. . . AROUND THE WORLD 2001/02
Africa 1999
Around-the-World 2001/02

The Team

Jeff Willner
1. Start: Recipe for Adventure
2. Zimbabwe: Hyperinflation
3. Namibia: Southern Circuit
4. South Africa: Circuit 2
5. Zambia/Malawi: Sketches
7. Kenya: Bandit Country
8. Ethiopia: Diary
9. Ethiopia: Border Run
10. Sudan: Across the Sahara
11. Egypt: Cape to Cairo
12. Jordan/Syria: Sept. 11th
13. Turkey: Hospitality
14. Bulgaria/Romania/ Hungary
15. Slovakia/Austria/Poland
16. The Baltics & Russia
17. Scandinavia
18. Western Europe
19. Brazil: Clearning Customs
20. Argentina: Revolution
21. Argentina: To Ushuaia
22. Patagonia Disaster
23. Buenos Aires Beautiful
24. Uruguay: Beaches
25. Chile: Expedition Life
26. Bolivia: Atacama
27. Peru: Transit
28. Galapagos: Gorgeous
29. Ecuador: Jungle Run
30. Knifepoint
31. Dubai: Lay over
32. Singapore/Malaysia
33. Thailand: Hospitality
34. Cambodia: Ankor Wat
35. Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong
36. Laos: Back to Basics
37. China: Beijing Tour
38. China: Shanxi
39. China: Western Province
40. China: Tibet
41: Nepal: Mountains
42. India: Driving Struggle
43. Pakistan: Dodging War
44. Iran: Overcharging
45. End: One Last Laugh

Sally DeFina
1. Cape Town: Robben Island
2. Zanzibar: Mike & I
3. Kenya: African Driving School
4. Sudan: Mud Crossing
5. Patagonia: Goodbye Max
6. Malaysia: Mike Update
7. Thailand: Ko Phangan
8. Cambodia: Phnom Penh
9. Vietnam: By Train
10. Laos: Vang Vieng
11. China: Meet Mr. Chen

Jody Finver
1. Start: Surreal Solipse
2. Great Zimbabwe
3. Brokedown in Kenyan Desert
4. Egypt: So Should I Hyphenate
5. Poland: Home is Where the Truck Is

Gulin Akoz
1. Start: Bits and Pieces
2. Zambia: Diaries
3. Egypt: Africa Memories
4. Turkey: For Your Information
5. The Team and The Bean
6. Somebody Else's Child
7. On My Own
8. Long Lost Memories of Childhood
9. The Tree and the Boy
10. Jealous
11. The Aftermath


Panamerican 2003
Various Trips
Planning an Expedition


Kensington Tours can help you plan your own expedition anywhere in the world.




#5 - Home is where the truck is
Jody Finver - 10 December, 2001

Hi! At long last, a journal from Jody. I wrote this awhile back when I was in Poland. The trip got frantic, my disk got lost, I got kidnapped by aliens and then the dog ate my homework. For those of you who have been emailing asking where I went, here you go and aw shucks, thanks :)

This is for Mom and Dad. And Uncle Irwin. OK, and Carol.

4:17pm Poland. The weather and the landscape scream Trick or Treat. The country roads are lined with trees and apple orchards. The leaves, golden yellow and oxblood, blow about like fairy dust. It feels like a luxury car commercial. The homes are fairly large, two stories. Oatmeal colored, with red tile roofs. Beautifully maintained lawns and flower beds brimming with marigolds and rose gardens. I never expected it to be so enchanting. Poland is making me homesick.

I don’t mean I want to get on a plane and head back. Homesick is a term I use rather loosely since I have no clearly defined sense of where home is any more. See, if you ask me where I am from or where home is, I usually stumble out an answer and it’s rarely the same answer. If it’s where my furniture is stored, well then it’s San Francisco. If it’s where my mom and dad live and where I go on holidays, then it’s Miami. If it’s where I spent my childhood, it’s New Jersey. And New York. If it’s where I have my fondest memories, it’s Chicago. I’ve lived in so many places, my name is encrusted in White Out in my parents’ address book. I would love to answer with “I am not an Athenian, I am a citizen of the world.” Was that Plato? Or Socrates? Maybe Aristotle? Anyway, I’m not Greek so it doesn’t work. I really should just point to the truck because as Gulin says, “right now I live in a green truck called Max.” Home is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I’m a native New Yorker, Jersey girl, from Miami with a storage space in San Francisco who lives in a green truck called Max. My life reads like a witness protection program, yet here I am in Poland and I feel homesick. Good grief.

