arrival in Ankara


This image belies my true excitement...

but perhaps it also could have something about having been in transit for 16 hours and being on my fifth of six different modes of transport.

This one happened to be be the bus from the Ankara airport to the stop where I had to switch to a taxi. On the bus I met a man (my seat mate) who kept apologizing for his breath and asking for breath mints (he'd had a couple drinks) or gum and speaking with me in German. We had a nice, if slow and stuttering, conversation about politics, geography and work, since my German and his only matched up sporadically. My friend was clued into the fact that I spoke no Turkish when the driver asked how long I would be on the bus and I gave him the piece of paper with my travel instructions and pointed to "Tandooan" and handed him the only Lira I had, hoping it was enough.

It is an utterly helpless feeling to be in another country/place when you understand none of the language. You must rely on the kindness of others and open yourself up to being vulnerable, even if only because you know no better. However, when my new friend repeatedly asked me if I would be interested in staying on to the next stop and 'having coffee and cigarettes' with him, I feigned not to understand completely. This was perhaps the best defense given my vulnerability, since I had to look up the Turkish words for 'help' or my favorite, 'beat it!' (defol!!) before being able to respond to any emergency. Besides, I'm not convinced that correct pronunciation would have been and option.

The taxi ride that followed, though I was not sure the driver knew much better than I, where I had asked him to drive, was not unlike sitting in the back seat of a teenage run-through of Grand Theft Auto - without the gunfire or crashes. In my mind, it also was not unlike driving in Milwaukee, but much faster. It was pretty thrilling and felt lawless, though I am sure, not at all out of the ordinary.