This blog has eluded to how Istanbul turned into the epicenter which started a chain reaction which has brought me to the desert sands of Libya. I want to share this story properly as it shows how unpredictable life can be but also how a random stranger you meet in a hostel can help define your life.
My first visit to Istanbul, was the start of a love affair. Not with a person, but with a city. Istanbul became and still remains my favourite city in the world. After the fieldtrip, I returned to Istanbul a month later to do some more work in the gypsy neighbourhood for my own dissertation. My second visit to the city did nothing to dampen my love for it, it only made fall more in love with the city! After my second visit I was determined to go back for another visit (however I thought it would be later rather than sooner)
Roughly a year later, I was in London, working away. There are two long weekends in London during May and I was planning to travel on both them. For the first weekend I had wanted to go to Budapest, but didn’t have anyone to travel with me and was really not in the mood to travel alone. Then Istanbul sprang to mind. I thought to myself “Why not go to Istanbul again? You know the city and love it, so you have nothing to lose”. A few minutes later I had flights and a hostel booked. I emailed my friends there and told them I was coming over.
Off I went to Istanbul. I decided to stay at the Bahaus Hostel in Sultanahmet. It was on my second day that I was awoken by a new traveler stumbling into the dorm. Hostel dorms are great because they almost force you to interact with other hostellers. So to avoid any weird awkwardness I spoke to the newest dorm resident. So did the typical thing of asking where he was from, what he did and where he was going. He was Leo on a two week trip in Turkey. We ended up going to restaurant close by for lunch where we discussed among other stuff, work.
He told me about the company he was working for, on a project in Djibouti (tiny country in Africa). It seemed like an interesting company to work for which afforded someone opportunities to work in far flung places. We ended up hanging out some more that weekend with the other hostellers and I ended up taking all of them to the Ahirkapi Hidrellez, otherwise known as the Gypsy spring festival. We all ended up having an awesome time. So me and Leo exchanged contact details in case a job opportunity came up. In all honesty I didn’t think much of that at the time.
A month or two later I found Leo online and we chatted for a bit. I told him I was going to Abu Dhabi on holiday to meet a good friend of mine when he goes “That’s funny, I moving to Abu Dhabi soon! We should meet up when you are there.”
In between Istanbul and my trip to Abu Dhabi, London and work was getting me down. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. The British weather was bringing me down (yes I do think I’m solar powered). And the economic crisis was starting to kick in and having avoided redundancy earlier the year, chances were that there would be another round of redundancy coming soon. It was in this positive mindset that I would go to the deserts of Arabia on holiday.
I went to Abu Dhabi. It was a good chill out holiday with an old friend and a new friend. During the first couple of days Leo asked me what I thought of Abu Dhabi and more importantly, if I thought I could live there. Considering the state of mind I was in, I thought a move could be good for me. So Leo (to whom I am eternally grateful), sorted out a chat with a project manager, which actually turned into an interview. It was by far the best interview I have ever had, and I left with a job offer.
Got back to London and by the end of October, turned in my month notice. I would spend Christmas in South Africa, before moving country and continent for the second time in my life.
Unfortunately my arrival in Abu Dhabi also coincided with the worsening of the economic crisis, which meant soon after arriving there the funding for the project I would be working on, was cut. And soon after that, my boss in Abu Dhabi would be relocating to Libya and asked whether I wanted to join him. “Why not?!” was what ran through my mind. And after a six month long wait for a visa, I moved to Libya.
London to Libya via Istanbul and Abu Dhabi.
“You cannot walk straight if the road bends”. It’s a gypsy proverb which I live by and basically means you have take what life gives you and make the most of it. It’s what I intend on doing.