Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zip, Zilch, Nada

Wow!....it has been a crazy couple of weeks and frankly I got nothing to give. Let's just pretend I wrote something amazingly witty and insightful today.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Outpost Woes

Last Look from the Outpost

We were surprised this week to learn that we had no other option than to close down the Outpost in eastern Turkey. Soaring rent and heating costs coupled with the dollar's slide and the landlord's desire for us to spend even more time in the unit were contributors.
We have some gear and equipment still inside but the cost of traveling out and back to retrieve it make it a wash. Fortunately the kids didn't leave anything of value to them the last time we passed thru. With our contract up in two weeks we really didn't have much choice...it seems there were plenty of folks who were willing to pay the increased rent.
Vacation is just a little over two weeks away and I am wishing it was here now. We are heading west for December and are looking forward to our (now) traditional Christmas in the UK.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Threads Sahure

Living an unorthodox life can sometimes label you as a cowboy, hippie, gypsy, wanderer, bum, adventurer, non-conformist etc.. There is no shortage of titles people can lay at your feet, some good, some not so good....some deserved, most of them misunderstood. I can't rationally explain why we have fallen into this life of Living on the Far Side of the World, but I can offer you this; it is all about relationships.
Those relationships are now going to have their own forum at SilkRoadNomads.com; Threads is a new column that will be published as whimsy dictates. It will introduce you to the people we meet along the Silk Road and (we hope) eventually weave a picture that will bring you a new appreciation for the culture, people and traditions of High Asia.
Bayan Sahure

Sahure is the mother of Reyhan (Ann's best friend). Widowed she now lives between two homes in Istanbul, her own home in Umraniye and Reyhan's home one door away from ours in Kazasker. She has been living with Reyhan for the last few months and has become a dear part of our family.
Over the past year we have shared countless meals and hundreds of cups of ├žay with her and have grown to love her...she treats us like we were her own grandchildren...and to my advantage, cooks for me constantly. Even though she has slowed down considerably she takes the time to make special Turkish dishes for me each week and spends the rest of her time crocheting delicate lace tablecloths and traditional head scarves.
Sahure's Lace

Last week Ann found her at the kitchen table making borek and dolma (two of my favorites). A few hours later she sent down a plate of a dozen finger size dolma, (grape leaves stuffed with rice, nuts and spices all rolled up tightly) followed by another plate of sweets.
While I love her food it is her kindness and gentleness that have won us over, always happy and cheerful and never complaining...she is a point of light in Istanbul.
Reyhan and her mother, Sahure

Footprint
A month ago Sahure was spending the evening with us in our apartment. When the call to prayer rang out from the local Mosque...she limped down our hallway, took our prayer rug and laid it on our bedroom floor and knelt down to pray. Watching this woman who had been born under the fading shadow of the Ottoman Empire kneel on the floor of my home, open her hands to heaven, and pray to Allah brought me full circle...Life is amazing when you Live, Travel and Wander on the Far Side of the World.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cold Snap

Cold Mongers and Fish

Istanbullus have been bundling up and trying to stay warm this last week. With the turn to winter approaching our skies have been dark and stormy. It has been so cold that the fish merchants across the street aren't icing the fish during the day.
Its hard to imagine that this last summer's record scorcher was a reality. For now we are warm, dry and enjoying the change.
Heading for Cover

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thirsty Cows

Drinking Fountain with Cup

Just a few steps outside our door at the Outpost is this drinking fountain on the sidewalk. Fountains like this are found not only in Dogubeyazit but all thru Turkey with many similar to this one in Istanbul.
A common cup is normally attached by a chain or string. Often the cups will be made of hammered brass and some of them look to be decades old. We have used these fountains many times and it is not uncommon to wait for the people in front to finish drinking and hand you a full cup of water.

Some months ago I stopped at a roadside fountain where the water was flowing continuously...not able to find the cup I was just about to scoop the water up to drink it when I noticed a small engraving that mentioned the word "cow" in Turkish.
Bottom line? Don't drink from livestock trough.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Gas Pains

PER LITRE PRICES

We are hearing the reports on the news that gas prices are going thru the roof at home. Just to make you feel better we wanted you you to see the cost of doing business with a vehicle in Asia Minor.
With the dollar at historic lows against the Turkish Lira and 3.7 litres to the gallon...these fuel prices are per litre and give us the shivers.
Bottom Line?
  • Diesel $8.01 a gallon
  • Regular $9.82 a gallon

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fuzzy Views


Most of you have figured out by now that I am about as bright as a sack full of hammers but lately I have wondered if even that might be a bit too generous of a descriptor. I have been hard at work the last month and a half at language school and while I am able to handle all of our daily life in this culture and navigate our crew from one end of the country to the other without a problem...easy, natural conversation is still far out of my grasp. This process of language acquisition has given me great respect for those in the States who have worked hard to learn the basics of English...and a real disdain for the linguistically gifted.
Language study, this fall's heavy travel, and now the flu that has cycled through Elle, Stanley and myself and back to Elle again (running a fever at 104 today)...has fried our collective brains and caused us to urge the calendar forward to December and our annual vacation, just 7 weeks away.
For the rest of this year we might seem fuzzy and out of focus...but hope is in sight.

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World