TURKEY—WOW, Whew, Amazing, Humbling! 3,647 kilometers later, we have done a small circle of this country of wonderful people, engaging cultures, antiquity, and of global strategic importance for centuries. Desired by most of the world, it has been invaded, sometimes conquered, by most of the aggressors of history: Hittites, Goths, Persians, Mongols, Greeks, Italians/Rome, Germans, Hapsburgs, etc. The places of mythology, legend, history, drama, intrigue, betrayal, and heroism: Troy, Gallipoli, Aphrodisias, Ephesos, Cappadocia, Istanbul, Hieropolis, Pamukkale, etc. Places of beauty, undersea cities and shipwrecks of Bodrum, Dalyan, Siringe, Kas, etc. We went to them all and more. More every day, more every mile, than a person could take in for months. The people of contradictory reputations: warm, friendly inviting/hospitable, wild, and crazy (especially once behind the wheel of a vehicle—any vehicle). A secular society steeped in the holy Koran, the mysticism of the Sufis, Whirling Dervishes, waves of Christianity, and Iranian refugee B’nais. A relatively new country (approx. 80 years) after millennia of conflicts, rivalries, and instability, today it is a thriving democracy struggling with modernity, population growth, poverty, and reconciliation of historic and contemporary challenges…. Oh, and instability and wars on its borders….. We had only positive experiences. An incredible range of hospitality and generosity unexpected, unsolicited, and mostly offered without any effort on our part. Standing in the huge bazaar of Istanbul in 100+ heat, getting our bearings, a man brings us out of his little (exclusively rubber-bands!?!) shop two bottles of refrigerated water, smiles, and returns to his shop without a word. A man in a tiny, tiny, street too narrow for his truck and even pedestrians to pass his truck, comes over to our car, apologizes, asks for “4 minutes” to finish and move his truck, asks if we’d like some water, introduces himself (in awkward English), and shakes my hand. We have been offered more tea than there is in China and in more varieties. We have made a list of the acts of kindness and generosity that is too long for this blog.

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