Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Butcher's Bill

This travel journal has always been about our experiences as we travel along and through the countries that make up the fabric of the ancient Silk Road. We want to bring to you, in living color, the sights, smells, cultures and characters we encounter as we wander…and for that reason we have worked hard to avoid the politics of the day as we weave our way though Turkey and on through Central Eurasia.
This last week I have written and deleted thousands of words expressing our thoughts and feelings after the cowardly attacks against Turkish families and children in Istanbul on Sunday evening. 17 people were killed after two explosions rocked Istanbul, 5 of the dead are children. After letting this simmer for a few days to try and keep my “tone” somewhat bearable… here is the view from our corner of Asia.
The terrorists that committed this crime used the bait-and-blow tactic, setting a small but loud explosion to attract a crowd, and then detonating a powerful, nail and ball-bearing laden explosive that would rip through those who ran to rescue.
One of the stories we heard from Sunday evening was that of a 12 year old girl who heard the first explosion and ran to her balcony to look down to the street…she died moments later when the second bomb was detonated. Another image indelibly burned into our memory is that of a mother whose feet had been blown off, ignoring her own life-threatening trauma to tend to the minor injuries of her children.
As I have said before experience is the best teacher…no degrees, university course work or eloquent discourse can impart some of the lessons that life has to offer. 3 days later Istanbul is still somber and shaking the bone chips, blood, and images from its shock-waved senses.
I have been besieged this week by my Istanbul friends and family to both write and refrain from writing about this hate driven attack. Some are concerned that standing for what we believe would endanger us, others say that if we ignore this, we are ignoring the people we love. I agree with the latter, if we won’t stand to be counted now, will there ever be something worth standing for?
Our bottom line? Turkey has shown amazing restraint against the almost daily acts of terror against its core, beliefs and people. At the urging of our own country and others in the EU, Turkey has had to tread a fine line to defend their borders. They should be praised for their calculated, patient, and careful response. Once again Turkey pays a costly butcher's bill in the search for peace.
Those who should be condemned are the hate-filled and terror-driven cowards that have to resort to targeting the young and defenseless because they lack the strength of conviction in their own beliefs to engage in reasonable and peaceful discourse. Fear will work for a season, but you cannot live by it or enact lasting change through it. Fear is the weapon of the weak.
Today along with our Turkish brothers we stand as family and friends in the face of those who hate. We grieve with you.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Working in the Dark

Yep, I have been neglecting you again. Sorry. Things are still crazy with the Visas and car registration and we have been busy holding it all together while we wait for news.
This last week some "improvements" have been made in our apartment building. As a rule, you can count on all Turkish apartment corridors to be pitch black with the light switch on a short 3-10 second timer...just enough time to make it to the next stairwell where you can hit the switch again, so you can look back and see what you just tripped over.
Yesterday Turkish ingenuity showed up in the form of an old candle that the electrician was propping up against the gas lines to use as a work light. He just moved it, his tools and ladder from spot to spot until he had installed all 18 fixtures in the building.
I found him when he had just started working and offered him my flashlight, but he just smiled and said that his candle was easier to work with and didn't need batteries.
Six hours and one candle later he finished up and headed off to his next job...nailing 50 feet of 220V electrical cable to the sidewalk outside to put in walkway lights.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Knots of Knowledge

Making do with what you got is a big part of our lives. This last week Elle & Stanley had a several-day marathon Monopoly game in play. As they were cleaning up yesterday I laughed when I saw the money pile neatly stacked and held together with a rubber band that had been repaired by tying a knot in it.Yes...we can get rubber bands here if you know where to look for them, but Elle's experience with living on the far side of the world has taught her to go with the flow and exercise a little ingenuity. A little knowledge of living cross culturally has served her well. It seems having crazy parents may have an upside after all.
Please don't send us boxes of rubber bands in response to this posting...we still have a spare in case Elle's repair fails.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Turkey Bleeds...Again

The American Consulate in Istanbul was attacked a couple of hours ago by terrorists...3 Turkish Policemen are dead, 3 terrorists are dead and others are hurting. The attack took place at the main gate to the Consulate which sits some ways back from the road.
Turkey guards the entrance to our Consulate and paid the full price of today's butcher bill...for that we are humbled and grieve along with their families and children.
Shortly before the attack, and 1000 miles east, 3 German climbers were kidnapped by 5 terrorists as they camped with their 13 member climbing party on the slopes of Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey.
After all that is said and discussed about the "war on terror", it really boils down to being grateful for friends like the great nation of Turkey who stand alongside us.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Home is Good

Waiting for the Ferry

We made it back home to Istanbul last up a 5am and crossed the border around 12pm. Once we got across and were waiting for the Turkish Immigration Police, Stanley wandered away from the bus and I saw him kneel down and put his hand on the ground...he looked at me and said "Ah, Turkey, it is good to be home!"
We are hoping to have the truck ready to roll by August with the new registration and requirements completed and then we will be off on our Silk Road Expedition-08 II.
Today, paperwork, grocery shopping and catching up with the neighbors.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Unexpected Decompression

Ok, maybe having to hit the road wasn't the worse thing that could happen. We bought the cheapest bus tickets we could find that would get us out of Turkey and jumped off at the first stop the bus made in Greece. We found ourselves in a little town that is so hot it is almost deserted, but the hotel rates are really low compared to the high-season rates.
As we left Turkey the Custom's Police told us we couldn't return until at least Friday so we are forced to sit and wait...not too bad a place to do that though. We are enjoying an unexpected "decompression".

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

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