In Turkey, Intuition Rules: East to Kars


The Istanbul auto-bus is a microcosm of the city, full of people, smells, and bursting at the seams. Lethargic in the heat and traffic, we roll by the Marmaris and Bosphorus. Seagulls swoop down to catch simits cast from the sides of boats. Zeki Müren blasts from a car radio as the driver attempts to harmonize. The rods of side-walk fishermen sway in the wind.

I am back.

As our bus heaves slowly in Friday evening traffic, my body is languid but my heart is tense. Ok. I made it to Turkey. What next?

My gut knows the answer, but my brain can’t believe it – Kars.

Everyone is quick to tell me don’t go. The list of possible dangers is long and familiar. Having lived in Turkey and traveled around the country before – sometimes solo and always as a woman, undeniable fear about everything that is possible creeps inside of me. I am not completely sure what is to come, how can anyone ever be? I take my fear and funnel it towards preparations. All day and all night, I research, I study, I write, I work, I plan. Most of all, I decide on a set of rules:

  • Never go alone, make sure someone who cares always knows exactly where you are.
  • Take a multi-vitamin once a day.
  • Trust your intuition.

In spite of the legends about Turkey’s wild east, my intuition tells me I am heading in the right direction. So on June 25th I leave the crowds of Istanbul behind me and board a plane to Kars.

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About Cat

Catherine de Medici Jaffee is a National Geographic Young Explorer, a Fulbright Scholar, a Luce Fellow, the Founder of Balyolu: the Honey Road, and a lunatic about honey culture in the Caucasus. Raised on a farm in the Colorado Rockies, Cat grew up loving animals, dirt, and altitude. Her dedication and passion for animals, agriculture, and women leaders has launched her across the world as a Luce and Fulbright scholar: to raise Aigamo ducks in Japan, to research yak trade caravans in Sikkim, and to study rural women’s migration in Turkey. In particular, Turkey - with its fish hung like laundry from windows, its 9,000 species of flowers, and its delicious honey - continues to lure Cat back to its borders. Cat’s love for Turkey, the mountains, agriculture, and women’s leadership blend together sweetly in her new venture Balyolu and her blog Inspired Beeing. You can most frequently find her jumping on a mountain, running from angry bees, cooking in villages, hitching on dirt roads, or joking with Turkcell about her internet woes. Cat is joined by her partner in crime Claire Bangser, artist, photographer, writer, and globe wanderer who believes in creative storytelling as a way to powerfully connect people across mental and physical borders. From working with small-scale women farmers in Mali, to documenting peoples' lives along a 2,000 mile bike tour in the US, she finds that every person (and bee) has an important story to tell and much wisdom to share (speaking of Wisdom, Claire just published her first book, Ride Somewhere Far. Check it out on our Link Roll). These days, you're most likely to find Claire upside down, yodeling from a mountaintop, making tragic mistakes in Turkish, or eating meat for Cat.

Posted on June 25, 2011, in The Bal and the Bees, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. So happy to have this blog and follow your adventures! Best of luck in Kars, can’t wait to read more.

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