Monday, February 27, 2012


"Ausflug" by Quint Bucholz.

I've posted this painting before. At my Swarthmore graduation, my parents gave me a card with this on the cover. They wrote the following inside:

"The title of this card is "Ausflug" which translates from German to:

side trip
pleasure trip

hope your year is all of the above."

I've been carrying this card around with me because I like the image so much. (My parents know this and in Morocco they told me that as a Christmas present they got a copy framed for my room at home. Because they're rockstars). I have it as the desktop background on my computer, and in Germany, several people recognized it and asked me about it. Apparently it is a pretty popular image there. I learned that in German the direct translation of "ausflug" is actually "out fly."

At the Sanssoucci castle in Potsdam, Germany

Today it's time for another ausflug.

Sometimes I think this year is moving really slowly, but at the same time, I can't quite believe I've now completed my time in four out of my seven project countries. Unlike in Bali, India and Morocco, I broke up my seven weeks in Germany with a couple side trips: a week in Copenhagen and a week in Istanbul. I did this in part because I found a lot of the logistics were easier for me to figure out in Germany and as a result I was able to be pretty efficient with my research, but also because when you're in a European country that's so centrally located, it's hard to resist the urge to travel.

This photo has nothing to do with leaving today, but I realized that I never posted any photos of Andie MacDowell in the acting class I took with her, and I definitely couldn't move on without taking care of that.

If all goes according to plan (and the strike at the Frankfurt airport doesn't get me down), in about 27 hours from now, I'll be arriving in country #5. I will get into a taxi and go to the guesthouse in Lusaka that I finally found; one that's willing to negotiate price and has one room left in a shared cabin that's available for long term accommodation. I am excited and a little scared and, as usual, am getting on a plane without quite knowing what I'm getting into.

When I was living in Leipzig with Emma's family, her four year-old daughter, Hannah, and I had a conversation about how I was going to be going to Berlin for a few weeks. Leipzig is about an hour from Berlin so Emma and I had talked about the possibility that her family could visit me there. Hannah was upset that I was leaving, and I brought this up as a possibility.

"Berlin isn't too far away," I told her. "Maybe one day you can come visit me there."
"I don't know." Hannah said, "I have to ask my parents."
"That's probably a good idea." I told her.
I thought we were done with the conversation, but a few minutes later she said, "I don't know. I don't know what it's like there."
"I don't either." I told her. "But I think it will be a big city, like Leipzig. With a lot of shops and museums and cars."
She thought about it some more.
"Will there be rocks there?"

I'm in Hannah's boat right now. I don't know what it's like there, and I have a much foggier picture of Lusaka in my mind than I did of Berlin. But I'm realizing that often the idea of not knowing is enough to keep you from going in the first place. Hannah's only four, but I hope that one day she will go to Berlin and that she will remember it. I hope one day she'll be able to retrace her photos and writing and souvenirs and will then be able to say, "I know what it's like there." I hope she finds rocks. But most importantly, I hope that she doesn't let the fear of not knowing keep her home.

It's a big world out there and there is so much to do and see. So many jaunts and getaways and sashays and forays. So many pleasure trips, so many excursions.

Here we go again.

Photos from a last 36 hours in Istanbul:

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