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"Don't plan it all. Let life surprise you a little." -- Julia Alvarez
|Episode 25: Turkish Delight|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:21 PST
|cherie writes: July 2000|
"Turkish Delight" is Turkey's version of the "gummy bear", except it isn't shaped like a bear, and it's rolled in corn starch. Everyone be thankful that your souvenirs will be Belgian chocolates, because "Turkish Delight" tastes like cold calamari covered in strawberry jam. In short, when in Turkey, stick with the Baklava (it has certainly stuck to me.)
All aboard the cruise ship, we took the "Greek Night" dinner-theme to a new extreme by turning our bed sheets into togas. This impressed the ship's captain (it certainly wasn't Nicole's boating skills) so much that he graciously offered to be our personal guide in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople.)
When we docked, a Mercedes bus and a chauffer waited to whisk us away into an ancient world of sultans and concubines, where soft light spilled out of the mosques, and minarets riddled the skyline. Hundreds of birds floated like decorations over the giant domes, their wings glinting silver in the light of the moon. After a Turkish feast (the only turkey at the table was the Captain) we headed to the smoke-house.
The first thing you notice about Turkey is the sheer absence of women. The only women we saw at night were other tourists, and the only Turkish women we saw in the daylight we hidden beneath a sari, only their hands and faces exposed. We sauntered in the open-air smoke house (no women, except us) where the men would have been staring in shock at our exposed sexy elbows and supple calves...if they could focus. Through the haze of smoke you could see lines of men with droopy eyes and their this-isn't-tobacco smirks.
We vetoed the wacky tabaccy (I didn't want to name this journal "Stoned in Istanbul".) Instead, we opted for the apple tobacco, its fruity fragrance overpowered by the stench of hashish. This would not be our last encounter with the three-foot bong-like contraption called the "Hooka Pipe." Never having smoked a cigarette, I darned my shades and felt like one of the Blue's Brothers as I exhaled. Unfortunately I looked more like a hacking emphysema patient. Kristi ("smoke it or pass it") and Carter (AKA: Hooka Hog) and me would find ourselves multiple times (in multiple countries) casually passing the afternoon in some little nook puffing our pipe, sipping mint tea and discussing the meaning of life.
To truly understand the meaning of life we decided we needed to venture to the country where civilization began--Egypt. And our trip to Africa (yes, we are in Africa) was definitely a trip back in time. Precisely back to 1421 (because the muslims use a lunar calendar). While 97% of Greeks are Greek Orthodox, 97% of Egyptians follow the Islamic faith. The Koran is the Islamic "bible" for muslims, but you won't find it in the drawer of your hotel room. (Interesting Fact: the Koran has 666 verses.)
We are staying at the Ambassador Hotel in Cairo(no ambassadors in sight). We have two rooms, the penthouse (complete with flies, empty mini-bar and broken toilet) and the "Royal Suite" (again, no royalty has EVER stayed here.) It reminded me of our hotel in Greece "The Olympic Palace" -- NOT a palace.
We started our tour of Cairo at the bazaar where I have ranked the top lines delivered by kitsch-selling Egyptians:5. "If you buy something here, I'll marry you."4. "How can I take your money?"3. "How many camels for you?"2. "Is it my turn to harass you yet?1. "I'll kill my wife for you."
Best conversation:Egyptian: I know exactly what you want.Kristi: I want nothing.Egyptian: I've got nothing here.Kristi: Oh, really, how much is nothing?Egyptian: For you, nothing is free.
Pyramids, camels, and our Nile adventure await the next journal.Cherie
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