… at least when your birthday is in winter like mine. Even The Queen does it, only in time. I do it in space. After all her original birthday is not in winter. And German winter at that. Since I didn’t grow up in a region where people engage in winter sports much, nor where you could count on snow, the consequences in my childhood were: in-doors arrangements needed to be made, no garden party, and so on. You get the picture. As an adult I would sometimes defy the winter weather and have a garden party (I remember once doing a barbecue during a blizzard – me being the only one outside). But this year, for the second time in my life, I am in the south, and way down south!
Now after a number of people have sung for me in different languages (see also below), and Winnie surprised me with a great improvisation on “Happy Birthday” on the piano – and this guy also happens to be my boss!, and now that my stomach is filled with delicious food, I am home (ha! been in Auckland Lodge for almost a month now) ready to enjoy some of that duty-free whiskey in a moment. Nightcap. But for now I enjoy reflecting upon this day, here.
I have a few hundred photographs, on film – travelling was analogue then. No email, no internet, let alone a mobile phone, and no digital camera. As usual, I traveled without a guide book, except for Mayer’s History of the Crusades, so I could visit crusader castles. I wish I had more scans of photos from that journey! Here’s a very small selection of 6 months travelling in what was an optimistic region then.
I had been to Israel before, in 1992, my only tour-group experience. Many trips to the region would follow, though never again to Syria. This is unfortunate, for Syria was one of the best countries I’ve ever traveled in my life: the friendliest people you can imagine, few tourists if any, inexpensive – in short: fantastic! I traveled Turkey a few more times (1998, 2004, 2010), as well as Israel/Palestine, Jordan and Egypt (1996, 2000, 2008). Here are some of the journeys: