Monday, September 10, 2007

The Practicalities

Now, I'm going to admit that I was way too reliant on my parents for the beginning part of the planning. They were the ones to stay in contact with our host, ask all the right questions and start researching flights. I let the summer slip away without thinking that the possibility of NOT going to Tajikistan might be a reality. My mother arranged for the immunizations (Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid shots, plus prescriptions for infectious diarrhea treatment and malaria prevention); we sent our passports to Washington with $230 to get the Tajik Visa stamp (they are supposed to arrive just days before we leave for Frankfurt!); I invested in a Steripen to sterilize water for hand- and facewashing or teeth brushing etc.; I laid out my clothes, found an old violin case perfect for traveling (of course I'm bringing my violin: I could not do with out it!) and put in my two weeks notice at work. And then the eye-opening news came: the cost of traveling from Frankfurt to Dushanbe round trip (we had FINALLY found a route through Istanbul) was $1700 which was far more than either Canyon or I could afford.

So, like good Waldorf families that we are, we had a meeting. We discussed hosteling in Europe as an alternative, dreamed of taking the Orient Express to Istanbul instead of flying, and almost totally fell into giving up on Tajikistan. It was too hard and expensive. And then I just took a lap top and for the first time (admittedly) started my own research. It was too close to give up, I thought, and I had become attached to the idea. By recommendation of my mother I googled "travel to Dushanbe." I don't remember it all exactly, but I did find a list of flights from Frankfurt to Dushanbe and low and behold they started at $1000! (still expensive, but less than before). The issue became deciphering the German language as most of the booking sites were operated out of Germany (we interrupted our friend's nice Sunday afternoon by calling her in Munich a few times). My somewhat adequate German got me to understand that everytime I tried to purchase one of those tickets there was an error. I sent out an e-mail (in very broken German I'm sure) and tried calling one of booking agents, but was put on hold for half an hour. The one thing, we did notice however, was that all of these booking sites were recommending tickets through Turkish Air with one stop in Istanbul.

Our answer was there all along. Right in front of us. Why don't we call Turkish Air? It was easier than we could believe. Weeks of attempts when it took us but thirty to minutes to call Turkish Air, find the flights we needed, call their New York base and find that we could purchase the tickets there and then.

So now, just one week before we are to depart to Frankfurt, we are the owners of tickets to Tajikistan.

Oh yeah and PS. We still don't have tickets to Khojand from Dushanbe, but that seems like pie now that we can get into Tajikistan.

THE NEW PLAN: Since the tickets to Dushanbe don't leave Frankfurt until September 26th, returning there on November 19th, we have delayed our flight out of the US until the 24th.

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