20 Days of Tea
We hit the ground running our first day in Turkey with two stage-setting meetings with key institutions. Still jet lagged, I was relieved to have LOTS of Turkish tea throughout the day. Following breakfast, we took a long, long ride through the tortured traffic that clogs Istanbul’s streets. I never thought I’d see traffic worse than Atlanta. First stop: we toured the Syrian Forum, a consortium of six non-profit groups striving to build a democratic Syria.
While we listened to a comprehensive briefing from Forum officials, the presentation was interrupted by what sounded like an ice cream truck but it was music blaring from loudspeakers. Vans were canvassing local neighborhoods for their respective candidates in the upcoming election. We had tea with biscuits, which I thought was going to be lunch since we were running late.
Instead, we grabbed a not so quick meal at a local restaurant. We were served dish after dish, not realizing that the first 10 dishes were just the warm-up. The main dish was a really tasty mixed grill that we had to shovel down to make it to our next meeting. Then, more tea. We finally made it to the Alliance of Civilizations Institute, a unit of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University, where we met Dr. Recep Senturk and….had more tea.
After a stop to pick up travel necessities, we stopped again for dinner, but this time we made do with the just the appetizers then ended the day with Turkish pastries and—you got it—more tea. This is just the beginning (of 20 days of tea).