Monday, March 29, 2010

Turkey Lurkey

I am headed to Turkey in less than a month.  I am, as of today, only $135 short of my half of the plane ticket.  I probably, realistically, need to raise just a little more than this because I am headed over two days early and will have to stay somewhere on my own dollar for those two days.

I am super excited about going early and seeing things like the Haghia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and the Bosphorus Bridge. There is a fabulous archeological museum there as well that sounds grand.  I was hoping to sight see with a friend who lives in Egypt.  He needs to renew his visa for the country and was thinking he'd fly over to Turkey and spend a day or two there so he could fly back and get a new entry visa.  However, he found a much cheaper and easier way to do this.  So, it is looking like I'll be spending two days in Istanbul by myself (just don't tell my parents...they'll freak out). 

I am not too worried about this.  I have spent a lot of time in foreign countries and Turkey, while muslim, fiercely protects its secular government and is about as tolerant as a muslim country can get.  However, the reality is that I will be in a foreign country as a single, American, young female alone.  So, I am trying to be as wise about it as possible. 

Today I went to Goodwill to buy some longer skirts.  Apparently many Turkish women embrace western culture and wear shorter skirts or even bare their midriff.  I just don't want to take any chances, however.  I want to blend in as much as possible (well, as much as I can with my blonde hair and blue eyes).  I am also staying in a hostel instead of a hotel.  This is both cheaper and a possible way to meet other folks touring through the country alone or in small groups who might be willing to let me tag along with them.

It really is starting to feel as though this was a "trial run" to a full-time job.  If I were to do this full-time, I would be travelling to the country of upcoming conferences 3-4 weeks ahead of time.  Alone.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I'd be housed with a host family or person, so I wouldn't be completely alone.  But, in a lot of ways, I would be without community and probably spending time by myself exploring cities and countries.

I had coffee today with a friend and her mother who's sister is a flight attendant.  This is one of the things that this sister loves most about her job: showing up in a new city or country, putting on her walking shoes, grabbing a map and setting out.  In a lot of ways, I love this too.  I have spent of time traveling alone.  It does not inimidate me to do just what she describes her aunt as doing.  In fact, when I was 14, I spent a week with a tour group in Madrid and Paris and met my aunt, uncle and cousins who had been living in Germany while I was there.  I had, in just one day, managed to figure out the subway (metro) system in Paris to navigate us everywhere we wanted to go for the day. 

However, the biggest difference between my friend's aunt and myself, is that at the end of the trip, she has someone to come home to.  I do not.  I would be returning to Kona and to a ready-made community there, but with the last few years of loneliness and isolation I have had, I am just not sure where I am at with diving head-long into more loneliness and isolation.  Just something more to ponder.

I also had lunch last week with a friend who is joining Youth With a Mission by doing a Discipleship Training School in Tokyo Japan.  He had a lot of good advice about just taking my decision-making one day at a time (hmm...doesn't the Bible say something about not worrying about tomorrow?) and being OK with saying that my decision is X today, but might be Y tomorrow....This felt like such a wise council.  Today, I am in Tacoma.  I might still be in Tacoma tomorrow but I am OK with not knowing much beyond that and allowing the spirit to lead and guide me in a new direction down the road...whenever that might be.

So, still waiting.  Still praying.  But, OK with that for now.


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