Haiku – February 29, 2012 4:45 HST
There’s something about traveling from a place that is sub-freezing and snowy to someplace that is warm, damp and lushly green. The first time I did it I left Syracuse in a February snowstorm, flew through Cleveland where the smoking hulk of a FedEx plane that crashed on landing was being swarmed over by NTSB investigators, through LAX, where smoking hadn’t yet been banned, on to Honolulu where I missed my connection to New Zealand, on to Sydney, Australia, and finally, after 40 hours on to Auckland. I got off the plane about 6 PM, local time, and was treated to a beautiful sun setting over a palm tree in the parking lot. I had to pinch myself.
And even though my flights were on time and the last long leg to Mau’i, uncrowded, I was not ready for the change. First, I had dressed in heavy jeans and a lined cotton shirt (I hate that when I don’t think!), but I had also used the trip to finish William Dalrymple’s first book, In Xanadu, where he recounts his attempt to follow Marco Polo’s route from Jerusalem to Kubla Kahn’s summer seat in Xanadu.
I have always aspired to be a travel writer and will never become one because I lack the courage to travel to such places. My most exotic trip, to the Republic of Georgia, was made possible because I was visiting Zeke, who does have the courage. But I do live vicariously through writers like Dalrymple, Bruce Chatwin and my favorite, Bill Bryson.
So as I sit here comfortably in my friend’s ohana, I raise a glass to all those who dare to step out into the unknown, to try to learn Pashtoon but communicate even if they don’t succeed. May they live long and write much!