2 weeks, 2 countries, now time to come home

Whether or not I've avoided that trap, I leave up to you.

But the changes here are astounding. Late last week, as I was visiting Agia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, the news broke that police had arrested dozens of retired military officers who allegedly staged the 1997 coup.

Coups took place here in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997. In the last decade, other alleged coup plots have been stopped, with more arrests, including those of a few journalists.

"But there are journalists and journalists," said Celil Sagir, managing editor of the pro-democratic Today's Zaman, in another interview. "What if you had visited the Pentagon and met with the generals and you talked about how you would make up stories and create crisis to help topple President Barack Obama and his administration?

"Then, perhaps your readers wouldn't think you were a true journalist. These are some of the problems we're facing that America doesn't know."

The two weeks overseas have gone by too quickly, in a haze of deadlines, travel, adrenaline and emotion. I could write a dozen more columns about what we've seen.

Like one I didn't write, about the gorgeous, old-world elegance of the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens. If Greece were run like the Grande Bretagne, it would flourish.

And another I didn't write, about the eight Kurdish brothers running the bustling pilaf stand in Istanbul, the cars pulling up late at night, the way we pull up for hot dogs at our favorite joints.

Most of all I'll remember Rizes, my father's village in Greece, and going up the mountain with a cousin and with Chris Walker, and lighting a candle in the old church before looking down at the green valley and all the family memories below.

And now it's time to come home.

Kali Anastasi.

Happy Easter.

jskass@tribune.com
CHICAGO

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