Friday, December 30, 2011

Should Old Acquaintence Be Forgot...New Ones Will Arrive

As 2011 draws to a close I'm thinking not of old acquaintances but of the new friends I made while traveling in 2011.

So here's to Elzbieta who made our time in Poland so delightful. An English teacher who'd lived in the US for several years, she graciously volunteered to help translate when we went back to my grandmother's small town. We enjoyed each other's company so much, my daughter and I ended up going to her house in Bialystok for tea the day after our trip to little Lomsa, so we could chat some more. Our talks were wide ranging, covering everything from Polish literature to child rearing to the alleged Russian conspiracy to cover up the real circumstances behind Polish Presiden Lech Kaczynski's death (a topic I discussed with a number of other Poles while in country; all suspected Putin of engineering the plane crash).

And cheers to Mike, the Israeli friend of my friend Mark. We met for a walk and tea in Jaffa on the last day of my trip Israel andhad a conversation that was the cherry on top of the trip. I was, at that point in the trip, obsessed with the question of why so much hatred had been showered on the Jews, my ancestors, for centuries. Together we tussled with that thorny question, also talking about his personal history (which included a move from the US to Israel), the roots of the contemporary Jewish state, religion and so much more. It felt like one of those talks I had late into the night in college with friends, as we tried to sort out what our places in the world were going to be in the future. Mike: I very much hope our paths cross again. Next time, our children and spouses will have to hang out together, too.

And a toast to the delightful codger I met in a pub in Cushendall, Northern Ireland. The family was at the beach, and I went in to ask for directions, staying for a cider when this gentleman, whose name I never got, started to regale me with suggestions of all the places we must go in the vicinity. Sir: we took your advice and had a wonderful time! But most memorable to me was hearing about your experiences during "The Troubles" and your wishes for the future.

These are just a few of the wonderful people I met in 2011, a year that took me to Moab, Mesa Verde, Dallas, the John C. Campbell Folk School (in North Carolina), Los Angeles, a number of towns in Sicily, Vancouver, Whistler, Rome, London, Abergaveny, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow, Bialystok, Dublin, Derry, Cushendall, Lake Placid, Burlington, Stowe, North Hero, Toronto...and I know I'm missing some, but don't feel like looking back at my calendar.

Sometimes I feel like I fling myself around with too much abandon. But its the wonderful people I meet that keep me grounded...and ultimately make all the travel worth it.

My best wishes for a happy, healthy, and travel-filled New Year!


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