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I woke up feeling completely useless. My body aching, my mind dull, my spirit seemingly absent. I went back to sleep hoping that a little more rest would wash away this extreme weariness. It did not. I proceeded to do menial things, laundry, put order in my things, eat something. No improvement.

I decided to go out, there was a nice breeze and I thought fresh air cannot hurt in all this heat. During my travels I lost my watercolor kit. I don’t know where or how but it’s not in my pack anymore and I was really missing it.  Last Wednesday I checked the prices in a Kadidöy art store and found that the paint kits were up 30% from the prices I paid when I bought the kit back in December at 75 TL. Yesterday I looked again the same kit was now up 15 lira from Wednesday’s price at 85 TL. The lira is plunging in an abyss.  A year and a half ago it was about 2.5 TL for a US dollar. Now it is 6.43 for a dollar….

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So I hopped on a ferryboat across to Karaköy, then walked over to Sirkeci.  There is a row of art supplies stores there, I wanted to see if i could find a better price over there.  In the big store, no one would help me so I went to a smaller one, I found the Van Goh 12 pad kit, the same one I lost.  I asked the price: 75 TL he told me.  I decided to buy it.  At the register the man told me that I was getting 15 pads for the price of 12.  Bonus!  I felt good about finding this and replacing the lost one.  Later I checked online and on Amazon it would have cost me $35 dollars plus shipping for the same thing.  Right now it cost me $11.  A sweet deal.  I am happy to have watercolors again!

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For a while we may be having some good deals like this but if it continues too long, all imported things will start costing much much more because of this economic crisis.
I wonder how far that will go. It is of course yet another Trump effect, the two ‘dictators’ displeased each other and now the currency is in free fall.  Politicians are mad men. Most of them. Fanatical people, ready to magnify their ideals into the worst expressions of human narrow mindedness.

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So as the day went, the cloud of fog and pain dissipated. I walked through the Sirkeci district, where the oldest ottoman buildings stand and inspire. It’s full of people everywhere, it is hot, brilliantly sunny. There are always these moments where I look around me and find myself in awe to be here, not quite understanding how it is that I walk these streets under this sky.  All around me, it is like a fairy tale. But a realistic type of fairy tale, from filthiness to impossibly wealth and poshness, from misery to glory, from beauty to gut wrenching ugliness. When the sun shines though, Istanbul shows it’s prettiest face.

I walked to Galata, up, up, up the stairs, I don’t exercise enough so this is good for me. I went to my favorite cafe; Federal Galata, enjoyed one of the most amazing espressos one can have on this planet, drew for a while and headed back to Kadikoy with a friend, taking the ferry one more time, enjoying the sea breeze and the magical view of the city from the Bosphorus.

I’ve been back here for a week now. Time is flying by at warp speed. Starting Monday I have to accomplish many things I promised myself to attend to while in İstanbul as I only have 2 weeks left before heading to Yalova for my next Workaway on an organic farm. Monday there will be a job interview. I don’t think it will stick, but just to see what happens.  It’s a job at an elementary state school as a native English speaker, 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. That means I would have to live close to Şişli or spend half my life commuting (if I took the job) it pays 1 100 TL a month, right now that means $171 dollars a month !!?!  On top of that, they do not take care of procuring the work permit so that means first that I would be working illegally, and second that I would have to spend about 1000 lira to get a residence permit and there are no guarantees that İ would get  the permit since they changed all the rules and cannot apply like İ used to.

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I am not sure I want to end this nomadic streak right away.  I have this feeling that I must do these Workaway places I have found in Turkey.  Even more, that it is important that I do them for some obscure reason.  I do have longings to find a nest here, but again, I think that it is not quite time yet, and that I should go back to Europe, France more precisely before settling but I do not have any clear cut reasons or targets about this. We will see.

Yesterday I created a new Facebook page, my art page, I want to materialize this aspect of my life into the world.  I wish to do more learning and more work in this field.  The simple process of setting up the page made me see how unorganized I am and gave me some ideas about what to concentrate on next.  Step by step.  I am finding the way.

Much much love.

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Oh Istanbul

August 7, 2018

 

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It was a long, long ride. From Resita, Romania to Istanbul, two buses, the first one coming  in 4 hours late, motion sickness, yahoo driver and passengers, late night border crossing and an arrival in Sofia at 4 AM which meant that my hostel’s reception was closed and that I would not sleep or have the luxury of a shower. 5 hours later, sleepless I boarded the second bus, this time it was a big, pretty comfy ride with driver and assistant, drinks and snacks and some fairly regular toilet stops, as opposed to the 20 seater microbus.

