Ice in Indiana:
From Grand Rapids to O’Hare took six hours, and on the way exposed our caravan to near-lethal doses of automobile travel at its worst. Heavy snow, low visibility, and ice on the road surface caused several transport trucks to spin out, causing a traffic crunch that spanned Michigan City to the Illinois state line. We rarely climbed above five miles per hour the entire way, and that whole journey felt like wandering through limbo in Dante’s Inferno. Everything was a mass of diffuse red light, snowflakes, and endless cars moving not-very-fast-at-all. Luckily, the dam broke at the Illinois border and we could all breathe better again.
Chicago to Istanbul: Kissing the Capital
Turkish Airlines supplied us with a cornucopia of coping mechanisms for dealing with the ten hour flight. Basic pillow and blanket, blinders, and earplugs––all necessities, though I lost the earplugs early on. Slippers, free lip balm, and a tooth brush were also greatly appreciated since the plane was dry, stuffy, and a bit chilly. As for diversions, I stuck to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, by turns erotic, mournful, and radical. His many odes to absent lovers and haunted landscapes sent my mind back west over the Atlantic to the people––and especially one person––I left behind. One bit of verse, entitled “Entrance into Wood,” even managed to capture a sense of my position in the airplane over Europe:
With scarce my reason, with my fingers,
with slow waters slow flooded,
I fall into the realm of forget-me-nots,
to a mourning air that clings,
to a forgotten room in ruins,
to a cluster of bitter clover
Note, however, that the last line is not a sidelong criticism of the food on the plane, which was tasty if unsurprisingly unimpressive.
We arrived in Istanbul when it was already dark. Glitzy shopping centers were about all that stood out amidst the aggressive traffic. The Republic of Turkey has been going through a sustained real estate boom, a miniature version of the concrete eruptions of China. In some areas, more buildings than not were incomplete, sporting their own gigantic crane apparatus. I wasn’t able to see much at all before riding the bus out to Edirne.
End at Edirne:
Here is where the story ends for now. Because I have seen little, I have not much to say. We’ll rectify that after a more thorough, hopefully sunlit tour tomorrow. For now, good night.