753 days into our trip. One week to go before we land back at London Heathrow!
Can’t quite get it all clear in my head!
I lay awake on our last overnight train again reflecting on it all, was it all real?
How far we’ve come, the highs the lows, how it will feel after we’re home?
We’ve just finished our last big journey, three weeks across Northern India by train starting in Calcutta, or Kolcata to use it’s modern name. On to the great holy city of Varanasi, on to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, next Jaipur, the so-called pink city, Jodhpur, sometimes called the blue city, then far east to Jaisalmer in the Rajasthan desert not far from Pakistan before looping back to New Delhi for our flight to Kathmandu tomorrow, from where we fly home to the UK, via Abu Dhabi, on an amazingly cheap flight – we’re getting quite good at finding them!
It’s a last-minute change to the itinerary which we hoped would include 10 days in Jordan and Israel and a long overdue visit with Zoe’s former school friend Kirvayah and her lovely family but sadly, the world had other ideas and the current Gaza conflict reached a point where we felt it was right to defer our visit to Israel to a future, quieter time. Meanwhile the kids watch the news each day to see what is happening. This kind of situation feels so much more real to them. We remember Kirvayah writing to Zoe about the last flare up in 2012. Travelling makes you part of a Global community and your connections keep growing. Our friends live through daily air raids, constant alert, pushing away the fear because ‘normal’ life needs to go on…
Then the kids watched the news with us with horror again as a second Air Malaysia flight ended in tragedy and checked our likely flight paths to see if they might be anywhere near the Ukraine, whilst worrying for travelling friends flying air Malaysia three days later.
I read the heart wrenching blog by a ground crew member who saw off the passengers of MH17. We cry for the passengers, staff, families, colleagues and friends. As we clock up our own last flights, I’ll be more aware of the real people helping us check in and board our flights, making every encounter count. It might be our last on earth, who knows? But it also makes me ever more thankful for our time together and our adventures.
On the road you make many friendships, have different encounters. They are precious, magical, this is what life and travel is about. A young man, scruffy, barefoot carrying chains and luggage locks to sell as we sit on platform 5 offers to fix Ben’s badminton racket bag and whilst he does, we chat, he tells me his parents are dead, and he makes a little money this way. He finishes his sewing, talks me into paying 30 instead of the agreed 20 rupees (30p instead of 20p), cheekily steals a kiss from Lara then is gone. A little girl, beautiful and wearing a slightly tatty but brightly coloured sari,stares at me on platform 5 in Jaipur. Our eyes meet, I smile, she lights up, smiles back, we look away, but smile again. Seven hours later as we alight at the next stop, we spot each other again, we both smile, recognising our connection. I wish I knew her name.
Just wish we could add a picture of a reunion with friends in Israel. Soon, soon!
It’s so close now it feels like the journey is over already, all of us are counting the days (as we did BEFORE we left two years ago!) down and Dad has unloaded a helpful app that can tell us in hours or minute or seconds, should we desire to know before we land at Heathrow, all going well!