Friday, February 27, 2009

Galatasaray 4 - Bordeaux 3

Hi folks!

I apologize for the big time-gap in the postings. I had intended to get this off right away, but there were many obstacles....

Man it was an exciting match. Seven goals altogether. The last one in the final minute of the match to put Galatasaray ahead and cement the win. Yes that is my hand.

The last two days have been amazing. Aya Sophia is probably one of the most beautiful things human beings have ever built. Too bad it was built by slaves. Too bad my camera battery died while we were inside. I bought a lot of postcards, which probably are better images than my camera could make. Unfortunately, they are not digital...will see if I can scan some and include later.

We got to tour the Blue Mosque as well, and sat in for afternoon prayers. That, too, is an unbelievable piece of architecture. There are some pictures here.In our wanderings through the city, we have met some really cool people. I
have already written about Hakan. There are also a few guys at our favorite restaurant--the Pasha Cafe--who have been nice. I traded a Barra Brava jersey with one guy for a Turkish national team jersey.

We also got to see a Dervish prayer ceremony...kinda touristy thing, staged just for people with some free cash...but heck, that's what is like when you are on vacation. At any rate, the music was mesmerizing and the dancing was really amazing. I couldn't understand a word of what the guy was singing, but the zither and the saz (not sax, saz--it's like a guitar) were unbelievable. Here is a photo. I bought a drum, flute, some finger cymbals, and a small saz (and some belly-dancing jingles) for my friend Alex Kharlamov, who makes music in California for TV and movies. I know he can sample the sounds and use them anytime after he burns the instruments to heat his house.

There is more to see and do here than one can possibly accomplish in a short few days. As with any famous place, the locals have seen less of it than the tourists. They live among these amazing historical places, and hardly notice them. Just like people who live in Washington, DC, I guess.

In other news:

This morning at the hotel, as I was sitting here checking e-mails and doing random stuff on the computer, I heard a woman asking in Bosnian (aka Serbo-Croatian) for some information from the hotel staff. Of course, I speak the language, and offered to help her translate. Her husband and daughter knew a little English, so that was useful, too....They were from Sarajevo. Cool!

I am returning to Erbil one day later than expected, due to a problem with the airline. They only informed me at the last minute, but the hotel was cool enough to let me keep the room for one more day. At least I got my shoes shined while visiting Istanbul--that is a Galatasaray scarf on my neck.

I highly recommend a Turkish bath (not a Turkish prison). The hot stone that you lay on makes you sweat like you wouldn't believe. Then you use room-temperature water to wash your body and hair, clear all the sweaty pores, and lie down sweat....then cold water to rinse off the sweat and close the pores. Sorry, no pictures of this experience....You wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy!

Today, Hakan will meet me for a last coffee at his cafe, and he will help me organize transport to the airport, and also help convince the check-in attendants that I am an American doctor bringing stuff to Iraqi Kurdish kids who have had amputations from UXO and IEDs (unexploded ordinance and improvised explosive devices--for the uninformed). Hence all the soccer gear....

Really kinda sad to think about, but at least I won't have to pay for excess baggage.

Jeez, I need to write all this stuff down in a book. When I look at all these adventures, I can't stop laughing at myself and my friends, and the new friends we meet on the way. Human beings are just funny animals...we should try harder to make each-other laugh.

When I was a kid, and again when I was a Dad of two kids, I heard jokes that made the milk at dinner run out of my nose, from laughing so hard.

I think I already posted this joke, from my next-to-youngest brother....A fish is a boy. Stephan Pastis, creator of 'Pearls Before Swine', has probably already stolen it. Mike--you can ask him for royalties...I am sure he's rich from all the 'Pearls' merchandise I have bought and all the endorsements I have given him here and on Facebook.

You, my dear reader, have no idea how funny life can get....unless you live it to the fullest.

Love and Peace to all!

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