The Challenge - Part 2.
THE COST OF FREEDOM The plane touched down in Istanbul around 2pm. I only had a moment to catch a glimpse of the oldest city on earth before we rushed to the next gate where we made our last connection to Milas. Everything was happening so fast that it was hard to comprehend whether any of this was actually real... That combined with the lack of sleep the night prior, followed by a 13 hour plane ride, made everything feel a little more like a lucid dream. We arrived at our final destination and made our way through the airport to arrivals where an assistant from the show was waiting with a sign that read "Boise Brothers." Interesting, I thought; that was supposed to be the name of the show we pitched about the brothers in 2005, and here we are, now destined for a reality show on MTV. Things have a way of coming full circle. As the car winded along the coast of the Aagean Sea, I took some time to try and picture the scenario when we arrive. I got to talking about it with Abram. Mike: "So is there anything I should expect coming in to this?" Abram: "Heights over water. That's always a sure bet... and expect to fuck shit up." Mike: "Very insightful, thanks." Abram: "Its always the same damn thing. Honestly, just don't worry about it. Show up and win... That's it." I turned to the driver, who was a local. Mike: "Looks like there's a lot of new construction going on everywhere. What's that all about?" Driver: "I hate it, they are building new hotels and condos everywhere. They are driving out people who have lived here for generations. I was born here... It was just a small town then. Now only tourists. My family can't afford to live here anymore." Abram: "Sounds like Montana. Sorry that we are no help to the situation." She brought us to a boutique hotel down by the water in Bodrum. "You'll stay here tonight, I will pick you up in the morning. Please give me your cell phones and computers now. You will get them back afterwards" Abram: "Hey, do you know a place where we could get a haircut?" Driver: "Yes, I think we passed one coming here, maybe a half kilometer from here. I can take you there if you'd like." Abram: "That would be great."
She sighed as if in regret that she made the offer and motioned for us to follw her bck in to the car.
A few days prior, Abram had attempted cutting his own hair and needless to say, I was glad we decided to stop at a barber before making an appearance on national television. Neither of the men at the barber shop spoke English, so our driver volunteered to be our translator. There was brief chatting between them and then she turned to us; Driver: "Ok, who wants to go first?" Abram: "Sure, why not." He sat down in the chair as the barber looked over his hair. Driver: "What would you like him to do?" He pointed to the tattoo around the back of his head of a laurel crown; Abram: "A clean edge along the top of the tattoo so that it's visible." She responded to the barber in Turkish, then he spun the chair around and went to work. She then turned to me. Driver: "And what would you like?" Mike: "Just a little shorter all around, maybe leave more on top." Driver: "Okay, I will tell him." You could tell by her body language that she was exhausted from running errands for everyone, day in and day out. She hinted by the tone in her voice that she wanted nothing more than to sleep. Mike: "I appreciate that you stayed to take us here but you don't have to wait for us, we can find our way back to the hotel." Driver: "You are sure?" Mike: "Yeah, thanks for everything." Driver: "Okay, don't party tonight, will pick you up at 9am and will have uniforms for you. Here is your per diem for today and tomorrow." She handed us each a few bills of Turkish Lira, then turned and walked out to the car.
The barber brushed Abram off and motioned for me to sit down. Without a word he went to work. I liked that i couldn't understand him, but trusted that he would do a good job. A few months prior I was traveling through Vietnam and was in the exact same situation; getting a haircut from someone that spoke no English, but I trusted just the same. There is a beauty in language barriers that I can appreciate; it's like walking in the dark and relying on your sense of touch to see for you. In the end, your sense of touch becomes more cognizant. Communication can be appraoched in a similar fashion. Both times, they did an exceptional job. We shook their hands and wandered out into the arid night, tracing our way back under hazy the street lamps.
Abram: "It's interesting; yesterday we were in Montana and had no clue that they were going to call us, or where we were going for that matter. Now, here we are on the other side of the globe, wandering the streets." Mike: "Yeah, you know, it's nice in a way that it all just happened without notice. Realizing that it is actually possible to set everything I know on hold... at least for a little while, and do something absolutely different than anything I'v ever done. Reminds me that life isn't always about work and obligations." Abram: "I needed this. I needed a change that could help me reset. I had way to many commitments... it was overwhelming. I feel like I was pushed up against the wall."
He tossed in an interesting metaphore:
Abram: "It's Like all those bill collectors out there are rabid monkeys circling in to rape me, and the only way to hold them off is to keep throwing bananas at them while trying to refill the barrel with more bananas at the same time."
We laughed it off.
Abram: "Coming here on this show isn't exactly my idea of escape, but hey, lets be honest; we're getting paid to hang out in a foreign country." Mike: "Very true... Speaking of that, lets see what the food is like. I'm starving" We made our way around to the back side of the hotel where a boardwalk adorned with novelty shops and restaurants lined the shore. The host at the restaurant behind the hotel was very friendly and showed us out to a table at the end of a pier. It was around 10pm now, and we were the only diners. the water under the dock was crystal clear, and the city lights reflected out over the harbor. Sail boats anchored near by swayed in the warm breeze. We both sat quiet for a while, taking it all in. Little did we know this would be the last real freedom we would have until we left Turkey.
Above Picture: Abram and I atop Knowles Peak in Paradise valley after a long day of hiking through the snow. Enjoying the scenery before making the descent on my sister's borrowed snowboard. 2010.