THE LIGHT MILLENNIUM
EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN

Part III

Trip To East

by Brian FELSEN & Elif SAVAS

Four hours later, on Monday the 24th at 5 AM, Dilek wakes us up extremely upset that Coskun would treat us this way; she’s also hot and can’t sleep. We go into the stinky bathroom and use their shower, which has no shower head, so we hose ourselves off like mental institution inmates. Coskun arrives at 7 and Dilek starts bitching, whining really, and Coskun says the Teacher’s house wasn’t really so bad for us to stay in, just like he said after abandoning us in Samsun that Dilek wasn’t from a village and knew what petrol smelled like. He also claims his drive last night was heroic.

Now pride may cometh before a fall, but if necessary, you can always count on my wife to help push. Whereas before Elif had been nice-but-cold to him, as she always is when she doesn’t like someone, now she’s screaming in the middle of the street that there was no earthly reason for us to be here, and that we could have stayed in a hotel in Artvin. I can only hang back and watch the fireworks, which are much more satisfying than any histrionics, and like a roulette ball finally coming to rest on its number, Elif settles on the theme that we’ve come over 200km out of our way for nothing and "I’m not going to waste another day of my vacation for you to get off on having your ass kissed by a NOBODY." Coskun turned beet red and said

Elif was embarrassing him in front of the people in the street, and Elif yelled that "they’re rednecks who want to FUCK us." Coskun suddenly stopped saying that we should wait the three hours for Hasan Bey’s man to arrive who was going to show us around at 10, and instead he finds a cop and tells the cop that he’s a guest of the great Hasan Bey, and that could the cop please tell us where Hell’s River Gorge is? The cop, upon hearing the magic words "Hasan Bey" insists on showing us around personally on the city’s dime, and he hopped in the car.

He stank so badly that when he started smoking I was actually thankful that there was another smell to distract me from his body odor. We got out at a gorge, less nice than the one at Saklikent, and he helped us (literally held our hands as we climbed - his hands were huge) up the gorge, where we got to see the naturally-growing Fanta cans and Dorito bags. Coskun became more and more avuncular and offered up the scoop of taking us to see a church 40 km away on a road covered in boulders. Elif said in no uncertain terms that we had no interest in it, and that we wanted to leave.

We drove to Kars on Elif’s demand, and upon arrival, Coskun bought honey, which of course took a while. The first shop we went to didn’t have Kars honey but another kind, and the fat boy behind the counter eating ice cream refused to bargain with Coskun, saying that only his father had authority to do so. The boy then stepped right outside the door and dropped his ice cream wrapper on the street. He walked back in; Elif picked it up and followed him into the store, smiled at him, and said softly, "Don’t you know what to do with the wrapper? This is what you’re supposed to do with a wrapper!" and threw it on the floor inside his store.

We went to the Kars tourist office to get the necessary permits for seeing Ani, which is 43 km southeast of Kars and literally on the Armenian border. It’s inside a restricted military zone, so there’s a bit of bureaucracy to go see it. First we had to stop at the tourist information office to get the forms. The workers were incredibly helpful and, upon seeing my passport of origin, flashed coprophagic smiles - they were giggling like children, literally reading "California" and "Marvin" out loud to each other. I now realized that a window had just opened for me, a sudden opportunity for me to actually get to see Dogubeyazit on the Iranian border, which Dilek and Coskun had been too scared to go to. I knew from Coskun’s behavior at Ardanus that he was impressed by authority, and also that it was the job of these tourist officials to convince us that everything was quite safe and wonderful in Turkey, one great, happy Turkey uber alles. So I asked them if Dogubeyazit was safe to go to, and they said, "Safe? No problem! It’s so beautiful - you’ve got to go! You can’t miss it!" And just like they were reciting lines in a play, our two travel companions were impressed and the thing was settled: of course we were going. I left there floating on air, like I had achieved a major victory in being able to influence others, lead people, and shape my environment. And thus we were off, to the police station to get our forms endorsed, then to the museum to buy tickets, and, finally, to Ani.

When we entered the restricted zone, we had our passports examined, as well as the permits, and the sergeant at the entrance to Ani read us the riot act: stay by the monuments where we can see you, don’t go too far off the path, and if you even so much as point your camera in the direction of Armenia we’ll have to shoot you (and we may even confiscate your camera).

None of this impressed me as much as his incredible blue eyes, unlike any I had ever seen before, especially on a dark-complexioned man, and I said to Elif in English, "What amazing eyes! He’s so beautiful!" He then went on, something about how you can’t go to the Covenant of the Virgins, and you can’t take pictures of the river, and blah blah blah, and I ask Elif, "I wonder why we can’t go there! Is it because of the archeological preservation, or is it for military purposes?" and finally the guy straightened up, stared at me, and said, in slow and perfect English, "Because we’re using it." That shut me up. So off we went, with armed escort, and except for this we had the place to ourselves except for two other tourists.

Ani became the capital of Armenia in the late 10th century and was at one time one of the world’s major cities. This lasted for about five minutes. Byzantium annexed it 80 years later and then the Selcuks took it, and then the Georgians, and then the Mongols and earthquakes came and The End. But what a site! It was like Efes without the tourists - incredibly intact.

Churches with wild frescos, crosses with snakes in them that looked like images from civilizations predates it by three millennium, cathedrals, a citadel - a real ghost town. We were there for hours.

After the first five or so sites, the guards pretty much left us alone, except at the Mensehir Camii, which was right on the river itself that was the border. We asked if we could climb up the minaret, and they said yes, which surprised the hell out of me, but they made me leave their cameras with them. The climb up was, in large part, on broken stairs in pitch-dark, and in the parts where there was light, we saw some rats that made us wish for the dark again. On top, the view was phenomenal. The Rough Guide claims the minaret was close because some tourist committed suicide by jumping off the top a few years ago, but once you’re up there, you realize that it’s more likely he just plain fell. While we were up there, Dilek, who stayed at the bottom, asked the guards what the huge military presence at Ani was for, because relations with Armenians are much improved since they got their own country from the former Soviet Union rather than from Turkish soil. The guards told her that a week and a half ago, they caught a few PKK members a little south of there, and after a brief friendly interview with them over some tea, the guerrillas had volunteered the information that they entered the country through the Armenian border.

Nearby the mosque, we saw some scorpions and found the two archeologists uncovering a graveyard! And there they were, sweeping dirt off bones, and a baby’s skull popped out right in front of me, with its jaw hanging happily in the sun! What surprised me is how white the bones were after all these years, compared to the brownish mummies you see in museums. We asked them if we could take a picture of the graveyard. They said no and gave us a look that they wished we were some of the bones they were uncovering.

Back at Kars, we went to buy honey again in a bakkal. This took an hour not so much because of Coskun but, because the guy insisted on giving us all free juice and sugars and telling us his story. It turns out that he went to three (!) of the same schools as Elif in Istanbul, and that this was his uncle’s store in which he helps out for the summer, and the rest of the year he’s a ballet in the government folkloric dance troupe. How wonderful! He gets to jump around to cool steps, perhaps, I imagine, even juggling knives, and traveling all over the world to countries I will likely never go to - Azerbaijan, Iran, Romania. But who knows. He was bitching that he never gets to go to the US or Japan because Turkey’s president only wants to improve cultural relations with more local countries.

That night we met an Israeli couple and two Slovenian women tourists on the street. We ate dinner with them - it turns out that the Israeli guy had served and then worked in the army there for eight years, but he was more anti-Jewish-race-based state than I, and cocky about Israel’s permanent military superiority in the region. I thought he was a hoot - a 30-year-old who fell madly in love with a different tourist every week. He liked to travel the world just to meet people (he would never go to Venezuela, Alaska, or New Zealand because he’d rather go somewhere where there’s more people, less nature.) He went to Turkey by himself and met the Israeli woman he was with, in Cappadoccia! He just goes up to anyone who looks like a tourist, or who looks nice, and starts talking, male or female. He told me he thinks that people are inherently nice, and there’s a few bad people - the opposite of what Elif and I find to be true (that people are instinctual and that if they don’t eat you alive, it’s a testament to how successful they were socialized). And he holds this belief even after what happened to him his second day in the country: he was standing on the Galata bridge in Istanbul, and two Egyptians walked up to him and started talking to him.

They hung out for three hours, talked to each other in English and Arabic, and entertained him with hilarious stories about their world travels. Then they suggested they go out to dinner at 9:30, so he went back to his hotel, shaved and showered, and met them for dinner. On the way, they went to a park and told him that it was an Egyptian custom for them to play the hosts and offer yogurt-water and figs, but since there were no figs around, they knew of an Ayran-seller nearby. So one of them went to buy him Ayran, and came back with the yogurt-drink, and they all drank, and the next thing he knew, it was a day later and he was waking up in his hotel bed from the best sleep he'd ever had in his life. Turns out they drugged his drink and stole his $600 Nikon camera and put him in a taxi, telling the driver to take him to his hotel because he was drunk, and the hotel paid the cab fare and carried him up the stairs, during which time the two Egyptians racked up $4000 on his Visa buying electronics. His card was insured, but his Israeli parents were freaked, demanding he come home immediately. He says the trip after that was the best he'd ever had and the Turks were the nicest people he'd ever seen, and he didn't mind the experience at all. All I could think of is how polite the Egyptians were - they didn't take his passport, and they put him in a taxi and sent him back to his hotel - in America it wouldn't quite turn out that way.

We all went out for tea later that evening and we couldn't get a table outside in Kars - they were all full - and when one opened up, Elif and I ran to grab the seats, which made the Slovenians and Israelis laugh very much: "You really wear your country's flag," they said. The Israeli guy said he left the army after eight years because they would have promoted him from field work to administrative work, which he hated. I asked him what was field work, work in the field with maps, or what, and he answered "Intelligence." It turns out that - and this is all he would tell me - his fluency in Arabic is due to his tenure in the Israeli army, and he is not allowed to travel to any of Israel's Arabic neighbors until he is 55 as a security measure. Which is a real drag, because we really like him, and we'll definitely visit him in Tel Aviv, perhaps soon because Elif doesn't need a visa to go there, and since I've been to Israel twice, I was far more interested in schlepping him to Egypt with us, because he's a lot of fun and fluent in Arabic. But he can't go there anymore. Elif jokes that due to his native and his experience with the two Egyptians in Istanbul, we may be even safer in Egypt if we go without him. But it's still a bit of a loss.

Back in the hotel there was no water at all at 12:30 AM, and when we called down, they wouldn't turn it on, saying the city was without water. The next morning, Tuesday the 25th, Elif and Dilek had a little conversation with the owners about the problem, during which they realized the owners were lying: they had turned it off just to save money. First the owners claimed the water was always there, then they said it was off citywide, then they said the hotel's water was broken but they were fixing it, then they said they had to shut it off because of a problem but they turned it on when we called for it, and finally they said if we didn't like it, why did we stay in the hotel for two nights? The last comment was the final straw for my wife and mother in law, because we were only there one night and at 12:30 AM they knew we couldn't well go elsewhere. So they started screaming. The guy had to close the curtain on us so we wouldn't be heard in the main lobby, and he said the main owner was a Hajj (made a pilgrimage to Mecca) and was absent, but we saw him, with the skullcap, hiding from us on the other side of the curtain. Dilek yelled that the Hajj’s were even more disgusting than other people, and that she was embarrassed to be Muslim, embarrassed to be Turkish. Elif shouted that they were so twisted in their own lies that they couldn't even keep their stories straight. Dilek screamed that the hotel was even making their bellboys, children, lie for them.

Finally we gave them 8 million instead of 10 million and refused to pay the rest. They asked if we wanted trouble. We said we'd love trouble and left. I was glad for the experience, not for the fireworks, but because it was like taking a pill for the day - it meant that us four would not fight today over the itinerary, and that we could project our aggressions onto an external enemy and then happily go about our business.

And it was in that relaxed state of mind, that we entered Kurdistan. I knew that we had arrived because a few kilometers before Digor, we were stopped by the Jandarmerie who not only checked our passports but wrote down all of our personal information in a log. Then 20 km later another one, but without taking our names. And then another, nine checkpoints in all. Minibuses were being pulled over and inspected thoroughly - a real border crossing. After the second one, we didn't get talked to, just waved by after we parked at each one and they saw that we didn't have mustaches and that we had the "34"

Istanbul license plate number - but I really felt\ sorry for these Jandarmes. They looked nervous. They were in pairs, one standing in the road stopping cars, and one in a ditch behind barbed wire, first crouching looking through binoculars at the cars, then letting go of the binoculars and emerging with his gun out. As we passed each one, the second guy always went back down into the ditch, like your boat on a Disney ride had just passed a mechanical figurine and it had finished going through its cycle.

Elif says that the PKK just blast through those checkpoints, and if you get selected in the army to serve in the east, and you get selected to be a Jandarme, you should just write out your will and say your last good-byes. All of which was very moving, but, traveling in the east, all I could think of was: when can I shit? Where is a safe place - to stop so I can shit?

