In an effort to reduce potential driving stress I got up this morning at 6 AM, while most of the vacationing Turks were sleeping, and made an exploration of the surrounding area. Unfortunately it’s pretty developed, so I’ll need to search out the famously beautiful coastline elsewhere in a future visit, but it was nevertheless neat to look at the sea and have the Greek Isles nearly close enough to swim to (nearly – they’re still a few miles away, and I’m not swim team material). I had time for a short hike along the coast before people started waking up, after which I retreated back to the hotel rather than face the horns and congestion of the Turkish roads. Thereafter I decided to make today a rest day, since I’ll likely be too afraid of missing anything to spend much time sleeping during the upcoming safaris in Africa.
Some random thoughts about the trip so far:
- The call to prayer is an oddly reassuring thing to hear throughout the day, even if the mosque loudspeakers make it sound like some weird mash-up of Ravi Shankar and an electric shaver. The invention of the loudspeaker has to be one of the most momentous events in the history of Islam – I can’t imagine the imams were able to rouse everyone from bed at 4 AM back in the days when they were singing a cappella from the minarets.
- The internet makes the world seem much, much smaller. The ability to check email and Facebook temporarily makes me feel like I’m back home rather than on the other side of the world, and as a result any moments of homesickness have been short-lived. On a related note, despite having taken a few jabs at Google maps in past journal entries, driving would have been a much, much more stressful experience without it.
- The Turkish people have generally been very friendly and hospitable, but one aspect of the shared personality in particular caught my attention: there are a lot of stray dogs and cats everywhere, and I’ve seen numerous people leaving out bags of scraps or dishes of water. The culture seems to view the animals not as strays, but as shared pets, and they collectively take care of them as such.
Tomorrow is a day of flying, from Izmir back to Istanbul and then on to Arusha in Tanzania. Internet connectivity will likely be spotty in Africa, so posts may be delayed a few days – don’t call the embassy unless I go missing for a couple of weeks. Sadly, there will be no more trekking in ancient Roman cities, but there will be lions…