In November, at the tail-end of my three months abroad, I met two of my college roommates in Turkey. We'd started in Cappadocia and spent the last few days in Istanbul, hilariously celebrating Thanksgiving in Turkey. On the first full day we were in town, our Airbnb host, Deniz, took us to the Tuesday market to shop and buy groceries for the traditional dinner we'd cook later that evening.
Walking around this market with Deniz and Seyhan, I didn't hear any English outside of our own little group. It felt disorienting but good to be surrounded by locals. Sometimes heavily-tourist places can weigh on me while I'm on the road, and this morning was a breath of fresh (spice-laden and produce-scented) air. We ate gözleme, bought too many Turkish towels, and wandered the aisles of color and scents. We were clearly the outsiders, but each of the vendors was so sweet and excited to be in any photos when I asked to take a picture.* My favorite memory is looking at the havoc around me, only to find Seyhan standing still and basking in a sun spot that'd escaped the tents above. It was so simple and sweet, and it helped me love life again.
Later that evening Deniz and Seyhan taught us to make so much food we had leftovers for the rest of our stay. Istanbul has always felt like a hard place for me to be, but Deniz, Seyhan, and the Sali Pazari made it so wonderful. Teşekkür ederim, thank you.
*I, personally, like to ask permission before I take photos of anyone while traveling. I know it's not always possible, but I think it's always worth the effort. I try to learn "may I please take your photo" in the local language in case they don't speak English. Recognize that you are intruding in their space, that their life is not a novelty for you to add to your scrapbook. Their permission is a gift.