Iron Gut to the Test

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Where I stayed
Han Otel

Flag of Turkey  , İzmir,
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I've always been proud of how infrequently I get sick and how resilient I am to food from other cultures.  Traveled China and Ethiopia with little or no difficulty.  But something is in my gut now and it's not happy!  Moving hurts, and anything that I attempt to put inside is rejected immediately!

For 3 days now we've been laid up in this lovely hotel, where we've been stuffed full of tea until it leaks out our ears, trying to recover.  The first few days were Brian's turn and today it's mine.  Best guess is that he picked up something in Athens or on the boat over to Turkey. 

So we've been in Urla.  Not a tourist town in the least.  I did a little internet search that came up with nothing.  Asking the guy at the hotel what there was to see in town came out with blank stares.  But just watching the day to day workings of this little quarter of the city are interesting enough for me. 

Had breakfast at the hotel which consisted of hard boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, cheeses, an entire loaf of bread (move over France), sweet spreads, and olives (green ones and wrinkly black ones).  Delicious (this was on the day when I could still eat)!

Then we went out for a little walk and got Brian a haircut - finally!  Over 5 months and things were getting a little scraggly.  But this wasn't just a haircut.  it was a Turkish haircut.  It started out with the barber hailing the 'tea boy' to bring in some chai while they sat and smoked.  Then there was a cut, shampoo, massage, straight razor shave and burning of excess hair.  Afterwards Brian was much relaxed and his headache was gone.  Seems to be the activity for men in this town - there are several berber's on each block - besides drinking tea and smoking.

Got a lesson on how to make Turkish coffee which was served in the cutest little cups all fancy with silver.  So of course on the next wandering I had to get a coffee pot.  Since instant coffee is becoming more and more rare, we're going to have to switch our morning beverage yet again.  Turkish coffee sounds good to me!

Close second is the tea - cay.  I'm in love with the little glasses, matching saucers and tiny spoons.  I must admit that I couldn't resist getting a set and posting it home.  One of the negatives to spending time in towns, I guess.  Normally we just cycling through there's no time to look or wrap a parcel to send home. 

But the regular cay was not the only type I was able to sample.  Upon learning that I was feeling ill, the man at the hotel showed great concern and insisted on making me a special tea.  Brian watched as he rummaged around with dried herbs (mostly sage) and created a special concoction for me.  Nice enough to drink, but unfortunately came too early - when my stomach was busy repelling anything that entered it - so I didn't get to find out if it had the heading properties promised. 

Even when ill, there were still a few things we needed for sustenance reasons.  Back in Greece I couldn't resist picking some olives for our own consumption.  However, olives are no good off the tree and have to go through a special sequence.  So far I've been carting a 1.5L bottle of olives and water around on our bikes for the last week and a half.  Now it's time to drench them in vinegar, but I didn't have any.  Thus started the fun of trying to identify and purchase vinegar.  We were pretty sure that we had found some, but the shop keeper wouldn't confirm even after our sour faces.  Instead he went down the street to a buddy who had a translator in his palm.  Easily we typed in VINEGAR and out popped the Turkish word and the purchase was in the bag!  I'm sure that was the strangest purchase a foreign traveler ever made in his shop!

It's amazing how communication breaks the chains of language.  Speaking to people in English while they speak Turkish can be tricky enough where there's no interpretation, but Brian took it a step further today.  Seeing a blind man selling wares on the street he wanted to buy something from him.  So now there was not only the difficulties of not understanding spoken words, we could not point, make hand gestures, or draw pictures in my handy-dandy-notebook.  Somehow we made it through. 

Earlier in the trip I was a little hesitant about talking with people when i couldn't speak the language, but no longer.  People are people and I've found that basically everyone is good and willing to help out.  Instead of avoiding situations, I barrel right in now.  Getting further and further away from all that is familiar to me, I find I need assistance more and am remarkably getting it!

So, for a little blip on the map overshadowed by the larger center Izmir, I think we did quite well for a few days.  And for being sick, nothing beats warm blankets, hot shower and toilet nearby.  Hopefully we'll be able to set out tomorrow, although it may be by bus.  Nice weather on the days we're sick, and now it's raining when we feel better.  Of course!


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