Coffee Talk: turkey on my mind

Message in a...

A message in a coffee cup ended up saying so much about my life.  A trip with a person that I love dearly impacted me in a way that I could never have imagined.  It’s amazing how the message in the coffee combined with a chance conversation on a balcony, an encounter with two older american travellers and a chance interaction with my friends husband would impact my world view and create a person that is still deeply thoughtful about the experience over 5 years after.  This is one of many stories that I am only beginning to understand.  It all started with an innocent trip with my childhood friend and the messages that her wonderful family member read in my coffee cup.  Enjoy!!

One of my bestest friends never realized what a huge impact she had on my life (or maybe she did/does).  It fascinates me because she is one of the reasons why I thought that it would even be a good idea to start a blog that talked about the travel experiences of black women.  It was on a special trip with her to Turkey where I learned so much about myself through a conversation and the many fun experiences with her family.  I guess this trip stands out to me for a number of reasons.  The first is because I was constantly reminded by one of my lovely travel months of the difference between him and I.  Although we were the only two people that only spoke English on this trip (which meant that we were not privy to some or mostly all of the side conversations that took place during our wonderful trip but also because we view the world in two very different ways.)  The second is because of the impending crisis related to Hurricane Katrina.  I took this trip in September of 2005 only weeks after Hurricane Katrina left thousands of people in the midst of chaos and sadness.  The third reason is because a simple conversation and the experiences that lead to that conversation have stayed with me.  That very conversation opened up a level of trust and took our friendship to a place that I am very happy it went.

My experience in Turkey is different depending on the date and time.  But a consistency that remained in my trip was a new feeling that I was not free to move through the country as I had originally expected I would.  This was going to be the first of many trips where I planned to explore the world on my own.  While walking through the streets I noticed that I did not feel entirely comfortable.  It kind of cracked me up because when I originally mentioned it to my friend she simply said that people were just getting used to me because I obviously looked different.  I thought, “hmmm, okay” and left it alone.  Later her husband and I were chatting about how many people were looking at me in a “different” way but we couldn’t put words to what we saw or felt.  I still enjoyed being around my friends loving family and so didn’t give it another thought until the boat trip.

We began a wonderful morning by going on a cruise in the Mediterranean.  This still counts as one of the most amazing experiences and days of my life.  I did notice something when I got on the boat.  There were two older white women who were American.  They got on the boat and began talking to any and everyone.  People seemed very interested in their travels and they seemed to be very comfortable.  While sitting I noticed what my friend’s husband and I couldn’t put our finger on.  These two older women began to talk about how they had travelled all over Turkey and Greece ALONE.  Not only that I noticed that the same people that looked at me awkwardly on the boat approached them with an ease and comfort that they did not have with me.

It was at this moment that I realized my travel experience was different.  My friend and I still have conversations about this trip and the many things that I still process almost 6 years later.  I thank her for the open honesty that she had when talking to me.  I thank her family for treating me as one of their own.  I thank her husband for having my back in his own special goofy way (unfortunately or fortunately a travelling womanists sometimes needs a little outside validation to know that her experience is not some manifestation of internalized or externalized oppression – you know am i losing my mind? NO).  I thank the people of Turkey for their stares.  Without all of this, I would have never known that I was a Travelling Womanists.

Peace B. Still,


Sea of Change


~ by travelling womanists on March 28, 2011.

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