Because my diarrhea was really first and foremost on my mind, and if we encountered any PKK, I would have just asked them, got any Limodin? The road was constantly being patched up, because, Dilek said, of mines. But we saw nothing of interest except for Jandarmes, Jandarmes, Jandarmes. On the mountains was written in huge rocks,

"Once Vatan" (Country first) and "Ne Mutlu Turkum Diyene" ("How happy it is to say one is Turkish!") I wondered if these signs weren't merely wishful thinking, but also a bit confrontational in an area where people speak Kurdish and look entirely different from Turks. We stopped in Igdir, a fabulously dusty town that looked positively South American, not at all Turkish.

We loved Ishak Pasha Sarayi, in Dogubeyazit near the Iranian border. It was the palace of a Kurdish chieftain built around 1700, and it was created to rival Topkapi in Istanbul. Apparently this angered the sultan who then made the chieftain disappear, but the palace remains. It reminds me of the kind of insane fancy that one experiences in deserts - fantastic works, delusions of grandeur and folly - even a little like the Watts towers in Los Angeles (but of course much, much larger). The place was so ludicrously over the top, so opulent - completely ruined but all the stonework was intact - and adopted Selcuk, Muslim, Christian, Armenian, and Kurdish styles - anything large. Again, we were the only tourists there except for another couple, which is just how I like it, although of course there are probably reasons why we were the only ones there. We would have had the place to ourselves except for two 9-year-old children inside, who insisted on being our guides." Normally we wave this off but there was nowhere to hide and no saying no, but it was a disaster. They would completely make stuff up in a childlike way - "these are the prisons, these are the holes where they were fed" - they had a great imagination - but they were climbing all over some delicate-looking fountains and pulling at us and giggling and they were behaving like KÕ’s assistants in Kafka’s The Castle, and we finally asked them, how would they like 50 cents each to just go the hell away and bother somebody else? They looked at each other and saw that we were serious, and said they'd like that very much.

In the town of Dogubeyazit, we went to a covered market. Coskun parked the car and yelled at a young soldier who was blocking the road, simply because he felt he could yell at him. Way to go, Coskun. Inside, the shopkeepers were glad to see us, since we were the only tourists there, and telling us that the hotels were all completely empty. The Kurds were incredibly nice, like the Turks, but not at all pushy, unlike the Turks. The prices were no better than in Istanbul, which surprised Coskun, who had heard stories of loads of hot, cheap goods. We asked why and one of them told us in confidence, "Too many askerler (soldiers) - we can't go across the border and move goods like we used to." I went to a tea seller in the market and ordered a tea to calm my stomach down, and the seller refused to let me pay for it. Then I saw he was making a Kusburnu drink and got one of those, a hot sugary cranberry-juice-like drink, and he wouldn't let me pay for that either. Then I ordered another tea and insisted on leaving 25,000 lira, about 8 cents (the tea cost 20,000 each and it was all the small change I had) and after some effort, I managed to hide the money on his tray. He was playing a tape of some of the most unusual Kurdish music I’d ever heard, nothing at all like what I got from Smithsonian or heard in Istanbul, and I asked where I could get a copy. He told me a record store in town.

We went there and we forgot the name of the artist, so the store owner sent a boy over to the covered market to find the artist's name for us. When he came back, he said the tea seller had no tape and no tape recorder.

Apparently either the tea seller's tape was a bootleg and he didn't want to piss off the store owner, or it was a compilation taped off TV or elsewhere of some Kurdish music that may have had some objectionable lyrics. No one would ever find out which. The thing that struck me most about Dogubeyazit is how occupied the place feels. The military presence there was no stronger than at Kars or Hopa or Ardahan in the northeast, but here the local population was obviously ethnically different than the army, and it really felt like those films you see of American soldiers in South Vietnam in the late 60's and early 70's - Turkish soldiers bopping in and out of Kurdish-owned shops, buying things. But I turned out wrong about us not fighting that day - Coskun started driving on the left again, and Dilek said he was driving too fast given the holes in the road, which resulted in Coskun slowing down to 40 km/hour, acting like a child, and finally he just pulled over and told me to drive. So I drove his stick-shift fine, much easier than I thought it would be, a lot of fun, really. Given the fact that I was now driving and the way Coskun had been behaving, it was the very first time on the trip when

