13 September 2007

AlSo: Ramadan in Van

We got up at 5:30 hoping to scrounge some breakfast for later to see that the sun was already up. There were some hopes that the breakfast places would remain open, but this was a paltry and unrealized dream. We hustled some groceries at a nearby market and headed back to the terrace of the Aslan Hotel (“aslant” means “lion” in case you were wondering)which we had already checked out of in order to concoct our own clandestine infidel terrace breakfast picnic, the first of two such meals while in the east. It was good, but I felt guilty enough to swear to fast the rest of the day. A meandering to the bus to the otogar and onto a bus bound for Kars. No less than 6 military checkpoints along the way with four identity card checks and two baggage checks. We learned the next day that this was to curtail a large drug trafficking across the Iranian border. A flooded bridge and flooded road and cattle crossing. We saw children sleeping on the grain in the beds of moving trucks, lots of donkey carts, many women in burqas, and, you know, Mt. Ararat where Noah’s Ark was said to have landed back in the day. Finally we got into Kars, got tickets for Erzurum, found a hotel, and met with Jared who works as a guide for Ani, then set out in search of food, as it was past dusk. We found a place with great meze and grilled fish and beer, but a shockingly big bill that had us feeling like paupers again. Oh well.

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