Friday, September 28, 2007

Ring for the Tea Babe

An Early Start South

If the old adage regarding absence & fondness is true then we are heading for true love... cuz we are heading out and away from E-access again and will be off the radar for another week.
We hit the road early tomorrow, 9 hours south by truck and 1 hour west by boat to finish up a week of work in Greece. With little hope of any E-Life on the island it looks like late next week will be the soonest we can expect to be back in the loop.
While this trip isn't ringing our bells...the high point will be the Çay Chick who doubles as the navigator boss lady.
Watch the Global Nomads Live window for our sat location...copy, click on Google Maps and enter the coordinates for our general whereabouts. Anyone for Çay?
Çay Chick

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pensive Peregrination

Looking Towards Turkey

Somewhere in the next 3 days we will be off on a somewhat pensive peregrination...and an unwelcome one at that. We have a return visit scheduled to a little Greek Island off the coast of Turkey. This is the same island we reviewed earlier this year which prompted the unfortunate tasks of submitting an unfavorable report regarding its tourism "savvy" and a fresh bolus of Hepatitis and Tetanus vaccines for our crew...follow the link to "Quaint it Taint" to get the gist of that jaunt.
We have been urged by our Greek host to revisit and reconsider our original musings. Being the considerate folks we are we have agreed to a "do-over" and will tear ourselves away from Istanbul and a delightful Ramazan season to head south and west to see if the Petri Dish has yet seen bleach.
As you know, our E access will be limited while we are away, and updates will be delayed due to the lack of Internet access (another reason the island didn't get stellar marks).
On that note our Global Cell will be inactive for a week or two as well as your ability to leave us voice appears that money is important to keeping it working...Go figure.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chow Down and Giddy Up

With Ramazan just 8 days old we are fasting then feasting to excess. While this time of year is about denying the flesh and focusing on Allah, it seems that the celebratory spirit of the holiday leads to extreme epicurean indulgence.
Most evenings the doors in our apartment block are open just before Iftar (the main meal of the day signaling the breaking of the day's fasting) and housewives and neighbors are visiting and bringing samples of their evening meal to share. The smells, laughter and greetings that waft thru the air are contagious and ring with holiday cheer and exuberance.
This week we have hosted or have been hosted at a full house for the last 4 evenings...and we are now off to another home for this evening's Iftar. I had hoped that my "heft" would benefit from this year's Ramazan but that hope faded on day one.
Consider the prospect having a full Thanksgiving dinner every night with all the festivity, special dishes and visiting coupled with the merriment, desserts, special songs and dances...for 30 days in a row and you will get the picture.
Being bi-cultural does have its perks for our own American holiday season will arrive just weeks after Ramazan ends...Giddy Up.

Waiting for Iftar

At a Friend's Iftar Spread

At Home with Our Istanbullu Family

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bare Feet and a Headless Goat

A year or so ago I wrote a column about being shoeless in Asia. I was never a barefoot kid...even though I spent most of my teenage years at La Jolla Shores, away from the beach I was a shoes and socks kinda guy.
Asia has changed all that, I haven't had socks or shoes on now since March, in fact in the last 17 months I have only worn shoes for 6 of them...the order of the day is now bare feet and Birkenstocks. Which, while bringing me new freedom and comfort has also brought me fully into the cultural understanding of frequent ablutions and the sense in stopping at the Mosque fountains to freshen up. Last week we stopped for a break on the border road between Iraq and Turkey...crossing a deep river on an old bridge we found a small clear running stream that dropped 20' to the river.
Crossing Over

My Friend and his Headless Goat

Our day had been long, hot and dusty and I longed to wash the dust and dirt off my feet. I stopped by the stream, rolled my pant legs up and began to wash when a man from a local tribe appeared out of nowhere with a headless goat wrapped around his shoulder.
We had a nice chat and I learned that he had dispatched his evening meal just a few minutes earlier...confirmed by the still dripping neck, and that he was on his way to a pre-Ramazan family feast deeper in the mountains. We made plans to hook up next year and then he wandered off and down the path...and another once in a lifetime cross-cultural connection was forged.
So who'd a thunk going barefoot would be the key to meeting a mountain tribe and a headless goat? Want adventure?...leave your socks in the drawer this week and see what happens.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Places & Faces

It appears my recent ruminations have cantered in the vicinity of the emotionally expressive...implying traits that might inaccurately cast me in a softer or gentler light. Since many of our readers are from Minnesota or are of Scandinavian extraction and have difficulties processing things sentimental... an exercise in prudence is in order. So we limit the scope of today’s musings to these few lines and another ocular buffet for your probing propensities.
We attribute these distressingly demonstrative humors to the passing fatigues of the foray...

