With our backpacks stuffed full of dirty laundry, bazaar purchases and as much baklava as possible, we sat in the terminal reflecting on our time in Turkey. I knew everyone at home would ask me what it was actually like—more Western or still quite Eastern, a question that had been on my mind since I first arrived in Istanbul. Yet every time I decided on one answer, I’d see something that would sway me to believe the opposite.
Yes, a lot of women covered their heads with scarves but many of them coordinated their scarves with cute, stylie outfits. And while cities and towns blasted the call to prayer five times a day, not everyone actually prayed during those times. Some people were too busy watching Eurovision and hanging out with baklava obsessed girls and boys.
Many people had professional jobs, new technology was everywhere and modern conveniences weren’t hard to find…however, conservative values certainly permeated the culture. Secular yet Islamic, European but not yet a part of the EU, up-to-date yet traditional, the country really was an equal mix of East and West. An image that comes to mind when I think about this curious fusion: Turks sending text messages...to God.
I bid farewell to Mickers who was on a different flight and found my seat on the plane. As we took off, I thought about all the people I had met on the trip, all the delicious food I would miss, and how excited I was to hang up the beautiful silk fabric I had bought at the Grand Bazaar. As the mosques of Istanbul's distinctive skyline faded into the distance, I reclined my seat, kicked off the wedge espadrilles and peeled the last remaining orange.