A little over a month ago, my mom’s very good friend and her husband went on a trip to Turkey. They are a very well traveled couple and even went with a travel group of people on this trip. They have been to Europe several times and both have very social and aware personalities. This all goes to show that you can never be too prepared.
I say over and over again to friends and relatives and readers to research your trip. For example, I was a little nervous going to Cairo by myself in 2011, so I specifically researched female traveler safety tips. I read blogs, travel sites, and national travel guides. Somewhere I read to cover my head no matter what and to wear headphones not plugged into anything. If I had headphones in and I was being harassed, the predator was more likely to dismiss me ignoring them on the account that I could not hear them. So why not plug them in? Well, because it would inhibit my awareness of my surroundings. Little advice like this is crucial. So I decided to write to my readers about my mom’s dear friend.
The second or third week of this November, they were on their last day in Turkey and heading home. They stopped at the market to look for some more souvenirs to bring home. Her husband found a decorative knife and bought it for himself to bring home. They packed up their bags and headed to the airport. He did not put the knife in the carry on but in his checked bag to be safe. While at the gate, they called him over and asked if he had papers for the knife in his luggage. He replied that he did not and they asked him to wait. He knew it might take awhile so he told his wife and friends to go on ahead and he would take the next flight.
When my mom’s friend got home to America, she came to find out that her husband was arrested at the airport after she left and was put into prison. It is against a Turkey Law to remove antiquities from the country, and the knife was enough of an antique to cause problems. They had no idea. They thought it was just your average souvenir. He stayed in prison for about 2-3 weeks, after they had countless Turkish and American lawyers, the embassy, the consulate, and several politicians involved. He had to stay in Turkey for a hearing and put under house arrest. Thankfully he is now home for the holidays with his family, but it is quite scary what happened to him.
My mother married this extremely funny and sweet man named Max when I just turned 5 years old. They sadly divorced 2 years later, but were still quite in love. I was too young to know or see the sadness my mother felt when he would often visit or when we would visit him. For ten years, they would visit one another between San Francisco and Chicago. For ten years, he would call on every birthday and holiday. It was not until late in high school when I finally felt and saw the hurt too. I grew to be a bitter teenager about him. Max passed away a few years ago from being ill. Today, I am more aware of love and relationships and people, and after having to cope with Max’s death without closure, I feel like I would never replace those unique 12 years with him in my life.
We were visiting San Francisco again, but this time is was Christmas. Dad (Max) was not as prepared as I think Mom would have like him to have been. There was no tree. What was Christmas without a tree? My mother was one for tradition and improvisation. She is wonderful about refusing to be “without.” I am not sure where they came from, maybe Dad had them stored away, but she somehow got her hands on some Green Christmas Lights and some scotch tape. She then molded the strand of lights into the form of a Christmas tree on the mirror door of the closet. She stood back and looked at it…”There!” she exclaimed. She was pretty proud of herself. Tree accomplished. Dad looked at her and smiled and perhaps only I caught his glance of admiration. Perhaps he was embarrassed that he did not have a tree.
It is funny. I do not remember any of the gifts I received this Christmas. I don’t remember the exact year either. I remember what the apartment looked like and I remember that tree made of Christmas lights. In the morning the tape had started to peel off the mirror and I got up and rubbed it back on before my mom saw. There are plenty of different types of families out there. My Dad/Max was not there for very many. But, I remember them all. It was the only times I felt like my mom and my little family was attempting to become more full.
Check this out! Top Destinations of 2015 picked out by travel writers from an Australian Publisher! Both Ecuador and Ireland were on the list! Both were the places I went to in 2014.
This is great read for those who have places in mind to go to this coming year, but cannot seem to make a decision. My only comments are that:
Ecuador: Has so much more than the Galapagos Islands. I was so so
disappointed when I had to chop up my trip and had to give up going there this time. I had to use my time extremely wisely. I fell in love with the country though! I will go back to see the Galapagos someday, but there is plenty that Ecuador has to offer! For one thing: the Amazon is in desperate need of support so the oil mongers do not tear it down. Some of the tribes we met were under the impression that if they had more tourists perhaps the area would be valued more and not torn down. And visiting Puerto Lopez and the humpback whales was one of the most influential and best experiences I have ever had overseas.
Ireland: Many Irish folk told me “Relax. Don’t try to see too much. Have a pint” and while that advice is all well and good, there is SO much to see in Ireland. We spent 11 days driving the coast from Dublin, over to Cork, and up the Wild Atlantic Way to Connemara. If we didn’t keep moving like we had, we would’ve missed some of the
best sites I have ever seen. The country is beyond beautiful and the history overfloweth! My best advice is to push yourself a little bit. Not to the point of not having a good time, but try to keep at it. It is well worth the effort!