what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout
Turkey was wonderful, and I'm going to work on putting up a diary from the trip (it will be a while because most of the photographs are still in my friend Christina's camera which is currently in Oxford and due to leave for her new home in Taiwan--as opposed to last year's home in Taiwan--in about ten days, and I have no idea when she'll get a chance to make and send me copies). [Note: this is now available, the first page is here.]
Turkey was wonderful and it was the land--so dry and dusty but so green and fertile. I had no idea. The food there was wonderful because it was all fresh--eggs from the chickens that were running around. Tomatoes and cucumbers from the fields everywhere. Olives from the trees on the hills. Cheese from goats and sheep and cows. Honey. Mmmm. The landscapes were more varied than I expected them to be: more fertile, more green, less barren. Come to think of it, everything was different than I expected it to be. Istanbul was more European and urbane, and prettier. Cappadocia more magical and more mundane, both. The Mediterranean really is that damn deep blue that it appears in photos. The people are that kind and the same as us and that different.
Turkey was wonderful and the trip was magical, and too short, and I know that I want to go back, the sooner the better. Now I understand why Christina is so in love with it.
My head is full of images from it, all distanced by that damn 18-hour flight home. I'm way too awake and too sleepy at the same time.
And despite all the horrors I was told about, I never did have to use a squatty potty or worse. I dunno what happened; I turned into a camel or something. Actually, my left foot got very swollen for no apparent reason (I must have banged it hard on something but I don't remember it--there was a bruise for a while but it never hurt except walking down stairs, and then mostly because of having to compress that swollen flesh) so we decided it was because I wasn't peeing enough. Well, I was certainly sweating out a lot of fluid, especially when we were on the Mediterranean, where it was 40 degrees Celsius and humid. Cappadocia was just hot and dry, which meant we were thirsty and liked shade but it wasn't uncomfortable. Arriving in the Mediterranean was like entering a sauna--all we could do eat watermelon in the shade of a restaurant on the water and then go and look for a hotel with air conditioning.
But it was so beautiful. And Cappadocia was startling. It was strange learning how to count money in millions, and where people didn't speak English and we only had a few words of Turkish (luckily Christina and Matt knew much more and were willing to help us stay out of trouble).
It was strange feeling very white and different, not that the Turks are so dark-skinned but the tones are very different from us with northern European skins and there weren't many of us around this year. Sometimes I felt an invisible observer, but mostly people noticed us. Apparently a lot of men stared but I didn't see that. Several women, though, touched my hair. Loose hair is rare there outside the cities, and long grey loose uncovered hair, well, I didn't see anyone else with it.
It's so hard to describe everything we saw and did in those two weeks, so mostly you'll have to wait for the trip diary, but here are a few images:
|Riding on a small, open passenger ferry across the Bosphorus, with the towers of the old city wall and one of the new bridges visible. We spent the day we arrived sleepily riding on the ferries.|
|A view of the Hagia Sophia, a 6th Century church (much rebuilt), later transformed into a mosque. We rambled around it our second day in Istanbul for hours. It's full of beautiful mosaics and carvings, and of course it itself is very beautiful. It has four minarets, but from the angle of my photo you can't see the fourth.|
|This is the view from the terrace of our hotel in Göreme, where we stayed in a cave room. The pinnacle on the left ("peribaci"="fairy chimney") has a stable in the bottom.|
|The Ihara Valley, a deep river canyon with cliff dwellings and frescoed chapels from the early Christian church along both sides of its length, pistachio trees planted along the river.|
|Out toward the valley from the Alahan Monastery, high in the mountains.|
|The Mediterranean from the balcony of our pensione.|
There are more tales of Turkey--my complete travel journal begins here.
Also listened to two women: Ceylan in particular as we had two tapes by her, and the most recent is quite wonderful especially, Aglayi Aglayi, which we picked up on cd before we left, and Zara, avuntu, which we still only have on tape.
Also picked up some more traditional soz music by Musa Eroglu, and Jim bought one other cd which we disliked intensely, and one other that I haven't listened to yet.
Turkish pop music can sound western, but mostly the Turkish overlay dominates it to my eyes. I like it, but a little of it goes a long way for me, though I do adore Ceylan, whose music is rich pop, and Zara, who is a little darker- and deeper-voiced, but still pop.
Then I started Nicola Griffith's Ammonite, another fascinating read, but hard to synopsize. It's about a world where a virus transforms women but kills men. Reads to me rather like an answer to Storm Constantine's Wreathu (sp?) trilogy. The story begins shortly after the world is rediscovered, and an anthropologist arrives to try to learn about the world and ends up by learning about herself.
I also enjoyed Marina Fitch's The Border, but found myself distracted from it. Maybe it was that I mostly read it on the flight home, but the intriguing concept (interactions between troubled people and a kind of guardian spirit) didn't feel viscerally real to me the way Charles de Lint's do. As the story went on I felt more and more distanced from it. I should probably re-read it sometime when I'm not crossing my own borders.
Severna Park's Speaking Dreams is another book I absorbed on the plane. It's the story of two characters dealing with slavery in space. I found it a good story, but not a stick-to-the-ribs kind of story, which is rare for me in SF.
[Chapters about Seed People appear in next week's entry.]
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