BOB CORBETT'S TRAVEL JOURNAL -- 2006
Journal 20 -- June 6, 2006
Last day, some mop-up tales
By Bob Corbett
We are just on our way out the door for our very last day of the trip, heading home early in the morning. But the computer is free here at the hotel, so Iíll take advantage of that to do a couple stories Iíd forgotten along the way. Itís still early, but weíre headed to breakfast in a few minutes.
- First the I-gas. I donít know if thatís the exact name, but thatís what we heard. Back in Istanbul on our first day we heard what we thought was the ice cream truck. A ding-dong bell, just like the ice cream trucks which circle our neighborhoods in summer and this ladyís singing voice calling out: I-gas, I-gas, in long notes. Very pretty music. Finally a day or two later we saw the truck while sitting on our balcony. It is a very large truck which circles neighborhoods (we saw them all over Istanbul) selling tanks of propane gas!!!! I got a big kick out of that.
- We met a fellow. I wonít give the circumstance or name, but we had a very long talk with him one day, this was after we got to know him. He is a Turkish Kurd, now doing okay in business in Istanbul. He grew up in the mountains very close to the Iranian border and was for 6 years a smuggler. He was into carpets and other such goods, but his village and family were all smugglers -- everything, gasoline, gold, people, just on and on.
He was articulate, had been to the university and is a brilliant advocate for Kurdish rights and even independence, despairing of the Kurds ever getting a fair shake in Turkey, Iran or Iraq. He was very powerful in his case that all the Kurds want is freedom and a chance to live a normal and decent life.
He was also vehement and angry about news stories which call Kurds terrorists, making the distinction to which I am already extremely favorable between freedom fighters or revolutionaries who are struggling for their rights as being very different from terrorists. He was more traditional in defining those terms than I, but his case was extremely powerful and I think he qualifies for the Bob and Sally award as the most interesting single individual we met on this trip.
- However, the Austrian woman we met in the cathedral yesterday seems close to number two. She was fascinating.
- Lastly there is the story of Paulo and Alice. When we got on the airport bus here in Barcelona at 8:30 PM Friday night the bus was absolutely jammed, standing room only. We did get seats in a four person seat, two seats facing each other. We got there second, so the couple across from us were facing forward in the bus, we were facing the back of the bus.
It was a young couple, mid-20s probably, both in business in Milan. This was just a week-end away where they wanted sun and sea. They were, shall we say in understatement, quite expressive about their couple-hood. At least the young woman was. This was rather startling to Sally and me since weíd just spent two weeks in a country where there is no public display of affection between men and woman. Men may walk hand in hand and arm in arm and woman may also and often do so, but men and women just donít touch in public. I even felt guilty
when in flying traffic I would take Sallyís hand to cross the street safely.
So, they were seemingly lost in each other and doing their thing and Sally and I were quietly chatting. Then the woman, Alice, (we were old friends by the time we got to the inner city of Barcelona) spoke to us in very nice English, spoken slowly and with really lovely articulation, like someone who has had formal diction training. She wanted to know where we were from. We said the U.S. and she said, no, I know that, but where. We allowed we were from St. Louis and her head snapped over toward Paulo and she was just startled. She turned back and said. He knew it!!! He knew it!!! I asked what do you mean
and she said he had told her that he recognized our "accent" and that
he could identify it as St. Louis. We were all three just stunned at this, and me especially since contrary to Alice, his English was like an absurd stereotype of movie Italian gangster movies, with a vowel at the end of every word "Iím a only gonna tell a you this a once..."
Alice was squeezing his arm with pride and ready to stick her tongue down his throat again, when I, truly amazed, asked, Paulo, what was it about our accent that tipped him off for St. Louis. And with a great big smile he pointed to the name tag on Sallyís purse just across from him.
We had a great laugh and Alice was now punching him! But it was a delightful event.
Okay, breakfast. Weíre heading up to the area of Barcelonaís main university and see if we canít find something in the student quarter.
Oh me, home tomorrow. At least June 9th begins the World Cup, so my June and early July are taken up with the 64 games of the World Cup, each and every one which I will see LIVE.
[Later note. Today when Iím posting this to my travel web page it is July 10th and the World Cup ended yesterday. I did, in fact, see every single one of the 64 games and all live. Oh my I loved it, and now will be a bit disoriented for a few days with no football to watch on TV!]
Bob Corbett firstname.lastname@example.org