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Eastern Europe Halfway Around the World 2005

      Bad things always happen to me in Turkey. It haunts me. Even on my last trip there I caught a virus and was bed-ridden. Turkey hates me for some reason.
      (As I wrote in the news section already) The day I left the Caucasus I was hitchhiking from the Georgian border into eastern Turkey on the Black Sea. It was a long, exhausting day of miscommunication, rain, not having local money, etc.--nothing so usual--but it was punctuated, so to speak, by a truck I was in that blew a tire. We had been going very fast and I was nearly falling asleep when I heard and felt the explosion and then saw my driver fight to control the steering wheel. It was scary and I was shaken by the experience. I ended up going to Istanbul quickly and home pretty quickly after that.

      In Istanbul I was looking for the hostel where I stayed many years earlier. The kind owner had let me stay until I managed to get some money after I'd been pickpocketed at a Galatatasaray soccer game. But the hostel was closed so I went across the street to a hostel that was mostly occupied by Japanese travelers. It was a nice change of pace. I am still friends with red-faced Noriko to the left (she is going to freak when I tell her I put this photo on my website--maybe I won't tell her).
      It was disconcerting, thought, to see a guy in my messy dormitory--a true fire hazard of a hostel, like any self-respecting hostel is--cook with a bunsen burner on his mattress in the room. He was sitting on the bed, making the fire go at an angle and wobble around as he shifted his weight.

Hanging out in front of the Blue Mosque with my Finnish hockey shirt


Can you give me a hint? Rabbit? Horse? Possum?

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