Last night I had a yummy goodbye dinner with Emre and Karpat at a place near the Galata Tower called Kivahan. It has been so nice just hanging out with them the last few days, they are such great guys. With everything that is going on in Turkey politically, they are looking into their options for living elsewhere, and I have been pushing hard for New York of course. It would be great to have them close-by.
After bidding goodbye to Emre this morning, I made my way to the airport with very little hassle, catching a taxi and getting here in plenty of time. Which was good, because everything took longer than it should have at the airport. Not that I expect to be flying business class through IST on Turkish Airlines again, but every part of the experience is sub-standard. I can’t imagine the process is worse in economy, unless perhaps they are tortured or humiliated there for good measure. First, there are no signs to tell you that, unlike every other airport I have ever been in, the check-in for business class is not next to where the economy check in for your flight is, but about a football field away, and not marked on any departures / check-in sign. Once I found it and finally checked in, I was told to go to through the special passport control line for business class that is supposed to be much faster and smoother, but it was actually about 4 times slower than if I had simply gone to the normal passport control line. By the way, then one has to go through a second bag screening (in addition to the one entering the airport, WTF). After that, I made my way to the Turkish Airlines business class lounge, which although nicely designed has rather crap food and service. If I had paid anything close to full price for this ticket, I would be bummed.
Anyway, I am off to Portugal (my first time) where I will spend the next 10 days before finally heading back to NYC. I have two friends from Amsterdam, Xavier and Stijn, who will meet me for a few days in Lisbon, and next weekend Arnaud will come from London to meet me in Porto.
Today Arnaud and I walked from his place to the Regent’s Canal in Islington, and quite a long ways along it, ending up in Victoria Park. It was all part of London I hadn’t seen before, continuing the themes of my entire trip here. After that, I visited my old travel buddy Juliette who lives in Finsbury Park and who I haven’t seen since our last travel adventure together in Peru almost three years ago. After some tea and company at her place (and waiting out the rain) I met up with Arnaud again for a delightful Sunday evening London institution called The Dame Edna Experience at Royal Vauxhall Tavern, something that had to be seen to be believed. And as a final, and sweet goodbye to London, we biked back to his place just as the sun was setting, past the crowds by the London Eye, along the river front, and back to Arnaud’s place. With the slight chill in the air, and knowing that I am leaving tomorrow, I felt just a twinge of sadness, like when I was a kid and it was the end of summer. I am very much looking forward to going home tomorrow, but it is always a little melancholy to leave a place where you know and love people, even if you are going to another.
And so I bid a wistful farewell to SF (after an amazing meal at a place called Laiola last night), and return to my new hometown of New York. San Francisco will always be one of those places to me that feels so comfortable and a lot like home, as much for my long history and friends here as anything else. It always seems right there where I left off, frozen in time somehow even as time does march on.
It has been an absolutely fabulous month here in Peru, largely thanks to the great people I have met and traveled with. We are going out for a goodbye dinner in an hour and then tomorrow morning I will board a plane for Buenos Aires. I am really looking forward to getting to know BA, everyone tells me it is amazing. See you in Argentina…
Juliette and I are in final preparation for our trip to Peru later today. We leave in a few short hours, and it is hard to believe that later tonight we will be in Lima. What an amazing visit I have had to New York. I have been energized by the city and its culture. I have been productive in both my writing and consulting endeavors. I have reconnected with old friends and made some new ones. And I have been surprised by a sweet and growing romance with Roland (who may meet me in Brazil in a few months). Although all such things are subject to unforeseen changes in my life, at this point I plan to move here after my travels at the end of the year. (If McCain should somehow win the presidency, however, I will be moving to Madrid.)
This is getting a little weird. After planning a goodbye drink at a local bar, and several people telling me they would attend, I ended up with exactly ONE friend who showed. Thanks (at least to you) Maureen.
You might remember a similar occurrence in Mexico a few weeks ago. This is becomming a pattern.
In my many writings about the social graces in Mexican culture, one of the ones I find kind of charming is the use of the phrase “Hasta Luego” (see you later) in place of “Adios” (goodbye). In other Spanish speaking cultures (such as Spain for instance) it is perfectly acceptable to say “Adios” when taking leave of a friend, a shop or restaurant, a party, what have you. But here in Mexico it is considered somewhat rude to use this word “Adios”, because it has an air of finality to it. “Hasta luego” implies that we are friends, or at least on good enough terms to (want to) see each other again in the future. It leaves open possibilities for interaction that “Adios” does not.
It is also perfectly suited to my feelings about Mexico and possible return. In the last 5 months I have been fortunate to learn many wonderful things here. Mexico is so underrated, and in so many ways. Mexico City itself is to me one of the world’s great cities, and it is a shame that it has such a distorted reputation in the rest of the world (especially the US). My Spanish has definitely improved a ton, but I still have a ways to go before feeling as fluent as I do in French. And I still feel there is more to discover of Mexico and its culture. For these and many other reasons I may be back after my trip north for a month or two.
My flight leaves for Los Angeles in a few hours, and I am a little sad to be leaving all this (and excited to see my friends in LA), but let’s not dwell on it or think about it in any permanent sort of way. Let’s just say “Hasta Luego”, Mexico, until we meet again.