to stay busy.
As soon as I got myself settled into a B & B (of sorts), I was off to Earl's Court to the local discount travel agency. Someone back in Laguna had mentioned a company called "Sundowners" that I should check out and I did. They had one seat left and the trip was scheduled to leave in two days. Perfect timing, I thought. I should explain that I did not want to fly directly to India and thought I should ease into the culture gradually. I decided to go by bus. We would be going through places like Yugoslavia (it was September 1982 and the war was just brewing--you could feel it, but Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia were not yet independent). It was a very scary place and the undertone of hatred was palpable. I thought Dubrovnik was beautiful but the anger, fear and rage that was just beneath the surface made me anxious to move on.
Turkey was stunning and the people were extremely warm. By this time, I had made new friends with my traveling companions, mostly Aussies, Kiwis and Brits. They definitely knew how to have a good time. Most of them were younger and most were unmarried but it was perfect to be in the company of people not yet jaded by life's rich pageant. I was still in my early 30's so I didn't feel too over the hill until one of the British lads, just fresh out of university, said to me, "you really must have been something in your heyday". I can't remember my exact comeback but it probably wouldn't be printable anyway.
Kusadasi, the sign says "Welcome to Paradise" and they are not kidding. Goreme, Ephesus, Gallipoli, Izmir and Istanbul were wonders.
While we were in Bodrum, we chartered a 80' schooner with three deckhands and sailed through the Turkish Islands for 5 days. There were about 20 of us and I believe it cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $30/day each. We would wrap a line around our hands and throw out bait whenever we got hungry and caught fresh tuna within minutes. We would anchor off small islands and the deckhands would take the dinghy out to shore and pick up fresh tomatoes and bread while we would swim to shore and soak in the hot salt-water caves.
Greece was so beautiful that I was quite certain that I would come back someday. I did and spent a couple of years, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Egypt, well there is nothing disappointing about Egypt. Cairo, Luxur, Thebes, Karnak, The Nile, the bazaars. You know what I mean. Go see The Mummy. It was everything and then some. It was also a nice third world segue before arriving in Pakistan. While the rest of the passengers on the bus could drive through Iran to get to Karachi, I had to fly over because Canadians and Americans were persona non grata after the hostage crisis.
Pakistan was kind of mysterious to me. I knew where it was, I remember learning about the break between India and Pakistan in school but I knew little else. In 1982, it was just a place on the map. I had heard that blondes were scarce and that I might get stared at but I shouldn't have any problems. I was also told not to wear shorts and dress modestly. I had no problem adhering to those suggestions and over the next several weeks, I got to see Pakistan up close and personal. What I saw, where I went, who I met was all so unforgettable.
Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Swat Valley, Landihkotel, The Khyber Pass, the famous Tribal Region (now closed to westerners and occupied by Al Queda), The Afghani Refugee Camps. This is where the adventure really began...
Pictures speak louder than words in some cases and I may share a few in my next installment.
to be continued...