Persian Pondering

Asia Minor's Drought

Ann's Friends

Amasra Peppers

Sheriff and His Crocodile

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Slicing Thru Life

I wonder if some of us are just born to wander...not shiftless, pointless roaming...but wandering with purpose. I realize that there are more than a few of you who look at us as modern day gypsies...bouncing from one place to another as the wind blows, but our crisscrossing of Asia has much more to do with relationships than whimsy.
My all time favorite read and movie is The Razor's Edge...the story of Larry Darrell, a WWI vet who walks away from life in Chicago to wander across Europe and Asia. Maugham's tale of Darrell's break from convention and searching for the meaning of life moved me deeply in my late teens. I remember the first time I read the book and then saw the movie...Ann and I sat in the parking lot of the library until after midnight trying to get around the quote used in the epilogue..."The edge of a razor is difficult to pass over, thus the wise say the path to salvation is hard".
It doesn't surprise me that those same passions we felt as we sat in that library parking lot considering "breaking away" from cultural the same passion that propels us forward a quarter of a century later. We simply were designed to live an unorthodox life.
Bottom line for us is that it is all about the people we meet on these forays, the culture in which we are immersed and to a far lesser extent the romance of travel and epicurean experiences.
If you decide to check out the flick...make sure it is the Tyrone Power original.
Here are a few of our moments from the edge...

Unexpected Morning In Maçka...Stopped to Buy a Tea Pot and Got Adopted by the Family

The Vanishing Nomadic Tribes on the Eastern Highlands

Dung for Fuel in an Iraqi Village

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wrap Up

Elle in Sinope...The Home of Diogenes

After a chance to pull ourselves together yesterday, it now seems like we were gone more than a couple weeks! We are home, pretty road weary and still rinsing the sand and dirt out of our gear and hair. Our biggest equipment casualties were blown-sand damage to a pair of Rx sunglasses and our truck windows...(Now I have an excuse for walking around in a haze).
As far as the physical, other than a sand and dust facial exfoliation and big time fatigue...we pulled thru pretty well.
Ramazan begins in a few hours and we are ramping up quick to join in these holy days. Right now...we are in recovery.
Over the next month or two we will drop in some of our favorite flashbacks from the road trip...Here are our first picks!
Safranbolu Mosque

Roadside Çay

Waiting for Çay is a Big Deal

Far Out on the Steppe

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Zone

We have had a blast traveling the Turk/Iraqi border this last week. In the last two days we have been thru 48 checkpoints, been detained 9 times and have made some great new friends in the communities along the way.
Hanging with the Troops

Setting Out Along the Border...Iraq on the Left, Turkey on the Right
The Turk Military has gone out of their way to accommodate our travel plans and have extended us the greatest hospitality and kindness. While we have been made to wait many times at checkpoints while our approval to travel further south and west was has been cool to hang with this great group of guys and visit the many villages scattered in this high security territory.
Our first day on the border we were stopped a mile away from where the Turk Troops had discovered a roadside bomb a half an hour before we would have passed by it. The country and mountains are spectacular and the people sincere and amazingly kind.
This has been the best foray we have had to date! We are still shaking the dust from ourselves and are on the way to wrapping up this season's SRE. Next Stop...Istanbul

Entering the Zone



Sunday, September 09, 2007

Internet Jet Lag

Cruising thru the Eastern Highlands this last week has allowed us to catch up on some friendships from last year and explore villages that are ancient...but new to us.
As always here in this corner of Asia we were treated with amazing hospitality and kindness.
Note...some of these postings were written a few days ago and will be uploaded as E access is available which might confuse you as to our actual location...think of it as a really cool form of Internet jet lag.
Back to Familiar Haunts

Iraqi Border Village
Last Sunflowers of the Season

Popular Cheeks

It is always hard for us to leave Istanbul...but once we check in at our eastern flat we find that our heart has checked in also. We arrived to find that our kitchen door had blown open sometime this winter and several months of dirt, snow and rain had drifted in coating the floors in a layer of grime.

Stanley's Popular Cheeks

Our neighbor brought us dinner and by 4am we had the flat cleaned and we were ready for bed. We were awakened at 8am by a wedding down the street, hundreds of friends and family had gathered and for the next 24 hours the dancing, music, gunshots, and food were in full swing.
We spent the day checking in with friends and neighbors and walking thru town. Sorry for the long delays in postings...we are still mobile and without a regular E link.
Our first impressions...

The Eastern Highlands

Ann & Azize

Azize's Diyarbakir Chow

Tea Time Closes the Street

Soup Delivery Service

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


With 2000 miles and scores of villages behind us we have finally settled in at our eastern flat…or “Outpost” as the kids like to call it. We cruised along the Black Sea from Istanbul to the Republic of Georgia with many side trips south and into the Kara Deniz Daglari.
Driving from the coast up into the Anatolian Plateau opened new territory for our crew of four. We stopped for a day at Macka and made some new friends on the way to the abandoned "cliffhanger" Sumela Monastery.
Sumela Monastery

Zeytincik Village

We have been in Dogubeyazit for a few days and will be basing out of here for our explorations into the mountains. With such a late start to this year’s foray we have had to condense our plans and focus on the priorities.
With our internet connection points at a minimum…don’t think we have forgotten you. It just gets a little breezy hanging off the pole trying to type.
Tomorrow south and east to the Hakkari Range.
Our Street at the "Outpost"

Fashion Circle Mall

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

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