BootsnAll Travel Network

The perfect transition.

Leaving the Middle East to my next destination wasn’t as easy as a bus ride so it came as a big surprise when everything came off without a hitch. I guess it does liken it a bit to what I was saying about the Middle East and how efficient things are.

Yes, I have been traveling for a while and have a little bit more background in getting from point A to B, but even so, I still took some risks based on the fact that I trusted the system as well as TV being a factor of course. Also, I guess you could say the Gods were smiling on me. Now, this is probably not as exciting as traveling across the Amazon, but when things go the way that you wish them to, it is actually a remarkable outcome. Just imagining how many things could go wrong made it even more special to me.

Okay, sort of from the beginning. Getting my Visa was not the smoothest of transitions so that kind of put me at a kind of bad Kharma feel for this next move. I eventually got that and my plane ticket which was the beginning of my good luck. Since I could not buy a ticket without a Visa first, I was only able to see all the different flights that were available but not able to book. One of the problems that I had seen was that the connection flights for my destination required these huge layovers, from 8-13 hours. That was kind of a bummer as spending a day sitting in an airport kind of sucks after two hours. I really lucked out when I went to the travel agency and found out that there was a flight that I could book that was at the cheap flight and had only a one hour layover. Sweet. I booked it and was on the next bus back to my TV place in Lattakia, about 4 hours from Damascus.

After a week of doing you know what, it was time to go. Now, common sense applied, I would have taken a bus back to Damascus at least the day before so I would at least be within taxi range of the airport. The problem was that Damascus is freaking cold, and the hotel where I stayed only had local channels with one hour of CSI being the only English program. I talked it over with Mohammed the Hotel guy and he suggested just taking the bus in the morning as I had an afternoon flight. Now, usually, flags and sirens would be going off as when your in a foreign country outside of the US or Western Europe, things just don’t tend to work so smoothly. I flashed to a scene where we are stuck out in the middle of the desert with a broken down bus, me standing on the side of the road frantically trying to wave down a camel to take me somewhere because “I HAVE A FLIGHT IN TWO HOURS.” It also conjured up memories of Ethiopia where the same distance would have entailed three days, four buses, and people with bones through their noses. In the end, TV won out as well as sleep as I decided to take the noon bus on the day of my flight so that I could sleep in and get in as much tv as possible. This left me with two hours lee way for any “problems.”

Getting off the bus in Damascus, on time, and the pressure was off. I knew the Gods were smiling and that it was going to be a good year right up to the end. Right off the bus I was assaulted by taxi drivers and I threw out how much I was going to pay and the guy said fine. Smiling gods I tell you. A quick hour drive and we were at the airport with an hour to spare. I was actually early. Now, since food was a big part of my non-TV time, I had worked it out to have a nice stash of stuff left over so while I was waiting, I had plenty of crème filled donuts, snickers, bananas and Coke to keep me satisfied. Usually when I travel, I like to bring as little as possible and airport food tends to be outrageous so I usually just end up being hungry. Not this time. Once I was checked in, I figured that I should cash out my Syrian money and when I dumped out all the leftover change that I had, it was exactly $10US worth. Just special. After Immigration and boarding, I started to get really hungry. The sweets are okay, but I started getting hungry for some real food. That kicked off my spit glands and I started getting cravings. One of the issues with the Middle East is that it is not a beef area. It isn’t because of major religious issues, but more to the fact that the dry environment doesn’t allow for much grazing land. Goat is the more typical of meat that you find. At that moment I was Jonesing for some beef. My mom’s curry beef snapped to mind and boy I was drooling. Then another miracle came when the flight attendants came and asked the usual question, “Chicken or Beef?” Schwinggggg… Beef stew. Damn, it was good.

We landed at the midway point where probably the only non-positive occurred because I ended spending my New Year’s moment sitting in my seat while the plane was just docking and the doors are still closed so there are people jammed in the aisles and nobody is going anywhere. Not even a “Happy New Years” was said as I didn’t even realize that it was over until I checked my watch ten minutes afterwards. Kind of a let down but something I would easily trade for especially when the prize is a perfect traveling transition. Once we disembarked, I took a look at the departure board and my connecting flight was on final call. Crap. Right then an announcement came over the PA making last call for two other passengers and Mr. Nakano. Crap. I took off running like that fat guy on LOST when he had to make the flight so he could get home for his mom’s birthday. I swung in just as they were shutting down the booth. I quickly scooted on by and made the request to the flight attendants to please wait for my bags. They said no problem and I was rewarded by getting a window seat which overlooked the loading belt. I even got to watch a car pull up with my back pack as they threw it on board. Sweeet. After take off, I was surprised again when another full plate of food was set before me. I didn’t even think that I would be eating twice. So, for the first time in three weeks, I had a well balanced meal with stuff like vegetables in it.

Landing in my new destination it was around 5am after the time change. A quick run through Immigration and bag pick up as we were the only flight, and I was out in record time. Now, I knew that the airport was a good hour or so away from the city center so I knew that a taxi was the only way to go as buses would not be possible. I went to the pre-paid booth and got the cost for the taxi journey. Ten bucks. That’s kind of crap, and I especially hate taxis, so I took a quick glance around for someone that I might share the taxi with. Sitting just along the wall was a girl with a backpack reading a guide book. Perfect as I did not have any guide and had no clue about where to go and such. I approached her and asked if she was heading into town and if she wanted to share a cab. She was more than happy to do so. She was French and spoke a little English, so combined with my little French we got along okay. We booked the cab and headed into town. Her friend had given her a place where they had stayed so we walked around the tourist area checking out places before settling on the recommended one. The rooms were a bit pricey so we ended up just getting a room together. As were both a bit wired from all the movement, we decided that after a quick shower we would head to a book store so that I could buy a guide book and then on to the train station so that we could check on transport. The book store ended up having my guide book in stock and it was cheaper than the listed price. After that we headed over to the train station where we met up with a German girl who was traveling alone and wanted someone to hang out with. She was leaving that night and was going to hit some sights before she left so we decided to go with her. We had to go back to the hotel so we made plans to meet up. The German girl suggested that we meet at McDonalds. Holy hell, I almost asked her to marry me. So after a quick hotel run, I had my fill of McDonalds. Life is nice. We spent the next few hours hitting all the major spots which was great for me as I wasn’t sure that I would have gone to see them on my own as I am a bit tourist stuff deficient at the moment. Natalie (the French girl- who was really nice, she would put her arm in front of me every time we crossed the street.) decided that she would take the train that night as well as she only had a week before she started her volunteer job. We ended up going back to the hotel so that she could get her stuff and now I had the room to myself. At that point I was exhausted and as soon as I lay down, I was in REM sleep for the deepest one hour of sleeping that I could remember. I woke up exhausted and dreading getting up as I should go and get something to eat before everything closed up and I ended up eating trash like when I was in Ethiopia. I just couldn’t manage to will myself out of bed until I remembered that I still had food leftover in my bag. It was just snack stuff but it hit the spot and I don’t remember anything after that point as I ended up sleeping 12 hours straight through until the next day.

And that my friends was my perfect transition.

Tags: , ,

3 responses to “The perfect transition.”

  1. Dan says:

    Hmm…Turkey?…probably somewhere warmer…Thailand?….no, Bangkok Airport is less than 1 hour from city…hmmm…Aha! Mumbai!

  2. Colin says:

    Karachi? Is this a contest?

  3. yazeed says:

    may ALLAH continue to protect, guide, and keep you strong. I am SOOOOO happy for you. As I read your blog I see recognize that the Steve that I once knew is no longer….but rather a new Steve has emerged.

    But then again…maybe it’s me that has changed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *