Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hickeys in Istanbul

Language barriers, getting lost, passionate Turkish men, body odor, cobblestone streets with 75 pounds of luggage; all describe my first night in Istanbul. Stepping out into the streets of a foreign country is an experience that is very hard to describe. Sensory overload is the best phrase I could use. The smells, the sounds, the RUSH.

 Teşekkür ederim, I say to our shuttle driver with an angry tone in my voice. I am thanking him to be polite, but in reality I could have just punched him the face for asking for a tip. I sound rude, don't I? I just spent the last half hour, or so, walking up and down hills on cobblestone streets searching for our flat. Our shuttle driver, we shall call him Alik, had no clue how to get to our flat. Alik was continuously asking for directions and finally parking on the main streets and asking us to get out cause we needed to walk the rest of the way. Okay at this point I'm fine, and even taking on the treacherous walk with my heavy luggage with a smile, laughing actually that this is even happening. We walked up and down alley ways that were built during the Ottoman empire ( I kid), to finally arrive to the correct apt. Then Alik said we needed to tip. I just paid him 60 liras to bring us here and I walked most of it!!!!!! However, deep down I felt bad, it was really hard to find and at least he walked the whole way with me in the rain. I said my good bye, got to the flat, introduced myself to my roommates for the week and got ready to head out on the town.

 At this point I'm running on adrenaline and excitement I had been on a plane for about 16 hours total with 5 hours sleep. But hey I cant stay in on my first night in ISTANBUL!!! so we head out with some Turkish friend of ours, Oz ( a friend of Naty's) takes out to eat (see pics under devour), and the food was amazing. Then we meet up with some other friends of Naty's who were all awesome. We decide to go out for some dancing and a beer or two. On our walk around the main part Taksim, Altup (a guy friend) comes to me and hands me a rose. I say thank you carim (honey) and we hit it off. The streets are alive there are people everywhere cars bustling through narrow streets and smells of meat are fragrant in the air. The streets are alive in Istanbul, and the energy is unreal. As we walk, my new beau grabs my hand to make sure I don't get hit by a passing car, which will run you over if they need too. These cars do not care about the pedestrian law. We enter a club to have a drink and to my surprise all I hear is American top 40 with a splash of Spanish music. It was as if I was back home, except for dancing. Turkish people dance differently, weird in my opinion. I can testify too this because I watched two Turkish men in a dance off. A TURKISH DANCE OFF!!! (it was awesome). One thing very noticeable was this smell. I smelt this off the plane, in the shuttle and at our first restaurant. It was body odor!!!! I do not believe Turkish men know what deodorant is because I smelt it on different men, and if they do we need to up the prescription because it is not working. Very strong manly smell protrudes from mostly every man in Turkey. And from what I here women as well. Altup (my new beau), a 28 year old male with strong dark features, who also has the same body odor issues, was intense to say it lightly. It was obvious that he was into me, and I loved the attention. On our walk back home he would kiss my cheek, stop me to try and share a joke, which I did not understand, but laughed and cooed to make him feel better. As we approached the door we stopped to just enjoy each others time then the making out started and boy o boy can this boy kiss. Passionately kissing under a rainy stary night in a dark Turkish alley way is very exhilarating. So exhilarating that on my return up to the apt and back into my room, my bed mate says to me “Um Amanda... do you know you have a hickey the size of Texas on your neck?????” DOH!

My New Turkish Friends. Altup, Dursan,& Naty (my bed mate). Missing Murat.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

WTF have I gotten myself into?

What a day! First let me start off with the many emotions of Amanda. One minute I am ecstatic, the next depressed because I will miss my family and Friends; the next I'm scared shitless with fears of being kidnapped and my organs sold on the black market, and now as I sit here at the Washington airport I am perfectly calm. I think it is because I am over flying but I haven't even embarked on the ten hour flight; all I did was take a two hour connecting flight. The calmness could be induced by the half a Xanax I took, but I would like to believe that I am at peace. The hard part is over, saying good bye. good bye to fam and friends, and good bye to old Amanda But let me tell you a lil story about Amanda, and how she forgets that not everything will be peaches and cream. This is the precursor to my trip.... two days before my trip I am emailed by my Barcelona host who advises me she can no longer host me. My initial reaction is to freak out, but I decide that I will look on AIRBNB, the best site ever, and look for a new host. It all ended up working out, tho I am paying so much more now and I have a place to stay for the first month. THEN I was rudely awakened when I arrived at the airport. For my four month trip I brought a huge duffle bag, a carry on and a "personal" bag which in reality could be characterized as another carry on. When I checked in my duffle bag it was about 25 pounds over and they want to charge me $400. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! When I could have brought another check-in (50 pounds) for only 100; in what world does that make sense. Its funny how quickly you realize you don't NEED all the shit you packed when someone is trying to charge you a car payment to bring it with. So there I am sprawled out on the floor, hair (That was freshly done) a mess, sweating (cause after all I'm a big girl), rearranging my suitcases... there's stuff everywhere.......everywhere..... all this in the middle of check in. So basically now I am out pajamas, boots wedges, jewelry( which was five pounds in itself) and all my shampoos lotions...etc.... oh Manda!!!! but I made it work, I had my friend, Ariel ( my knight and shinning amour) come and pick up the extra stuff. Now About this flight on Turkish Airlines....first, the food they offered, which was two meals and three snacks, was awesome. Movie selection even better...comfort level....lacking... the first five hours were manageable, but by hour five I was so done. I was uncomfortable, hot because the plane was a million degrees, and over it. But then we landed, and anxiety started to hit as I could not figure out which baggage claim I should be at, I couldn't figure out the Turkish WiFi and couldn't find the party who was supposed to pick me up. But like always it all worked out. A stranger helped with the baggage and setting up WiFi and I found my girl Naty.
All in all it was hectic messy and uncomfortable and I loved every minute. After all it's all about the adventure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Take That Chance

