Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Today, my friend Aurelien turned 34. We made him oreos for breakfast. Although this might not sound so good to you, he is a man who can eat oreos before 10 am, and I really respect him for that. I brought shortening from the states in preparation for his sacred cookies, and Lissa and I made the chocolate wafers at 11:30 last night. I cursed international baking with every step, we measured everything a little wrong, and we ran out of sugar and had to grind up sugar cubes with our hands. But in the end, the oreos were oroes, and ready to fill this morning. I can now say with confidence that these are forgiving cookies- feel free to make them in any country you like.

The only other thing that Aurel had requested for his birthday were deviled eggs. There is no mayonnaise in Turkey, so he and Lissa whisked some up, and Lissa made deviled eggs, Turkish style. We packed up our oreos and eggs and set off for the Princes' Islands for some sea air and a break from the constant fear of being run over in Istanbul.

The Princes' Islands are a little cluster of quiet islands about an hours ride off the coast of Istanbul. We arrived at the ferry station early and eager, only to find that we were the only people in Istanbul who had actually changed our clocks two days ago. It seems that the Turks like to take their time, and that they actually change their clocks next week. So a long cup of tea later, we got onto the ferry.

There are no cars allowed on any of the islands, and the first thing I noticed was the silence. And then, it was the color. This island, Burgazada, it was painted with a different paint set than most.

We wandered through paths and backyards, and the stray cats and dogs kept two steps ahead of us, showing us around. We made our way out of the village, and up the central hill of the island. Something about all that ocean and sky- it felt like the top of the world. It was high, and old, and one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

We stopped for a cup of tea and a quick pee at on of the little cafes on the island. We were the first guests in quite a while, and he proudly showed us in to his little hookah lounge. After a cup of thick, soapy tea and a squat over the hole in the ground he called the "WC", he invited us to pick some of his oranges.

They were both sour and bitter when we cut into them, with a tiny fruit inside inches of peel. Instead of eating them, we just held them, because when do you get to hold oranges that you have picked off of a tree in Turkey?

We continued up the hill to find a place for our picnic.
And of course, for our balloon launch.

It was Aurel's birthday after all.

And one of the gifts of being his friend is that you never know when you will launch a balloon at a picnic on the top of the world. Favorite day... so far.

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