4:45pm Decided it isn’t homesickness as much as it’s that Poland feels like home and makes me nostalgic for my childhood. Dinner at Café Ariel in Kazmirez, Krakow was like Friday night dinner at my Grandma and Aunt Rose’s (though Rose and Grandma were much better cooks). Physically, this place looks like New Jersey. And I don’t mean the Turnpike. I mean the countryside where there were cornfields and pumpkin patches and you rode your bike after school through the woods and your mom would drive you to the apple orchard for cider and donuts.

5:03pm Hmmm, thinking about it a bit more and my only other option is that I am experiencing some metaphysical “Sixth Sense’’/”Crossing Over with John Edwards” Sci-Fi Channel phenomena and my ancestors are channeling to me. I can hear them calling me now, ‘Jodeeeeeee....Jodeeeeeeee…welcome home…such a punim… close the door sweetie, we’re not heating the whole country…’

I really don’t know much of my family history. Outside of one grandmother born in Warsaw and immigrating when she was in diapers, the rest of my family history was always veiled in a cloud of mystery. I had no idea what towns my ancestors really came from. I only found out last year. As a child, I was told we were from Galicia and that we were Austrian - that’s all. No one waxed nostalgic about the ‘old country’ in my family. I’m third generation American. The old country for us, is Brooklyn. But I remember being around 14 and searching on maps of Austria for Galicia. Just to get a minute sense or clue as to where we came from. What a futile task. It wasn’t on any map I ever looked at. Of course that might be because it’s not in Austria! Sure the immigration papers say we’re Austrian, but that’s sorta by technicality. Or occupation.

My family lived in the towns of Przemsyl and Toporov during the Austro-Hungary Empire. In actuality, Premzsyl is in south-eastern Poland about an hours drive from Krakow. And Toporov? That would be the Ukraine, Bob - land of them there painted eggs. But as my mother points out, when her grandmother sailed over, the Hapsburgs were driving the bus so ‘we’re of Austrian decent’. I kinda have this feeling that when my family lived there, they didn’t call themselves Austrian Occupied Ukranian, nor did they start selling t-shirts that said, ” Kiss Me, I’m Austrian Controlled Polish.” Hell, they probably didn’t even know who was ruling what and as soon as they arrived at Ellis Island they got their new names and poof, they were American. Still… I feel some kind of connection here.

5:12pm Finding it near impossible to articulate what Aushwitz and Birkenau were like for me. I don’t even want to write about it. But that said…

The bunks at Aushwitz were labeled signifying which nationalities were kept where. In the one labeled Poland, there was a giant map with red lights that blinked as the Nazis took over. All three areas, which were then considered Poland, blinked. Warsaw. Przemsyl. Toporov. Then they stayed lit. Obliterated. I stood there for about ten minutes. I just kept hitting the button, watching them blink and then freeze. I couldn’t stop until Janet called me to go and watch some war film.

At both camps I walked around by myself. Didn’t speak to anyone. If you want to see photos, look at Jeff’s journal. I couldn’t bring myself to take out my camera. It just didn’t seem right. I certainly don’t need photos to remember what happened there. I made a point of walking the rail line at Birkenau from the last wood plank all the way to the entrance of the camp. It was a pilgrimage of sorts and I was obsessive about this. I just kept thinking of all the people that took the train in one way. I had to walk it the way out. It might sound stupid, but it was just something I had to do. It was a thoroughly depressing day. A day that will stay with me throughout my life. But I am glad and grateful I went.

We never went to Przemsyl or Toporov and I am not bothered in the least. Not like I had an address to look up. But I was in the Malopolska region, I was in the ‘hood’ and that was enough. I laughed. I cried. It was better than “Cats.”

5:35pm Am no longer thinking my ancestors are calling to me. Logic has taken over and the feeling of feeling home is just a side affect of the Autumn weather. I realized this at the border. Crossing into Lithuania the roads look quite similar and I experienced the same feeling. We’re not Lithuanian. 


Copyright January 1999-2011
All rights reserved - Jeff Willner
Contact: jeffwillner@yahoo.com