All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook
Turkish residence permit tea

Getting Foreign Resident Permits in Morocco and Turkey

Traveling around the world in the slowest possible way means that I generally stay longer in a country than a tourist visa allows.

What that means is that I either have to be illegal or get a foreign resident permit. The difference in requirements and bureaucracy can be staggering. I won’t go into what it takes to stay in countries like the USA if you are a non-citizen, but the two countries I’ve most recently called home offer a startling contrast to one another.

Morocco Foreign Resident Permit

Getting my foreign resident permit in Morocco (called a carte de sejour) was a monstrous undertaking. I had to provide the following documents:
-ten passport photos
-six copies of my passport
-proof of residence, i.e. a rental contract
-five copies of my birth certificate
-five copies of my proof of employment (work contract)
-a letter from my employer stating that I was in fact working (attestation de travail)
-a police report from my last country of residence
- a 100 dirham stamp
All of the documents had to be certified as original and stamped at the local city hall. The process took six months during which I had to check in at the local police station every month. Total cost was only about 50 Euro. By the time I got it, the permit was only valid for six months of the one year I had applied for.

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Turkey Foreign Resident Permit
The process in Turkey was far easier but also much more expensive.

- I had to have a Turkish bank account with 500 lira for each month I planned to stay in Turkey (12 months = 6000 Lira). In order to get the bank account, I had to get a Turkish Tax Identification Card which cost about 700 Euro. I was also asked to prove who my parents were since Turkish ID generally states your parent’s names on it. To get the bank account, I needed just my passport and the tax ID card.

- I needed to have a sponsor who vouched to be responsible for me while I was in Turkey. In this case, me and the 24 year old Turkish man who vouched for me laughed about the fact that a 24 year old man was responsible for a 38 year old man. We had to get a notarized statement.
- I needed to be able to provide an address of residence and phone number to be reached at.
- 5 passport photos
- 2 copies of my birth certificate
- An application for residency
- 900 Lira for the residence card

And finally a trip to the regional police headquarters where there were several visits to different offices for stamps and interviews, during one of which I was served tea and baklava! Turkey is one of the most civilized nations on the planet, this proved it. Two weeks later, they called and I went and picked up my residence permit.

The permit is good until November of next year.

So to summarize: Morocco is cheap but slow and involves numerous bureaucratic hurdles while Turkey is much more expensive but runs efficiently and with a minimum of bureaucracy- not to mention the tea and baklava from the Leftenant!

bloody river of Eid Sacrifice

Bayram in Turkey vs. Eid in Morocco

Travel holidays. There is no bigger holiday in the Muslim world than Ramadan. The variations in Islam between countries that are all lumped together as ‘Muslim’ can be huge. In fact, there are things that tie all Muslims together (very broad things), but by no means is a Turkish ‘Muslim’ anything like a Moroccan ‘Muslim’.

bloody river of Eid Sacrifice And I use the quote marks because I’m not talking about the really devout. I’m talking about the average person you meet who is Muslim because they were born Muslim but really doesn’t take the time to think about it – or care about it.

One example of this is the holiday that I’m currently enjoying. Just like in Morocco, Turkey closes schools and government offices for the week so that students and workers can go home to be with family during the ‘feast of the sacrifice’. To see my post about Eid last year where the river ran red with the blood of sacrificial sheep you can go to the links below.
Bayram in Turkey

This year, I didn’t see much in the way of celebration. The University students all left Manisa to go back to the family homes. I saw a couple of sheep here and there, but there was certainly no blood in the streets. Instead, what you see in Turkey is young kids going from door to door asking for sweets or money.

No fires in the yard, no bleating of sheep, no bloody rivers.

Admittedly, this isn’t Eastern Turkey, but still. We were surprised to see the complete and utter nothingness which we witnessed. I’m sure there were plenty of sheep sacrificed here, but the cost of 800 Lira vs. 800 dirhams in Morocco is pretty sharp since the first translates to about 400 Euros and the second to about 80 Euros. That certainly makes a difference.

