Return from Istanbul and Art Projects

Trip Start Mar 23, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , Gwangju,
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A few weeks ago I made a tumultuous return to South Korea after a hurried month working in Turkey.  For the sake of those who I scared, I'll give a quick account of the events occurring in Istanbul, because I've been too tired and swamped with work and frankly obsessed with my new project to do the requisite emailing.  

In Turkey I work at Çatalhöyük, which is near Konya in the Anatolian plain, remains blistering hot in the, and especially this, summer.  Work goes on primarily at the dig site, where there is a small quadrangle compound, with central gravel courtyard.  Half of the compound is sparse bunk dorm rooms, and half is laboratories, with a larger seminar room which houses a camp of excavator desks, and often lectures by famous or less famous archaeologists.  There is also a kitchen and dining room, where a small Turkish staff has been cooking the same 10 meals for a decade, a roof terrace, where retreat those who find the dorms too hot, and don't want to move to tent city (behind the compound) sleep, and there are occasional dances.  Behind the compound are the finds labs for artifact storage, and a small shed which has been converted into a small whitewashed bar, and which hubs the majority of evening social time.  

After a month here working, ( you can see some of my work at  though it is crying for an update...)  I flew Pegasus discount air back to the Asian side of Istanbul and stayed with an Iranian conservationist and friend from site.  For my second and final night in Istanbul I took a very long discount cab ride (he was their friend) to the European side to spend a night in Sultanahmet, the tourist haven near Hagia Sofia before flying to Dubai, Seoul, and busing back to Gwangju my home.  

My plans were interrupted by a late arrival in Sultanahmet, where I trudged to the hostel I had happily resided in the previous year, only to find the rates spiked, and the cheaper rooms occupied.  Instead I went to Bauhaus, which, besides sharing a name with a coffee shop I adored in high school, is a great Istanbul hostel for the price you pay, complete with complimentary breakfast.  

Too tired to venture out beyond the shop and a quick look at the amazing Ramazan (Ramadan in Turkish)  Carnival that takes place near Blue Mosque at this time of year, I climbed to the hostel's rooftop bar, where I ordered some cheap wine and two kebabs, and where I found a student from Çatalhöyük with whom I played backgammon for a while.

The student went to bed, and I finished up my wine before descending the spiraling stair to my first floor room.  As I went, the corners of my vision began to fuz, and then all of it, and I felt as if I had been drugged.  In fact this was exactly my instant diagnosis, and my only thought was to reach the relative safety of my room as quickly as possible.  I thundered down the flight of stairs, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, coming to with my head turned ceiling-wards.  I dragged myself towards the bathroom, feeling like weights were hung on each appendage, and a screen was over my face.  In the bathroom I awoke again on the dirty floor.  Now my only frantic though was reaching downstairs where I might seek help with the night clerk.   I managed to make my way down the stairs, staying low and hanging onto whatever I could for support, but in my disorientation, I went to far, ending up in the dark basement, where I again lost consciousness, and awoke in blackness with my muscles twitching.  

I had been screaming.  Apparently.    I seemed to have done this between blank spaces, though I don't remember doing it.  The desk clerk had been snoozing on the Victorian couch, and clambered downstairs where he hoisted me into a hold on his shoulder and dragged me to the bathroom, where I deluged myself in water, fully clothed.  Then we went to the deserted street, where I chugged water, and he fed me bananas and some vitamins donated by a fellow traveler.  

An emergency room visit in Istanbul costs about 7,000 Euro out of pocket (I discovered) and I decided against this, because the insurance nightmare later would be too much.  Instead, I decided to seek medical assistance once I got back to Korea.  

I was frightened, but after a full body check in Gwangju, including thyroid and breast cancer ultrasound, I was problem-free.  The seizure episode was probably just some ion imbalance, which, considering the Istanbul heat, is highly probable.  Considering American prices for such things, the 200,000 won I paid for this... Roughly 180 USD is ridiculously reasonable.  

The conclusion of this being: I am feeling better, and live goes on as normal.

I have returned to Korea with two resolutions:
1. To thoroughly be over my bout of culture shock and let the minor and major inconveniences be tossed away like so much hay.
2. Start an art project.

The first is going well presently, though having one very pregnant and extremely hormonal co-teacher for a boss does not make it easy.

The second is progressing as well.  I have booked a solo art show at the Gaia Gallery, Gwangju International Center for November, and have stocked my spare room (cordended off for the summer to save on air conditioning) with oils and paper and even recently some wood carving tools.  This plus the recent return to audiobooks while working has been making me manically happy.

If all goes well by November I will open a modest solo show!  Stay tuned for more.
If you are feeling sympathetic, feel free to toss a few pennies my way for canvases and illustration printing!  I'm running my pockets thin trying to make the second goal happen!
see "SUPPORT MY TRAVELS" at the top right of the page.

More to follow.... continuing to keep logs and personal thoughts is a tentative third resolution, though Austin warns me I'm begining to appear manic and should try to pace myself... and he does take the brunt of whatever emotional binge I may be on.

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