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I made it in Istanbul on schedule, at 5 PM. Crossing into Turkey really felt like coming into a different world. Coming from the rural Romania and Bulgaria, Turkey seemed like a country in warp speed development. There is money here and projects and so much energy and dynamism. I was hit strongly by this perception. I wasn’t seeing it like this before, but after being all over the world from Europe, to the USA to Eastern Europe, I got a whole different sense of this place. Given a fair government this place would definitely rule the world. Why? Because of the willingness of its people to work so incredibly hard and the incredibly young demographic chomping at the bit to have a chance for a decent life for them and their families.

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We finally made it to the otogar, this place is worthy of scenes in Clockwork Orange or such science fiction movies. It is a cross between a bazaar, a bus station, a shopping mall, a free for all flea market where you’ll find everything from cell phone credit providers, money exchange, restaurants, clothing stalls, tourist shops, travel agencies, kebap sellers and on and on and on. It’s old, dirty, cracked and worn out yet incredibly vibrant.

I put minutes on my SIM card, got credit on my Istanbul Kart (transit card) and was ready to tackle the city, despite my complete lack of sleep, I felt excited, elated, and strangely, home. I made it directly to Sishane, I went to the little bus stop to see my Queen, this cat I loved so much. Was she still going to be there? Healthy?

The escalator took me outside of the metro station, I looked up and the blueness of the sky made me so happy. I love the skies here, I smiled really widely and took a deep deep breath… I am back.  Then outside, surprise, the road is torn apart, they are repaving all the way up to City Hall. It is bustling, people all around, everywhere, taxis honking their way up the broken road, the Peace sculpture standing there in the sun as always. On the way to the bus stop, I saw that a building I have described before, with its gold material shining strangely in the light, dilapidated windows, standing oddly as it did not fit the neighborhood has been completely renovated. I had wished to do a series of photos of this building before because of the way it shone strangely in certain lights and stood out so much next to the other buildings,  too late now.

I arrived at the bus station, I called: “ pssss, pssss, pssss…”

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5 minutes later she arrived! We chatted for a bit, I was so happy, she was a bit disappointed that I didn’t have food for her, but it was so hot she decided to lie down in the grass in front of me. I relaxed, took the whole scene in, watching the buses go endlessly, one of them the 55T which used to take me to Gaziosmanpasa to teach English… the birds flying, the Golden Horn shining in the sun behind me. Wow.

It’s the fourth day now. I slept in a hostel for 3 nights then found a place to stay with a friend. Scott. Scott is one of the best people I know here. So kind, open, up and positive. He is an American who has redesigned his life here in Istanbul. We’ve been here about the same amount of time. He teaches English. I will stay here for 3 weeks. One of those weeks he will go take a vacation and I’ll take care of the cats he is babysitting at the moment. I feel good that I can help with that. It was not my original plan but when he said he had not gone out of Istanbul for so long because of the cats, I knew this feeling too well, one has to exit this city once in a while to stay sane.

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I feel tired, good but tired. I wonder if I didn’t leave Romania too soon. I miss the puppies, the garden, Ami and Marti… There was something so out of time there… I felt it was time to go, but I could really have stayed another week.

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This Workaway thing is like that. You come, you share the life, then somehow it’s time to go, there is always a bit of a feeling that these people are doing so much for you… Then you leave, and you miss them.

At this point I am pondering what I should do with the 3 months I can spend here.  The Workaway is there and available and they are looking really exciting, at the same time I am dying to have a studio a space to work on my own things and then just do that for 3 months. I need to come to a decision; continue this nomadic thing or stop for a while, or stop for good…  I see advantages to all of those, my heart wishes for creativity, my finances spell the necessity to live as frugally as possible.

It is clear that every time I move around, all the questions of my life take a back seat, the work, the needs, the feelings, the dreams, the problems, my reality comes down to the immediate necessities: toilet, food, rest, shower… and each time I stop, it takes a while to return to a sense of continuity. The constant change is great to observe the world, to apprehend it in many different ways. This chance to live in all these different cultures is really awesome. I get to see what I truly need as a human, and many things become unimportant. The baggage gets lighter.

 

As an artist I feel the need to express all this, but it’s not always possible, I express it in a sort of psychic way instead of through an instrument or on paper, but being a physical entity I also need to express things physically. Hence my dream of a workspace. Simple. Calm. Clean. Maybe that is why I continue… continue until I find it.

What an amazing journey. I am blessed. I am grateful.

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