“But what about the war?” asks an ill-informed friend, referring to my upcoming visit to Turkey.
“You mean the Turkey protests?” I ask.
The Turks have been protesting against their government this summer, and the government has responded with excessive force. A few people have been killed, but the clashes can be avoided. Of course our American news outlets have overplayed the events because drama = viewers and many Americans — in their typical xenophobic fashion — can’t bother to distinguish between the Turkey protests, the Egyptians’ attempt to overthrow their government and the Syrian civil war.
Turkey, Egypt, Syria, protest, overthrow attempt, civil war … they’re all the same!
I explain that the Turkey protests are not synonymous with Egyptian government overthrow attempts and Syrian civil war.
“Well, I don’t think you should go.” Ok.
IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING
It’s always something with travel. Seriously, in my case, it’s almost always something. One month prior to my trip to Peru this year the Shining Path threatened Americans traveling to the Sacred Valley. The year prior — same time — the Gaza-Israel clashes occurred right before I headed off to Israel. I flew in and out of Suvarnabhumi Airport multiple times mere weeks after it was shut down in 2008, the 2004 Madrid train bombing nearly coincided with my visit to the city, I diverted my destination from Prague to Budapest in 2002 when floods overtook the Czech capital, and I canceled what would have been my first trip to Turkey in response to the Cyprus Missile Crisis. My unlucky timing has become a joke.
I’m not about to let some Turkey protests stop me.
BUT WHY NOT ANDORRA?
So why travel to Turkey? Why not travel to some place benign and conflict-free, like Switzerland, Lichtenstein or Andorra?
I’m sure Andorra is lovely, but I have my reasons for returning to Turkey.
Reason Number 1: The Universe seems to be pushing me in that direction. I was unfamiliar with Cappadocia until summer, 2012 and then suddenly I heard and read of no place else (a phenomenon known as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon). My sister and her family visited Cappadocia that year and loved it.
Reason Number 2: I visited Istanbul in in early September, 2001 and did not especially like it: I perceived an unwelcomeness from the locals that bordered on animosity. Having heard others rave about the city since, I had wondered frequently over the past decade if the problem had actually been me instead of it. How did I dress back then? How did I project myself? What was my frame of mind? My not having liked the city feels like some sort of personal failure to me.
So that’s why I’m going to Turkey. Despite the Turkey protests by the Turks, despite the Turkey protestations by my friends and family.