While traveling through Turkey, I met some fascinating people. One of the guides and I spent some time talking. On breaks, at night around town, we got to know each other a bit. One day we were standing by some ancient ruins in Ephesus and he asked me, “Why is it you are so interested in Islam? Most people I guide from the West only want to tell me about their religion, and rarely ask about mine?” I told him I had read a few books about Mohammed and his faith. I found it familiar in many ways, especially being Catholic, their view of the virgin Mary was intriguing. He said she was considered one of the most important persons in history. “She is the only woman in the Quran who has an entire book named after her.” It taught me how important it is to be curious, to stay curious, to keep learning. We’ve stayed in touch. I got a message today that he and his wife had their first child. Peace be upon them.
I told you about the Peterson, my “favorite pipe”. It still is. But this Mastro De Paja I bought in 97 just before recording in Vancouver is a close second. It’s a Pesaro Media 1b. I’ve never seen one quite like it. Whenever I load it with Penzance, I am back in Vancouver walking by the boats of the quaint fishing village. The view of the restless ocean reminded me of a Bruce Cockburn song, “Salt , Sun, and Time.”
One of the most intriguing places in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque. No matter how many times I walked or drove past, it demanded my attention. The stone wall in this photo is from ancient times, back when it was called Constantinople. Istanbul is an amazing city with an even more amazing story. From Crucifix’s to the Crescent Moon, so much of who we are today plays well with how this city became what it has become.
One night I was walking near the Blue Mosque and smelled a familiar scent. It was latakia. I walked toward where I thought it was coming from but never saw anyone smoking a pipe. I did notice many cigarette smokers. I kept walking and came upon some Bavarian tourist. They were waiting in line for coffee. I decided to have a cup of this very strong muddy liquid so unlike Starbucks. By the time I left Turkey I had grown very fond of it. After a bit of small talk over our steaming brew, I pulled out a pipe and loaded it with my recently acquired Balkan Sobranie, Joseph, from Bavaria, asked to smell the tobacco. “Ahhh, this is very much like what my grandpa smoked.” I lit up and they all lit up their cigarettes. If I recall correctly, they were smoking Dunhill Reds. A young Turkish man walked by smoking a hand rolled cigarette and it hit me why I was smelling Latakia, it was in the Turkish mans cigarette. At least, it smelled very much like it.
We finished our coffee and they invited me to join them for dinner. We had a wonderful time eating Lamb Kabob, drinking Raki, and smoking the Hookah.