The right time will never come. We wait and wait for this “right” time to have a baby or go for that new job or embark on new and scary adventures, to realize that this time we wait for rarely ever happens. There is always something holding us back, be it money, relationships, ourselves, or fear. All of these “obstacles” stifle our growth process and don't allow us to blossom into the person that we are meant to be. It's okay to fall on our face, it's okay to fail. With out failure we wouldn't be open to trying new things; if we never try something new how do you know that we won't soar to unprecedented success? Failure, has such a negative connotation when in reality with out it we never figure out what we are truly good at.

Growing up I was always led to believe from my elders and from society, that we must get up every morning brush our teeth, go to school and get an education. We get this education to maybe one day get a job that will pay our bills and allow us to live comfortably. We get this job, work day in and day out to become a loyal “slave” for a company that usually has no loyalty to us. We do this all in hopes that we can appear to be successful and like we have our shit together. We work this 9-5 usually hating every minute of it because that's what “we are supposed to do”. We break our backs (figuratively speaking) for years so that one day in our old age, we can possibly retire. And if we get to fully retire, we pray that we are not too old and sick by this point to enjoy what they call life. We don't even realize that our lack of living and the miserable state that comes along with this is affecting everything and everyone around us because we have been conditioned to think that this is what is expected. To those who truly follow their dreams and are happy where they are at, I commend you and YOU have inspired me to be great, but let's be honest how many of us really take that chance? So many of us just go through the motions of everyday. We get up, follow the same set cycle day in and day out; not loving our lives fully. This is not success, this is not living, it's called insanity.

Not me, not no more. I woke up one morning and said enough is enough. I was tired of getting up every day going to a job that I didn't hate but that I was not happy with. I was tired of doing what somebody else told me I had to do to be “normal”. I was tired of doing something I did not absolutely love to do. So I asked myself “what is it that you want to do Amanda?” I had no clue. Coming to a realization that you had been running in this hamster wheel for so long chasing this fabricated dream that when you finally stop to catch your breath you can no longer even walk properly, hits you like a brick and you stop and ask WTF am I doing? Who am I? Where has my light gone? With all these questions running through my head and me second guessing what I am accomplishing in a whole, I decided I need a change. What I knew yesterday no longer applies to today and what I will learn tomorrow will no longer apply to yesterday. I am at a transitioning point in my life and I want something BIG. I want something monumental, something that would change the person I see in front of the mirror every morning. It was time to get lost, literally. I want to accomplish what I consider freedom; if even for just a split second in time. I want to let go of the conventional notions that are laid out for us in black and white. I want to stop saying I'm different and actually be different. I read a quote once that said “sometimes we must get lost in order to find ourselves” and I took that literally and said FUCK IT, I'm going to travel the world. I am going to escape this fish bowl I live in, make my way to the ocean and explore like the mermaid that I am. It may be the Pisces in me, but I have always had this hunger. This hunger for something greater than myself. This hunger for knowledge, for enlightenment, for passion and romance. I have always been in-love with cities I have never been too; I am tired of this constant daydream and I'm ready to live it. I am writing a new chapter in my book and I know the best has yet to come. I am excited, scared, anxious, overjoyed, impressed and weirdly calm about this whole experience I am about to take on. Deciding to backpack across Europe at 28 years old is huge. I quit my job, liquefied my savings and I'm saying que sera, sera. I am ready to be even more amazing than I am today, I am ready to have amazing stories. At this point in my life I have nothing holding me back; I have the support of my family, friends and myself to take on a new frontier and get crazy.

I started the blog for two main reasons, because I want my family, friends, and secretly the world to know what I am doing at all times (social media syndrome) and I want to immortalize this huge feat. I want to be able to document my feelings, my adventure and my hunger so that when future Manda is questioning her purpose or life in general (cause it will happen time to time) she can sit back and relive this moment in her life over and over. No matter whats life throws at me I will remember what great things I have accomplished and I will never loose that feeling. That feeling of true freedom.