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For the Love of Blogging and Turkey

I am developing a deeper and deeper sense of special love for Turkey. I am using this precious phrasing ("special love") because it is the wording that David Levingston used in an email he recently sent me. After we exchanged a few emails, David agreed to allow me to share pictures he had taken in Turkey. I asked him to choose his favorite photo for the "cover." This is the photo he sent:

This is what David wrote about the photo...

For my second trip to Turkey (2015), I brought my Nikon.  It's digital, but it looks like an old Nikon.  I use all my old Nikon glass lenses on it and shoot everything in manual mode.  You gotta focus, adjust aperture, shutter speed, etc.
This shot is of one of three young gals I came upon while strolling a back street that took me from where I was staying (near Molla Zeyrek Camii) to the more historic area that most people are familiar with.
I was approached by the girls, maybe Roma street urchins, playful, flirtatious, and I offered to give them some money in exchange for shooting them.  The lighting was perfect, the background was perfect, the framing and everything was perfect. 
This is one of the most beautiful portraits I've ever taken.  I love everything about it.    The color of her hair.  The glint of the gold in her tooth.  The red juicy pomegranate, front and center.  That gleam in her eye.  The way her friend's head peeks into the frame.

David's photography is stunning. And there is more. So much more. Before we go there, though, I want to share about another special love that is deepening more and more for me. I was thinking about this yesterday.

I feel a special love for blogging.

My love of writing has been alive since I began journaling at the age of fifteen. (A grateful shout out here goes to Mr. Marshall, my 10th grade English teacher).

My love of writing, and now blogging, has been enhanced knowing there is an interested audience who is getting something from reading the posts. Knowing that You are there inspires me to keep writing. Knowing that You are affected gives my writing meaning.

When I write, I feel better and I am not lonely. When I take the time to detail a moment or process through an emotional weather pattern, I feel more alive and more grounded. When I put my thoughts and feelings on (figurative) paper knowing that I will be sharing that (again, figurative) paper with you, I am not alone; You are with me.

When I hear that what I share affects you, my written efforts feel more worthwhile. Blogging takes on a greater purpose.

It always (every time) blows my mind when I learn that people are reading my blog posts. I find out you are reading them because you post a comment, or tell me (in a live conversation) about how my blog affected you, or you write me an email about how you relate to things in the post.

The first travel blog on website posted on October 4, 2023. That was fourteen days before I set off on my 6-month whirlwind adventure. By the time I arrived in NYC (where I would leave the states and fly to France), I had written and posted two more blogs. Dude - I wrote and posted three "travel" blogs before leaving Vermont, to travel.

The day before my flight, I stayed overnight in New York with my friend Jim and his wife Paula. While at their home on Long Island, Jim told me (three travel blog posts in) that he looked forward to the next TCR travel blog post in the same way he used to look forward to Batman episodes.

Jim and I are both New Englanders and were born in the same year (1959). We were both raised watching Saturday cartoons and goofy TV shows. All this to say, we tend to share common reference points. When Jim made that (above) reference about Batman episodes, I knew exactly what he was talking about. Jim was referring to the live-action Batman series on TV, starring Adam West (as Batman) and Burt Ward (as Robin).

Jim not only likened my blog posts to a kids view of Batman episodes. Jim took his praise to a whole other level. After saying something like: "I look forward to your next blog post like Batman episodes," Jim said: "It's better." It, meaning my blog posts. Dude - Jim was saying that looking forward to reading my next blog post was better than being a kid, waiting for the next Batman episode. That was way high praise. Batman episodes had a lot of POW and BAM in them. And the Batman theme song was way mod and super popular. Batman was very exciting back then.

Jim's supportive (and nostalgic) statement gave me that little push I needed to keep sharing when I did not necessarily want to. You may recall that the first leg of my journey was heavily steeped in Murphy's Law. I made a lot of mistakes and... let's just say Humble is not my middle name. Fessing up to F-ups has been one big learning curve.

Beside Jim, others - You - have shared supportive feedback about my blog posts. For each comment, I am buoyed up. When you tell me that my posts are helping you, I am blown away happy.

A couple of days ago, I received an email from David Levingston (who I know from Brattleboro). David shared: "I have appreciated following your trip/experience. I have a special love of Turkey."

I asked David how he came upon his special love of Turkey. He shared that he has gone to Turkey twice, once "for several weeks" in 2013, and a second trip (that I think was longer) in 2015.

David wrote: "I really had no idea what I was in for.  I knew that I loved food and art of all kinds... and was up for anything interesting." David has a background in art history and is a photographer.

He wrote: "...I heard that Istanbul was extraordinary. One of those great cities of the world. I was ignorant about the cuisine.  All I knew was that there was chopped salad and baklava... Turns out I loved all of it.  What's not to love about grilled meat and vegetables with salt & pepper and sumac and lemon and yoghurt, or that amazing drink Aryan that goes so well with Turkish food?"

I think that once David started to write about why he has a special love for Turkey, his memories flooded the page...

He wrote: "What I love about Turkey is that there is everything - the fantastic-to-explore-and-walk-around Istanbul. The ruins from all different periods. The seas, the water, the coasts.  Rumi. And that crazy landscape of Cappadocia."

Dude, you remember what I wrote about Cappadocia? David confirmed my experience of its magic.

"I originally was going to forgo Cappadocia because I thought it was going to be an awful tourist circus.  But when the bus rolled into town, I was immediately entranced in the other world."

The other world... That is what David calls it. I am calling it: Mars, where fairies and gnomes live.

David wrote: "My first trip I went everywhere.  My second trip I concentrated on three areas: Istanbul [again] & The Princes Islands, Cappadocia, and the Datça Peninsula."

I have not been to the latter. Let us all check that one out together... click on the name to check out Datça Peninsula

"People were so kind," David wrote, "I even hitchhiked many places and everyone picked me up, including middle aged women.  What a country, right?"

Yes, I agree. Turkey is a uniquely charming, wonderous, and intriguing country.

David wrote: "I too fell in love with that area near Olympos. I stayed in Çıralı for several days.  I did a number of walks from there, too, along the coast, following the old Lycian path."

I am feeling a bit envious here. I very much want to spend time in Çıralı and hike more of the Lycian trail.

Now we are at the part, my friend, where David's email got REALLY amazing...

David wrote: "You can see a video collage of my first trip in 2013 here:

And my second trip in 2015 here: "

Later, when I asked if I could post his video collages, David suggested I also include "this page on my website which shows the images from 2013, in static form, for people to take their time: ."

So there you are, my friend. You now have two video collages and static form images of Turkey - created by a person (like me) who has developed a special love of Turkey and wants to share that love with you, and (unlike me) is an excellent photographer (I mean, wow... just, holy glory wow). It is all true. All of it.

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