Category Archives: Bees Keep People

My National Geographic Adventure Blog Post – Skiing Turkey: Backcountry Gear for Breaking the Snow Ceiling

Photography by Cat Jaffee

Photography by Cat Jaffee

I live in Kars, a snowy, cold eastern Turkey town that author Orhan Pamuk describes as  “the edge of the world.” Sometimes when I am staring off the dramatic dropping cliffs of the Anatolian plateaus, I couldn’t imagine a place that would better fit the description. Everywhere I look, it is white rolling mountains uninterrupted by trees or roads or houses—a wide-open backcountry heaven. Going on my third year of living here (one of two permanent, registered native English speakers for more than 200 kilometers) and the only resident backcountry skier in the region—I recently came to a realization that if I am going to live out here, I better go big or go home. I should take advantage of this amazing terrain or go live in a place with a few more daily comforts. (more…)

Don’t Start With Why – The Advice I am Glad I Stopped Taking


It has been a year since we successfully completed our Kickstarter campaign. A year since we pitched Balyolu and won awards at two business plan competitions, and a year since we began venturing out into the field. And it recently dawned on me that this phrase, “a year,” means that Balyolu is almost officially past the big statistical survival hump.

Read the rest of this entry

How the Powerful Bow: to the Hajis, Plates, and Boots with the Fur

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I feel comfortable.

Sitting in boarding lounge 101 for the morning flight to Kars, I am listening to loud remixed music and pounding away a grant application on my keyboard. I am coming off of two months back in Istanbul, the US, and Europe where a computer and a pair of earphones are my office no matter where I am. They require no roots other than outlets and extension cords.

I feel exposed.

I look up and see a line of old women shrouded in white veils, their white skirts and white shirts are tucked into white vests and white shawls. Their eyes are a grey murky color of old and they pour searchingly and judgingly into mine. I imagine what I must look like to them, a human wrapped in white cords of capitalism instead of white fabrics of Allah. Reminder: I am not in a world of my sleek Apple products. (more…)

Help Me Identify the Wild, Honey, Bumble, Mixed and Other Bee Species/Subspecies of the Caucasus

Want to know why we are here? Ask a village shepherd.

Living out here as Kars’ only resident American I face a long string of questions day in and day out that is more than enough to cause a personal existential crisis. Hourly, I am asked:

“Who are you?” “Why are you here?” “What is the purpose of your existence?” Read the rest of this entry


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