Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Doing the Limbo in Istanbul

We are stuck in Limbo in Istanbul, maybe the worst thing that can psychologically happen to a traveler. We are trying to find a shipping company to send Clara's bike to the US. We are waiting to get our passports back from the Indian Embassy. We are finding it nearly impossible to send money to Iran to get our Visa from there thanks to all the US banking and other embargoes against the Iranians, who spend 1 percent of what we do on military spending every year.

Meanwhile, it gets colder and wetter ever day. There was talk of snow in the Turkish mountains today. The prospects are bleak. Can't really go anywhere without passports, and we don't know where to go, and all of our plans could be thrown in the air if any part of the plan doesn't work out.

We have been making some friends. We had a great dinner with a Canadian and British couple who have been teaching English in Iraq for the last 6 months. Yes, Iraq. They were in the northern Kurdish area, the only teachers there living in a quiet town where not much happened and everyone was very nice to them, very appreciative, and they didn't feel threatened at all. However, with the Turkish putting 100,000 troops on the border they decided it was sensible to retrench to Istanbul and work here for a time.

We met a couple of motorcycle adventure travelers who just came through Iran and Pakistan and had a wonderful time, never felt threatened. They had an interesting comment: In Iran the people are liberal and the government is conservative. In Pakistan the people are conservative and the government is liberal. We need to see for ourselves, we hope.

There is much anger here against George Bush, his policies and America in general. I have definitely felt antagonism from other nationalities especially before people get to know us. Another Canadian said disdainfully, after I told her that Americans and Canadians needed an escort in Iran, "how did we get thrown in with your lot". People are not afraid to be impolite as soon as they find out you are from America with comments about how much they dislike America right now.

Amazing how we see more Canadians traveling than Americans, of course they make up about 10 percent of our population but they seem to be more well traveled. Turkish people usually ask us if we are German or Canadian or Dutch or British before they come around to wondering if we could possibly be Americans. There is a long tradition of German/Turkish relations ever since they were allies in the First World War.

Election day today in Boston, sounds like very low turnout and the candidate who promised us absentee ballots didn't produce so two less votes for him.

I got a shave while I was carpet shopping the other day, when was the last time you had a sharp razor at your throat while you were doing business in America? Too often, perhaps, in some of our inner cities.

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