No Passing

My business trip to Lyon, France in 2003 was at the height of the politically driven “Freedom Fries” shit-storm. This led to my first attempt to pass for a Canadian abroad. i stopped just short of sewing a maple leaf on my backpack.

i was embarrassed that many of my country-mates – led by members of the U.S. Congress – thought that we could punish those poor, misguided French people by changing the name of a food item they don’t actually claim.  A food item which is the greatest contributor to our collective obesity.

As we navigated the tourist gauntlets of Istanbul earlier this month, we got pretty tired of the touts – men trying to fill seats in cafes or sell us all manner of goods. Practiced in the art of commerce, they’d try to strike up conversation in English as we rushed past.

“We have the best rugs in Turkey! We ship to the United States!”

“Are you from Texas? I’m from Texas, too!”

i went back to a half-hearted attempt to pass for Canadian. Not for any political reasons, just to amuse myself…

“We’re from Ontario! Oot and aboot on holiday!”

When an overly aggressive restaurateur tackled Studley, he joined in the fun, making an attempt to pass for German.

Tout [with menu]: “You American? You won’t find a better meal! Here…”

Studley: Nein…

Tout [in fluent German]: Sumptink sumptink der sumptink sumptink!

We don’t speak German, but it sounded pretty good…

Having been schooled by a linguistically skilled restaurant promoter, we’d given it up by the time we got to Ürgüp for our adventures in Cappadocia. Rather than rent a car and drive off the side of a mountain, or join an organized tour and risk actually LEARNING something, we opted to hire a driver for our time there.  Başar spoke very good English, and with The Girl’s Turkish skills, we were good to go.

The first morning, Başar took us to a nearby mosque. The Girl wanted to buy water and went across the street to small store. Studley and i wandered in the shaded courtyard, waiting for her to return.

We watched a crowd gather around her – if you can call three older gentlemen a crowd. When she returned with the water, she was laughing.

The Girl: I asked for water, and the guy at the shop was surprised that I was speaking in Turkish. The other guys gathered around wondering where I was from, and how I learned it. The older guy offered me a cracker as I was leaving – I tried to refuse it, but he was very insistent!

daisyfae: Seems you made quite an impression! You could have been a unicorn!

The Girl: And THIS is why you guys should stop trying to pass yourselves off as travelers from other countries. I always let people know where I’m from – without apology.  You’re polite travelers, and you make an attempt to speak the language! It’s a perfect chance to let people in other countries know that not all Americans are assholes!

ambassador

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Spice Girls

When i was her age i was working full-time, while pursuing my graduate degree.  i was married, had a house in the suburbs, two small children, two dogs and a mini-van.  The concept of ‘free time’ was beyond my comprehension – let alone travel.  That there was a world beyond my schedule-driven existence barely registered.

She started taking Arabic while still in high school, on top of three years of Spanish.  As an undergraduate student, she was baptized as a citizen of earth during her Semester at Sea.  A solo trip to Morocco the following summer, and a semester studying in Beirut before graduation.

It was in January of 2011 that she decided to get her teaching certification, which she’d completed by the end of May.  She had accepted a job offer in Turkey and left the country two months later.  Knowing no one there, she was up and running in no time. A few bumps and glitches along the way, she navigated them all without much assistance from the parental units.

Studley’s daughter is cut from the same cloth.  Spent two years in a remote village in South Africa working for the Peace Corps, she’s now doing a graduate internship in Laos.  With just about a month notice, she loaded a backpack and left the country – not knowing the language, or what the summer would bring.

On the trip to Istanbul, we compared notes on having “Danger Monkeys” for daughters.

Studley:  Don’t you worry about her?

daisyfae:  Of course i worry!  There’s just nothing to do about it.  It’s her life.  One of the main reasons for this trip is to meet her friends, get a feel for what it’s like there… and get a feel for whether she’s really happy.

Studley:  I had to press my daughter to provide me with contact information for the organization she’s working for this summer!  Explained to her “Look, I’m no Liam Neeson!  I need to know where you’ll be!”

For the past two weeks, The Girl has been out front again – this time with Studley and i as her “Turkish Toddlers”. Translating menus, ordering food, teaching us basics in Turkish, haggling with vendors… and keeping us from getting hit by speeding taxis.

It was on one of our excursions that we needed to grab a taxi to get back within reasonable walking distance of the hotel.  Studley and i hopped in back, and The Girl rode shotgun.  She let the driver know where we were headed, and we pulled away from the curb.  They continued to converse in Turkish, but of course Studley and i were pretty clueless.  i realized something might be up when the driver half-heartedly whacked the meter and shrugged.

The Girl became more vocal, gesturing toward the meter.  She finally told us “We’re getting out!” as the driver pulled to the curb, still protesting.  She handed him a five Lire note then slammed the door in disgust.

The Girl:  Bastard was ripping us off!  He never turned on the meter.  I kept asking him how much it would cost to take us to the bridge, but he wouldn’t answer me directly.  He finally said “Thirty-five, forty lire…” which is BULLSHIT!  Should have cost us no more than ten!  God DAMN it, i hate it when they pull that shit.

She flagged down the next available taxi, and we continued on our way. i looked at Studley – “Do you see why i don’t really need to worry?”

Spice Girls

The timing of our visit in Istanbul worked out for us to meet up with a friend of hers, Jackie.  Having spent time teaching English in South America, she decided to take a job in Istanbul as a nanny for the summer, before returning to the U.S. to go back to school.  Another “Danger Monkey”…

The Girl and Jackie had only met briefly, but bonded instantly.  They are members of the same tribe.  Sharing stories, offering insights and advice to each other, they were fun to watch.

As they led us into the crowd at the Spice Market, it occurred to me that i want to be just like them when i grow up…

all growed up...

We sat at dinner one night, at a table filled with her friends.  Lively conversation, laughter and good food shared at a table by the sea.  In that moment i realized that it’s highly unlikely she will ever move back to the United States.

daisyfae:  You can’t live in the U.S. again, can you?

The Girl:  Doubtful…

i am proud of, and amazed by, my daughter. Here’s to all of the adventurous young women of the world!  Long may you run!

A word from a broad…

One word? Magic.

Delightful company*, delicious adventures, and decadent relaxation.

Declared a ‘down day’ while staying with The Girl in Izmir, Turkey. This, after four days in Istanbul, three in Capadoccia, and a weekend by the sea in Bodrum.

Several epiphanies – large and small. Mostly enjoying spending time with the woman i birthed almost 27 years ago. Trying to figure out how i can be just like her when i grow up.

Not my photo...

* Studley has accompanied me on this trip, as The Boy is working. We have become “Turkish Toddlers, 2.0”, since The Girl has had to keep us from bickering, make sure we have enough beer, and keep us from walking out into traffic.

Please Stand By

Please Stand By

Having successfully completed the “Shit My Daughter Needs” scavenger hunt, and the subsequent game of “Suitcase Tetris”, i’ve reached the phase of travel preparation where i touch my passport a thousand times, and make sure i’ve got a credit card.

Summer roadtrip, part deux.

Once again reminded that i am a very lucky woman… A woman who continues to wonder how she got here…  Best not to waste too much time on that, however, because i’m circling the drain at an ever-increasing speed.

It’s only for now…