(Post from 5.25)
A little distance puts one back in touch with one's roots. In my case, that "little" distance is an ocean, a few seas, and several western European nations, but the space between Texas and Athens is getting smaller. Sitting in my office, writing this now, I’m streaming KUT Austin radio playing exclusively Texas musicians. My boots have been seeing the Athens streets whenever the tires of my bicycle “Attikoulamou” are not. Been feeling the urge to wear Mexican jewelry with more and more frequency. I’m THIS close (>...<) to putting a little Texas flag over my desk.
And now this Friday, this Texan is getting to go on her first official business trip: Destination Smyrni, or Izmir as is it’s modern Turish name. After years of traveling in hobo class, I’m being put up in a five star hotel, flown on a complementary ticket, wined, dined, and shown around by natives I didn't meet in a hostel.
Preparing for my trip, this song has been playing on repeat in the coffee shop of my brain...
I have numbers. I'll have a DRIVER waiting for me with my name on a sign. I'm EXPECTED. I have three days of hotel breakfasts in one of the best countries for eatin' in the whole world, all in my very near future.
You'll pardon me for building this up in my head just a little... maybe rolling around in it like a kid in one of those tanks of red and blue plastic balls.
I have some pre reading to do which is, unfortunately, not the happiest of history books:
As another fine example of my frugality, I'll tell you that I've already read half of it by returning to the fourth floor, the book selling floor, of Public Department Store every time I had the time but not the money. I think today's the day I'm going to slap down the twelve euros and buy the durn'd thing.
Just a brief synopsis (especially brief as I've only read half) it details the events leading up to the tragic burning of one of the most lush, relaxed cities of the east and a haven to expatriots from varying countries. It was known for being a place that nationalities lived as neighbors in peace, but thanks to the events leading up to World War One, a lot of sorry egos, and a "Great Idea," the Greeks and the Turks collided yet again bringing about the destruction of this fine city and a lot of lives.
So Smyrna turned into Izmir, the Asia Minor Greeks were forced to leave Turkey and the Turks in Greece were also required to return to return to the motherland. This caused a great deal of heartache on both sides. Many of these people had never seen their "motherlands" and many lost their families in the chaos of the exodus. Some ended up in the United States, some went to Australia, but 1,000,000 descended upon Athens at once, which is why, in part, this city is a chaotic sprawl of concrete club sandwiches and bitterness on the collective conscious of the people.
Now the Turks and the Greeks are trying to be friends. The Prime Minister was in town the other day (the 14th of May to be precise) and announced that Turkey was going to support Greece during its financial crisis. Both countries have said they'll cut military spending and end the arms race with each other. It's really in the best of interest of both countries to be able to hop over and borrow a cup of sugar now and again, especially in the case of Greece.
They could use a smiling Texan intermediary, methinks.