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The Warsaw Voice » Travel » February 23, 2012
TRAVEL: Around the World in a Land Rover or how to go traveling while running a firm effectively (3)
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Running Down a Dream
February 23, 2012   
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In previous articles in this series, I highlighted the importance of our life choices. We set priorities for ourselves. Not leaving life to chance, but making a simple choice. I described in some detail how we prepared for the trip of our dreams. Finally, I said that since I had decided to become a consultant for my company while on the trip, I needed to organize the company so it could be run from a distance.

The Dream Begins
At 9 a.m. on March 22, 2009, we met with our family and friends on the courtyard in front of the cathedral in Bourges, France. We said our final good-byes before the trip. Then we headed straight for the Vatican to reflect at John Paul II’s tomb before we got back on the road.

It was winter in Europe, cold and rainy. People at Italian campsites ate meals seated in their luxurious caravans, sheltered from the rain in what seemed like inappropriate comfort for places like those... Seeing us soaked, out in the cold, they had a flicker of compassion in their eyes. They thought we were mad, or maybe pilgrims who lived on our faith, in poverty like St. Francis of Assisi. Well, we were neither. We were just a happy family at the beginning of a long journey to their dreams, even if we did not have the new situation quite under control yet.

On the way, we learned simple things anew, such as putting on the same clothes over and over again. It is shocking how back home, we would use the washing machine every day. On the trip, trying to hand-wash our shirts and jeans on a regular basis was a useless waste of time. We ditched all needless technology and comforts and it instantly hits us how much household chores had taken over our free time. Of course, the inventions of the 20th century liberated women from domestic drudgery and they waste less time on activities which do nothing to stimulate their spiritual and intellectual life. Unfortunately, things don’t look so good in all countries...

We were back to the heart of the matter, quickly absorbed by the daily routines of our trip. It was difficult, even hard at times at times.

Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia... The kilometer count increased and a sense of alienation set in. To make the trip a learning experience, we tried to understand the history and problems of the societies which had been members of former Yugoslavia. It is a complex, obscure and complicated history. The locals still oscillate between two extremes: torturers and victims. The torturers torment their victims who later on turn into the torturers of their torturers and the cycle never ends. Grudges, vengeance and hatred are released in an outburst of violence. Far too frequently, influenced by Manichaeism, our minds try to separate good from evil. But are we really successful? The former Yugoslavia is not unique in world history. Tragedies like that have happened before and continue to happen. The Tutsis and Hutus, Catholics and Muslims, Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, Turks, Kurds and Armenians are only a handful of examples. Ambiguous internal relations, conflicts which die out and then get resparked. Nobody can seem to remember what the real cause of those wars was. And was there one to begin with?

Chanting at the skies
After a quick passage through promiscuous Bulgaria, where casinos and strip clubs rule the streets and where the entire coast is obscenely covered in concrete, we arrived in Istanbul April 13. The city enthralls and excites me. Is it the excessively Oriental setting that makes me feel at home? I am fascinated by the city itself and by its inhabitants. For business reasons, I used to come here on a regular basis for two years. Istanbul transports travelers to another world on the voice of the muezzins. The call to prayer gives a certain shape to conceptions which travelers have of the Middle East. On Divanyolu Street, the call to prayer wipes everything out of its way, but people do not stop in their tracks. They keep on strolling, stallholders keep on selling their merchandise. I was hypnotized as I heard a muezzin from the Firuz Aga mosque and one from the Blue Mosque one after the other. There I was, the East getting inside me. The intensity of the singing made me feel a Muslim... Images went through my head, images which since my childhood years had built an awareness of the East in me. Even though I was in Istanbul, I felt like I was carried away to different skies, somewhere in the very heart of the Middle East.

I love this dual singing, I could listen to it for hours. Still, despite a fondness I have for Islam (Islamophilia), I remain a Christian deep inside. But I agree with Alphonse de Lamartine, who wrote that the living, animated voice of the muezzin is “far superior, in my opinion, to the stupid and unconscious tones of the bells of our cathedrals.” But I also value the bells of our Catholic churches a lot, with their music which penetrates cities when the faithful leave churches after the Sunday mass...

Meanwhile, I had no problems finding hotels with good internet access, which enabled me to effectively carry out my plan at the Akcja Job company. My wife was able to do the laundry in the hotel bathroom. In a couple of days, we would head for central Turkey and then farther on to Iran. We were blissfully unaware of the adventures that lay ahead. Igor Jeliński.

Igor Jeliński, 41, businessman and traveler. After 15 years of working in senior posts for large multinational corporations, he swapped his career for a journey around the world with his family. Before departing, he set up two firms with two partners, Akcja Job and NelsonLamartine, which proved highly successful during the two years he was away traveling. While pursuing his dream and visiting the most distant and most beautiful corners of the world, he was able to manage his business effectively.

You can find out how he did it from his monthly accounts of his journey, entitled “Around the World in a Land Rover,” in the Voice.

Barbara Deręgowska
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