50,000 Photos and Stories from Istanbul, Turkey
I came back from Istanbul with almost 50,000 photos, a big copper pot, and an annoying tendency to stand too close to people when talking with them.
I lived in Turkey from January 2000 to the middle of 2005. It was originally a trip to learn a foreign language and get a handle on another culture while I was still young and flexible enough to thrive on an ‘immersion’ style experience. I knew that the process of learning foreign languages was significantly easier the younger it is begun.
After a short trip to Turkey I decided that would be the place I’d go. So, I packed up and left for Turkey. On my short trip I met some nice folks who run a performing arts organization called TACO and they invited me to come and work with them on their performing arts tours.
After several years, I was working as the technical director and taking turns organizing and road managing tours with the other team members. I met a whole range of really fantastic people and the occasional stick in the mud. (Only four really memorable ones) Along the way, I managed to learn a fair amount of Turkish so I guess I met my objective.
I traveled from Istanbul, the historic capitol of the Ottoman Empire, to Antakya or ancient Antioch down near the Syrian boarder, and back again. I made this trip perhaps 25 times during my stay in Turkey. In between, I worked in cities such at Ankara, capitol of modern day Turkey, and the coastal Izmir, the most modern of Turkish cities.
As a foreigner, I went through the stages of acting absurdly patriotic (in my first few months), to feeling like my own country was a crazy mixed up nation which did not do anything right (on and off for several years), before coming back around to a view that acknowledges problems and very valuable strengths in both my native country and the country I lived in for over five years.
People in little villages across Turkey would ask me to compare, ‘which is better, America or Turkey?’ Yes, of course it is a silly question. You can compare cultures but how can you say one is ‘better’ than another. I finally started answering, ‘America and Turkey are just different. Not good, not bad, just different.” Oddly enough, that was the only answer that really satisfied people.
I purchased rugs from weasely sellers in Cappadocia, Silver jewelry at the Covered Market in Istanbul, went scuba diving in the Aegean Sea (on a fish poaching boat), climbed through Emperor Vespasian’s Tunnel which rerouted a river before it reached the Mediterranean Sea. I sought out strange foods wherever I could, visited salt lakes, attended concerts in Istanbul, and tromped all over the Princess Islands just off the coast from the golden horn.
Although I drove all the time for my work, I never owned my own car. Instead I walked, road trains, minibuses, dolmus (a shared taxi), and regular taxis. But my all time favorite transportation will always be the ferry boats crossing the Bosporus (Bosphorous), carrying people between the East and West sides of Istanbul.
In 2005, I came back to the US with almost 50,000 photos, a big copper pot, and an annoying tendency to stand too close to people when talking with them. My sense of personal space finally readjusted, and the copper pot sits in the corner of my apartment, but most of my photos I have shown to only a few people. I hope you feel like a special guest at a showing of my favorite photos and stories from Turkey. Please enjoy the photos and stories on these pages.
Hike through Ihlara Valley Cappadocia