Wednesday, January 21, 2015

the missing faces of saints

The Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia is riddled with caves, many of which were constructed into early churches. This particular beauty, the Ağaçaltı Church, has biblical frescoes that date back to the 9th–11th centuries CE.

As is typical of any early Christian structure in Turkey, there is an unbelievable amount of vandalism and graffiti, with many of the faces of saints scratched out. Much of the graffiti dates back over decades and sometimes even centuries, but some of it is as recent as the week before last. Having always been told that Muslims ran rampant across the land, chipping off faces and eyes in disagreement with the depiction of the human form in art, I am confused by the amount of Greek, Armenian, and Georgian text etched into the painted surfaces. There is everything from names to entire paragraphs in these languages, and I have to wonder what the intentions were behind all of this destructive expression...  

It's all a shame really; it doesn't matter what religion these frescoes depict, they are part of our human history. I do hate to see the beautiful faces destroyed, and I wonder what kind of tacky individual needs to profess their love for a girl by carving her name in a heart on a 9th Century fresco. Was she impressed?

to the ihlara valley

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

airport bear

This delightful fellow is our transition between Scandinavia and Cappadocia. A lot happened in between the two trips, mainly a lot of stippling for those ink portraits that showed in Toulouse (which you can see here and here). Are you ready? We will now leave the northern chill and warm company of friends for the surreal moonscape of Cappadocia.

By the way, ten lira is a lot for a bear on a stick, so mister blue here stayed in the domestic terminal of Atatürk Airport.

Monday, January 19, 2015

elegance and greasy sausage

Whether lost in a maze of rough and weathered streets, or beneath the elegant spires and heroic statues of glorious pasts, there is always a person with a cart selling something delicious, cheap, and greasy. Here in Copenhagen, this treat often materialises in the form of bacon wrapped sausages shoved into hollow buns filled with mustard.

Oh yes.

red, green, blue, bird

Sunday, January 18, 2015

on the walls

danmark with an 'a'

The last time I was in Copenhagen, my grandad was dying. Since he couldn't make the trip from California to his beloved Danmark with an 'a', I bought a plane ticket and went for him. I wanted to smell Denmark, eat Denmark, drink Denmark. I wanted to visit his hometown of Esbjerg, and meet his cousin Maria. I wanted to visit his father's grave. I wanted to do all the things he would do if he could, and I wanted to report back to him all the feelings I had, and show him hundreds of photos. He liked to look at photos.

When I called him from Maria's house and he heard our voices together for the first time, he cried. I told him about the herring and the hakkebøf, the rain and the sea. I told him I would see him soon.

He died on the day I arrived in California. I never got to show him the photographs I took.

And so I found myself in his Danmark again, with a terrible aching inside. There are so many things I wish I could tell him. He would have loved Pedro— he would have told him all the stories I loved to hear, even if it was for the hundredth time. I can see him clearly; turning in his armchair to spin his globe for Portugal, with an "I'll be damned" muttering out from a cloud of pipe smoke.

Jeg elsker dig, Morfar.

lovely lund

And on a pale blue Monday, three of the four friends hopped on a train to Copenhagen, leaving Lund behind.

ystad in grey

the art of smoking fish

Ah Scandinavia, where smoking fish is an art form. Smooth, salty salmon, crumbly fish eggs and creamy mackerel, all washed down with a beer by the sea. Who knew heaven was in Smygehuk?

Smygehuk is famous for being the southernmost point in Sweden, but to me, it's all about the harbour's fiskrökeri— the fish smokehouse!

the friends you fly for

Ever since we moved to the outskirts of Istanbul, things have been quieter and increasingly isolated. Friends were now two hours away, and the idea of facing the brutal traffic keeps everyone where they are. But then there are the dear friends, the ones you will fly for. The ones from home, the ones who know you— and I've been lucky to gain a whole host of new friends through Pedro. Pedro has good people.

You need good people.