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A couple of months ago I saw this cheap ticket to Israel on the internet and told my mom that I want to go there. And she thought that I was nuts! So she started calling her friends immediately just to tell them that I was nuts. Luckily, after the 10th call, one of her friends was wise enough to tell her to leave me alone.  Anyway, in the end she was convinced but guess what? She said she will come with me too.

Okay, to be honest I didn’t really know a lot about Israel. But at least, as a Muslim(!) I knew that something unusual was awaiting me. I had a lot to learn. All in all, I was going to the holiest land in the universe and I had to be well prepeared for it.

So, let me give you a little info about this old town in Jerusalem. In this tiny little are which is only 1 km², Christians, Muslims, Armenians and obviously Jews are living together. And there aren’t actually any signs that shows you in which neighbourhood you are. It’s just one minute you are seeing people with their ‘kippah’ on their head and another minute a priest appears with his cross in front of you.

But guess what! It was really easy to distinguish the Muslim quarter as it was a mess. One of the main rules of being a Muslim is to be clean but yet again I was seeing those trashes all around those little cobble stoned streets. I just wish that people knew the difference between Islam and Arabic culture. What I had in front of me was obviously a part of the Arabic culture but in the end those are mostly the same things for people out there. Oh, by the way, I almost forgot…  those kids running around all the time. Can somebody stop Muslims from multiplying this much ???

Anyway, let’s talk a little bit about the Armenian quarter. A lot of people do not even know that they have a quarter but yes they do. And I read a lot of things about this quarter. Well, according to ‘some’ people I had to be careful as a Turk because I would not be welcomed there. You know what, I am really bored of this kind of prejeduces. Okay, I won’t hide the fact that a poster was all around the Armenian quarter. A poster which was about the genocide and had a map of Turkey on it. I admit that it made me feel soo bad but those people were really nice to us. As a matter of fact, we were actually nearly kicked out from a store in the Muslim quarter just because we were not Muslim enough.

Jerusalem, was the place where taught me that peace between the religions may be  possible. Well, at this point I have to give credit to my mom who cried like a Jew in the Western wall and also prayed like a Christian next to Jesus’s tomb. At the end, it did not really matter who or what we believed into.The only thing that mattered was having a faith inside.


Leading Unhappy Individuals on the Other Side of the World

I remember the day that my boss came to me and asked if I would like to go to Cuba. I was lucky enough to experience being a tour guide. And I was even luckier as I was going to experience this not in my own country but in Cuba; Country of  Music, Dance and Mojitos. Being in Cuba on its own was going to be a magical experience, a golden opportunity for me. But being a tour guide? And to a group of Turks ? I will let you make an induction about that.

Let’s make something clear Turkish customers are out there in order to find a mistake. They are not out there to enjoy their holidays and relax a bit but just to be grouchy. I will just give one clear example and you will all agree with me. If you go to Cuba, you can take rides with those marvellous, historic, antique American cars. Well those cars are obviously old but classy at the same time. They are the reason that you want to come to Cuba for Gods sake ! But if you ever see a group of people, complaining about the gas coming out those cars, I can assure you that, it is my group. 

Oh, I have always admired those European tourists.Most of the time I see them following the Tour Leader carefully and act as a group. They keep their silence when something is explained. Now; do think the opposite of this. That was what i had been through with Turks. I would have to shout all the time to get them together, yet again, they would manage getting lost even on a straight street.  And of course I would be the one to be blame for not checking them.  

I used to explain them all about Cuba constantly but, at the end I would receive just one question. ‘WHEN ARE WE GONNA BUY CİGARS?’ If you want to make your Turkish customers happy, all you have to do is to take them to a bazaar. There was only this one time that my customers were really happy with doing the City tour and that was only because I took them to La Bodeguita del Medio first ,so that they can enjoy the city with their Mojitos in their hands while walking through the streets of Havana a bit tiddly .

Here comes the part that worrisome me the most. Most of the time i had to become more of a PİMP instead of a tour leader. Whenever I told my Cuban friends that i was with my Turkish group they would all say: Oh,a group of Turks?! They all love Cuban woman. Cuba is on the way of being the second Thailand in terms of prostitution.  So during the day I would show them the city and after dark i would rent casas (that’S how Cubans call the rental houses) and arrange the ladies for them. And the most disgusting part would be when they show me their pics with their families, children and even new-born babies.

If you are a tour guide, you have to put a mask to your face. You can not set up an emotional bond with your customers..  You can not trust them as they are always ready to be unhappy. You can have so much fun when you are with your group and of course there is no problem with that. Go out there ! Enjoy being a guide. But keep in mind that these people can show their real faces any moment. They are just out there, lay a wait for, tiny little mistake of yours.

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A Post to Thank You All

Every new person that enters to our lives, changes us. Adds us, teaches us something. They make us see the world from a new perspective.

