Antalya has been our home since Monday. Kepez Sports Hall has witnessed endless chats, common prayers and anthems transported with joy. While the press members work non-stop on one side of the field, children are running around joyously, bringing all sorts of food, aunties and uncles try to host hundreds of guests packing the sports hall. Today a gentleman approached us with two boxes in his hands, one containing some rose flavored Turkish delight, rose petals in the other box. Apparently, both are served as traditional treats. We ate the Turkish delight, but did not know what to do with the petals. For most of us, that was the first time we encountered that kind of delicacy. While I was busy sniffing the petals, my friend already had it in her mouth.
This is our last day in Kepez, Antalya. Before saying our goodbyes to the sports hall, we have a very meaningful duty to fulfill. The field in the middle of the hall gets filled by people in the blink of an eye. Hundreds of women and men stand next to one another in order to pray altogether. We are offering a prayer in absentia for our brothers Bahattin Yildiz and Faruk Aktas, who martyred in an airplane accident 10 days ago. Following our prayer, the imam cites a pray for them and for all our martyrs.
After the supplication, the crowd in the sports hall starts packing up. 10 busses, large and small, are waiting for the passengers. Yes, time for embarkation… Luggages get loaded on the busses and passengers seek their seats. It takes half an hour for the bus to start and take off. Because our brothers and sisters from Antalya, from neighboring cities such as Burdur and Isparta pack the roads with their vehicles. Some of the vehicles, adorned with Palestinian flags, accompany us through most of our trip.
Today Antalya becomes Palestine. Antalya hosts Palestine. Children on the roads, people in their balconies send us off waving hands.
Hafize Zehra Öztürk