11 June 2011

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One day in Istanbul was not exactly enough to find a mechanic to fix the oil leak and clean the oil that had slickened the inner workings of the clutch, pack all our belongings that had been waiting there for us for the last year into the Combi, see friends, take photos with the Afghan camera, and make sure to eat at Ciya our favorite restaurant, but we managed to fit it all in in about 36 hours.

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Jennifer, again our translator-miracle-worker who has helped us more times than we are comfortable mentioning, found a mechanic who was willing to meet us at his garage at 10pm on a Saturday night to diagnose the bus’s mounting ailments, and then sweet talked him into coming in on Sunday to fix it. That meant we were free to spend Sunday with our friends, taking portraits with the Afghan camera and drinking Turkish coffee while the Combi got yet another seal replacement a clutch make over.

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Afterwards we faced the job of finding a way to fit all our things into the bus. In our two years living in Istanbul, Molly and Aurel had accumulated a bunch of things too beautiful or special to part with. On top of that, Aurel had had a solo painting exhibition just before we left Istanbul in June of 2010, and we had 10+ painted canvases to fit in there somehow.

During our stop over in Istanbul at the beginning of this trip, the three of us had purchased a bunch of camping and cooking supplies, with dreams of taking two months or so to cross Europe, stopping leisurely to enjoy the landscape and to cook breakfast. We had pots and pans of all sizes, a mini barbeque, small gas stove, plates, cups, bowls, silverware, etc. Now we were aware that we would be rushing through 10 countries in less than 3 weeks. It all seemed a bit ridiculous. But we packed it in anyway, filling all the compartments and secret holds that were made for us by the Afghan team of interior Combi designers at the HELP NGO in Herat.

It took awhile and that meant that we missed the afternoon light that we were hoping for in order to take some black and white photos of the bus in various places in the old city, so we decided to set our alarm for 5:45am and get up the following day when the streets would be empty and the light would be fantastic.

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So three bleary eyed travelers, after staying up too late partying with friends, rode through the streets of Istanbul at 6 am on a Monday morning in a VW mini bus, stopping at various landmarks to take its portrait with a 100 year old camera. And for once, there was no one around to stop and take notice.

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In the same country - Turkey