Turkey is one of the few complicated states in the word that is difficult to classify and force into a neat cultural and political grouping. Its land is the setting of Biblical stories, the birthplace of Western Civilization, and the spread of Islam.
Turkey is far more than a bridge between Eastern and Western worlds; it is a land home to both. From an outsider’s perspective Turkey is difficult to classify. From within, Turkey struggles with a perpetual identity crisis.
“Turkish people don’t go east, but we go west. We have no problem. We open business. We can go anywhere, but the Turks don’t come to the south-east,” says Hazhir, the name I have given my Kurdish host to protect his identity.
The perfect symmetry of the yellow stoned arches mirrored in Balikligöl pond only lasts a second. It is broken by the chaotic splashing of a few holy fish crowd surfing over the thousands more with mouths babbling ready for the feeding frenzy. They’re here because of a legend dating back millennia.
Sitting in the shade of a large tree outside the Cave of Ibrahim, I watch my hot çay tea sweat in the agonizing heat that is summer in Şanlıurfa. Reflecting on the historic significance of what I just witnessed is feverishly difficult. This is the cave where Abraham, the very same Abraham from the Old Testament, was born.
Where does the time go? I’ve been cruising down Eastern Europe these past six weeks in a trip that was both dreamt of for many years, and spontaneously executed. It even has a title: From the Balkans to Baltics and Back. And as I crossed the Bosphorus and landed on the Anatolian shore of Istanbul, this dream trip came to an end.