Istanbul, Turkey.

 

My goal with the “Travel” page on my blog is to give you all an insight on the things I see and experience when I leave home. About two years ago I felt a yearning to see more of the world, but not just see it, experience it and impact it. This was my very first of what I hope will be many international trips. Throughout the blog, I have attached links that apply to pieces of the culture, CLICK AWAY.

My friend Sultan and I met my Junior year in college and it was love at first sight. She ignited a sort of joy that not many people have. She was so sweet and sincere with the woman she was; such a gentle spirit. After being friends for about 2 years, we wept at the thought of her returning home. I promised her that as soon as I was financially able, I would visit her. 4 years after she left, I graduated college, got into my career, and jumped on a plane to Istanbul.

Not only was this trip my first international one, but it was my first time flying. MY FIRST FLIGHT WAS 14R HOURS. Who does that? Apparently, I do. In addition to that, my plane was scheduled to leave the day after there was an outrageous terrorist attack on the Ataturk Airport that took the lives of 41 people. Good thing that wasn’t mine, right? WRONG. I was petrified. My mama was hell bent on me staying home. My friends threatened to steal my passport. Needless to say, it was not looking like I’d see my friend. After crying in my closet like a small toddler, I found myself talking to God about the power of fear. Everyone had decided on MY future, because of their own fear, and I’d slowly started to give in. I had one day. One day to decide whether or not I’d take this life altering trip to the other side of the world or let fear dictate my life decisions. After hours at the cross, I packed my bags, and left.

There were guards everywhere. I wasn’t able to walk through the airport without seeing at least ONE M16. I was terrified, and my phone was dying. I eventually met up with Su, and we were on our way.

I’ve attached images of my most impactful experiences at the bottom of this post, but they are nowhere near everything I saw and felt in the 1 week of visiting. I’ll try to be as concise as possible with my description of each, but if any of you are interested in an in depth explanation PLEASE feel free to comment. I never get tired of talking about it. The culture was so rich and my emotions were ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Before I begin, I feel the need to add that this molded my spiritual walk in ways that scared me to my knees. I had never been in a pl ace where my words held ZERO value. Nobody could understand me, I was unable to express myself, and I felt that my autonomy had been stripped away. For the first time in a long time- I was fully reliant on God, and it was a liberating and frustrating feeling. I had to submit my pride and STILL teach my friend about Christ because on many occasions, He commanded it. Those emotions instilled in me a passion for traveling and teaching, not only English, but God’s truth.

Well, let’s begin:

The Coffee: It took about 30mins to brew that small pot of coffee pictured. It was a delicacy to be prepared by the women of the house for the men as a part of Ramadan. I love cooking, so I was honored when they asked me to do it, but petrified when they told me if the men didn’t enjoy it, they would send it back. I was also taught that in Turkish culture, men could DIVORCE their wives if they were unable to prepare it to their liking…uh….BYE. I was stunned, but they were accustomed to it and Su’s father and Brother-in-law were there so clearly they’d been doing something right. I’m not sure if they really enjoyed it, or didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but they finished their cups and what was in the pot. There are MANY other Turkish traditions and old myths linked to their coffee. I’ve attached a link here.

The Corn: I know you’re probably like, “Why is this fool posting a picture of corn like it’s not in America?” Well, it was special, because I picked and husked it, LOL. So yes, it deserves its own feature. We sat on a blanket on the floor, separated it, and barbecued it outside. We, being the women.

 The Mall: After dinner, we all piled up in the car and went to an outlet mall nearby. The prices were to die for, lol. Mainly because the American dollar was worth three times more than their currency. I felt rich, to say the least. We also visited the Mall of Turkey (Sultan and I) Where I spent about $200, as 600 Turkish bills… it was wild.

The Ferry: I’m standing in front of the ferry that took us on a 30 minute ride to Heybaliada Island in Istanbul. It was absolutely beautiful. I sat next to a girl named Ann, and she shared her cookies because she could hear my stomach growling. I used Google translate to tell her I loved her LOL.

The Language: Sultan’s baby sister took it upon herself to teach me about 20 Turkish phrases to help me as we traveled. It was very seldom I left Su’s side, but in the event I did, I was a bit more confident while encountering natives. She was only 15, and we basically became bestfriends.

