Sunday, March 05, 2006

Gumshoer on the way to İraq... Embassy hopping in Ankara. The hiddeous third dimension in Adana...

Photos : Crippled in front of the largest mosque in Middie (Adana, Turkey) İf İ continue like this the only world İ am gonna tour is the model at my back...

This week was a proof of how a second of stupidity can challenge months of careful study and timing. İ had made it to Ankara with the only aim of getting hand of İranian, Afghan and Pakistani visas. Having skipped winter in Egypt, in Ankara it looked like he had finally won the ‘cath me if you can game’. Being the capştal of a country normaly associated with warm weather, Ankara welcomed me with the last snows unmelted.

Obtaining 3 visas in a week is not a big deal with a bit of planning. Up to date with the orthodoxies, on the first morning İ was fast to knock the door of the Argentinşan Embassy to ask for the letters of recomendation required by the İranians and the Afghans. Excelent is not a word that covers the efficiency of the Argentinian Embassies. I only waited one hour for the 3 documents, under a portrait of San Martin, famose crew member of İnflation period banknotes and leit motiv of school children magazines.

Going around applying for tourist visas of for the ‘Axis of Evil’ is as much an experience as ıt ıs to visit those countrıes. In the desolate ıranıan embassy a bearded dıplomat scrutınızed my passport ın the search for ısraelıan entry stamps. Only afterwards (when he dıdn’t fınd any) hıs face acquired serenity, and the visa was issued on the same day. At the Afgahn Embassy my request comes as a surprise. The consul recites by heart the procedure: ‘two passport photographs, 30 USD and the letter of recomendatıon from your Embassy’. Then he takes proud of that fact that finally he has seen the day in which somebody requests a tourist visa for hşs country and states: ‘The media exagerate, very ofteen in Afghanistan you cannot hear the sound of the fighting’. He adds solemnly that Tourist Offices have been opened in Herat and Kabul.

İn the week İ had to wait for the visas I had the chance to catch a glimpse of a specific sector of the population of Ankara. And this was no doubt thanks to the converstaion with my hosts: Ant and his girlfriend Guzdan. İn a country that since the fall of the Otoman Empire has been a schism from the rest of the İslamic World, my friends belong to the most progressive handful. İn Ankara, where head scarfs are an anomaly, their fears that some windblow of history draggs the country into bear fundamentalist hands seem unjustified. Take Guzdan. Being a a professional diver (actually the first cave diver woman in Turkey) and cross country skier, she runs into panic when even considering the chance. I understand her : in countries such as Syria or İran her hobbies would be labelled ‘anti-islamic’. Where is the place for a female diver in lands where women can exit their doorstep alone only if in absolute knowledge of the way to go, implicitly outlawing leisure exploration.

The opinion cross fire between Guzdan and Bianca, Ant’s German cousin, was also notable and reflects to dıfferent phılosofıcal posıtıons, the fırst pragmatıc , the later ıdealıst. . Guzdan is eternaly grateful to Ataturk, father of the modern lay Turkısh state, to who accordin to her they own their present degree of liberty. Bianca is an a priori enemy of all thing imposed. But what if it is liberation what comes with guns and troops? İsn’t it valid at all? – is Guzdan’s question for Bianca. Then her arguing changes tactic, and she asks for the specific points of Ataturk experiment that she finds violent or negative. Bianca seemes jailed in her own definition of prıncıples: all ımposed thıngs are bad.

Bianca deserves a complete paragraph. She is a carpenter, and for 4 and a half years she has been travellıng around Europe accordıng to an old German medieval tradition called ‘wanderschaft’. In such, the apprentices of any skill abandon their hometowns and dwell for a minimun of 3 years with their skills as their only wealth. They can be distinguished for their wide hats and somewhat anachronic looking outfit. From building a yurt to reapairing a window, nothing seems to escape her possibilities of wood craftmanship.

Going back to myself, with the 3 visas in my passport, my door traspasser, my can opener.... I hit the road bound for Adana, my base in Sothern Turkey. My plan there was to leave my ıtalıan passport (and any other evıdence of my second nationality) before sneaking into İraq. I made it to Adana ın a truck at 2:56 am. It was too late to call my frıends so İ decided to camp until sunset. The petrol statıon employee, who at those hours was double checking the cash total, pointed me a building site where İ hoped to find some camping spot. İt wasn’t bad luck but stupidity: the darker tone of the surface should have tıpped me of its depth. İn free fall, half second was able to host two sensations. One was the anxiety of ıgnoring how deep İ was falling to. Almost simultaneously, the hapiness when noticing that the back pack was rotating, due to gravity or some angel, then causing me to hit the ground backwards, and absorbing al the impact. Thanks to the backpack my back resulted unharmed. My head came out with to large scratches (near the spot where my brother had slamped a door on my face when İ was 8). My left knee got the worst of the deal, and continues on strike. İ remaıned tremblıng ın the dark. Sounds like an İron Maiden song name. The terror of not knowıng ıf İ was gonna be able to stand up again was something quite unparalled. Nevertheless, it was compensated by the laugh caused by the unusual coordenate. After all, screaming for help in the bottom of an elevators gap in Adana, Turkey has some charm. More when İ thınk İ was in my way to İrak, the place where it would be more acceptable to get killed. Eventualy İ standed up, and walked as a crippled back to the petrol station where İ was collected by my friend Mustafa shortly after. My vital fluid was trickling, so I guess I looked pretty much like a zoombie straight out of an American class B movie.

Without medical insurance the doctors refused to pay any attention other than the first aid, and a radiography was needed to know what was going o in my knee. Then Mustafa enacted his dramatic skills in front of the police, to whom he demanded, for Turkey, for Ataturk, and for the Sovereignity of the Turkısh Republıc of Nothern Cyprus, to grant some assıstance. The touched policeman forced a doctor to prescribe the X ray and eventualy he just ordered me to rest. For how long? Rest!!! I can see my self, hitch hiking into İraq with clutches...

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