Just returned from a lovely week in the Hatay province in southern Turkey. After five straight months in Damascus, I needed a break and I needed to see the sea again. Stayed at a friend's house outside the city of Iskanderun and did nothing for a week and it was great.
Today it's back to work, sort of. I arrived at 9am to find a mostly empty office. My desk taken over by someone else in my absence and I have no idea where my stuff is. My director seems to be out today, so I am catching up on emails and trying to get sorted out.
I begin private tutoring in Arabic in a week or so, when my teacher returns from traveling. Looking forward to making progress. After a week of only hearing Turkish and trying to practice the few words I know it was a bit of a trick to shift back to Arabic.
By the way, as far as I am concerned, the most important word in the Turkish language is "Tutku" (pron. tootkoo). It means passion, but is also the name of the most wickedly delicious cookies ever made. One of my friends who made the trip with our group happens to be thoroughly addicted to chocolate (to an occasionally frightening degree) and she got me hooked on them.
At the border yesterday there was a massive, miles-long backup of trucks due to the Americans' closure of the Turkish-Iraqi border, which forced everybody to go through Syria. I filmed a little of it. It was impressive. I joked that perhaps I should apologize to all the drivers for their troubles. Of course, it didn't stop our bus. We just drove down the other side of the road, which was also rather interesting.
The signs at the Syrian border crossing were quite amusing:
"Brother Travelers..." ('cause I guess we women don't get out much)
"Welcome to Assad's Syria" (which doesn't need to be changed from one to the next)
The one that told "my dear traveler" to "contact the appropriate official" in case of problems or complaints is funny to anyone who has ever dealt with foreign bureaucracies.
Promise to put up some photos and write more now that life is a little less hectic.