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18 SEP - San Francisco, USA

Date received: Tue Sep 18 2001, 07:21 PM PDT

It has been a nightmare week, to say the least. In the course of a few
short hours, the world has become a completely different place. The
shockwaves set off by the bombings in NY and DC have traveled to all
corners of the globe and have laid waste to everyone's plans for the
future. Plans which only a few days ago seemed to make perfect sense
suddenly seem naive, inappropriate, and shallow.

Needless to say, my own plans, never clearly defined in the first
place, are in complete disarray. A simple, seemingly innocuous two day
delay in my departure date has left me stuck on the near side of a huge
chasm between two very different scenarios. Instead of bicycling my way
across Turkey right now, I am stranded in San Francisco.

For the past week, I have been attempting to get a return flight to
Istanbul, only to have each successive flight cancelled. I suppose in
some ways, I, like many others, have been trying to return to my "normal"
routine, which in my case involved the not so normal activity of trying
to move forward on my plans to bike across Asia. Each day I have spent
the evening frantically doing last minute errands in anticipation of a
flight the following day, only to awaken to news of another flight

Then this weekend, after realizing that I would not be flying, I
decided to help out a friend of a friend by photographing their wedding;
their original photographer was stuck on the East Coast. Without going
into the painful details, I managed to break my camera just before the
event. Now that flights have finally resumed, I can't leave, since I
have to wait to have my camera repaired, which may take over a week, or
even two.

Every day that ticks by makes my original plans seem all the less
likely. I was originally trying to get to Iran by the end of September,
before my visa expired. Much to my despair and to others' delight, that
now seems unlikely.

At the current moment, my current plan is still to fly to Istanbul with
my bicycle. That is about all that is clear. I have no idea when I'll
fly, and I have no idea what I'll do once I get there. I still plan on
bicycle touring, but exactly where I start and end is something that I
will have to decide once I have a better idea of the state of the

Until then, I will keep you posted.

For now, I will just sit and pray that the events of the past week will
lead us not to more violence and loss of innocent life, but rather to a
new level of reflection about and understanding of our role in the rest
of the world.

My heart goes out to the victims and their families.


Copyright 2000 Peter Birch All Rights Reserved.