|Monday, May 25, 2009|
I arrived back in Istanbul yesterday, flying back from Van on Sunday morning. Now that I've had a day or so to get connected again to Istanbul I've put up photos from Kars and Van. The page takes, in some cases, a few minutes to load because I've posted so many photos over the course of this year. All the same, I think a lot of the photos from Kars and Van are really beautiful and invite people to check them out--scroll down about two-thirds down the page to find them more quickly.
It's good to be back in Istanbul. Just about wherever I've left over the course of this past week, I've been sorry to leave: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Kars, and the Turkish southeast were all places where I felt I could have spent at least a little more time. And now that I'm back in Istanbul with less than three weeks until I'm due to return to the US, I'm feeling a proactive sense of longing and sadness that I won't be here this summer.
|Saturday, May 23, 2009|
During the course of seven years living in Istanbul in the 1990s, I traveled very little to the east of Turkey. Sure, I'd been to Adıyaman in order to visit Nemrut Dağı, but instead of venturing further east had simply turned right and gone south, down to Hatay and İskenderun.
Partly it was because of the weather--I worked during the school year and had summers off, and didn't feel like baking in the 100 degree-plus temperatures that can be typical in the southeast in July and August. And frankly I wasn't very enthusiastic about visiting the east, and the southeast in particular, at a time when the PKK was a lot more active than it is today. But mainly I think that, since I was already spending the entire year in Turkey, I liked the idea of going someplace different in the summers. So usually in the summer I'd take my backpack and travel for five or six weeks through the Balkans, Central Europe, the former USSR, the Middle East, or some other place, and then take a quick ten days or so on the Aegean coast somewhere before starting work again at the end of September.
Thus, when I started thinking about how to get back to Istanbul this year after researching in Georgia for the past six weeks, it wasn't long before I began contemplating a visit to Kars and Van. Kars was attractive because I've been reading so much about Kars, and people from Kars, in my research over the past couple of years. And Van is a city I've wanted to see since my earliest days in Turkey when, visiting a friend's house, I saw photographs of Lake Van and first heard stories of the bizarre Van Cat, a (frequently) swimmer with one eye that's blue eye and another yellow.
Van Cat in the water (not my photo)
|Tuesday, May 19, 2009|
It's been a busy few days. My own fault of course. Rather than doing the sensible thing and flying directly from Tbilisi to Istanbul, I came up with the idea of traveling overland to Van, Turkey, then flying back to Istanbul from Van next Sunday. What can I say? I'm a sucker for stretching things out.
|Sunday, May 10, 2009|
|May 7, 2009|
Six policemen and several protesters were injured in a confrontation which took place outside the headquarters of the Tbilisi police department on Wednesday evening. The protesters had gathered outside the police station to protest the detention of three individuals who had been arrested on Tuesday for having assaulted Nika Avaliani, a news reader on a morning television program. The television studios where Avaliani works is one of three places in Tbilisi--along with the parliament building and the presidential residence--where protesters have been picketing since April 9.
Up until this week, the protests were mostly low-key and uneventful. But things seem to be heating up now.
|May 5, 2009|
A mutiny reportedly took place at a Georgian military base about six miles outside of Tbilisi this morning. According to a report in the New York Times, Georgian forces surrounded a tank that was accused of being part of the plot, with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili entering the base to personally negotiate the unit's surrender. The base commander has apparently been arrested.
|Sunday, May 3, 2009|