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Turkey Travel Report, Part 1
  Failure as a Tourist
Spent a week in Istanbul, but I'm an abject failure as a tourist. Found it
hard to get around to visiting famous sites. First several evenings I
found myself wandering the streets of poor neighborhoods, engaging people at their homes, sitting on their steps, or in chairs in the street.  Communication is hard, me not knowing Turkish, them not knowing English.  But smiles, pocket dictionaries, nods, and shakes carry us through. I especially like engaging kids and old people. I love seeing those oldweathered faces, with ravines mimicking roads on a map. There was12-yr-old Ebryson, along with her younger sister Lemon, making me a crown out of some local vines. We snapped a photo of that, and they saw it and giggled. Amazing how much kids are alike in all countries.  And there was Erkan Eken, who sat me down on the steps of his ramshackle house and offered me tea.  And Kanber Demir, a middle aged woman sitting with three old women in the street, chuckling at the photo I took of the three of
them.  And the 3 old women embroidering silk scarves, while a man hangs
out a window and says to me 'America?  My brother is in Boston'.  Happens
often that such a connection is made.
The last 3 nights in Istanbul I stayed with a Servas host. Servas is a
world-wide organization of 10,000 or more members, all interested in
peace, swapping homestays. I hosted a couple of people in Seattle. Free
lodging, plus meeting wonderful people.
Then a week on the Greek island Samos. My Norwegian second cousin Anne
comes there every year, so I joined her this year. Paradise, quite quite
wonderful. If I could be convinced Heaven is anywhere near this nice, I'd
quickly repent and re-convert. (Fortunately, I'm a hard sell on that
point.) Swimming in the Aegean a couple of times a day, schmoozing over
din din. Gawd, I loved it. And at the request of my Istanbul host
Dorothea, I checked out a nudist beach on another part of the island.
Complex, demanding work, but I was up to it, and didn't shirk my duty.
While on Samos I also visited Ano Vathy, the 'old city.' Mazes of streets
meandering the hillside. Again, talking to locals. Fotis Zeginoglou runs a
dinky cafe and served me sausage in tomato sauce made by his mother.
Delectable, not to mention cheap.
After Samos, back to Turkey, visiting the ruins of Ephesus, walking the
streets where once Saul of Tarsus, later to pen an epistle to the
residents. He's the cat, you know, who destroyed Christianity, turning it
from its focus on love and tolerance to one that's rule-bound,
guilt-producing, and intolerant. (Ok, that's a broad generalization, and
there are tons of exceptions, but allow me that little rantlet :)
Then down the Aegean coast, with 5 days in Fethiye. Hostel with stunning
views of the harbor, dorm room for 17 Turkish lira, which is about 13
bucks. Not too hard on the budget. Found a simply superb restaurant, run
by a Turkish woman who went to cooking school in Melbourne. Shepherds
Kebab with lamb that melts in your mouth. She made me a sampling of mezes,
the Turkish appetizers--haydari (yogurt with mint or garlic), stuffed
peppers, semizotu, (onions, rice, and tomato).  Five meals there in 5
days--stick with a winner.  The highlight of my Fethiye stay was hiking a
portion of the Lycian Way trail.  Strenuous hike, hot, but thoroughly
delightful.  The Lycian Way trail is said by some to be one of the 10 best
long hikes in the world.  Much of it hugs the sea, with mountains on the
other side of the path.  It goes through traditional villages and
spectacular scenery.  I'd love to come back just for that.
Then on around the Mediterranean coast, hugging the water, staying two
nights in Kas. Got a room directly overlooking the sea, which beautifully
cool evenings and hot days. My favorite weather recipe.
I've got one more week in Turkey.  Not enough for this vibrant, engaging
country.  Such a mix.  Ataturk built a secular state here in the early
20th century, but virtually all Turks are Muslim.  Modern country suffused
with traditional customs. and values.  Women on the street showing a high
proportion of breast, walking along with women with head scarves and
completely-covered bodies in the traditional style.  There is a women's
movement here, but my understanding is that it's small and hasn't built
the kind of momentum yet that would ignite significant change.  The
26-yr-old woman in the Fethiye restaurant is typical, I suspect--still
under the thumb of her father and mother, reluctant to abandon the family
business and lead a free and independent life, which she longs to do.
Kudos to you if you got this far without hitting the Delete key.  And I
can just hear Alan asking, Is this all going to be on the final?