Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 Happenings

What Happened in 2016!

Surprisingly, I did most of what was planned for this  year.  Iran in April; Murmansk and the North Pole in June, London and the Lawrence Symposium in September and then, Azerbaijan in October.  All were good trips but very different. 

I had been on an earlier  sightseeing trip; this time  it was to take a look at Iran’s role after sanctions.  We met with religious, press  and business people; spent time at a school as well as wandering about and appreciating the landscape.  As before, I found Iranian people friendly and outgoing even as school girls chanted Death to America.  (I was the lone American in the Political Tours  group!)

It was Murmansk, that beleaguered port of WW2 that enticed me onto the Arctic cruise, via a Russian Nuclear icebreaker to the North Pole.  And Murmansk is a quite Russian port, still the gateway to the Arctic lands claimed by the Russians  A combination German and English  speakers, along with Chinese and Japanese - and a handful of Russians made up the 100+ passengers.  As always with Quark, ongoing talks about  past explorations as well as the landscape and its inhabitants.  Floating seminars!

London to see friends and attend performances before  the TE Lawrence Symposium at Oxford.  It was the symposium that got me to the Great Arab Revolt dig tin Jordan ten or so year ago.  Going to the UK is like coming home.  It was the first overseas stop of my travels.

Finished up traveling with a friend, up, down and sideways in Azerbaijan for two weeks, one of the Caucasus’ countries that parted from the Soviet Union early on.  And has had a rather tempestuous relationship with its neighbors, particularly Armenia, since.  Landscape ranges from mountainous country to dry scrubland.  With Baku the ruling Queen, built up by oil revenues.  A combination of ultra new and ancient old. Even got to  Naxcivan, that island  of Azerbaijan assessable only by all arrangements made by Travel the Unknown.  

The year coming?  It looks like I may return to Lebanon with Political Tours in February.  And a friend and I are considering a week in Hawaii:  the WW2 Memorials and Father Damien's leporsy colony.  I’ve signed on with Explore  for a several week  trip in June, back to St. Petersburg and Murmansk and then into Arctic Norway.  November will see a change:  sailing from Tahiti to the Marquesasa and Pitcairns to Easter Island. 

Inbetween, ballet and yoga and Pilates; local theatre, dance and music.  And trying to figure out how I can get to Karkamus (original TEL dig on Turkey-Syria border)  for their website says they started accepting visitors in June 2016!?

In the meantime, I hope the Mini and the computer hold out - they’ve been needing attention this past year.  Hang in there, guys!

And let me also hope  we all survive the political scene here at home:  four years to go!

Happy Holidays from us both!

jo and Sam
Azer 10.16-Jo @ BakuAsset0024.jpg