On the way to saltwater sun

Listening to Yellow Ledbetter in the overnight bus on the way to Marmaris from Istanbul is just as good as in the car on the way to the bars in California with Tim and Danielle. I still can't hear this song without thinking about Danielle calling the radio station and asking OMG what was that song with the supercool guitar riff. Eddie Vedder. Tomorrow morning we will wake up having arrived to sunny, calm-watered Mediterranean beaches. Sunscreen, bikinis, my elementary Turkish book, and there's not much more to say...

Istanbul Highlights...

There are so many things to see in Istanbul alone. The spice bazaars, fisherman fishing off the bridges and paved edges into the Golden Horn or Bosphorus, museums and ruins from Byzantine and Ottoman times. Serkan has been the best guide ever, and it's so much nicer to travel with someone than alone. I can't say one way is better than the other. But sharing what you see with someone rocks, and I like it more. Happy that we are traveling together. Some highlights so far...

The Basilica Cistern may have been one of my favorite spots if it weren't for the hordes of school children who entered, only about 10 minutes after we did, chatting and laughing so loudly, especially for a museum field trip, and smithereening the peace with the echoes of their yells. Teachers? Parents? They were there but apparently unable to stop the mini-riot. The Basilica is a huge underground vault held up by 336 columns. You walk down into it to the sound and echo of dripping water and holy music. It was laid out under Justinian I around 532 AD. The Ottomans hadn't discovered it for like a century after they took over, until supposedly people started collecting water and sometimes fish by lowering buckets from their basements.

Ayasofia, also amazing. Sheep friezes outside from ¨recent¨excavation. The building itself burned down twice. Originally it was a Christian church, then the Ottomans turned it into a mosque. Most of the old mosaics have fallen down and the cross tops etched in the stone have been scratched over. It´s a hodge podge of religion and now a museum, which incidentally houses the largest chandelier in the world. That wasn't on display for us, however, because the edifice is undergoing some pretty major restoration.

I think my favorite museum was the Archaeological museum with some amazing Egyptian statues, doors, pieces of wall, mini sphinxes and a ton of sarcophagi. In fact the museum´s original purpose was to house sarcophagi. Also some amazing artifacts from Sumeria, the birth of writing at its finest. Best receipt ever, carved into a tiny stone tablet: sale of four sheep and some corn in exchange for an exorcism. They evidently wrote receipts for everything. In Turkey, you don´t really get a receipt for anything so far, and since I'm not so good with the numbers, that can be troublesome. I guess it is kind of nice to receive receipts for every piddly thing in Chile, but nobody´s receipts can rival that of the Sumerians, nor will they be around for as long.

Turkish Lesson One

I finally crack open my Turkish grammar book on the plane to Turkey. A little late, sure, but I'm not able to think too far ahead these days, not even when the fact of my stepping onto Turkish soil was only a few hours away. Not too far ahead at all. In Puerto Natales, packing up and getting to Santiago occupied me. In Santiago, planning trips out of the smog and hunting for a summer wardrobe kept me busy. We hadn't slept four hours in two days. Suddenly after my glass-of-wine-with-dinner-and-Baileys-postre nap, I woke up in a panic.

Turkish lesson 1 / Türkçe Deris 1. Agglutination. Alphabet. Alfabe. Ahbayjay. Vowel harmony rule. This is my favorite and it's what makes Turkish so poetic. If the first syllable of a word (or better to say phrase because they can put entire thought sentences into a single word) begins with one vowel, the rest of the vowels are the same vowel or a vowel in the same family. (There are two vowel families: those that begin at the front of the mouth and those that begin at the back of the mouth; and there are 8 vowels: a, e, ı, i [dotted i], o, ö, u, ü). It makes logical sense if you think about it hard enough. But it's best not to think about it too much. More than logical sense, it makes sound sense, poetic sense.

My other fascination is with verbs. I don't understand them at all yet. But I know they come at the end of the sentence, at the end of the thought. It's a bit opposite of English, where in good prose the subject verbs its way through whatever situation. In Turkish, you start with the subject, then reveal all other relevant info. The verb ends it. Any peripheral info follows the verb. I'm not sure if this affects the culture at all, but I like to imagine that the actions are less rash. Not more rational necessarily. But the verb waits till she has all the info she needs to decide what her action will be. Is the tomato which is diced waiting to be cooked, tossed in a salad, plopped into the blender or rubbish bin, or winged at the tomato dicer's beloved?

So, yeah, I'm smack dab dropped in the middle of Turkish. I don't understand a thing. I can't read the signs or hardly pronounce what I see and every day I am amazed that I don't already know the word for... tuvalet, for example. It's mostly cool and sometimes tiring. The flight over helped ease me out of my comfort zone in Spanish. Not my language, but easy to manage. Santiago to Sao Paulo. Obrigado. Sao Paulo to Munich. Everyone speaks English at the airport, but you still don't know what to say to them on first approach. English? Spanish? Now Istanbul. I have lots of practice listening. We are staying with my boyfriend Serkan's sister's family for the first week, then off to the beaches and ancient cities. His sister is a minor miracle, one of the most warm, hospitable people on Earth. She speaks a little English and tries so hard to help me feel at home. Hos geldeniz.


Related Posts with Thumbnails