Everything is a cloud. Even the dashboard in front of me sweats from the fog in the dolmuş (minibus). The white layer of fuzz on the windows tells of the cold moisture outside hitting the hot shaking glass of the car. My arms are clammy and I can feel stray pieces of hair, dust particles, and breadcrumbs sticking to my face. I can barely see the front of the car, let alone the cliff’s edge that hugs our wheels. Almost teetering over the edge, we slam to a halt, and the 25 people around me gasp in a series of stifled cries. The 17 day-old baby asleep on my lap wrinkles its nose. (more…)
I couldn’t believe it. I had found quite possibly the very last living melified man and he was 115 years-old. This man was on his deathbed, claiming to have kept himself alive over the past few years by eating only his own honey. He was the oldest beekeeper in Turkey, and I would dare say, quite possibly the oldest living beekeeper in the world. He had kept bees during the time of Ataturk, during world wars, during Turkey’s rise and fall as a global power, and during hundreds of Karsian honey seasons. Read the rest of this entry
Never in my life have I not fallen asleep on a plane. Until now. For the entire 2 hours from Istanbul to Kars, I peered out of the window, mapping my future over the rippling snow-covered mountain ranges that lead to Kars. I searched for the familiar landmarks I have been crossing now for years, the major highways, lakes, rivers, valleys, and cities – leading me all the way to one of Turkey’s last frontiers and my home for the next nine months. Read the rest of this entry
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.