Three weeks and two days. I alternate between super excitement and total panic freak outs.
Here’s where I stand past having the travel package taken care of:
My little international phone came in, although it turns out the extra calling card I bought works for every country EXCEPT Turkey. Luckily the company was awesome and just added the minutes to the phone. Too bad I still really don’t understand how to make international calls. Seriously. Yes, there are directions and no, they don’t help me. My best hope in a crisis will be handing the phone off to someone else.
I don’t even understand the phone numbers. Do all international numbers start with a “+”? Do you dial it? That’s such a shamefully dumb question. I still need to program every possibly important number into the little guy.
Got my lira, and as you see in the picture they gave me way bigger bills than I wanted. Granted, 100 lira is only @$55 but have you ever tried paying for anything in this country with something bigger than a $20 bill? Good luck! I don’t know what I’ll be buying that I’ll make use of a bill that size.
I have been faithfully practicing my Earworms Turkish (Türkçe) lessons and they are downloaded on every computer and MP3 player I have access to. Plus I’m typing words in alpha order into my mangy little iPod Notes in case someone stands still long enough for me to look up a word when I completely forget anything I’ve learned. I can count to 29 and ask for a bottle of water. Absurdly, my husband does not seem impressed. Besides important words, I can check out the weather in Istanbul, remind myself of the exchange rate math, and send Facebook updates when I get free wi-fi from the Pod.
I think I have the baggage situation figured out. Got a giant cross body PacSafe bag and a very lightweight REI backpack that fits all my theoretical clothing choices. Yeah, I already started packing. Luggage is a tough call: it hurts to drag around anything too large, but I waffle between packing light and having comforts of home. It’s a weird balancing act that changes with every location you go to. And speaking of clothing, there is so much advice out there on what NOT to wear and nothing about what I SHOULD pack. So baggy hiking pants it is, with plain shirts that aren’t too tight or cleavage-baring. Boring stuff I don’t normally wear but not standing out is the whole idea.
Throughout all this planning, the elephant in the room, of course, is the tragedy of Sarai Seirra. She went missing just days after I booked my trip and even though they have a person held and charged with her murder, too much is fishy and unanswered still. I’d like to think I am going to make different choices, such as not wandering by myself into sketchy neighborhoods and railroad tracks, but nothing is a magic answer to how to stay safe – traveling or at home, alone or not.