Thirteen years ago I got on a plane and flew to Turkey…
Do you remember the first time you came here?
We landed in the middle of the night, our taxi driver picked us up and we begun our drive to the hotel. I can still remember as clear as day, the smells, the warmth, and the excitement running through my veins from being in this new foreign land… Europe but not quite Europe, Asia but not quite Asia…
Do you remember the first feelings you had when you arrived here?
Our driver stopped at a small roadside shop that was still open even in these twilight hours. He bought us all a bottle of ice cold water. He refused us when we went to give him the money…
Do you remember the first kind gesture you received from our Turkish friends?
In light of all the heinous attacks being inflicted in Turkey recently, I find myself needing to make note of it on here. In my opinion, travel blogs shouldn’t just be about holidays and tips, it should also show focus on what is happening around the world. As you all know I am currently in Turkey, and I have a strong personal attachment with the country, so, I hope you don’t mind if I just talk on a little….
My past, and current, experiences and memories of Turkey are the polar opposite from the uncertain whispers I hear amongst people today. Fear and doubt dominating their thoughts.
That first visit I mentioned above was just a short one week holiday. In that time the owners of the small family run hotel we were staying in; father, brother, grandma, papa, sons, befriended us. They would show us around surrounding areas, sharing with us snippets of their beloved home country. Places and people that makes Turkey so special.
I was 19 at the time, and I was looking for an adventure. I would speak to them about my desire to explore the world, but that I was fairly new to the prospect and didn’t really know where to start. So, they invited me to come and stay with them the following year, if I wanted. In return for a place to stay, and food, I could help them out around the hotel. Another kind gesture. Easy, simple.
So, one year later, that’s exactly what I did.
And so begun my relationship with Turkey.
This family became my family. I’ve made friends here, I have a support network here, people that I see as my family home from home. Today I see them struggling, trying to make a living, because they are the ones suffering from the knock on effects.
And I find myself wondering… why?
People hear the news and read the papers, and they see the heart breaking attacks happening all around the world. They see that Turkey is currently one of the targets.
Perhaps though, they also see where Turkey is positioned in the world, they know the religion of the country – and so this is the country they chose to stay away from…
Not France, or Belgium, or Germany, or America, nor any of the other countries that have suffered devastation at the hands of terrorists….
If you are truly honest with yourselves, how would you answer that?
“Why are you scared to come here, but not scared to go to Paris? Help me understand.”
To really and truly have an opinion about… anything… we must first understand that thing. Get to know it. I try not to voice too much of an opinion on things I can’t back myself up on. I try not to be too fearful of things I’ve no evidence deserves that fear. Above all I try not to hate things that do not deserve to be hated. I wonder, how many people who are now openly against visiting here actually know what they are against? Do they just read or hear the word ‘Turkey’ and shudder, not being able to fully answer why they shudder…
Do they know the Geography, how large it is and how far the distances are? Do they even care? More personally, do they know the soul to this country? The traditions, the food and spices, the landscapes, those mountains. The people? All reasons to continue coming here and to not give in to terror.
I read an article yesterday from a journalist reporting about the attacks as they were breaking out last night, their opening line was: “An explosion and gunshots have been heard at Ataturk Airport in the Turkish Capital!”
Journalists are meant to provide us with accurate information. So if a journalist can get away with writing and printing that Istanbul is the capital city of Turkey, well then what other ill-informed facts are people ‘learning.’
Is this why you stay away?
Can we see the insult in where we can’t even learn a simple fact like the capital city of a country that is so rich and deep in history. Also a country that is our friend, and is hurting, that needs our support now more than ever? It deserves our time and interest, not our ignorance.
Of course there are imperfections here, nothing or no one is perfect in life. Remember though that there is a huge difference in this world between imperfection, and terror.
Learn. Don’t just be guided by intolerance.
Everyone has a different story to tell, I understand this. I also understand that I am probably biased with mine. Perhaps though I’m allowed to be slightly biased, because I have taken the time to get to know and understand the day to day existence of this country. I’ve lived it and have been apart of it, and now I want to support it.
The world is in a telling time, and we are living it. Every single country and city that is being targeted needs the world to stand united with them. The bad is wanting to take over and crush all of the good we’ve built up. Don’t let them. Show your strength.
I’ll be heading to Istanbul in the next couple of days.
I’ve tried really hard in this post not to write in a factual way, but more of a questioning way. I don’t know the answers and I don’t know what each individual feels or thinks. I do, however, know what I think and feel, and I know what I have lived and experienced – my agenda today is simply to share that with you, and maybe just to get us all thinking.