At 5 a.m. on the road in the dark, the sun yet to rise, I get this text:
“He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.’”
And I cried.
It’s nearly impossible to believe that it was only 18 days ago that we loaded ourselves into a rental car to drive to Disney World. We’ve been in Istanbul for five days now and one thing is abundantly clear. We’re not great travelers. In all fairness, some of us are better than others and it probably takes more than five days to get your international legs under you. But still.
The first day we woke at 5 a.m. to the deep rolling sound of the call of prayer. Mason shed tears of happiness. And I thought, “what have we done.” It was mystical and other-worldly and terrifyingly different. That day was a mess for Lily and I. We were both incredibly overwhelmed. She cried a lot and I laid on the couch in a state of comatose. We wouldn’t get dressed. We wouldn’t go out. Thank goodness that Ian and Mason are travel badasses. They hopped right out there and scoped out the neighborhood. They found us food markets and potential places for eating once we decided we were ready to venture out.
By day five, we were doing much better, although Lily still struggles a bit. We still aren’t sleeping well, but we go out every day exploring, trying new cafes and meeting new people. It’s easy to see who the introverts and extroverts are in our family. Ian and Mason are gregarious and want to meet and talk with the Turks learning Turkish words and building relationships with the people we see every day. Lily and I want none of it. We’re depleted at the end of the day from the struggles to communicate. Everything is harder here – buying bread or finding toilet paper in four-roll packs instead of 32 packs or purchasing a second charger for our phones. But Lily and I are mad planning fools and make sure that tickets are purchased, reservations are made, that we have places to sleep and are on budget. We all bring our strengths and weaknesses to the table and we are learning that we are stronger as a group than we are individually in this travel experience.
Only one day have we ventured out of our neighborhood across the Golden Horn to the “touristy” side of Istanbul. We are pretty isolated from the madness here in our Taksim apartment. We go out for lunch and read and make art and cook dinner much like we would at home. But outside of this bubble of normalcy, there lies a freaking crazy ass world of chaos, abrasiveness and so many crap trinket souvenirs you wouldn’t even believe me if I told you. Oh, and super pushy rug salesmen. But we did it. We learned the tram system, fell victim to the oh-so-common rug salesman “come have a cup of tea” game, toured a beautiful palace (post coming on that soon) and made our way back home.
So that’s where we are. Knee deep in the learning process. Figuring it out as we go and trying to build our confidence. Scared as hell. Thankful beyond measure that we have this opportunity. Enjoying the hell out of the details that you don’t get a chance to appreciate when you are tearing through a city trying to see as much as possible in the least amount of time. Taking care of each other. Reveling in the fact that we are in freaking ISTANBUL!!
However, yesterday, we took a tour of all of the must sees in the city – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, The Grand Bazaar, spice bazaar and a Bosphorus cruise. It was amazing and I wish we had been able to schedule it sooner in our visit. I’ll be posting about that soon as well.
On a side note: this trip has been truly blessed. For quite awhile now, things have been falling easily into place leading up to the moment of leaving with details practically taking care of themselves. I believe in magic. And positive thought. And the power of prayer. And I know for a fact, that there has been some amazing juju at work out there that has helped us get through what could have been some potentially stressful travel moments. After going through rush hour traffic in DC, we were afraid we might miss our flight out of NY, but we sailed across the NJ Turnpike and through the most vomit inducing traffic. We returned our rental car, took the tram to the terminal, checked in with the LOVELY ladies at Ukraine Air, got through security (where they found a can of energy drink in my carry on and let Mason take it back out of security, chug it and come right back through) and to our gate in… wait for it… ONE FLIPPING HOUR.
People, I can’t make this stuff up.
Thank you for sending us love and prayers and well wishes and for holding our journey in love and protection. It’s making a difference. It truly is.
If you are not already following our Blame My Wild Heart page on Facebook, I encourage you to do so. We’re posting lots of videos of our apartment and our neighborhood there.