You’re reading the second post of this blog?! Wow, that is so exciting. We’ll try our hardest not to let you down.
Day one in Istanbul. We woke up to the beautiful sound of hyperactive Turkish children playing outside our window. After googling the Turkish word for “eggs” we went downstairs to seek out a couple of omlettes, with great success. Madeline broke out her blades and the two of us rolled merrily along our way.
We made a pact. We decided that in order for this blog to be accurate, Madeline cannot take off her rollerblades to help with Roxy’s chair at any moment during the day. All obstacles accessibility related must be handled by two girls on wheels, no exceptions. We go big or we go home.
This pact was quickly challenged by the massive hills we were confronted with. See, during the mandatory baggage checking of Roxy’s wheelchair on our plane ride over to Istanbul, one of the brakes was broken. This means that when Roxy locks her chair, only one wheel remains stagnant while the other does its thang. Needless to say, it is a safety hazard.
So we went on an excursion to find a hardware store and a handy man (or woman) to help us fix this issue. All we really needed was a screw; it was a simple solution. So we searched for hardware stores on Google and found one about 5 blocks away. It seemed doable right? Wrong.
Accessible My Ass:
These streets are accessible my ass. We looked down the steepest hill that was meant to take us to the hardware store and said to each other, “do we want to die today?” When we chose life, we wandered down a lesser hill parallel to the street we needed to end up on, hoping that the next street would be less of a death sentence and we could turn there and backtrack to the hardware store (is this confusing yet?) We went down the street only to find an even steeper hill as our next option. We pondered the idea of Madeline taking off her rollerblades to walk behind Roxy and pull her as she rolled down, but decided that a pact was a pact and remained true to our no exceptions rule. We turned back, admitting defeat. And that’s when we saw him.
A Turkish man doing some heavy duty construction work. We asked him for a screw and he protested at our every word, trying to shoo us away because he could not understand a word of English. We pointed to the working brake with two screws and did some really creative sign language, holding up two fingers and then doing a thumbs up saying “good” and nodding our heads. Then moved over to the broken brake, pointing to the one screw, holding up one finger and then a thumbs down, saying “bad” and vigorously shaking our heads. Then, a light bulb went on in this hard working man’s Turkish head.
He waved his friend over from across the street and took it from there. His friend told us to stay where we were and he would be right back, at least that’s what we assumed/hoped he had said (he spoke in Turkish). Next thing we knew, he was back holding a dozen screws and kneeling down by Roxy’s chair like a knight in shining armor. He poked and prodded the chair like a mad scientist in his lab. Then he stood up with great excitement, pointed at the brake with a smile on his face, looking into Roxy’s eyes and begging for approval. She tested her brake and although it was not perfect, it was once again functional. Who said you need to pay someone for a job well done? Thank God for the wheelchair card.
We then headed off to the Grand Bazaar to get some tourist shopping done. We rolled over too many hills and cracks as we headed toward the Tram station. When we arrived, we found an elevator! Unfortunately there was a huge water drain about a wheel wide in front of it, of which we both got stuck in, but we appreciated the effort.
We rode down to the ticket booths and tried buying Madeline a ticket. Roxy rides for free, which for the record, is also appreciated. After attempting to figure out the ticket machine and asking several non-English speaking workers at the station for assistance, Roxy had the idea of having Madeline just go through with her. The wheelchair card also apparently works for “the helper”. Roxy is a very self sufficient gal, but for the sake of spreading the wheelchair card love, she dropped her arms at every turnstile as Madeline grabbed ahold and pushed her through the guarded wheelchair gate. Such a brilliant idea.
The Wheels Deal:
Can we just take a moment to bitch about the sidewalks? Almost every curb has a step up, not a ramp. Not just a step actually, but a cracked step. An uneven, shitty, cracked step. Because of this and other sidewalk obstacles, we are forced to roll along the street in traffic (this is the moment where our mothers call us and force us to come home). There are slightly more ramps in tourist areas, but still not enough. Even so, are tourists the only ones with wheels? We doubt it.
Cobble stone is the DEATH of us. At one point, we were sliding down a wet, cobble stoned hill in the rain. We thought quickly and decided that running into building walls and windows every few meters was the best way to get down the street without injuring ourselves or other wet tourists.
Although we appreciated the gesture, there is such a thing as too much help. Turkish men are very adamant about helping with Roxy’s chair. They grab and pull without any warning. They grab anything and everything without asking for any instruction, let alone if we actually want help. Several times, they ended up grabbing her wheels and not her chair, which is helpful in no way. But Roxy’s got it handled. With a firm “no” and an occasional slap of their hand, they usually get the message.
We’d like to acknowledge the Turks’ love for rollerblades. No one stopped Madeline as she bladed along with Roxy. In fact, we got many, “I love your shoes!” And “can you give me a ride?” At one point, we even had an applause by a group of people at the grand bazaar. I guess the circus is in town.
No one, not once told her to take off her wheels. She wore them in their hotel, in a restaurant, the grand bazaar, and even on the tram with no objections from anyone. And for that, Turkey gets major points.