My last few days in Istanbul were a whirlwind of activity that took me to the four corners of the city, both the European and Asian side, plus an island in the Bosphorus. I rode on trains, taxis, trolleys, riverboats, and a large commuter ferry. I managed to dip a toe in the Black Sea and take a horse drawn carriage tour of Prince’s Island with my friend from the hostel and two Canadians that we met on the ferry – one of whom was wearing a Leafs jersey. I found a FedEx depot and shipped several items back to Canada. I’m no longer carrying the Leafs jersey that I bought in China or the Macbook that I brought from home. By mid-week I had said goodbye to my friend Billal who returned to Algiers. And finally, in preparation for my move to India, I bought a new lightweight backpack and a small gym bag and did another round of SP&R (sort, purge and re-pack).
Having just shed 3 kg from my pack, I wasn’t in the mood for shopping when I left the FedEx depot and walked back to the hostel on my second last night in Istanbul. I have no idea why I stopped to look at a window display of colourful women’s purses but I did. It wasn’t immediately clear what material they were made from, but I was intrigued so I decided to take a closer look.
Once inside the store it was clear what had drawn me in: Everything in the store was made from recycled plastics – mostly feed and seed bags from Saskatchewan. “Saskan Pulse Trading”, “ILTA Grain Inc.” and “Simpson Seeds Inc.” were well represented. Some of the bags had more writing than others, but one bright blue and yellow tote had the entire company logo: “Simpson Seeds Inc. – Nourishing the World – Product of Canada.” Another listed their web address and location: “Moose Jaw, Sask., Canada.”
Before leaving the store I posted these photos on Facebook and tagged my nephew Andy who now lives in Moose Jaw. Andy replied within minutes. “Where did you see these?”
It turns out that Andy has done some photography work for Simpson Seeds. In his words, “Great people and a fantastic family-run business that is growing by leaps and bounds.” Andy then tagged several members of the Simpson family and within fifteen minutes I was texting and sharing photos with Elyce Simpson. She was definitely in the market for a clutch and a tote bag.
I ended up getting a medium sized waterproof toiletries bag for myself. If you’re wondering how I do this and still call myself an minimalist backpacker, it’s because I will give away three packing cubes (bags for medications, first-aid, toiletries) and carry this one bag with several zip-lock bags inside.
Picking up bags for Elyce meant one more trip to FedEx, which in Turkey is not exactly stress-free, but it was the least I could do for a friend of Andy’s. By Tuesday afternoon I’m sure Elyce will be admiring her new clutch and tote bag and wondering if she had really just spent $150 for two 45 cent seed bags and another $125 to fly them from Istanbul to Moose Jaw. I, by the way, think it was money well spent.