Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hodgepodge 140/365 - Tyranny of the Tour

It is 6:31 in the morning. I’m not typically an early riser—though I keep resolving to change that. I actually enjoy the early morning light, and the bird sounds, and the slowness of time before the world erupts into its busyness. What I don’t enjoy is waking up (or more to the point, getting up out of bed) quickly. It takes a little while for me to shake off the fuzziness.

Having a freshly brewed cup of (instant) coffee here at my side helps. And the strong, hot shower I just took is helping as well. And the splendid peacock that just strolled past my window, and that I now hear crying in the distance: definitely a help. I’m not home! My routine—as much as I have one—is totally shot! I am beholden to the tour.

A new day of surprises and learning awaits. The fuzzy head will clear. All’s good.

The Asklepion
I’ve been on a few fabulous tours in my life. My first tour was in Turkey, a cruise along the coast. I was twenty, visiting a colleague of my father’s in Istanbul. The tour group was some eight Turks —and me. The guide spoke Turkish and pretty good French, but my French, well. . . . Let’s just say, I didn’t learn anything of substance, but I still have vivid images of a few places (the Asklepion in Bergama; Antakya, a.k.a. Antioch; Ephesus). I’d like to go back and learn about those places in English. Turkey has changed dramatically since 1975. It was secular back then, and that is no longer true. I wonder if I’d recognize it.

Most of the tours I’ve been on have been thematic: mushroom hunting in New Mexico and the Soviet Union (especially Karelia and Tuva); photography in the Orkney and Shetland Islands of Scotland; birding in Ecuador; wildflower viewing in Western Australia; dog sledding in the far north of Alaska; cycling, hiking, and paddling coast to coast across Costa Rica.

Hexagon Pool, Golan Heights
The present tour, of Israel, is quasi-thematic: led by a Sierra Club trip leader, it is taking us to some beautiful national parks and nature preserves, in addition to many of the usual touristic spots. Today, we will go to a griffon vulture sanctuary and a pool surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns. Tomorrow, we will cycle with an ornithologist in the Hula Valley, a hot spot for migrating birds. We will snorkel in the Red Sea and hike along the rim of one of the largest craters in the world. And we are in the middle of wildflower season: red poppies, anemones, and buttercups; purple lupines and hyacinths; yellow mustard. It’s a wonderful time to be here.

But now, I must get dressed. The schedule calls: breakfast at 7; meet in the lobby at 8. I am really looking forward to my first full day in Rome, when I can—finally—sleep in.

Then again, I’ll be in Rome! Won’t I want to get up early and experience all that Rome has to offer?

Well, we’ll see. At least tomorrow is a “late” day: we don’t get going until 9. Instead of sleeping in, though, maybe I’ll be able to catch up on my journaling, photo sorting, and email. I can always sleep when I get home.

Or, as they say, when I'm dead.

1 comment:

  1. ok, it would help if i read your blog in chronological order - I would now know what type of tour you are on!