Saturday, September 30, 2006

SRE-Eastern Turkey 06

This will be our parting shot until we next find a connecting point to the web. The packing is finished, our car is here and we are ready to hit the road.
We have added a new feature to our page, the Global Nomads Live window to the right of your screen will contain text messages we can upload as we travel. While it is not an Internet connection, it enables us to send text messages to our site when our cell phone is in a service area…we will send brief updates and, at the very least, will keep our latitude and longitude updated for you to follow.

Gearing Up

To see where we are, simply input our most recent coordinates into GoogleMaps and you will see a Sat photo of our location. To input our coordinates, enter them into the Google Maps search pane exactly as they are displayed in the GNL window.
Just a reminder for those of you who exhibit the propensity to be overly uptight or distressed over ordinarily minor problems, we do not expect to be able to update this site for 2-4 weeks. Chill dudes…we'll be back soon.
For the rest of you...thanks for hanging with us, its time to get some dirt on our boots.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Expedition-ette

The joys of blogging do not extend to the province of absentia. While our week was consumed with guests from abroad, language school, the beginning of Ramadan, and preparation for a 4 week outing…I have felt that my literary liability was exceeding acceptable limits. If you must protest, I will be happy to forfeit your readership until you feel I have been aptly punished. Ouch. For the rest of you….let’s get down to business.
We will be heading out on our first foray into the eastern regions of Asia Minor within 72 hours. Accepting an invitation to spend the month of Ramadan in a string of villages within the mountainous border locales was too much for this particular crew of wanderers to resist.
This will be our first Asian road trip with our departure heading us to the extreme eastern border where we will cross into the Republic of Georgia. After taking care of some business we will travel back into Turkey and south along the Iranian border to visit the first of several villages over a 3-4 week period. Our time in these villages will be spent meeting and interviewing those who live in this remote region and participating in their observance of Ramadan.
While this is a minor outing compared to the impending Silk Road Expedition 07'...we will at least get to put a few thousand miles of Asia under our belt, get some dirt on our boots, live with the locals, and spend a night or two under the stars.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Facing Extinction

We are now down to the finer points of making the apartment livable. The crazy guy that installed the wall tiles cut off the iron support on which the wall radiator hangs. And then tiled over the place where a new one should have gone, making it impossible to reconnect the heater.

So, we set to work to install a new 10” piece of iron on which to hang the 50lb radiator. Stanley volunteered to be the one to drill through an inch of ceramic tile, 2 inches of plaster, 1 inch of solid concrete and finally 2 inches of ceramic wall brick. It took 5 holes 6-8 inches deep, a hammer and chisel and 4lbs of new concrete to get it done.

It was only after the concrete had set that we could test the radiator to see if it was in the right position…you guessed it…we had to redo the entire process because the radiator has warped with age and we needed a 1 inch adjustment. This time it worked. Little guy stayed with that hammer drill, hanging off the top of the ladder…until the work was done. It seems I am almost obsolete...even if he has to wear cotton balls to do it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Turkce Bilmiyorum

The Language gods are frisky today…we spent our afternoon in class and had the pleasure of being joined by an eccentric English lady who was well past her prime…(believe me)…who must have said “Why doesn’t everyone just learn English?”…about 20 times. I honestly think that she thinks…that she can speak Turkish. But, even to this poor pathetic linguist…it’s a complete rout and I don’t hold out much hope for her. Why? Because it is hard to learn when you’re the only one talking...sorry, my vent popped open.

Shopping in the Spice Bazaar

While this was supposed to be a private series of lessons….there was a goof up and other students showed up for the start of this season. The good news is that they cut the rate for us by 30% due to the mixup.
We rounded out the day by crossing to the European side and picking up some fabric in the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. Another crossing back to Asia…a hectic commute home and back in time for dinner. Ramadan begins in 4 days...gotta eat while we can.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Big Talk

We are in the process of beginning to consider the possibility of giving some serious thought to whether we should entertain any views on a potential shift in our aesthetic visage. While a new website is in the planning stages….for now we have thrown a bit of paint around to freshen things up, (sorry about the “big words”…I may not understand em’…but I love to use em’).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The World at My Feet

It seems cartography is not in my blood. One of my dearest friends from years gone by is a mapmaker extraordinaire…he owns a Southern California aerial mapping company and even though I have spent thousands of hours with him in our 23 year friendship…none of it has rubbed off on me.