Though i learn a lot from everyone, all those international people i met so far touched my life more then anyone. Do not know how, do not know why but my path always crosses with all these people from across the universe. And i believe that they are the gifts that are send to me by God.(Guess this is the part that i show my Muslim self lol)

Doesn’t matter if we spend 6 months, a year, 2 weeks or a day together… Those people i meet mostly during my travels they all manage to earn a special place in my heart. Maybe it is because on the contrary to ordinary people we are the ones who are aware of the beauty of travelling, exploring, wandering. And that always puts us one step ahead of other people. We are the ones that never belong to one single country. We are the ones always ready to leave everything behind and go, we are the ones just live for the adventures that we are going to experience, we are the ones who call the world home..

I have a lot friends, i have friends that i call family in my home country. But i can not stop myself from thinking how great time i spend with other people that i met with at the other side of the country! Like when i sit and think about the best moments i had so far i always see those international faces. Or when i go to somewhere in İstanbul i just think how fun it would be if i had for ex Gosia with me.

Always thought how different i am from the people around me , how different tastes i have. Then at one point i come across with someone for ex like İnes that is the exact same reflection of me just in a different body that talks in another language and lives in another country. Then it is always the hardest moments to say goodbye. It never feels like leaving a friend behind. It feels like leaving, getting away from yourself

Now i have this feeling that the world is full of people that i should meet with and every single day that i spend without meeting with them is like wasting another day from my lifespan. And for that reason already started planing my new adventures all around the world

So this was my thank you post for you guys. Thank you all for entering my life at one point and releasing your light upon me. Do not know if we will ever be lucky enough to come across again but know that i feel like the luckiest person that exists for having a chance to enjoy the life fully together.


Travelling Alone

I have travelled to more then 15 countries so far but never had the balls to travel alone. I was always with someone. Either with a friend or a family member. And many times i just wanted to buy my ticket and go somewhere but then again i just did not as i could not find anyone to go with as some people are not aware o the beauty of travelling. They see it just about packing (which kills them) and tiring and WASTING money. And guess i will never be able to understand them.

But now all i want to do is to buy a ticket and go somewhere with myself !

Let me explain how i came up with this change.. I was going to meet with my bestrfirend in Miami a couple of weeks ago. But suddenly he decided to return back to Turkey before i arrived there. So i had to go alone. I was so panicked !! But it was too late to change the ticket. And whoever i talked with was seeing travelling alone as something to be sorry as well which made me feel worse. They were all like OHHH I AM SORRY HOPE YOU CAN FIGURE IT OUT. CAN’T YOU CANCEL YOUR TICKET? OMG WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ALONE???

So i started packing with zero enthusiasm. I was super stressed and even the guy who was sitting next to me on the airplane said that he feels sorry for me. Well he also said that i can put my head on his shoulder if i want to sleep. So maybe we should just ignore him.

Anyway.. So i was in Miami finally. I found my hostel. (Bikini Hostel which is the perfect place to stay! They even have jakuzi in the garden) I entered my room, returned back to the lobby and of course started complaining on the phone. Then the guy who was right next to me returned to me and said Hello in Turkish. From that moment to the end i was never ever alone !

I went to there Alone but returned having friends from Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Denmark, Germany, Amstrerdam, Russia, Tanzania.. and many other. I dont remember having that much fun in any other holiday of mine. I am telling you if you havent travelled alone so far you are missing A LOT ! The thing is that When you travel alone you dont have to think and wait people that you travel with. But when you travel alone all you have to do is make YOURSELF happy. You can be who ever you want, do what ever you want, go where ever you want. And see what world offers to you !

Here is a little help in order to start planning your next trip !


Far Far Away Muslim Community

Well.. First of all as I am the dumbest girl that exist in the world as I lost my journal that I have been keeping for 6 months in Peru and Miami.. Now in order to be more careful about it decided to use technology more frequently.
There is one definite thing about Turks ; we are in everywhere. Wherever you go you would definitely come across with a Turkish people. But Peru.. Guess we haven”t conquered here yet. Though I searched for ages I only have two Turkish friends in here right now.
So today we had to deliver a package to a Egyptian man who is a schawarma seller on the street and gains much more then restaurant as his food is totally delicious. His name is Muhammed. (Obviously) So i had. the honour of meeting with him today. So appereantly he lived in Turkey for 10 years. Then at one point he started telling stories about being a Muslim which gave lessons about how we should look after each other in this foreign country. And he made us watch a video of a kid praying in Arabic in Indonesia and people crying. Seriously.. Yusuf and I hardly stopped ourselves from laughing I mean we didn’t even understand a single word! But according to him this video supposed to show us being a good Muslim.
Anyway, there was also another Muslim guy from some African country and from the first moment he came all his purpose was convincing us to go to the mosque tomorrow as it is Friday. And he didn’t shake my hand when he said good bye !! I hate that dumb, stoneage man who doesn’t touch any woman. I wanted to shout like WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?! WE ARE BOTH HUMAN! But then again this is something that I am used to from some creepy people that I know from my country. Which is something really sad (I mean being used to this kind of things) when you think about it.
At the end of the day I was happy to meet people with a good heart. Because they are the people who would be there to help me as I sincerely believe that Peruvians had already lost their humanity.
One more thing as I mentioned about being a Muslim. Today I asked my students what is typically Turkish. And one guy returned to me and said BOMBS !! I felt the anger in my whole body. So I said “ If you don’t know anything about something don’t talk about it. And go home, read some books as obviously you need to learn something about the world that you live in.” I mean I like teaching and everythin but the level of the ignorance is sometimes totally intolerable in here!


