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Dude, Where’s My Passport?

Our last morning in Cappadocia, Diane got up well before the rest of us to view the many hot air balloons that took off each morning from launch points all over the surrounding valley of “fairy chimneys” (ooh, ahh!) that surrounded our city. A ride in one of them was not cheap, but they had evidently become quite popular, for looking at the images that she took, I was startled at the number of hot air balloons all departing at sunrise.

I woke up just in time to find Scott and Diane feasting on the olive-based breakfast upstairs. The hotel’s breakfast was fine, what we were really excited about was second breakfast, which would take place in the nearby town of Kayseri, which was very famous for a local dumpling dish called Manti. Diane had been talking about the mystical Kayseri Manti for some time, and we were all excited to try it before we sprinted back across Turkey to Istanbul. So we stuffed a few rolls full of olives to sustain us on the drive and split for Kayseri.

Kayseri turned out to be an absolutely charming little metropolis, snuggled in the shadow of Mount Erciyes. Once we got there, however, the opportunities for eating Manti were not so plentiful. It turned out that we had arrived too early in the day for any of the restaurants to be serving up Manti. So we struck out, in desperation, asking restaurant after restaurant, hoping to locate one that would accommodate us.

Our search for Manti took us into a large bakery, where we decided we might as well load up on baked goods for the drive.

Finally we found a place that agreed to serve us Manti, but after we were seated and had ordered it, one of the higher ups from the back of the restaurant came round to explain that in reality, it would not be available until a few hours later.

And so we sat and pondered for a moment. Was it worth waiting a few more hours, and getting to Istanbul late in the night? Perhaps, but we decided to just give up and order whatever food they did have ready to serve.

Soon, piping hot breads began to arrive, followed by breakfast platters with cheese, olives, fresh clotted cream, and a chunk of waxy honeycomb. We also sampled some delectable lentil soup, served with lemon, and a plate of stuffed grape leaves.

The meal was not Manti, but it was delicious. Bellies full, we struck out into town for a quick stroll in search of an Armenian church. We found many interesting things that might have been Armenian churches. Here are a few; take your pick.

We got a little lost on our way back, which gave us plenty of opportunities to interact with the people of Kayseri.

And to poke our heads in and out of little candy and nut shops.

Back on the road, we found ourselves pounding through Anatolian wheat country, headed northwest back toward Istanbul. The road was wide open, and we just let her eat the miles.

After ten hours of tireless driving, countless episodes of Radiolab, quite a few rounds of PodQuiz, and plenty of Red Bull, we arrived in Istanbul. Knowing that we would need to swing by the Kazakh Embassy, which Jah willing had our newly issued Kazakh visas ready to go.

We began to drive around Florya and the surrounding territory in search of a decent hotel, but found ourselves time and again turned away on technicalities associated with trying to cram too many people into one room.

So we drove on through the night, becoming increasingly desperate. Finally, we returned back to a hotel near the Kazakh Embassy, which we had passed up before, and after much discussion, decided that we should split into two groups, with the ladies heading in to get a room at the hotel, and Scott and I sleeping in the car.  “We find the car more comfortable, anyway” we announced.

It was at that moment that Claudia exclaimed, “Where is my passport!?” We all, of course, didn’t know where it was. So she began frantically searching through her stuff. And in the end we determined that it had been left at the front desk of our last hotel. It had been a team effort, of course, with Claudia forgetting to go and ask them for it back when she left, and the front desk failing to return it to her after registering the room in her and Diane’s names (our passports were, of course, safe and sound with the Kazakh Embassy).

So then and there, at a little after midnight on a Sunday, we called the hotel and began a brutal campaign of confirming the passport was there and then directing them as to how it would need to be shipped with all haste to Istanbul. It was Sunday, you see, and Claudia was scheduled to leave the next Thursday. It was going to be tight. The woman on the other end had probably been just waken from sleep, was in no position to make any decisions, and pleaded with us to call her back in the morning. Eventually we gave in.

Finally, we hung up the cell phone, and stood there in the parking lot, in the cool of the night, tears drying on cheeks, and tempers coming back under control. We were caught by the lights of a taxi cab pulling into the parking lot to turn around after dropping off a carload of people, and it brought us all back into the present. Diane then insisted that we all stay at the hotel, and we all headed inside to catch a bit of shuteye before we had to wake up and rush to the Kazakh Consulate.

We were quite disappointed, however, to find that while we had been dealing with the passport issue in the parking lot, all the remaining rooms had been rented out. So no one would be staying in the hotel. And with that, we trudged back to the car, started the thing up, and though the tank was nearly empty, just trusted in the mercy of the gods, cranked up the air conditioning, and went to sleep in the parking lot of the hotel.


  1. aya | November 9th, 2010 | 11:01 pm

    want an olive-stuffed bun. right now.

    on another note, this made me think of your project:
    good sound design, very simple little sketch.

  2. Woody | November 10th, 2010 | 8:44 am


    I really think one of the best things about Turkey was that good olives were apparently too cheap to meter.

    Cool video. Between Scott and I, we likely have one of those Vietnamese business cards floating somewhere around our bags…

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