Yesterday was a day of great defeats. The Razorbacks lost in overtime to A&M and I, alone in my apartment at 2:30am, was quite unhappy. Alas, my heart still believes. Woo pig…

Other than American football, the game was full of triumphs. Starting with breakfast:
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My office-mate took us out to a traditional Turkish breakfast and it was marvelous. Afterwards, we walked around town to visit some of Erzurum’s best historical sites. We found the castle, Erzurum Kalesi, and used our museum passes to take a short visit (thanks Fulbright commission!).

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According to the signs, the castle was built in the 12th century by Salturkians. On the grounds was a Masjid which held an ancient Mirhab (the niche in a mosque wall which indicates the direction of Mecca). The castle watch-tower now holds a clock from the 18th century. At the top of the tower we took pictures of the mountains and listened to the the calls to prayer coming from the dozens of mosques in the city. It was eery and transcendent.

Outside the castle walls, we met a few pre-teen boys who were running around the ruins with their puppy who was named Cheetos. They spoke very little English but paraded us around the armaments until we reached the castle gate. They offered repeated “I love you”s and sent us on our way.

On our way back to campus, we were stopped by a man who heard us speaking English and asked to practice. We went to his shop to drink tea with him. He was a rug and carpet trader who traveled all around Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere to gather his carpets. The wares were beautiful and very expensive. His shop is located right next to the most well known Erzurum landmark: the Çifte Minareli Medrese, or the twin minaret mosque. He also brought us to a 200 year old Nargile house (hookah) that he had bought and was beginning to restore:

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I also went to dinner last night with a Professor from the Nursing Department. I had edited a paper for her this week and she wanted to thank me. We ate some delicious mezes (small plates) of eggplant, tomatoes, and liver, before setting in on some kebaps. All the meat! Its inescapable here. She is very encouraging and helped me practice Turkish throughout the meal.

Overall, a very Turkish day. Except, of course, American Football and the episodes of “Wait, Wait, Don’t tell Me” and “This American Life” that I listened to. If you want to be terrified and fascinated, try this one out for a spin:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/536/the-secret-recordings-of-carmen-segarra

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