Posted by: cousindampier | 29 May 2014

The Way Home, Day 3

Almaty and Apples and all that

Almaty and Apples and all that


With time and perspective, a proper story about Almaty will emerge. With three days, it is impossible to write coherently about a year there.. It is a city I can warmly call home. Leaving is a difficult necessity. There are a hundred cliches about home and saying goodbye one can throw out and they are simultaneously both true and empty.

In his ‘Farewell’ poem, Robert Nichols writes:

O bronzen pines, evening of gold and blue,
Steep mellow slope, brimmed twilit pools below,
Hushed trees, still vale dissolving in the dew,
Farewell. Farewell. There is no more to do.
We have been happy. Happy now I go.

There were wonderful times had and there is excitement in the future, and it was a happy year. And yet once again, I am leaving one home to move to another; and I am starting to wonder if home is the road.

This thought was brought to full manifestation in Istanbul.

The Best Island Hostel has a large rooftop balcony, and they have turned it into about ten more beds. The mattresses are on the ground, and you sleep out underneath the stars of the Bosphorous, with seagulls circling the lights of the Hagia Sophia close by. And it is here I meet T the Hitchhiker.

Like any profession, if you spend enough time doing something, you sense who is a professional. T the Hitchhiker was a professional traveller. There was one bag, a minimum of clothing; a small notebook, and one of those large scarves which has several uses. She knew what she was there for.

And what she was in Istanbul for was to begin a month-long hitchhiking throughout Turkey. This was interesting, because last time I’d been in Istanbul I’d met a guy doing a similar thing, and this formed the basis of my response. I didn’t know that Turkey was such a friendly place to hitchhike through.

Apparently it is. And so is Serbia. The United States is harder to get a ride in. Ireland was cool. And this went on, as T the Hitchhiker works at a university in Toulouse (if I recall correctly), and for the past decade, every summer, she packs up her single bag, goes to a country, and spends a month hitchhiking through it.

I had a 30 kilo suitcase I was already thinking about dumping (mostly to avoid $100 baggage fees). Hearing this certainly didn’t help, but it was a refreshing cap to both Almaty and my year away from America; for when I used to hear stories like this, I would think “Dammit! What am I doing wrong, that sounds cool.”

And now, I find I think, “Cool. Why not me?”


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