Trip Start Oct 15, 2007
17Trip End Dec 20, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
And I think I'm ready for a bit of "modern-ness". I'm somewhat challenged by the inability to connect with women here in Turkey. I'm feeling a lack/absence/invisibility of half of the population. It's not that I don't see women on the streets, although by far, men outnumber the women, in every public setting. But it's always the men that will interact with you....and although they are very friendly and generous...I often feel that conversation is one-sided...that it's not shared...and I'd really like to sit and connect with some women. While in Goreme, I had the chance to sit with Perihan, who helped run the hostel. It was only a short time but I so welcomed the opportunity to get a sense of a woman's mind here in this culture that is so different from my own. We could only converse to a limited degree...again a language barrier...but we shared pictures and thoughts and lives for a long moment. I try to see past my cultural ignorance and wonder about the day to day experience of girls and women here. And really, I know I will never be able to fully get it...but that the only valid and appropriate lens through which to view this place is simple acceptance and appreciation for the differences. But I'll be the first to admit that I'm challenged here and that I miss the perspective/energy/presence of women in my experience here.
So far my favorite part of Istanbul...the street market with its throngs of people for blocks and blocks - I've included a video or two to give a sense of the sights and sounds of the marketplace. And walking along the bridge today...chatting with the line-up of fishermen along the rail...pulling in one fish after another...fresh fried fish for sale at all the counters...fishing day and all night...again friendliness is welcoming and genuine.
A Kurdish man stops and chats with us. So far I've only heard negativity towards the Kurds...many have moved away from the more violent parts of the country in the east, relocating to Istanbul. The Turks see them as outsiders, lower casting them. And then, speaking to individuals, hearing personal stories, I can't help but appreciate their struggle. This man tells about watching his brother shot down and then run over and killed by tanks in his home town. His pain is apparent and he wonders why the US is not stepping in and protecting this group of people who are being annihilated. He says we step in Iraq, Afghanistan, we've done it all over the world...why are we not helping the Kurds? And that's the other side of the coin. Right from Oliver in Romania talking about the US being their only hope when Ceaucesceu was tyrannically leading the country to this guy on the dock hoping that the all-powerful US will save his people. And the part of me that feels that the US intervenes way too much and should do a better job at keeping its nose out of other countries affairs, is put right on the line. What is our responsibility in world affairs? We have to acknowledge that we hold a great deal of power in the world...that is supported in the perception of so many people I speak to all over. And what shall we do with that power? How would I feel if my people were under attack? If my life did not hold the freedoms and the opportunity that it in fact does? It is easy for me to take these gifts for granted...but they are not shared by so much of the rest of the world. I think there are no clear and easy answers...all I can say is that hearing and seeing the lives of others gives me pause and causes me to reflect on the lack of simple answers.
And now it's time to return home....off to Budapest yesterday...nice to reconnect with Michael, my couchsurfing friend...today an early flight to Milan and now I'm on my way to JFK... It wasn't easy to leave...but I'm also thrilled about being with my family and friends and would have it no other way. Looking forward to changing my clothes, being able to understand when I eavesdrop, eating some nice green salads, dripping gravy over a juicy turkey, taking a Christmas walk at the beach with two of my favorite people, and homing it up with my friends in Syracuse. And of course, I've got to start brushing up on my Spanish... it's off to South America on the 4th ... Happy Holidays!!!