Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ahhhh, Istanbul

Our Tajik adventure is over. It was sad to leave all our friends behind. We spent most of our last day having friends over for tea and we even played some music and danced. The next morning we got up early, and with the help of our favorite neighbor, Nigina, found a taxi to the airport where we were met by Safina and Maruf to see us off. The Dushanbe airport was an experience and well worth the $40 to be able to say Andy bribed a Tajik passport officer in the Dushanbe Airport bathroom in order to get on the plane (he had a correction on his visa when it was issued, but it didn't have the offical stamp and signature . . . long story) but the flight was smooth and the food was even better than on British Airways, which isn't saying much. Upon landing in Istanbul, it was refreshing to have a burracratic-free visa process . . . just 20 bucks and a stamp and that's it. To save a few bucks we took the metro and light rail to Sultanahmet, lugging our overweight packs and bags the whole way. We went back to our friends at Mavi Guesthouse, where we stayed in June. They could only offer us dormatory style or the smallest double room ever. So we took the double room. Written in small letters in pencil on the inside of the door were the words, "Loser. You ended up in this room." and "This was the prision in Midnight Express." The next day we went out in search of a nice room where Sonja can finish her thesis, preferably one with a window where two people can stand up at the same time. We ended up finding a sweet room at the Stone Hotel that was not only within our dwindeling budget (thanks to Sonja's barganing skills) but with tons of space for Sonja to work, our own bathroom with hot water, a view overlooking one of Sultanahmet's many mosques, a super nice stone courtyard, and it's warm.
We'll be here for the next two weeks. Working, relaxing, and trying to ignore the harassing street vendors . . . "Excuse me sir! Where are you from? Can I show you my carpets? Please, madam. Just one look!"

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To beautiful people, Sonja & Andy,
I am very happy for two of you. I believe that this is an incredible life experience for both of you. Thank you for letting people over here to see how life is over there and what is look like. It is simple and pure with a great hospitality in most of the cases.
I wish you both a good health and more strength for the rest of your life and your trip and more progress in your path.
Sonia, i think you have been a beautiful person and a beautiful dancer. I would love to speak with you when i see you in Farsi. Wonderful interview.
Andy maybe when you come back and if you are interested we can work on some persian ryhtem which some of them is 6/8!
Great job on drumming. :)
Have a safe trip and keep up with the good work.

Sincerely,
Ahmad

5:58 PM  
Blogger 24tango said...

Hi Sonja & Andy,
What an interesting discovery I made this evening by happening to find your blog on (folk) music & dance with special personal insight that you gave it by talking about your trip to and through Tajikistan.

I was also curious to know what happened to your intention of travelling through from Mashad to Turkey.

I loved the photos, video clips, and (personal) stories in your blog because it made it feel a lot more real and touching.

From general net research I understand that Tajiks suffer seriously from universal national corruption at all levels and the vast majority live under poverty line specially when we read here how Tajiks are incredibly warm hearted and friendly to visitors (guests). It makes me wonder where in Europe/US there might be such hospitality!

I look forward to your future postings.

(M.C.)
24tango.

4:09 AM  

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