Sunday, March 4, 2007

3 March - Our Gaziantep adventure

So we still can’t go into the Forbidden Zone, and yesterday it was crappy and rainy, so we took the afternoon off and played in Gaziantep. We drove in after lunch and went to the Gaziantep Museum. The museum was fantastic. It had a lot of artifacts from various Turkish sites dating as far back as 3000 B.C. But they had a huge collection of tile mosaics from the ancient city of Zuegama (about 2nd century AD; that were absolutely stunning. We weren’t allowed to use flash in the museum, but I took some flashless (and therefore with bad color) photos. I’ve attached a couple here.

These two photos are overall shots of the museum's main room.

On the left is a mosaic of Poseiden. I am standing a floor above it - it is huge! The mosaic on the right is the symbol of Zeugma - it is not very large compared to the others (2x1 meters?) - but she is stunning.

Alice took this one. Mom, I included it for you - several of the mosaics looked like beautiful quilts.

After the museum, we went to the Turkish baths! Because the men aren’t allowed in the women’s bath, we didn’t have Safak to translate for us. When we walked in, I had my camera in my hand because I had been taking photos on the street. Unfortunately, the women thought we were tourists who wanted to take photos of the bath, and they adamantly told us we couldn’t take photos – they possibly even told us to leave! Finally, we got across that we wanted to take a bath. Luckily, there was a young woman there who had just finished her bath and spoke a little English. After an interesting communication dance, we got our baths, a kese (where a woman scrubs you down to slough off all dead skin), and a massage. Heaven. When we were getting dressed, a group of women across from us offered us food, water, and yes, tea. Once everyone figured out that we really wanted to use the facilities versus just photograph it, they were extremely nice.

From there, we met the men at a food court in a nearby mall. The funny thing is, in the states I would never be excited (actually I would be the exact opposite) about a food court in a mall. But let me tell you – our food courts don’t have the dessert selection that this one had (though we didn't have any dessert, it was still a sight to behold)! Alice and Laura each got a latte, and I got a fruit smoothie. All of us, men and women, were all pink and clean. (Well, I wouldn’t call Cumali pink…)

The main discussion at the food court was, “What do we do next?” So we decided to go find food and drink. Safak made reservations for us at a restaurant that featured classical Turkish music. Then, we went to another coffee shop to hang out before our dinner. This coffee shop was very fun – everyone sat on big bean bag chairs and we had various drinks and learned Turkish.

This is everyone but Safak, who is our photographer: Alice, Ben, Cumali, Me, and Laura. This is just before dinner - so note how clean (and sober) we all are!

The dinner was incredible. The starters (mezes) alone were more than enough for a meal. There was hummous, yogurt dill dressing, and all sorts of other things that I can’t even describe. It was all delicious. Then the main course arrived – lots of kabob with salad. After that, they brought us various other savories. One was a kind of kofta (I don’t know how to explain what a kofta is) that was supposed to be eaten all at once after the eater had taken a shot of Raki (Turkish Ouzo). The food never quit coming. Luckily dessert was a huge fruit plate and not a bunch of heavy sweets!

All night long the Raki flowed freely. I had only one glass – and I’m proud of that given that I hate black licorice! Safak had more than his fair share, and needless to say, he slept the entire way home! [Chris and Meg – you’ll appreciate the fact that everyone here makes fun of me because I’m still on my first glass of Raki, or first beer, when they are well on their way to #3 or #4.]

During all of the gustatory exploits, we listened to great music. There was a vocalist, drummer (the drum looked like a small pinched jambe (sp?)), a fiddle, and a guitar-like instrument that had a very bulbous chamber made of different types of wood, so it was striped – it was absolutely beautiful. Later in the evening, Cumali requested a song that he’s been teaching me (I know one whole line!) – so that was fun to hear a song we all recognized. Alice took some movies so we would have the music (though she got some fun footage of us as well)!

Here are Ben and Safak at dinner - still looking clean (but I'll make no comment on the sober bit).

All in all, we had a fantastically fun time!

This morning, we got up a bit late, and spent a couple of hours practicing locating transmitters with the telemetry equipment. We’re still not the best, but we’re definitely getting better.

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