For the next month, this will be a travel blog again! My trip started with my dear friend Zahra coming over to pick me up and take me to Dulles. Feraz jumped in the car for the ride and we were off. On the way to the airport, we had a great conversation about God. Zahra noted that she talks to God every day. She thinks she started doing this because she didn't have a lot of Muslim friends growing up so she would go directly to the source. She says she is not afraid to ask God for whatever it is that she may want or need and asks God very specifically for what she wants. I liked both of the points she made and hope that I can strive for such a relationship with God.
Dulles was completely empty when I arrived so I breezed through security and was able to board my flight with no stress or worry. I flew through Istanbul because I'll be spending my second two weeks there and Turkish Airways was the best deal. I always love flying Turkish and it didn’t disappoint. I love that moment when you sit down in your seat on an airplane. I feel all the stress of the world quickly fade away. I know that soon I will be disconnected and my only worry will be deciding which movies to watch (Went with Water for Elephants and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel- liked them both!) and which of the entrees I’ll be having. Turkish airlines serves you dinner as soon as you are up in the air and follows up with plenty of snacks and beverages. They are one of the few airlines that still gives you a little toiletries bag when you get on. I love in-flight socks.
I sat by two lovely girls. One is doing a masters in international affairs focusing on ethics in Georgetown and was on her way to attend a family wedding in her hometown in Moldova. The other just finished writing Beyond Good Intentions (Beyondgoodintentions.com) and is heading to Georgia to lead a three week training. The world is full of such interesting people doing such interesting things! They were great companions.
After that leg of the flight, I had a four hour layover in Istanbul. I remember when I lived in Turkey, not a day would go by without people pushing past me in the bustling streets. I always felt like I was being thrown around. Just a few minutes in the airport and I was reminded of that feeling. As Dulles was empty, Ataturk was full. As soon as I started walking, I felt my backpack be jostled back and forth as people pushed past me. Luckily, Ataturk is a very big airport and the farther you move from the shopping center, the more civilized it becomes. After about ten minutes of walking, I found a very quiet corner. After a slow and hot four hours, I was finally on my way to London.
I managed to get to the front of the customs line but little good that did me. The customs officer was nice enough until he ran my passport. Just like last time I was pulled over and I started to worry that I wouldn't be allowed in. Luckily, they just pulled me aside and I read for an hour while they did whatever they do in the back office until they came again. A nice woman came out with my airport, asked me a few more questions and they let me in. Feraz's cousin Zaid met me at the airport and we journeyed back to Walthamstow together. He gets 500 points for meeting me at midnight and making sure I got in alright. I love that kid! We had some delicious food that Sophie baji had made which was the perfect end to the long journey here.
Feraz gets in tomorrow morning and then our adventures will really begin. I'm looking forward to walking around Walthamstow and checking out some of the old spots we've been to. I'll upload some pictures tomorrow! (Sorry for any typos or incoherence. Writing after over 20 hours of traveling!)