I haven’t really thought this trip through as much as I have others. I just don’t feel as if I am fully prepared for the adventure. For example, Sunday night as I began to feel daunted by the errands and packing I had some twelve hours to accomplish, I of course stopped doing what needed to be done and called a friend. His attempt to encourage me demonstrates my state of mind: “Well Erika, all you really need is your passport, right? And you have that.” At which point I had to get up from the bed upon which I had decided to deposit my daunted self and add ‘passport’ to the list.
Then I went to bed.
I was a bit wound up the next day, complete with timed schedule of things to do, but I finished my tasks. By 8pm I finally put the items from the list into luggage –it fit, weighed a decent amount, and contained my passport. Phew. By this time, I realized that I hadn’t prepared myself mentally either. I had dropped off my truck with my parents and was subsequently reminded that I would be re-entering the world of prolific, negotiable, public transportation; a world of bartering, squeezing beside other warm bodies (like mine would be, too), long, possibly life-appreciating car rides, and twisted hips to accommodate more passengers. Those thoughts led to hot street food, lively markets, foreign tongues (which I hope to know!), bright sun on old buildings, new birds, plants, environments… But also efforts to understand and be understood, to appear to know what I’m doing when in reality I do not, and otherwise become accustomed to being out of my pocket of the familiar and known. I have not recalled everything I should –I will be surprised by something.
I have an eleven hour lay-over in Lisbon, Portugal. I would like to tour a castle and a good pastry café, but my objectives are to find a bird book and have une tasse de café, and a pastry, of course. The country of Portugal speaking none of the languages with which I am familiar, it should be my best challenge. Maybe after Lisbon, Morocco and Casablanca will be relatively easy, since I am at least familiar with the languages used there.
Despite my lack of preparedness, my intentions are clear to me. I want to learn Arabic. Perhaps that’s why I’m not thinking of travel –because to me I’m taking another class, it just takes longer to get to it. I don’t know, yet, what Arabic will do for me, except that it opens up another part of the world with people with whom I will be able to communicate. I am thrilled.
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