It's a Small World...afterall (Sorry Walt)

Today I accepted the fact that I was going to have to spend money on a wall map instead of trying to make one from hundreds of individual aerial photographs. With the scale and perspective varying from set to set…it was impossible to maintain any form of cartographic integrity. If we can’t use it to chart our travels on the SRE07…it is no use to us. So, after awakening to find our masterpiece on the floor again (humidity and adhesive issues) I took it as a sign to shift gears and we tossed it.
The hunt is now on for a specialized wall map of Asia…it seems that the ones that meet our needs are all produced in the States and are expensive. As of today, I have not found a company willing to ship one to our corner of Asia.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weekly Pieces

So it seems I won’t be asked to be the color man on the NFL’s new version of Monday Night Football, which is launching on ESPN this week …I have had my bags packed just in case they called at the last minute. But, being early on Sunday morning here in Asia, we have just passed the physics of global travel possibilities for me to arrive by kickoff on Monday.
We have had a good week of planning and preparation for our Eastern Turkey outing which is just a few weeks away. We are still trying to make the aerial photographs work in creating our wall map of the Silk Road..(that could drive me to drinking). And we have been engaged almost every evening with visiting Turks.
Tomorrow evening our closest Turkish friends come to visit. These were the folks that helped us out so much with the remodel of the apartment.
Lamb, chicken, mecimek corba, zeytin, bulgar pilaf, chickpea stew, and…the list goes on…will be the starters for our evening. When this crowd gets together…the neighbors know it.
So in celebration of the completion of (most) of the work…we offer a few pictures of our humble home.
Does it say.."Home" to you?

Ceilings are a Bit Low

Ok....That's not really our living room. It's the Sultan's Summer Palace in Istanbul.
But you know our motto: Once the door of our home closes, no matter where we are , we are the happiest family in the world. Even in this palace...things couldn't have been any happier than the Steward's home.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chaotic Cartography

The SRE 07 plans are building steam. Our freshly painted living room wall is being sacrificed to a 7’x 20’ map of the Silk Road. We are piecing this map together from hundreds of aerial photographs we have downloaded off Google Earth.

Tibet in Pieces

The process is slow and frustrating…while the scale is fairly consistent…a variance of just a fraction…wreaks havoc within inches.
We are compiling a list of Embassy and Consulate websites and the kids are keeping tabs of any changes (of which there are many) in Visa regulations and requirements on a day by day basis.

Istanbul to the Taklamakan Desert

I spent most of today working on our map and route while Ann hit the Wednesday street market for produce in Uskudar.
Tonight we were treated to a dinner of fish, salad, bread, and the company of our neighbors. They are force feeding us….not a bad way to go.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Roaming Borders

We have become the frequent recipients of official notices from the U.S. State Department and a few Turkish based expat news sources. This last month has witnessed an increase in Kurdish separatist’s terrorism here in Istanbul as well as in other regions of Turkey. In the last 36 hours 8 people have been killed via roadside bomb, ambush, or lynch mob.
Our travel plans for Ramadan (Sept 24-Oct 23) put us in the heart of Kurdish territory. In fact ,during this time we will be the guests of several Kurdish majority villages in eastern Turkey.
One of the acceptable recommendations to come down the bureaucratic pipeline was to procure a satellite phone. Apparently, anywhere there’s sky…there’s a link. With most of our planned travel for this next year in the remote border regions where cell phone coverage is at best “futuristic”, we felt this was a “must” on our supply list.
The past month we have been researching our orbital options and today we were informed that the satellite phone we ordered would arrive exactly two months after this excursion. While the sat phone will play a major role in our Silk Road Expediton 07 (we can update our blog via this phone…or so we are told) …we will be out of luck for this current outing.
Such was my day...$25.00 in bus, ferry and taxi fares to the sat phone office. A security search and xray that left me without my wallet and family, uniformed guards to the upper floors and an interview with a gracious Turk who spoke excellent English. He had the phone, allowed me to hold it, showed me its options, put it aside for me...and said to come back in January to pick it up.

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

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