Streets of Canakkale

Canakkale, Turkey – Gateway to Gallipolli and Ancient Troy

World travel involves small trips as well as large. This particular trip took just seven hours by bus but took us to one of the most famous and influential cities in world history and one of the bloodiest battlefields in the history of man.

While not a long trip in terms of duration nor distance, this small jaunt carried us across world’s and continents. I’ll explore the specifics in three future posts about Troy, Gallipolli, and the Turkish Island of Gokceada. Streets of CanakkaleThis post though is more concerned with the minutia of Canakkale and the Dardanelles, not to mention the journey itself which took us there from ancient Tantalus, Manisa, and Izmir.

As with nearly all journeys that I take, this one was far from planned. My students began asking me last week if I was going to be traveling during the holiday. I sensed that it was perhaps a bit of the opening gambit for a holiday invitation and despite the fact that slaughtering sheep doesn’t particularly bother me, I’ve always been uncomfortable accepting holiday invitations be it from friends or family, let alone acquaintances. As a result, I began to say “Yes, we’re going to travel” and then to ask them where we should go. They all said Izmir or Istanbul, and I wanted something more exciting in terms of the imagination. First, I considered the vast East but because I’ve only recently been freed from Morocco, the idea of heading into Kurdish conservatism didn’t sound great.

So, I looked west towards Thrace and Marmara. Despite our not having much money, I figured that 1) it was the off season 2) it wasn’t very far and 3) well…okay, I didn’t really think of three things.

I managed to get Hanane to agree to head to Canakkale because when she mentioned it to a student they told her how beautiful it was. Of course, I was still considering heading east at the bus station if the tickets were cheaper, but I didn’t tell her that or she never would have left the house.

We took the early bus from Manisa to the big ottogar in Izmir and found that Metro buslines was running a 25 lira fare special between Izmir and Canakkale. We had to wait about an hour and a half for the bus, but that wasn’t too bad.

Now, here I should admit that I have a 2009 Lonely Planet for Turkey that we picked up when we first came to Turkey. While I usually find Lonely Planet to be helpful in terms of prices and times, this one is by far the worst I’ve encountered. Don’t buy it. Canakkale, Anafartanlar, DardanellesI would venture to guess that the information in it hasn’t been updated since 2004 except for very minor changes. Across the board I’ve found prices to be wrong, distances to be wrong, and in some cases directions to be wrong in it. Hanane likes it though since it gives some comfort to her to not be in the unknown.In this case, she didn’t mind the five and a half hour busride it promised…which got me into trouble somehow when it was six and a half. I’m not exactly sure why I get held responsible for Lonely Planet, but then I do carry their logo here, so it must make sense to her.

An interesting side note about marriage. Since I’m the one who plans the trip, I’m the one who needs to pay for it. One would think that the cost would be just double of traveling by myself, but in fact, it’s more like triple or quadruple because of the comfort factor that I thrive without but that a woman needs to be happy. Things like ensuite bathroom instead of sleeping in a dorm or eating nice food instead of just some bread and a can of sardines. To be fair, Hanane did treat me to a couple of nice meals, but we’ve determined that for these sorts of exploratory trips in the future there will have to be a different arrangement.

In any event, we arrived in Canakkale and checked out the recommended hotels in the Lonely Planet. Contrary to my expectations about off season prices being lower, the prices seemed to be higher. I guess they figured since they have less business, they should charge more. The Anzac House Hostel offered us a crappy double bed in a closet with no toilet for 60 Turkish lira a night. They refused to negotiate lower.

Canakkales Unfriendly HotelSo, we left and went to the Otel Efes around the corner. The owner welcomed us warmly at first but as soon as we had paid she became sullen and morose. The price was 50 lira a night and over the two nights we stayed there, I regretted that we had. The owner seems to be becoming a crazy cat lady and wore the same clothes for three days just sleeping on them on the couch and became increasingly unwelcoming and awful. You can read my review at TripAdvisor

Grumpy Old Bag Lady Owner Didn’t Change Her Clothes for Three Days

Uh-oh. Looks like I’m going sort of long. I’ll finish up this soon in a second post. I’ll tell you about the Hammam vs. Moroccan Hammam and varous sights and enjoyments in the town.