From what I understand about Morocco so far, it is beautiful. And one big photo-op. There are brightly colored slippers and tunics; fabrics and rugs hanging against backdrops of pinkish clay on the buildings. All against the bluest of skies. There is the brilliant brown of the Sahara desert. Camel brown, I’d call it. There are food markets filled with various kinds of olives, dried fruits, and spices. The meat markets filled with animal heads, brains, intestines and various other parts. Then there are the people and the places they visit. The buildings and mosques; snow-covered mountains and arid landscapes. It will be a photographer’s dream!
According to the Delta Airlines website I depart for Morocco in 18 days. What? So soon? That’s not a lot of time to pack. For me, anyway. It’s always such a complicated thing to pack for an international trip. Not only do I not want to forget a favorite item but I somehow believe that whatever I might forget will not be available in whichever country I’m going to, which isn’t always the case. But take Antarctica. Had I forgotten something important on that trip I wouldn’t have been able to buy it unless it was available in the ship’s store or in Stanley, Falkland Islands or in the Grytviken, South Georgia museum or post office! And then there was Tibet where hardly anything was similar to what I can get at home. So who knows about Morocco and Turkey! All I know is I want to bring just enough without bringing too much. So I’m starting now by laying out things to bring and then paring the pile down. For the next 18 days. I know two years ago when I wrote on this blog about the packing dilemma of a backpack trip to Japan I said I wouldn’t over-pack, but this time I really mean it. No, I really do. Seriously!
As of today I have clearance to enter the United States from anywhere in the world by displaying my card and by placing my fingertips on the glass panel at one of the many kiosks located in lobbies of several major US airports, like ATMs. An interview with the US Department of Homeland Security at Chicago O’Hare this morning confirms it. So from now on I will be fast-tracked through security without the requirement of emptying my entire carry-on luggage and disrobing at security. The official called Lepinski who interviewed me tells me if I “stay out of trouble”, this benefit will be good for the next 5 years. The way he said it made me feel like I’m someone who doesn’t only need to avoid trouble but I need to stay out of it, too; like this is something he has told me again and again because I never seem to listen. And his tone sounded like he questions whether I’ll really be able to maintain this privilege for the next 5 years. I’m going to try really hard to stay out of trouble. And this time I mean it.
So I’m reading up on Istanbul and trying to get my bearings (as much as one can do from reading a travel guidebook each night before bed) and I run across this, and I quote: Turkish men have a taste for soulful romance delivered with a twinkle in the eye…Enjoy but keep it light…
And if that’s not enough, there’s this: Istanbul is on an earthquake belt and it rumbles regularly. The last major quake was in 1999 where, tragically, roughly 23,000 people died in Greater Istanbul…
I think the first one has me most concerned!
(Mom, don’t read this. And to think you freaked out when you heard I was going to Africa!)