We flew home right after the Marathon bombing; we watched BBC Live on the plane about the Ricin letters... we got back just in time to see a city under voluntary martial law and the manhunt of the millennium (and you know, the brothers shared one revolver between the two of them, we know now... they weren't heavily armed or armored). Made for interesting travels...
As soon as we're on US soil, a fertilizer plant blew up, and killed way too many innocent civilians, because business as usual skipped or ignored inspections and built a chemical plant in a neighborhood - or vice versa. We got a taste in that week of what some countries go through daily, and we didn't like it.
I know I was also butt-tired, jet-lagged, and put too much expectation on what I could get done when I got back. I flew right back into teaching, finished up a weekend full of training, tried to catch up on a bunch of stuff, and took a lot of naps.
I've washed my clothes, fully unpacked, worn my Mustafa Kemal Ataturk t-shirt a couple times and emailed my new friend over there about his wife's work with girls and women, their education and their future in Eastern Turkey. I've taken a lot of naps, and I've struggled with the jet lag to the point where I felt stupid.
And, I've eaten and eaten and drank some beers. Being on vacation is weird for me because it totally shifts my diet. I normally do not eat three whole meals a day and so when I'm on a trip, and that's what is happening, and we're moving about but really not getting that much activity, I can get a new diet pattern in a week. So, I'm home now and wake up ravenous, then can't wait for lunch. And then big portions! It's crazy, I'm about 8 pounds over my working weight which is 5 over my ideal, and it's all been comfort and pleasure.
Sorry to whine, I just know that everyone I've shared with this week has had struggle and challenge and sorrow and felt alone and like a loser... You are not alone or a loser if you are feeling that way, because many of us are; at least the cool kids I've been hanging with. Tough times, at the edge of transition, where our outrage should inspire us to face reality and move forward, decisively and compassionately, with reasoned and rational thoughts.
We should also give thanks and praise - for those who are reading this are much more fortunate than most. We have our struggles but we have our blessings. Our worries are real, but our security and our gifts are abundant. So, focus on the good things.
Here are some lovely things about Turkey I've been reflecting on:
- a beautiful country, with snow-capped mountains, down to the Mediterranean, over to the Ionian and the home of Kapadokya.
- more flowers, wildflowers, blooming trees and verdant landscapes than I've ever seen - tulips came from Turkey and you can tell.
- 5,000 years of a tapestry of history and cultures, the fertile crescent, the birthplace of western civilization, some of the pinnacles of accomplishment in the ancient world.
- food that was local (within 20 miles), fresh, seasonal, and cooked and presented simply. I am in love with 'BBQ'd eggplant salad", Turkish yoga with garlic and mint, Telas Kebap (like a pasty or Shepherd's pie), lots of artichoke hearts and stems, carrots and beets, chick peas that are fresh and simply prepared, mezze at every meal.
- muezzin - calling to prayer at 5:30am, really, I do miss this. there is a certain comfort to the regularity and the simplicity. it's just a reminder, not a strident one.
- green almonds. off the tree with no processing. really crunchy, like a firm peapod, with a big citrus-acid bite. you can only eat a few, but yummy!
- hamam - the Turkish bath; every hotel has one, they are just large, hot, somewhat steamy, communal rooms made entirely of marble. there are multiple spigots and basins for hot water, a center platform for massage, and bench all the way around the edge for bathing or helping others bathe... there is lots of throwing of hot water, scrubbing with lots of textures and forms, then an elaborate soaping up and finally lots of hot water to rinse off. it's the best way to bathe, you get addicted to it.
- Tang - it's alive and well in European breakfast buffets. it's usually a stretcher, but sometimes you can get it straight-up!
- having someone's only identification of, and English for, their comprehension of Texas being "JR!! Dallas!!! Bang Bang" and they make six-shooters with their hands - priceless.
- Truck stops with stations for ablutions and separate areas downstairs for mosques...
- hospitality - people wanting you to have a good time, tea being offered continuously, folks who are friendly but not pesky.
- the opportunity to travel and experience this group of cultures, and the history that shaped the modern world.
that's it, that's my ramble, needed to get some piss and vinegar out and then be thankful.
I appreciate you taking the ride, give thanks and praise and be well!