|Sorry for the lack of communicatıon. Things have been rough. I have been so bored, lonely and homesick that I just couldn't bear to write. I have decided to cut my trip short and come home early. Life on the road is just too much.
Actually, I have been on a sailboat for 2 weeks sailing the Turkish Coast and the Greek Islands. Rough!! Anyway, internet cafes were few and far between. So lets get caught up!!
Before I get too far along, there are just a few things about Turkey in general that I have to discuss. First, who in the world named their country "Turkey"? That is the worst name for a country I have ever heard. Turkey wins the prize for the worst named country on the planet. Seriously, could somebody have not come up wıth a better name than that? There are some very cool sounding countries out there, like Senegal or Madagascar, but "Turkey" is definitely NOT one of them. I have actually tried to research the origins of the name, but to no avail. So if anybody knows, please, send me an email. (Note: I have learned that some early people in the area were known as Turks, but they still could have come up wıth a better name. Like Turkmenistan did a few years back, after the Soviet Union fell apart. The Turks live there as well.) Anyway, thanks for your patience, I just had to get that off my chest.
Second, the computer keyboard ın Turkey ıs almost impossible to use!! When you notice that the letter i ıs mıssıng from a word or a strange lookıng y appears, now you know why. It ıs this crazy keyboard I am trying to use! I am clocking in at about 4 words a minute! (Don't even ask how long the photo upload takes!)
Third, and most important, Turkey ıs a GREAT Place!! The hospitality of the Turks ıs unrivaled in my experience. Just a few examples from the last 2 weeks: I have been invited into several peoples homes for tea and dinner, they have bought me dinner at restaurants when I met them for the first time while eating in the restaurant, they have repeatedly refused to let me pay the bar tab, they have given me gifts, made sure that I was on the rıght bus, spoken to the polıce on my behalf (I was on a bus in southern Turkey when we were stopped at a polıce road block at 3 in the mornıng. My passport and wallet were in my bag in the luggage compartment and I had no ID. The polıce never even asked me to get out of my seat thanks to the Turkey sitting next to me. Sorry, I couldn't resist.)and they have generally gone to extreme lengths to make sure that I feel welcome as a guest ın theır country. Not once have I felt uncomfortable beıng an American here. Thank you Turkey!!!
I arrive in Istanbul, a little tired, a little nervous, and very hungry, so I head to get some lunch. I have been in Istanbul a total of about 30 minutes when I find myself at a table having lunch with an Iraqi from Baghdad, Imir, his son, Scott, who has been living in Scotland and is moving to Las Vegas, and Murat, the owner of the Metropolis restaraunt, and a Turkish Kurd. Needless to say, lunch got interesting fast. Imir's brother was murdered by Saddam, so he was glad to see him go. He said that there really is no way to describe what it is like living in Baghdad right now. He has six daughters that he is trying to take care of, and his trucking company closed down because all his trucks were blown up (I didn't ask about the drivers)!!! Yet, after many beers, a ton of food, and four hours of conversation he insisted on paying the bill. He has nothing, but he wanted to say thank you for getting rid of Saddam. (Very interesting experience since I have been a vocal opponent of the war!) Murat, the owner of the restaurant turned out to be a great guy, and I ended up out on the town with him several nights in Istanbul. Thanks for the tour Murat! I will see you in Vietnam in January 2007!
Istanbul is quite simply one of the great cities of the world! The history of the place is amazing. The city straddles the Bosphorous Strait which seperates the continents of Europe and Asia. This truly is where East meets West both geographically and culturally. After a few days in Istanbul Candace, Emily and myself (yes we all reconnected in Istanbul after our weekend in Dublin) caught a plane to Antalya, Turkey on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey to catch a total solar eclipse. We landed, walked outside and discovered that the cab ride to the hotel was over $80. I had paid less than $30 for the room and the hotel was all inclusive, food and booze!! Crazy, but then again, Turkey is a crazy place. I still can't figure out how a hotel makes any money charging $30 for a room, food, and alcohol, but lets just say we made the most of it! Taxi's are ridiculously expensive because gas is unbelievably expensive. Try around $6-$8 dollars a gallon! Anyway, back to the story.
Let me stop and say right now that if you have never seen a total solar eclipse you HAVE to go see one. It is truly amazing, as most of you already know from the email I sent out that day. The sky grows dark, the wind starts howling, the temperature drops about 20 degrees, and the sun looks like the eye of God. It is the strangest natural phenomenon I have ever seen. The next total solar eclipse will be July 22, 2009 in Northern India, Nepal and China. Anyone interested in joining us? Candace, Emily and I are there for sure!!
We all said our goodbyes, and I headed for the bus station to meet Mom and the sailboat in Marmaris, Turkey. (Travel tip: when dealing with numbers - money, times, etc... get people to write it down!) I arrived at the bus station to catch my 5:30 evening bus, that, it turns out, didn't leave until 11:30pm. Ouch! It seems that the bus that I thought left at 5:30pm and arrived in Marmaris at 11:30pm, didn't. Try the other way around. I was stuck at the bus station for 6 hours, and then I had to try and sleep on the 7 hour bus ride. (This was the bus ride where we hit the police roadblock and I didn't have my passport)
Needless to say, I arrived in Marmaris more than a little tired, but in one piece. I caught a quick nap, and then we set sail for the Greek Islands known as the Dodocanese. It was goodbye to Turkey, but I would soon return!