It’s one of those steamy hot days in Istanbul. I go down to Karaköy to meet my friends in one of the many trendy cafes, located along the narrow and shady streets of the neighbourhood. When I reach the port area, I see that I still have some time before our rendezvous. It’s hot! It’s killing me! I can hardly see Asia as there is an invisible cloud of humidity hanging over the city. I don’t like days like this!
I miss our northern wind, Poyraz, which always brings blue sky and crystal clear visibility. Today? None of it! Told you: I don’t like it!
One of the friends I am going to meet lives in Göztepe, on the Asian side of Istanbul, she is on the boat, getting closer to Karaköy. I decide to meet her on the pier. So I look for a cool and shady corner to hide away from the scorching sun.
And I think to myself: Why don’t I go inside the Travel Health Center?
Yes! It is one of the humble corners of Karaköy, people pass by without noticing it but I have good memories there. It is where I had my fist yellow fever shut twentysomething years ago, before my first trip to Africa! It is where I had my first malaria pills for my first ever trip to India. That’s even before Africa! I hardly keep count of those years! I was at the beginning of my career and the world was still very big for me! Everything about those distant geographies was unknown and exotic! I was young and very excited about starting my voyages around the world! And the starting point to all my discoveries was this small health center, Travel Health Center in Karaköy, always tranquil and un-glamorous.
So I walk in. It’s cool indeed! One lady wearing a coloured scarf greets me with a warm Merhaba! Looks at me a little surprised because I don’t look like one of those tired sailors who come there to ask questions about the vaccination regulations and possible diseases around the world. I greet her back saying I just wanted to have a little break from the sun above the pier. She welcomes me with a glass of tea, shows me a chair to relax and asks: Why here?
I try to explain her that this small building is a reminder of my youth and my enthusiasm about discovering mysterious places of the world. She smiles back with an understanding look in her eyes and says: There is nothing like youth, isn’t it?
I finish my tea, feel better and ready to get back, out in the sun.
The boat coming from Kadıköy approaches and I thank to the lady with the coloured scarf for her hospitality and walk out.
It’s not that hot anymore!