We're leaving Africa on our way to Asia with a connection in Europe. We've got four kids in tow and one ipod touch. We didn't exchange any money ahead of time. And I didn't bring the phone number of the guy we're renting the apartment from in Turkey. But, I wouldn't realize that until later.
Before I bought airline tickets to Turkey, I'd never had any desire to go to Turkey. Quite simply, I'd just never thought about Turkey before. Ever. That was until I started to play the Expedia.com lottery. Which isn't a lottery at all. Now, some people like to play farmville, I like to play search-for-the-cheapest-tickets-to-places-we-haven't-been-yet game. So for spring break the lucky winner was Istanbul. Or were we the lucky winners?
Short plane rides offer little to do. No movie. No headphones. Only a gulp of a free drink, a worthless inflight magazine and your own obsessions. For my kids that was the fact that one of them had good enough grades and had saved up enough money to her own ipod touch first. We thought this would be a fabulous lesson in making choices, saving and rewards for the kids. Forgetting that the consequence for providing our kids with these valuable lessons would exponentially increase the discord between them, and make us look forward to senility. Suddenly, the hour and a half flight to Madrid doesn't seem so short.
It was a year ago we were in the very same airport on our way to Egypt. And the kids have fond memories. Not of Egypt or Madrid, but of the broken gumball machine that they remember they can jimmy into doling out free gumballs. Unfortunately someone must have fixed it.
We head to the newsstand to kill some time and score some Spanish gum. Which is way better than Moroccan gum. Not only is there a stark difference in gum between Spain and Morocco. There is an even starker gappier contrast in the magazine covers.
Because you could never get a magazine this revealing with FREE sunglasses in Morocco. Not to mention that it's in English.
Holy cleavage! AND a free diaphragm! Unless that's bronzer. But you couldn't get that in Morocco either.
OH MY GOD! It's Pocahontas in her underwear with freakishly small nipples. And that wasn't even a porn magazine.
We were so transfixed by Pocahontas that we must have lost track of time, because before we knew it, it was time to get on the plane to Istanbul.
On Iberia airlines. Which we have flown before. I remembered that when they served up dinner and I opened the lid to see a familiar spam like meat with the placard declaring it's not pork. Of course there is no signage to declare what it is...
And then I remember they have free wine on Iberia. Thank god.
After 3 and a half hours and too many sibling squabbles to count, we're in Istanbul. And it's midnight. Luckily, there is an ATM before we reach the visa desk. But strangely, it dispenses Euros, but Turkey uses the Turkish Lira. Are they as confused as the rest of the world is as to whether they're in the European Union or not? For clarification's sake, they are an associate member which I think gets them a free Chanel lipstick or something. At bonus time of course. And I think we all know Chanel doesn't have bonus time like Clinique does.
We meet up with our driver and give him the address of the apartment where we're staying. But, he doesn't know where it is. This is the point when I pull out the paper that I thought had the phone number of the guy who owns the apartment, Only to realize there is no phone number on the piece of paper I brought with me.
So the driver pulls out from the airport on the European side of town to the Asian side of town where the apartment is supposed to be. He calls someone to get directions to our destination yelling into the phone.
Meanwhile, we take in the city lit by glistening street lights. It's past midnight and some kids are still out playing on a scooter on the side walk. I spot a woman in a head scarf smoking a cigarette. And then, the flashing lights of a sex shop. And the fact that it's not illegal to be gay here. It must be a more catholic kind of Islam here in Turkey.
To be continued....
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