© 2017 by Dale Zurawski

Ithaca

Dale Zurawski

The problem with writing a travel blog is we are spending a lot of time traveling, leaving me little time for writing. Our expert guide, Miller, is a history buff and very into temples. Although I negotiated one less temple on the way into Ping Yao, China by saying it was much too hot, he tacked it onto the next day's, early morning drive to Datong. Then I got us out of seeing the Yungang Grottoes in Datong, using the blog as my excuse. But when we reached Datong, we got some awful news.

We discovered the first train on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to the Mongolian border had been canceled. Instead, we would be traveling as a group of 190, for six hours in eight buses. We had to go back to Datong, out to the Yungang Grottoes, then stay a night in Datong. We had not even considered adding a tour bus into our methods of traveling around-the-world. To ease the pain of a six-hour bus ride, we reflected on the poem sent to Geoff as a gift before we left.


Ithaca
When you start on your journey to Ithaca,

then pray that he road is long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge.

Do not fear the Lestrygonians

and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.

You will never meet such a these on your path,

if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine

emotion touches your body and your spirits.

You will never meet the Lestrygonians,

the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,

if you do not carry them within your soul,

if your soul does not raise them up before you.
Then pray that the road is long.

that the summer moorings are many,

that you will enter ports seen for the first time

with such pleasure , with such joy!


Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.

To arrive there is your ultimate goal.

But do not hurry the voyage at all.

It is better to let it last for long years'

and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,

rich with all that you have gained on the way,

not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.

Without her you would have never taken the road.

But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you fine her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.

With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,

you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

The poem promises if we don't carry the Cyclopes with us, it will not hurt us. The mass bus ride will be our first test of the poem, the trip, and the marriage. Geoff opposed the 11-day train trip from Mongolia to Moscow because he hated large group tours. Now he got the large group and a long bus ride.

There is, of course, more to this trip than just the bumps along our travels. The monks chose to build the Hanging Monastery in Datong, 1400 years ago on a massive rock wall, honoring Buddha, Confucius, and Laozi. Photos do not do justice to the scale or the engineering wonder of it all, and my writing skills certainly do not allow me to describe it. I would be attaching amazing photos of the Hanging Monastery, the one temple we did visit. As it turns out the www is not worldwide and I cannot upload pictures to the blog anymore even using Geoff's hotspot. I recommend, while in China, go to the temples along the route.  It is best not to mess with Budha.