Had a great time in Istanbul, my hotel was conveniently
located in a street in Beyoglu: packed with restaurants,
coffee shops and tons of people walking up and down the
As usual, my plane got delayed and canceled so I lost my
first day in Istanbul. Instead, I got to enjoy everything
that the CDG airport has to offer: from toilets to airport
food and ten euro per hour wireless internet access.
Currency in Turkey used to be measured in millions, but
they have now removed six zeros from their currency:
My first meal was here:
Peter from Linux Tecnolojic, Pinar and Gamze from Novell
Peter, Pinar and Gamze
Customs in Istanbul are surprisingly similar to those in
Mexico City, to the smallest details. The most interesting
one is that people put lime juice in most things.
My talk on Saturday was about Gnome and Mono. I showed a
couple of applications at the end of my presentation, and I
regret forgetting about showing Beagle. It would have been a
While jetlagged one night, I finally figured out how to
make the IBM T42p go into standby mode and recover from it
without leaving the screen blank. To do this, just add
"acpi_sleep=s3_bios" to your kernel command line.
Then the `powersave --standby' command will work. After
the first time you standby, the powersave daemon seems to get
stuck waiting for some helper process to finish, and wont work
again. So am using a miggy-script of magic that does
something like `powersaved restart', followed by some magic
sleep command, followed by the standby command.
The last day of the conference we had a big dinner with the
Gnome Turkey group, here are some of the members:
Gnome Turkey group
On Sunday we went for a walk: Enver and Sezgin were my
guides. Just like Mexico, they sell very cheap freshly
squeezed orange juice on the streets:
The Blue Mosque entrance:
Hagia Sophia, the church turned mosque, just in front of it:
Next to those two mosques, visitors can visit the
underground roman cisterns:
I arrived last afternoon to Beirut from Istanbul, a
very short flight, only one hour and thirty minutes. I went
straight to sleep as the couple of days that I spent on
Istanbul were intense.
Later in the afternoon, Hisham from the Lebanese Linux Users
Group picked me up and we went for a walk of the city. The
stores that you find in Beirut are very much like those you
would see in any other major city: Body Shop, Starbucks,
McDonalds, Zara, KFC and even a Buddha Bar; All the big names
car dealerships, hotels and so on. The only difference is
that you can only read half the signs.
They sell a thing called "White coffee" which I enjoyed
very much, and it is just transparent water with some
I woke up very late this morning, recovering from the
jetlag. In the reception, people were watching the pro-Syrian
gathering in down town Beirut, which looked huge, and clearly
was the place-to-be today. Now I can have a better story to
tell next time the question of `Where were you the day of the
pro-Syrian demostration in Beirut?' pops.
Walking to the Etoile.
The taxi dropped me off about a kilometer away from Place
de L'Etoile where the event was happening. Most roads were
closed to cars.
Just like in Turkey, people are incredibly friendly,
and they would try very hard to speak to me in either english
or french. One of those guys volunteered to translate the
signs and what people were saying over the loud speakers, and
hanged out with me until the end of the day. Just like in
Barcelona one in every five people you meet is a Jordi, in
Beirut the same happens with the Mohammeds. I have met three
Hizbolah called for today's protest, it was a protest in
support of Syria and against resolution 1559. Hizbolah is a
popular resistance movement that emerged in Lebanon as a
reaction to the Israeli invasion of 1982. Although Israel
withdrew from Beirut, the army remained in occupation of the
south of the country. The resistance eventually drove the
Israeli army out of Lebanon in the year 2000.
Hizbolah grew out as a resistance movement, but today is
also a political player and has a few seats on congress.
At the event.
People in the city told me that the 1559
not only called for Syria to back out, but also for the
Hizbolah militia to be disarmed. Me, being scared of anything
remotely looking like a weapon could not agree more, but let
Although the 1982 invasion was aimed at neutralizing the
growing strength of the PLO as a political force instead of
conquering Lebanon, those at the protest today do not
necessarily see it that way. They repeatedly said that
Hizbolah keeps Israel away from Lebanon (Here is the Reuters
Syria entered Lebanon for the first time invited by the
then president of Lebanon and by a mandate of the Arab League,
to stop the civil war that had erupted in Beirut. They got
themselves tangled into the civil war, and were basically
powerless to stop the invasion in 1982. They have remained
ever since and its the source of the current split opinion.
At the event.
The protest was like any other protest I have been to; you
could smell some marijuana being burned, people with tons of
signs everywhere, fairly packed, difficult to navigate and
people chanting slogans. All I could understand was `Yala,
Yala', which roughly means `Go go'.
I could not reach the center. All of a sudden, it turns
out that just next to where I was standing they were setting
up the podium for the main speaker. In a building
barely twenty meters away. First soldering it, and covering
it up with a white blanket of sorts:
Half an hour later the main speaker showed up:
After the event was over, I was invited to dinner and to
play pool. I had some tasty thing that is very much like a
Taco al Pastor in Mexico, but they use bread instead of
tortillas. Not only they did not let me pay anything (at the
pool place, the dinner, the taxis), they also paid for my taxi
to return to my hotel. I also got an invitation to see my now
friend Mohammed in the south of Lebanon once Maria arrives:
Like in Turkey, the way to cross the street is to wait for
a space between the cars and to jump into the street, hoping
that the car will stop. Only later in the day I noticed that
this was not like Mexico, where people do this when they
see no cars coming. In Beirut there are no traffic lights
(or at least I have not seen any so far).
This pricing picture at the pool place probably gives you a
taste of the city:
Maria's flight to Beirut is delayed; She will be showing
up later in the afternoon. This means that my Gnome/Mono
presentation will have a hard-stop at 6:30pm.
Currently F-Spot nor ImageMagick on my machine have support
for RAW images. I made the mistake of shooting about 20% of
my photos with that, so am going to have to wait until I get
back to figure out how to decode them.