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Beirut

 

After I had already planned to take my expedition to Mongolia, I got a bonus trip when my family was invited to a wedding in Beirut. Normally, I choose my destinations. This one chose me, and was a delightful surprise. The flight was full. Some of the other people in our wedding group were visible, scattered among the other passengers. It was crowded, especially in coach, where we always ride as a family. In order to get aisle seats, we were spread all over the back end of the plane. Blessedly, the coach seats on Turkish Air recline a lot, almost as much, it seems to me, as the business class seats on the much maligned domestic airline I'm used to flying. But, they are just as narrow, so, by the end of the night, all kinds of accommodations had been improvised by various passengers. Kids slept stretched out across their parents. Kid one slept on the floor, with kid two on two seats above and mom slumped against the window. Small people folded up like eggs. Big people bent into positions uncomfortable even to look at. Some slept in blissful, hypnotic stillness, upright in their seats, their heads not even cupped in one of those ubiquitous curved pillows. Dinner had been pretty good, salmon with a nice merlot. That had been ten hours before. Breakfast came out as we soared over Prague, about an hour from our target. Eggs, potatoes, really great cheese and bread.  Turkey, after all, is practically where cheese and bread were invented. Voices began to rise in a melange of languages, Turkish, Arabic, Azeri, French, English, Hebrew, (and that in prayer.) Our day was beginning, regardless of what time it was outside. There we all sat, all the faces and costumes you can imagine that would be headed for Istanbul and Beirut, tucking into our breakfast with bleary-eyed thankfulness. We were the lucky ones; the ones who fly at all, for whom the world is real, and not just something made up to sell television and magazine ads. Some of us would sleep that night in our own beds, home from some adventure, and others would set forth  into unfamiliar territory, ready to see with their own eyes who and what we all are.



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