I wished our Fiat had driver's side air bags. We got to Erzurum and it was late. It was like leaving Kurdistan and entering Saudi Arabia. (Erzurum’s mayor is from the fascist party, that's how conservative they are.) Every woman was covered, some wearing Carsafs - a huge cloth that looks like a gunny sack - and loads of women wearing the entirely-black *ador that only shows their eyes. Elif calls the latter women cockroaches, or, when she's in a good mood, black bugs. And we checked in the hotel, Coskun once again drove around the block so Elif and I could go to the registration desk. And his prudence was a good thing; the guy asked if we wanted one room, only one room and not two, and he stared at us forever, and Elif said, yes, me and my husband want one room, and my parents will have another. And she showed him our Id's with identical last names and the guy was much relieved. We went to the car to find out that Coskun had driven onto the sidewalk by accident. He said they scraped bottom because Dilek was too fat and weighing the car down. When we left the car, Elif yelled at her mom for taking that abuse, especially since

Coskun is fatter than she is, if you could call Elif’s mom fat at all. Elif and I went to a bakkal by ourselves to get some water, and on the way we passed a 14-year-old boy who looked at Elif, looked back at her twice more, and finally threw his hands in the air as if to silently say, "Allah, can you believe such a woman exists?" Every night as I lie in bed with my wife, I ask myself the same question. The bakkal owner, though, was about 60, and surprisingly much more liberal - friendly, loquacious, loves America, a Korean war vet. That night again, the hotel shut their water at night to save money, but at least they were up-front about it - it would only be off from 12 AM - 7:30 AM. They also saved money on electricity by using something like 10-watt bulbs in the halls and rooms - I couldn't even read in bed - they were more like night-lights than light bulbs, really.

The next morning, Wednesday the 26th, we saw Erzurum, which included a wonderful museum of Islamic and Turkish art that was right inside the Yakutiye Medresesi - the 14th-century school of Islam - with exhibits right inside the student’s cells. We also saw the double-minareted cifte Minareli Medrese mosque from the 1200’s and the Uc Kumbetler mausoleums. After I had proved myself capable at the stick shift and able to drive on the right side of the road, they had me drive the rest of the way.

When we pulled out of our parking spot on the sidewalk, Coskun again told Dilek to get out because she was "too fat." Dilek, only able to show her anger at Coskun to us but not to him, could only joke with him like a child, saying "you’re fatter than I am." He then said, "C"mon, let’s not even start, we know who's the fat one of the couple." Amazing. Driving from Erzurum, we still passed two more Jandarmerie checkpoints, which wasn't too unusual since nearby Erzincan is a known harbor for the PKK. We stopped there for lunch, and I wasn't at all a fan of Erzincan - not all the people there were covered like at Erzurum, but the ones who weren't were complete rednecks - prayer-bead-twirling macho manly-men wearing tight jeans with their T-shirts tucked in and walking around like they had last like Arnold Schwarzenneger (although they were really quite skinny). So off we headed after lunch, and I'm driving a few kilometers west of Erzincan, and farmers are running across the road in front of our car, and I slam on the brakes. And I curse them out - what's wrong with these people, because driving in Turkey, cows, cars, villagers, UFO's - anything coming suddenly in front of your car seemingly trying to kill themselves and take you with them. But then I noticed something quite unusual that they were running towards - on the right side of the road, by a farmhouse, were four haystacks, burning, and farmers were frantically throwing buckets of water on them, beating them, trying to put them out. And I'm thinking, what the fuck? Was it the PKK punishing local villagers for collaborating with the Jandarmerie, or was it some petty act of vandalism? Four kilometers down, I had my answer. Because once again, farmers were running across the road, but this time from the right side to the left, again forcing me to slam on my brakes. But this time I didn't curse them out, because here on the left side of the road was a sight so disgusting I will never forget it as long asI live - about a dozen cattle were not slaughtered but mutilated, and lying all over in pieces by the road, with bullet holes in their heads, their necks hanging off, and their stomachs slit open and their innards hanging out, killed in a messy and violent way, and lots of people were sitting there, stunned. When we reached our hotel in Amasya, we saw the news headlines blaring: "Wild shoot-out in Erzincan this afternoon leaves 8 PKK members dead." I wonder if it was one group of terrorists traveling on the same road in the opposite direction as us, or if they were separate incidents.

Amasya, though, was out of PKK territory, and we stayed in the most interesting hotel I've ever stayed in since the Mena House palace in Cairo half my life ago. It was an Ottoman house that had been owned by an Armenian family, restored to its original state. Staying in the huge, ornate rooms - $20 a night - was like being a sultan - Ottoman furniture, wall-couches, beds, and a bathroom in the closet just like they had.

