We’ve had several friends within the last 24 hours send us news reports about the U.S. State Department pulling people from Adana, Turkey. We’re grateful for all of the concern.
The truth is that my wife and I had to look up Adana on a map of Turkey. Just as we’re learning how to cross Istanbul streets like the Turks, we’re learning the geography and history of this country we’ve recently moved to.
I’ve circled two areas on the map: Adana and Istanbul. Adana is in the south, near the Mediterranean coast. It’s also near the border with Syria. That area, and particularly around Gaziantep, have many Syrian refugees. Turkey right now is harboring at least 500,000 Syrian refugees. The war in Syria has put a lot of stress directly on Turkey.
Our plans for traveling around the country do not include that area, nor the southeastern part of the country that borders Iraq and Iran. We’ll probably go to Nevşehir (in central Turkey) so we can spend some time exploring the otherworldly Cappadocia. The rest of our plans (money-willing) will take us to the Aegean and southwest Mediterranean coasts to see ancient Greek and Roman ruins, and the beaches of Bodrum.
In the meantime, we’re keeping up on the news. But we’re more likely to be maimed or killed by a car or delivery truck heading down a crowded “pedestrian” street. And by pedestrian, I mean a street that’s filled more with people than cars. Any path wide enough for a truck, car, or scooter is considered drivable in Istanbul.
The other day, I saw two people on a motorcycle drive onto Taksim Square and then up the grass hillside that leads to Gezi Park. There were no police to be found. Even if there were, I’ve no doubt they wouldn’t have ticketed or cited the motorcyclist. When the police come to Taksim Square and Gezi Park it’s to make sure people don’t hold hands for peace. That’s considered more dangerous in Turkey than what Americans or Western Europeans might consider errant driving.