From Argentina, I went to California for two weeks thinking that was enough time to settle my life in that continent before heading off to England. The complexities of “settling my life” in that continent will be saved for another entry. Two days after arriving in England, I boarded a plane to Istanbul. In Istanbul I had enough time to buy a bottle of fine tequila and then get on another plane for Izmir where my good friend and fellow blog author is currently living. I spent two weeks in Turkey with three days on some Greek islands where I learned about the intense problem of middle eastern immigrants trying to get into Europe and the idea that certain generations of people just simply hate each other regardless of any sort of reason. But I will not pass judgement on some of the things that they had to go through. Charles was a fantastic host as always and a play by play of the trip should be given to give him full respect but instead I will go through a tattered page of my journal that I found with a bullet point list of things I needed to remember. In order as I wrote them and to the best of my memory.
In Turkey, it is a law that the Turkish flag should fly higher than all others. In fact there are many laws that could be categorized as “anti-Turkish” laws. Your name must be Turkish. I did not get the consequence of being named something non-Turkish nor was I given parameters to know what is in fact a Turkish name. Shouldn’t the parents be penalized any ways? I mean, what a joke to play on your child. Your company name had to be named Turkish or you would have to pay a heavy tax to the government.
Several times a day there was the “call to prayer” which was a very loud speaker from the nearby mosque giving a prayer. I think there were five a day, but the ones I remember were the very first ones at 6am and the very last ones just as people were leaving work. They were very haunting but beautiful wales coming from speakers created in the 70’s. I do not believe that words could be interpreted but none the less I found them to be very majestic and intriguing. My first night in Turkey was composed of Charles and I staying up all night drinking and catching up after over some tequila and beer and back gammon. Even though Charles described my Spanish as a drunk persons Spanish, I went to sleep just as the call to prayer was starting at 6am. A truly inspiring first morning.
Incredible sums of cats in the streets. Charles lives across form a park with a haunted carnival in it and from the depths of this carnival is a 42 legged undulating mass of feline that is producing mal formed cats and sending them all over the streets of south west Turkey. These cats are in horrible shape and the people do not seem to think twice about it. From Charles’ window I would watch a cat patrol it’s neighbourhood looking for food, killing cockroaches, and harassing small children all the while avoiding kicks and brooms as if they were to be expected.
The people of Turkey were incredibly friendly. If you asked for directions, they would forget wherever they were going and walk you to your destination. They wanted to pay for everything even if they didn’t have money. It was literally a battle to pay first. Amazing race of people.
If you visit a friends families house, you must drink your drink slowly otherwise you will constantly be given a fresh refill even if you did not ask for one. Very sneaky and stealthy how they would pull it out of your hand and replace with a full bottle.
Charles has already discussed tabla (backgammon) and it’s intricacies. Great game I would have never picked up without going to Turkey. Charles took advantage of a down hill slope and a drunken Luke to tie our record at 21-21.
I found it rather difficult to chat with females. Charles even yelled at me for giving up my seat for one on the bus. Another time a large man got in between me and a non talking girl who was likely her dad or grandfather. In hindsight, if I saw myself approaching my daughter, I would freak out too.
Apparently you cannot walk around the haunted carnival with a beer bottle in your hand. Cops stopped me and informed me of this in Turkish. I knew the issue but acted dumb. They got on their phone to call someone who spoke English. Meanwhile I sipped my drink watching the joggers go by. Then I talked with the guy on the phone in Spanish while he tried English. The jist was I could not drink beer in the park. I stared at the other police who seemed quite happy with themselves that they had proved me wrong and cheersed them and pounded my beer in front of them. Efes 1 liter bottle. They shook my hand and let me go.
Go out at night and find the guy with the muscles you can eat. He will prepare them for you, put lemon on it, then you eat. Immediately he will have another ready for you to eat. Just keep eating. When your done, to your amazement, you will have to pay. But it is really cheap. Do not worry. Or do as I did, and befriend two Turkish guys who wanted to take me clubbing but I could not enter the best club in Izmir since I had shorts on so they paid for my muscles and then gave me a ride home all the while joking how they were going to kill me. This actually freaked me out and I started to puff out the chest and told them I was not prepared to be killed in this way. It worked. It was all a joke, but seriously, Turkish old guys, do not joke to tourists while they are in the back of your mercedes that you should kill them.
The night with Charles and girlfriend Ezgi was a hulla-ba-loo for sure. Ignorance is bliss
I would happily have an old Turkish guy bath me while I am wearing a 6 inch tea towel any day.
The very beautiful and enormous Turkish markets that many people know about are pretty much the equivalent to our Walmart. They just create more jobs doing it and it was a whole lot more exciting.
Efes ruins were cool and worth a trip despite a hangover. I hung around a Spanish tour group to learn all about it without paying. When they asked what I was doing I responded in English.
Was invited to play in some of the best soccer facilities I had been in for a long time. Dominated and I think we might have irritated the local guys for being too good.
Watching the professional soccer players, I was really impressed with their skill level. Although I had heard it was all imported from Brazil. The crowds were amazing! The chants were so diverse and the crowds were literally creating new chants on the fly. One side of the stadium would chant to another who would chant to the other. One would create a new chant while our section would all perk their ears thinking “what is that?” And then when it was done, our section would repeat the brand new chant like it was written behind their eye lids. Awesome.
11% wine in the Greek islands is pretty much the way to go for a cheap and fast drunk that ends as fast as it begins. but it only cost 1.5 euros.
Visit Chios rooms hostel in Somos.
Karaoke ending with a good lay down on a very steep street in Istanbul staring at the stars only to be interrupted by a taxi guy who thought we were dead.
Sorry Charles and everyone else who made that trip so magical. It was amazing and I will do it again.