Quick Life Updates 2023: Remembering a favorite place + Earthquake aid relief links.

It’s currently April 2023 and as usual, I’m behind here on posts. Maybe that’s a good thing, it means life is full. I welcomed the New Year feeling hopeful and happy and even went on an incredible two week trip around Morocco. That will be a topic for another day, another time.

My plan was to start a series here about various side trips in Turkey. In fact I have (maybe for the first time in a while) a ready set of posts about trips around Turkey that I took during the fall. However, I just don’t feel right about those. This isn’t the right time… especially as one of those trips was to an area which now, after the earthquakes, has seen some of the most devastation. Most of the places I went to on that trip (the hotel, restaurants, historical sites) are gone. Just gone. There’s nothing left. I see pictures of streets I’ve walked on before and they aren’t there. I have no words.

Looking out over rooftops in Antakya

The earthquakes of February 6th have left a hole in the country’s heart. Even though the places affected were far from Istanbul, the whole country came together to give aid, and schools across the nation were shut down for two weeks to give families time to grieve and also to use schools as collection and donation centers.  Nearly everyone I know has been affected or knows someone who has been affected by the earthquakes.  The area was comparable to a size equaling from Washington, DC spreading to NYC.  This is not a small region.  This is not just an earthquake in “one” city.  This is a major devastation in a huge area that affected thousands.

It’s also left everyone here in Istanbul in a desperate panic to start implementing earthquake safety and procedures. I have known since I first moved to Istanbul nearly 12 years ago that this sprawling city lies on a major fault line. It has been rumored for years that “the big one” is coming to Istanbul. However, knowing that as an abstract concept and then witnessing a catastrophic event such as what occurred in Southeast Turkey are two separate things. The fear is real.

For two weeks after the February 6th earthquakes I slept with shoes next to my bed and a whistle around my neck. Anxiety to the max. I should say that I didn’t actually sleep. I kept waking up at every sound and reaching for my earthquake emergency bag. Not to mention the feeling of guilt that actually I was safe and knowing how many people lost everything in an instant. I also had this deep need to try and help, no matter how small. In Istanbul, many homeowners and landlords are also asking for the building foundations to be tested for earthquake safety by the municipality… and after the reports, many people are opting to tear down and rebuild. This is also leaving lots of people suddenly in need to move and find new buildings here. It’s a lot.

The mood here is somber. The healing process will be long. Aside from this general update, my next few posts will be about international travel. Writing instead about trips outside of Turkey and ‘taking a break’ to recall a beautiful time with some of my favorite people is in a way a form of therapy. Life is short. Life isn’t guaranteed. Make the moments count and hold each one in your hearts as special. Take that trip you’re always dreaming about. Tell the people you love that you love them. I am so fortunate to have had so many incredible adventures, and they mean so much to me. We never know what tomorrow will or won’t bring. I am actually getting ready for a family trip soon and I am just so happy for us to all be together.

Here are trusted links to organizations that you can donate to, every little bit helps. Many teams are still on the ground cooking and bringing food to the people in the affected region. These people lost everything and those who survived are now living in tents. It’s going to be a long recovery process.

World Central Kitchen

Turkey Mozaic Foundation

Finally I’ll leave you with pictures of Antakya in the Hatay region of Turkey. I have written and posted about this city before. It’s the same “Antakya” that was the Biblical Ancient Antioch… a city rich with history and a UNESCO protected food culture. I am heartbroken over the devastation of this city and I think about my friends who have family there and all the amazing, kind people who I met there over the years. This is one of the places that made me fall in love with Turkish culture – the food, the people, the landscape. Many things in these photos no longer exist. The coffee house in these pictures survived the initial earthquakes, but has since fallen down with the multitudes of smaller aftershock tremors. To think that this city was on the Silk Road from Ancient times, some of the roads laid down by the Romans themselves… and it’s now forever changed. I’m sharing them because I hope and pray that one day this city can return to what it was and that the people can heal, and I’m sharing them to show my love for this place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.