The Karagöz puppets recover from Bayram Driving madness


    Let me sit down here, have a glass of herbal “island” tea, catch my breath and tell you of the events of the last few days leading up to today’s Bayram (holiday in Turkish). I’m the sole human (or puppet) standing, M and the Karagöz oyunları are all konked out in the Bozcaada breezeway. I think Tiriyaki the opium addict puppet finally smoked them all under.

In Turkey, there is Şekker Bayram just following Ramazan (as it is spelled here). It lasts 4 days or so and there is a big tradition of getting the hell out of dodge and home to family in the countryside as soon as it starts. It is such bad traffic that the next day statistics are reported – 38 dead, 234 injured nationwide. 

As our neighbor Bilge Teyze said this morning after getting four calls on her cep telefonu in a row, “forgive me, but it is our Christmas.” To give you a sense of the madness that this particular Bayram (known in Arabic as Eid-al-fitr) brings, look at this morning’s newspaper!

 From Hurriyet Daily News – one of three English language newspapers in Turkey.   You’ll understand my fatigue when you learn that we drove from Istanbul to Bozcaada in that madness. What normally takes 6 hours took 12.  At one point we were lined up for the ferry from the European side to the Asian side of Turkey. Look on a map of the Dardanelles and find the town of Eceabat, that’s where we were. 

Upon learning that the wait was circa 12 hours for a ferry, we decided to retreat to a better line (better waiting prognosis, that is) in Gelibolu up the coast 13 miles. As we drove against traffic, we had multiple almost head-on collisions with cars skipping the line and driving down the wrong side of the road. 

At one point, M. had a “conversation” with one of the head-on people (as in our cars met head-on full stop) that ended in some of the most creative language I’ve ever heard in Turkish. M. was in a Don Quixote role – trying to get people to drive correctly in a culture that prides itself on finding its way around obstacles despite the law. 

Needless to say, I spent 12 hours either anxious at his car encounters, bored to tears in a line waiting or covering my eyes at the driving shenanigans going on.

Let me finish my tea before Karagöz wakes up and finds some trouble for us to get into!

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This entry was posted in Cross-cultural learning moments, On Islam and Muslims, Turkish destinations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Karagöz puppets recover from Bayram Driving madness

  1. Alan says:

    ‘Burası Türkiye!’ as we say in English!

  2. Sounds insane — I can’t believe people would risk their lives driving the wrong way down the wrong side of the highway. Glad you arrived and are safe and sound. Enjoy the pretty herbal tea!

  3. Gwen Thomas says:

    Ha-ha-ha. Sounds like M is becoming too Americanized! It is the give and take of the culture that allows different driving habits. When in Turkey…. Got to blindfold you and work it the Turkish way 🙂 Glad you made it safe and sound. Am loving your Bozzcada photos. I wish I could transport myself right through the photos.

  4. lizcameron says:

    I think you are exactly right, Gwen!!!! Wish you were here!

  5. lizcameron says:

    I couldn’t believe it either! Also couldn’t believe that M went head to head with one!

  6. lizcameron says:

    Exactly the words that have resolved this situation for me!

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