Landed in Ankara yesterday around 3pm. At 3:07 I was granted access to the country. My visa (despite all the wandering routes it took) was approved. By 3:15, I’d realized my debit card wouldn’t work and I couldn’t pass back through security in the airport to exchange any of the dollars or euros I already had on hand. By 3:17, I’d made friends, borrowed some Turkish lira, and got a taxi to my hotel. At 3:30 I flexed my bicep for a porter who was grabbing for my bags, humorously trying to prove to him that I could carry them myself. “So American,” he said as he laughed at me.
If the first 30 minutes are any indication of the next 10 months, I’m going to survive. Probably less gracefully than I’d like, but that is to be expected.
My roommate and I went for a run through Ankara this morning. We passed a couple one-way suspension bridges, technically called side-spar cable-stayed bridges. They are built this way, apparently, for cost and because they are more flexible when earthquakes occur. The city is built into the sides of a series of steep hills. As we walked/ran, we kept getting these brief and totally tantalizing glimpses at neighboring hillsides covered in red roofs and countless mosques. Anakra is such a tease.
We began orientation this afternoon. The front of our orientation booklets say “a modest program with immodest aims”- J. William Fulbright. It is from his book “The Price of Empire” which sounds like either a totally nasty or totally important book to read. (I first thought it said “J. William Fulbright-the Prince of Empires” and became instantly concerned with conventions of reverence in Turkey that I’d yet to comprehend. Thankfully, I was mistaken).
During orientation, we were asked to work in small groups to come up with a saying/poem/snippet of text regarding the word “perception.” My group agreed Margaret Atwood’s “Context is King” was a great start. I ended up doodling the following as an addendum:
“Perception is in the of the beholder”
The Nazar (the evil-eye shaped amulet above) are everywhere here. They are supposed to protect against the evil eye, which is an intriguing thought. The physical thing itself is a representation of what must be protected against. It is what protects and what limits, what allows and what denies. Oh the significance of things!
Speaking of things… I wore my boots across the ocean. Daniel and I had recently watched ‘Second Hand Lions’ and we got stuck on the comic loveliness of one phrase “They went out with their boots on.” So, in my reverence for the potential significance of things, I wore boots. They always lend boldness.
Boots! Nazar! Side-Spar Cable-Stayed bridges!
I’ll explain the blog title as soon as I cant think of something else to say.