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Joel Stewart’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 30 Apr 2009

Location: Turkey

Map4/30/09 - 6 beers later - keeping up with JimBaBa - bloody Australians they know how to drink!

The motorcycle tour is over and most of the participants are on flights east and west. Exotic lands to get home - Singapore - Dubai - but JimBaBa loves Turkey and is still here swilling down the Efes beer like it is going to be stopped in production in 2 days (the time he gets on a flight and heads home). After a couple days of rest at a different hotel from JimBaBa and taking in some of the sights (archeology museum and grand Bazaar - as well as any little side street which makes pike street market look like a broad shopping mall) I gave JimBaBa a call early to see about getting together in the afternoon WELL MATE I HAVE BEERS AT NOON AND AT 4 AT THE COZY BAR - so off for a wander in the spice market and a couple of teas and fresh orange juices later I end up at the cozy bar. JimBaBa is somewhere around 66 years old and seems to have a few million packed away and main entertainment now is Turkey and Ferris motorcycle tours. He now has done the Turkey tour 9 times and throw in about 8 more in Morocco - Rajasthan - Himalayas - India - Bhutan and who knows where else. But with his 12 off color Turkish phrases he makes friends everyplace in Istanbul (of course the depth and color of his money does no harm) with a laugh and a smile he now knows about half the town. So a beer at noon turned into a six pack each and as the afternoon wore on the rains came and it made even more sense to sit and sip and watch the flow of tourist. The sellers in the grand bazaar seem to groan as JimBaBa comes by - he has the patience and bull to get their prices down to what seems to be the lowest price - but at the end they both smile and shake hands and wave goodbye to JimBaBa.

Chris (the guy who took a header into the truck) seems to be having setback after setback. At the hospital in Istanbul he has to go back into surgery every 2 days to get the wound drained. I am not sure what that means - sounds to be more than rewrapping the dressings. But to add insult to injury the travel insurance that he got in Australia for just this sort of mishap has determined that by Australian law he was riding a larger motorcycle than he was trained or licensed to ride (in Australia) and has voided out his insurance. Australian law says something like you are suppose to ride something less than 400cc for 2 years before you are licensed to ride a larger motorcycle - he was on a 650cc for this tour. So all of the hospital bills and the additional cost of flights will be on him. Also add to the financial hit that what he thought was a 500 dollar deductible on the motorcycle turned out to be a 1500 dollar deductible. The words THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I keeps coming back to me - also when I was on the suicide road along the Black Sea I figured out that I could be at a beach resort in Hawaii sitting in the sun having a Mai Tai and making a dent in the pile of books I always seem to have with me.

But given all of that, this trip has been memorable. Some landscapes that are so bizarre that they will come back to me in my dreams like some Dali artwork. Plus I now have some friends in Australia and may have a winter escape to their summer sometime.

May Day in Turkey is suppose to be a big celebration - according to the tour guide he said that it almost turns into riots and may not be safe to be on the streets - I guess I find out tomorrow. 2 days and I fly home - refreshed and the idea of working almost seems like fun at this point. I have worn off the travel itch for awhile and am looking forward to the daily life of Seattle and work - that is a sign that a vacation was good enough and long enough.