You must think I’m crazy.
Maybe you’re right. Some authors will do anything for authenticity. I’m not one of them! However, I do believe in destiny.
In 2019 I sold everything I owned in Mexico and bought a series of one-way airline tickets with no return destination. I’m not sure how I became so brave and somewhat crazy at this stage in life. Maybe it took this long for me to work up the courage to experience what my hippy generation did in their 20’s. Either way, I did it.
So why am I concerned about Istanbul?
I left a small town in Mexico called Puerto Vallarta, and ended up in a city of somewhere between 16-18 million people in Turkey. All my life I’ve followed my heart. Yes, it’s got me into trouble. I’ve been married and divorced and ended up in what might appear to be “questionable” relationships–younger man, older woman. Do I have regrets? I don’t think so. Would I do things differently? This is the first time I’ve even considered this question. That in itself is my answer. All I know for sure is I came to Turkey as a layover for 2 nights between Paris, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Krabi, Goa, New Delhi and a few stops in between that I may have forgotten. When my travel planner said I can add Istanbul to your itinerary at no extra cost, my response was: Where’s Istanbul?
When man plans, God laughs
It was a cold wintry day in this historic city, not tourist season for sure. I was recently reminded–my memory is pitiful–it was March 1st, 2019 at 11 am. I sat outside the Topaki Palace in touristy Sultanahment Square thinking about where I wanted to go next. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a rather handsome young Turk looking at his cell phone. He turned to me and began to talk. We had an inane conversation about English. And he offered to show me around. I jumped at the idea because I knew nothing about the city. I do remember studying the Ottoman Empire in High School a gazillion years ago!
After two amazing days highlighted by my new friendship, my heart attempted to hijack my head but I went on with my life and my itinerary. Every day the text messages came to my phone: Come back to Istanbul. After a couple of months of travel, I thought I would end up in Bali, or another exotic island where I could write and photograph and grow old, more than likely, alone. A couple of months later I booked a flight from Asia to Istanbul and have been here ever since.
WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC?
I am my father’s daughter. He was a news hound. I can remember him sitting in his lazy boy chair with newspapers spread out on the floor. I have news sites from all over the world bookmarked on my computer. I heard the rumblings of an unidentified lethal disease before the majority of the world were aware there was a problem. I self-isolated before anyone even thought it was serious. And we all know what has transpired around the world.
But the news is very different in this part of the world. Local news is rather predictable. I will leave it at that. Enquiring minds can read up on journalism in Turkey. But here’s the things I didn’t know. Remember, I had never heard of Istanbul before I came here on a two-day layover. Did you know there was a coup-attempt in 2016? I mention that in my latest book. And there have been multiple terror attacks over the last few years.
And then this showed up on my news feed this morning.
Security forces in Istanbul stormed at least 20 addresses and arrested 18 foreign national Daesh/ISIS terror suspects, a security source said Thursday.
Counter-terror teams carried out operations to arrest suspects on allegations of being operatives of the terror group and plotting to launch terror attacks, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
A vast array of organizational documents and digital material were discovered and eventually seized, the source added.
In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh/ISIS a terror group.
Turkey has since been attacked by the terror group multiple times, with more than 300 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks and four armed assaults.
In response, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/over-15-daesh-terror-suspects-apprehended-in-istanbul-3572690
The above is almost a daily occurence in Turkey. When you think of the countries that we border on, you can understand. And yet I feel totally safe. My small loft right by the sea, is where I choose to write and plot my books. I’ve written two more Code Raven Books, The Istanbul Conspiracy, The Istanbul Heist and a second memoir CAFE CONFIDENTIAL. I’ve always been an open book about my personal life. I write these things to inspire and motivate. And hopefully help to eliminate hatred and prejudice in this world. When I planned my itinerary in 2019 the purpose was to see parts of the world I’d only read about in books. But I have always had a passion for the human condition. So I called my adventure #WeAreAllOne. Little did I know how small the world really is until the pandemic hit.
Here’s my view from my patio–the Bosphorus Strait. I can watch the cargo ships going through to the Black Sea, warships doing routine observation, and the ferry boats that link the Asian side of Istanbul to the European older historic side where I live.
Every morning when I log-in to Al Jazeera and the Times of Israel, I think of my dad and my older brother who were both in the PeaceKeeping UN forces in the Middle East so many years ago. I can’t begin to imagine living in warzones like the Israelis and Palestinians are right now. I won’t take sides nor pontificate on what’s wrong with the world. I only hope that for future generations we might all find a way to get along.
And maybe one day we can truly say and believe that we are all one.
And as we go to press, the headlines in other parts of Turkey, actually IZMIR a 5 hour drive from Istanbul: