A piece of soul as a souvenir…

Have been thinking about why I get the itch to travel so badly time to time. That itch makes me so restless that I start counting not the days but hours of vacation I earn with every single week of work. I make plans, budgets, to-do lists.I doodle names, trees, waves on every piece of paper while I am on the phone.

The reason I travel is usually to escape from all the familiarity, to leave all the worries behind as if they will all get resolved magically if I am not around for a while. The people will start behaving more consciously, the bills will pay themselves, there will be one more lane on the highway to solve the traffic jam. I will come back  with a relaxed aura and as an enlightened creature that those things won’t bother me anymore. You know, because I traveled, I am all different now.

The thing is… I tend to stay in my comfort zone when I travel because I don’t want the stress of the unknown. You will not find me going on a vacation to do sky diving or bunge jumping. Or push myself through a strenuous hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro or deep ends of Amazon forest. I am sure they are beautiful.  But just not me.

Some might call me boring. So be it.

I do what I know best when I travel. I walk miles and miles in a city,talk to people (if I can speak the language, even if I cant sometimes!), eat my way around the places and maybe visit a museum or two but they tend to suck the breath out of me if they are scheduled two days in a row. Because the life is out there in a bakery, in a cafe, at a newspaper kiosk, over a bridge, in small shops, on the streets…

And most vividly, at farmer markets…

That is why I like to visit them wherever I go, if I can.

So I did on my trips to Bolivia back in 2008 and 2009 with Water For People. You catch a glimpse into the locals’ way of living, making a living, attending a family. Tired faces, yawning, smiling, talking, serving. I was there not for vacationing but on a volunteer project, however it did not feel like work or obligation.

I ate the fruit of cactus for the first time. I drank a corn concoction that filled me up for the rest of the day. One of the best moments when I was taking these pictures (with an old point-and-shoot camera), the flower lady did not want to get in the picture. Every time I raised the camera, she would hide. When we asked, she said “that thing will trap my soul inside it, you will take my soul with you and I will never be able to find my way back!”

I guess she was right and I am guilty of it. Everytime we travel, we are just trying to bring back a piece of that soul with us to keep our memories warm and cozy.



  1. by achowlife
    5:57 pm
    May 8, 2012

    Gorgeous pictures! I love to travel too. It’s difficult now with my little girl, but I hope we can make it to some far off places soon as a family. Should be an adventure! xo

  2. by rebecca
    10:38 pm
    May 8, 2012

    lovely pictures and your so sweet in volunteering love how you care about clean water for all and the environment big hugs

  3. by Lana
    1:14 am
    May 9, 2012

    We have so much in common, Ilke! I get “reisefieber” often, and I have infected my girls, too! My oldest travels a lot which has made her very independent and strong.
    And when we travel, we immerse ourselves in the lives of the people, get to know them, and avoid tourist attractions:) Being multi-lingual helps!
    I love your photos – the little boy and the old woman holding a cup of tea are amazing. I am always self-conscious when taking photos of people (and I heard of the belief that the camera captures one’s soul:)

  4. by Angie@Angie's Recipes
    12:33 pm
    May 9, 2012

    Those photos are precious. I miss markets like that…where you find real food.

  5. by Lora @cakeduchess
    8:28 pm
    May 9, 2012

    What lovely photos of a country I’ve never been to. I spent my life before getting married doing trips whenever I could. My wanderlust desire was bigger than my bank account. I treasure those trips. Love this post, Ilke.xx

  6. by Shelley
    9:05 pm
    May 9, 2012

    From your pictures, bolivia looks lovely. How neat that you went as a volunteer- looks like a great organization. I always thought I’d make time to travel to Africa to volunteer in some HIV-related capacity but I’ve yet to do so. Time certainly slips away doesn’t it? We, too, have learned not to over schedule ourselves on vacation or we get so frazzled, we don’t even enjoy it. If you can’t be lazy on vacation, when can you be?

  7. by Lisa @ Tarte du Jour
    11:16 pm
    May 11, 2012

    Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed these lovely photos! I love to travel too… I get as much joy from the planning and remembering as I do from the actual trip. Bolivia looks like a colorful place with beautiful people!

  8. by Peggy
    12:49 pm
    May 12, 2012

    I definitely wish I could travel as much as you do Ilke! Beautiful pictures =)

  9. by Parsley Sage
    10:24 am
    May 13, 2012

    Nothing boring about loving to travel to fun and exciting places to do fun and exciting things :) Gorgeous pictures!

  10. by Thyme (Sarah)
    9:05 pm
    May 13, 2012

    I love reading your posts on travel, the Istanbul market and now this one. Bolivia does seem like an adventure to me. Funny…I just bought my Istanbul/Turkey books TODAY and I am dreaming of traveling somewhere like that…different. I like the way you travel…markets, coffee shops, on the street meeting people…and a museum or 2 for good measure.

  11. by Terra
    11:32 pm
    May 15, 2012

    I need to travel more, and out of the country more too. I have traveled out of the country, but when I was 17. I want to go with my hubby now, and enjoy what you are sharing, that sounds so beautiful:-) Your pictures are beautiful! Hugs, Terra

  12. by Susan
    4:08 pm
    May 16, 2012

    Wonderful photos and interesting to read post, Ilke! I would love to travel more out of the country but my husband has no interest :( I didn’t know people still believed that about cameras taking their soul! You do learn so much about people when you travel. I’m wondering if one of those lovely ladies in the second photo is you :)

  13. by Ilke
    4:57 pm
    May 16, 2012

    Hi Susan, Yes the one to the left, with brown coat is me :) My husband likes to travel but does not really actively plan anything:)

  14. by Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    6:30 pm
    May 18, 2012

    This is such a beautiful post. You really gave a glimpse into the local life. Wish I could travel someday & drink that corn concoctions on those streets.

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