It was just over one year ago that I packed my bags to leave Alanya. I had amassed a large collection of treasures in my fourth months in Turkey, which forced me to leave behind some of my belongings. Clothes I’d worn nonstop for six months, a few books, the drawer of various pills and creams I was never officially prescribed.
My flight was scheduled to leave from the Antalya airport at 6am, an inconvenient time given the two-hour drive from Alanya. This required a very, very (very) early shuttle bus to the airport and a call to a taxi company the night before.
Eventually, after a long process and several rounds of crying in a corner fruit store and running into the street to hail a shuttle bus, I made it to the Antalya airport and finally to Istanbul. I had several hours to wander through Taksim again, which translated to eating several cheeseburgers from my favorite place on Istiklal Street.
The Black Sea was all that separated me from a week in Ukraine. I spent much of that week enjoying green tea and golubtsi, wandering around Kiev in the frigid cold, and playing with kitties in the kitchen. But I also had the chance to visit the opera house, watch a traditional dance and music performance, and walk on the Potemkin stairs again.
It was glorious, and I would love the chance to go back again.
In the summer, it was bizarre to watch news coverage of massive protests that took place in Gezi Park. Just months before, I had been walking through the empty park, admiring the trees and running across the road to get to the bakery nestled in the back streets that I liked. In June, though, tens of thousands marched through the streets of Istanbul and were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. Photographs of empty Gezi Park after these protests were haunting.
Now, when I see photographs of the protests happening in Kiev’s Maidan Square, I there’s a familiar unsettling feeling. I only hope that the Ukrainian government does not use undue force against those wishing to speak their minds about Ukraine and its democratic future.