I’m on Vacation…انا في الإجازة

It has been a while since my last post and for that I apologize. Classes have ended and Ramadan has begun. Most of the protestors have left Tahrir (despite SCAF’s failure to meet there demands) and I’ve left Egypt

Some friends and I are wandering around the Turkish countryside for the month of August. We are currently meandering our way down the Aegean Coast towards Ephesus. Beach days have been interspersed with touring the Gallipoli battlefield, wandering the alleyways of Ayvalik’s Greek neighborhoods, and marveling the ruins of Pergamon.

The Aegean Coast near Gallipoli

Sunset over Ayvalik

The ruins of Pergamon

First impressions:
1. Turkey’s Aegean Coast resembles that of Northern California while its inland hills resemble the scrublands of the Magollian Rim in Arizona. Although the weather tends to be hot and dry, it is made bearable by a seemingly ever-present cool breeze. Plantation is predominantly fields of dry grass punctuated sporadically with individual deciduous trees.

The Aegean countryside near Assos

2. Turkish cuisine is amazing. In a recipe claimed to exist since the days of Aristotle, fresh fish from the Aegean Sea is cooked with onions and peppers over some olive oil. On the cheaper end, street-food wraps are filled with lettuce, tomatoes, French fries, chicken, and yogurt and thus are actually healthy. Most importantly, there is real cheese and real freshly-baked loaves of bread.

Fish Dinner is Assos

3. Turks speak Turkish (and not English or Arabic). Worse, although Turkish is written in the Roman alphabet, the letters take different sounds than they do in English (a ‘c’ is pronounced as a ‘j’ for instance). Nonetheless, all hope is not lost. Ottoman rule in Egypt means that there is a small overlap between Turkish and Egyptian colloquial. When added to a Lonely Planet Turkish phrasebook and our rapidly increasing proficiency in the language of point and blank stare, this overlap has allowed my friends and I to understand and be understood.

As for Egyptian politics, I had every intention of completing a status report prior to my departure for Turkey but a last minute trip to Alexandria and last minute planning for the trip made it impossible for my analysis to keep up with rapidly unfolding current events. Now that I am in Turkey, I’ve discovered that I like vacation better than political analysis and have limited access to the internet; as such the status report will be delayed until I return to Cairo the end of August.

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