Last October Y and I took a trip to Turkey. We visited Istanbul. I can relive the moments of that trip by seeing the different pictures of coffee and tea that we drank daily. I can still taste the bitter and dark sips of coffee and the smooth and sweet sips of tea. Istanbul is a beautiful city with a rich history. I enjoyed exploring its streets, but my heart broke as children came up to me asking for money or food. The children were Syrians who had fled the war. The eyes of the children who approached me are burned in my mind and I think that is why it has taken me so long to finally sit and write about this trip.
I remember a small boy who came up to us asking for change. His eyes were light, his skin weathered and his clothes dirty. Y told him that if he took us to the train station to buy tickets that he would give him some money. We followed him as he weaved through the crowded streets down and below the Grand Bazaar. We reached the booth for tickets and he took bills from Y to put in the machine. Y let him keep the change. As we walked away the police began yelling at him to leave. One kicked him as he started to run away. My heart broke.
Another evening we were walking after having dinner. It was cold. I was wearing a heavy wool shawl over my shoulders, but I could feel the chill on my nose and cheeks. As we turned a corner there was a small girl sitting at the base of a statue. She was shivering and had goosebumps on her arms. Y asked her if she was hungry, but she just looked at us without answering. He bent down and opened the take-away box that we had in hand. I took off my shawl and covered her with it. My heart broke.
While I am not sure that I would like to visit Istanbul again in the near future because of this situation, it was still a great trip and I will cherish the beautiful things that I experienced.