Turkish Engagement Party: When I posted this picture on Facebook, most people assumed it was a wedding. It was actually an engagement party. There was easily about 300 people there. We were in a 3-story complex with an outside area. The party consisted of celebrating the couple by watching them dance, then joining in. There was no meal or drinks, just dancing. It was precious. There is so much that goes into Turkish matrimony, so click the link to get a more in depth look!

The Blue Mosque: Last, but certainly not least, I’ve included a picture of us standing at a fountain in front of the Blue Mosque, or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. I didn’t have my Hijab on in the picture, but we both were pretty covered the evening we entered. There were THOUSANDS of people there for worship and celebration of Ramadan. It was breathtaking. We sat in the grass and ate a light supper before entering and there was life ALL around us.

I think I covered each of the pictures, and I hope I gave you just a small glance of what Istanbul did to my heart. I recommend visiting, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it alone. There are programs that offer Turkish tours for prices from $300-$1,000 depending on preference and desire. Thankfully, I have a sister who is a native, but I think that’d be a pretty legit vacation spot.

Until next time!

I love you.

 

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“I’m Black.”

prep-r1.jpg Recently I’ve been heavily burdened with the fact that my celebration of self, seems to be a problem for some. I’m Black. I’m sure you’re saying, “Duh,” but I think I need to make that clear for all of my friends who claim not to see color. I’m also a college graduate in the prime of my career. I’ve fallen into very few stereotypes that plague our society, and for that, I thank my mother and our God.

I love black culture. I don’t mean what the media says is black culture i.e., broken homes, poverty, and violence; I mean ALL Black culture.

I love to talk about Hip-Hop and R&B. I get giddy when my friends are okay with me listening to Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. When I was  16, I named my first car Billie, after Billie Holiday. When I was 21, I named my car Lena, after Lena Horne. At 22 I fostered two small boys and had them memorize poetry from the Harlem Renaissance, and we recited it to each other before school. They loved Claude McKay; I think it was because he talked about women more often than not, lol.

My hair is a part of my identity, and I find freedom in expressing my love of being Black in ways such as style. In the past few months, I think people have taken offense to this. Please understand that my love for my culture and race does not equate a hate for any other. I know people say this all the time, but I don’t mind saying it again. The fact that some of my associates reply with, “We are all God’s children, and in being so, we are one..” is evidence of their lack of understanding.

Let’s be clear. I live to serve King Jesus. Everything that I am and everything that I pursue or desire is a direct reflection of my attempt to glorify Him. In the event they don’t I was probably a moron. I am not confident in much, but I am confident in the fact that God created us with these innate differences for a reason. Similar to my attitude being different from my brother’s and my fears being different from my sister’s, I am NOT called to walk in uniformity with everyone around me; especially not if it’s to appease what makes you uncomfortable. Christians, in order for the body to effectively go out and serve in God’s name, we CAN’T all be the same.

I went to a seminar this past weekend, and one of the headliners, Propaganda, used an amazing metaphor to describe what white supremacy looks like…

“So a few boys are playing basketball, right?  A young white male who was also playing, stops and says, “all I’m hearing is nigga this, nigga that, nigga, nigga,nigga, nigga.” And I’m like, hold up homie, that’s one too may niggas, lol. and he’s like, “I just wanna know why I can’t say the word. What’s the problem with me saying the word? & I’m like why do you have to be included in something that is clearly what has become a part of some, not all, Black culture?”

Prop goes on to explain how sad it is that we all feel the need to be a part of everything. We have to feel a sense of belonging in order to be validated by the people around us. To that I say, you don’t. Create  your own. Experiment with self, and build what others may not deem necessary into a necessity.

There is freedom in the search for self-expression, and I truly believe we all need it.When I walk into my classroom and tell a couple of my Queens, “Your black is beautiful” that shouldn’t make my white observer uncomfortable, it should affirm that I am encouraging my students that in spite of what someone may have told you, all that is you, is a kind of beauty worthy of admiration.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this anymore. All I know is, if you’re annoyed with how often and eagerly I express my love for myself, maybe you should evaluate why.

I love you.