My Biggest Passion is Back… Dancing!

Since i came to Peru something was missing. I was feeling the emptyness of something but couldnt name it-I can not believe how it took me soo long to figure out what it was.

Dancing.. My biggest passion which makes me who i am. Maybe the most important part of me & my life. I ve given myself to my trainings for years ! Some days i spent my whole day just practicing dance for my performances. Most of the time i was not able to make plans with my friends just bec i had to go to my dance classes.. But since i have came here i did not have any dance classes which meant

no muscle pain

no crying because of extreme training

no hours of torture

no stage, no costumes, no stage make up

no biggest source of happyness

Yes, dancing was hard. You had to be patient and strong. You had to spare time for it- But that was something i had to venture in order to be good at it. and i knew that it always worths at the end to all that painful moments. That one moment at stage means everything! Or being able to accomplish one dance move after trying but failing dozens time. That moment of pride and happyness.

Dancing was my shelter, the safe harbor that i had. it was my favorite way of explaining myself, best way to get rid of stress and problems, best way to forget everything. Forgetting your problems, forgetting where you are, who you are and just losing yourself with the music.

And Today i started my new dance classes. Afroperuano ! So different from every dance i ve ever tried so far ! It is the dance of the rhythm(as the music is made with Indian and Spanish instruments), dance of the black slaves in Peru. Such a strong dance that you can feel the strength that grows inside of you. Though i just had one class so far i can easily say that i was able to fill that emptyness in me with this new type of dance that entered my life.

I have finally became me again!



Muslim or an Alien ?!

I was used to prejeduces and misapprehensions of the Muslim world. But at the same time i knew that most of the world could differenciate Turkey from any other Muslim country. Of course i have came across with many dumb questions from some Americans like ‘Oh you are going to school with camel,right?’ But i was fine with it cuz you know they were just.. Americans (I have many many smart American friends too though)

But Peru! Peruvians are keep pushing the limits of the ignorance. They shut themselves to other religions, cultures, ideas or new lifestyles. They just live in ther own bubble basically.

Majority of Peruvians are Catholics and I can say that religion is REALLY important for these guys. And i totally respect that. But i, at this point, started to get sick of level of sacrilge and lack of knowladge in here. So if you are a Muslim, Gay or Atheist.. you basically become the other. I mean it s not like forbidden or anything you can obviously be whoever you want, support whatever you want but the thing is that they are really good at making you feel unwelcomed when you do not act according to the norms of this Catholic society.

I want to start with my students. My students are university students which is not an acceptable age for unawareness of the world. I always start my lessons by asking ‘Hey guys do you know where Turkey is?’. Thank God they mostly say Asia or Europe though there are some who shouts like AFRICAAA. But you know, whatever.. Then i make them watch some videos about Turkey as i feel like i am the one who will shape their opinions about Turquia.

But i can not get rid of them getting suprised when they see me with a short or a skirt. But who am i to blame my students when their Peruvian teachers are not knowledged enough. I remember the time that one day that i was talking with my mom on the phone and one of my collegues asked me what was that language that i was using when i was talking on the phone and then i said that its Turkish…’ah are you a Muslim?’…’Yes,i am.’…’OMG HOW DID THEY LET YOU GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY AS A WOMAN?!?!’..Well, as you can see, here i am senorita.. In order not to punch her on the face i just left the room.

So basically converstions in here starts with
1-Hey whats your name?
2-Where are you from again? (you come across with a poker face for one min when u say Turkey)
3- Where is your boyfriend?( Or any other thing about relationships and every time i just wanna shout like that is something private!)
4- Are you a Muslim ? (OMG A MUSLIM!!!)

I also remember that one day at my Spanish course my Chineese classmate was super suprised that Turkey has it is language. And our teacher said OF COURSE TURKEY HAS IT S OWN LANGUAGE! I was impressed to tell the truth. But obviously i shouldnt have been impressed that quick as the second thing she said was. ‘ But Sibel it s really impressive that you learn so quick it must be so hard to learn a new alphabeth’ A big big dissapointment once again. Hellooo we dont use the Arabic Alphabeth.

Then the other day i (again) found myself in this conversation about different cultures. It was just like this;

‘You know in some cultures you can have many wives. Right Sibel? how many wives can man have in Turkey?’

or any other sentences like…

-Where is Turkey? Is it somewhere in Peru?
-What do you eat if you dont eat pork??? (well it s not the only edible animal in the world)

It is such a ridiculouslesness that it is hard for people to accept the realities ( you know that we are not aliens ) but on the other hand so easy to accept the drool, awry information.

So right now. I ve embraced the mission of straightening the misunderstandings about my culture, my religion, basically everything about Turkey.

“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”
― John Lennon