Women in Bastan Village, Kurdistan

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Turkey: Where East Meets West...on Christmas!!!! 121510--Istanbul, Turkey

For the past two weeks, I've been stationed in Istanbul. It's cold and gray. It snowed and has been raining on and of for the past week. I saw my first Christmas tree and lights last week in Bakirkoy. There was a little house with a Santa and a Christmas tree. As my curiosity grew, I came close to the house to look inside there was a chair and a bench with lights and the message of Mutlu Yillar or Happy New Year all this to the background sound of jingle bells. Eventhough it was not a typical aguinaldo (puertorican Christmas carols) I was nostalgic and my eyes watered.

Mutlu Yillar or Happy New Year!

My first snow of this winter

While here in Istanbul, I learned that a friend of mine, that I didn't see for the past four years was here. A Mongolian girl that I hosted in PR. She was studying this semester here. It's amazing!!!East and West meeting in the Middle (East). After catching up about the past four years, we decided to meet again before both of us left Istanbul. Such a great city, great history and a lot to discover!

East meets the West....in the Middle

It's been great to be here, to have a sense of being with family, sitting together for dinner, going to buy groceries on the market with my Kurdish mom, being taken home by Turkish police, going to a Turkish house to see one of my 4 Kurdish brothers performing and just hanging out with my little Kurdish brother. The Turkish house is a restaurant and they play folk Turkish music. So, I got to do a lot of non-touristic things. I am also eating a lot of delicious Kurdish food.

Me playing with my little Kurdish brother Jiyan!

On the Thursday Bazaar buying some food!

The other night, we had family visiting us, so that means more food than usual The fact that I cannot speak Kurdish or Turkish does not affect or diminish the spirit and hospitality of my host family, it just help me learn some Turkish. I was speaking Arabic with one of the man and sign language with Jerran, one of the little cousins, she did everything possible to let me understand what they were trying to say. Also the fact that Turkish language has a lot of Arabic influence, helps...

Eating great Kurdish Food!

The most powerful thing was when I called my mom using skype! My mom in Puerto Rico in front of the computer talking with my Kurdish host mom, in Istanbul, one in English and the other one in Kurdish.....It was as if they both knew exactly what each other meant. Its just amazing how human beings can connect beyond words.

My sweet Kurdish mom....

Two days ago, I was taken home by three Turkish police officers after my inability to speak Turkish and theirs to speak English. I was just one street away from home, but I just wanted to know in which direction, because it was cold and was going to rain. I thought it was just a matter of confirming, but it was not like that. I guess it was easier to take me home than to explain to me how to get there.

Two of my Kurdish brothers

I've almost mastered the public transportation despite it can be complicated and there is no walking distance metro station here!. There are many different ways to get from point A to point B, subway, metrobus, minibus..except the police incident, I have managed to come back home safe and on time.

Getting back home.......

The reason I had to stay for almost two weeks here is that it has been hard to find a not-so-expensive in Iraq. Since the Baghdad bombing of the Christian church on October 31st, many christian families have been forced to look refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan, due to threats of being killed. They have come mostly to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan and where there is a big Christian community called Ankawa, where the organization where I am working now is located. The house prices have escalated to between 500-1000 dollars. I will stay temporarily in the director's house so I will spend Christmas in Iraq along hundreds of internally displaced Iraqi families. I will spend my second Christmas away from home, the second Christmas in the Middle East, my second Christmas in an Occupied Land and my second Christmas without family and friends. Today, at the internet cafe, my family gave me a traditional "Parranda Puertorriquena" , both them and me in tears and sad that we are not going to be together, but firm and knowing that they are supporting me as I go, just continuing my journey deep into the struggle.


  1. OMG estoy llorando como una (pippp)jajajaj!!!! Nena que muchas cosas haz hecho, que mucha gente haz conocido, que mucho haz comido... QUE MUCHO HAZ APRENDIDO. Te Amo!! Conectate al skype te extraño!!!

  2. Nena, me alegro que aprecies lo que estoy haciendo! Aunque a veces estoy triste porque los extrano, me consuela que estoy luchando por realizar mis suenos y lo que me hace feliz, servir a los demas! Espero que pronto estemos juntas para contarte de todo lo que he vivido, aunque ya sabes un oco, pero hay muchas cosas que no he escrito, pq es demasiado, o privado! Asi que necesitaremos un rato largo para ponernos al dia!