They had an outdoor patio with a fine selection of beverages: Efes beer, and water. The owner was upset because two girls there couldn't understand him when they asked him the price, and when he wanted to show them the inside of the house, they refused. Elif went over to them to translate, and there the girls were, smoking and drinking, and Elif said, what he was trying to answer when you asked is that the rooms were 4-8 million each and that it's a restored Ottoman house. They looked at her and snottily said, yeah, we knew that, and went back to their drinks and left Elif and the owner there, flabbergasted, the poor owner consulting his English phrase book. From their accent, I couldn't exactly tell which town in France the two girls came from.

The next morning, Thursday the 27th, we saw Amasya, which had Ottoman houses like Safranbolu but less of them. We saw some incredibly large Pontiac rock tombs from 2000 years ago that - surprise - smelled like piss! We entered the Kileri Suleyman Aga Camii, wherein a cleaning lady gave me loads of filthy looks because I was wearing shorts and said something nasty to me which I couldn't catch. I told Dilek that the lady gave me an attitude, and Dilek had great fun telling her that "you don’t own the place," and "We’re spiritually better Muslims than you are." We saw the Sultan Beyazit II Camii, with two minarets, which isn't huge like the Dome of the Rock or any of the Istanbul mosques but is so elegant that we stayed inside it forever, just staring. The Hoca inside, in one corner, was teaching little boys Arabic syllables, which they were mindlessly repeating, bah bah bay, and looking at us like "those are the infidels." In the opposite corner were the little girls, who were supposed to be taught the same, and were sitting at a desk, but were entirely unsupervised and receiving no visits from the Hoca, so they were just gossiping in Turkish about how it would be to get married, or which of their friends called them on the telephone and which haven't called them. We saw a lovely archeological and ethnographic museum that had some Phrygian glassware that blew my mind - it was from 6-700 BC and yet looked more modern than Tiffany ware, with their wild loops and dips and curves that were both nonfunctional and nonrepresentational. The turbe in the museum grounds had a display of mummies, which pleased Elif very much, because, in her words, on this trip we’ve only gotten to see the past, now we're getting to see our future.

From there we went to Alacahoyuk, a Hattian settlement from 4000 BC that later became a Hittite settlement around 2000 BC. It was a small site with some tombs, sphinx and double-headed eagle relief's, but the latter were copies of originals that are in the Ankara museum. It was pretty much rubble and little else, although the museum had Hittite art, which I adore whenever I see it - elks, eagles, with horns, and lots of metal work - bronze that looked like skeleton keys to haunted houses, and swastikas, and all sorts of stuff. I also like the beak-necks of their pottery.

Next we went to Hattusas, which was the capital of the Hittite empire from about 1375 BC until the end, about 1200 BC. This site was massive, larger than Efes and Ani combined, but totally ruined. You would drive from the site of one temple - rubble - to another settlement which looked like - rubble. The best thing was the Sphinx gate, which, although the relief was a replica, had a 200-foot tunnel which was original, and when you walked through it, you realized that the whole thing was really going through the bottom of what startlingly looked like a Ziggurat. Nowhere could I find any information about it, but it seemed to me to look more like the bottom steps of a pyramid you'd find in Mexico than Turkey. Then we drove 2 miles to Yazilikaya, which was a Hittite temple with, finally, completely-intact relief's. Again, these were not what you would expect, and I swear it looked like Osirus and Nut, images of people making offerings and kings being held like children in the arms of goddesses, with Egyptian-like processions - who were these Hittites anyway? I was very grateful to see the site but I actually wished they had removed the relief's to Ankara. Because there was a tour group of about eight Turkish businessmen, wearing ties, and the guard was explaining the relief's to them, and they were all petting the relief's with their hands like the relief's were domesticated cats. Dilek, right on cue, lectured them that the relief's had only been uncovered 50 years ago and it would be a shame if the carvings lasted 3200 years only to be abraded by some Turks wanting to feel the bumps like the relief's were written in Braille or something. Coskun stayed in the car the whole time. When we got back to the car, he announced that he wanted to go home and not to see Gordion or Ankara, he'd had enough. So we headed home. I drove and was going about 140km/hour when the Ankara-Istanbul highway just dumped us by Lake Bolu, where we got in a 2-hour traffic jam at 10 PM by the lake where there was so much fog I could only see the truck in front of me, which said "Dolu," which means full - of explosive and flammable material. I fell asleep and we changed drivers, and I woke up in Istanbul, here at Dilek’s house, at 3 AM.

And now it's almost noon. Terminat hora diem, terminat author opus.

-.-

For Part I
For Part II
Brian Felsen & Elif Savas

This issue is dedicated to contemporary Turkish artist Erol AKYAVA┼×.
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