So I just caught up reading my mom’s blog and now I feel very sheepish and wonder if and why anyone’s even checking my blog anymore. Not that I’ve been posting much lately. That woman can write! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, do it. You’ll be laughing out loud sometimes and reaching for a tissue to dry your eyes sometimes, if you’re anything like me. The address is http://windsunexpected.blogspot.com/.
Anyway, I haven’t been posting as much lately I think because the countdown inside of me has begun. As much as I have loved this place and this experience, Dorothy had it right when she so astutely stated (10 times in a row) that “there’s no place like home.” Well, my ruby slippers are on and I’m clicking my heels every day, waiting to open my eyes and find myself surrounded by the people I love most.
But that doesn’t mean life doesn’t continue on in a unique and exciting fashion here in To-furkey. Speaking of To-furkey, I just want to make sure everyone knows that there is in actuality a type of tofu called To-furkey. No, I have never tried it before, but it’s on my bucket list. So, the rest of my time off was cool, but I don’t have much desire to write about it for some reason. So if you want more details, come to my Turkish feast on August 23rd. Or ask me about it next time you see me. It really was so fantastic. I want to get back here as a tourist someday when I can spend more time exploring this fascinating place. My other destinations included Gallipoli (which I accidentally called “Gallopoli”—like Monopoly or the Galapagos Islands--in front of my new Australian friends who went into fits of laughter, said that was “so American of me to say that” and then didn’t let me live it down for 2 days), a festering little hostel where I slept in my clothes overnight and brushed my teeth with water because I had only been planning to take a day trip and ended up staying two days, and Troy. Troy rocked. I want to read a book about the Trojans and Spartans now. And recreate a Trojan horse in my backyard someday for a playhouse for my children.
So after my days off, I flew out Monday night to meet up with the family at Sidika’s father’s home in Bodrum. Bodrum is a HUGE yachting city where many of the wealthy Turkish families go for their holiday get-aways. It’s beautiful there. Sidika’s father’s home is more like a hotel, except he doesn’t rent it out or anything. It consists of a couple villas and 6 or 7 suites (one of which I had to myself). There are three permanent house workers, a driver, a yard worker, and who knows how many other staff that I didn’t see in my one day there. Yes. I did say one day. Funny story.
So I flew in Monday night and was informed upon arrival that we would be staying there for 8 days. That was the plan. We had our plane tickets, some of Chem and Sidika’s friends from work were there with us, we had all unpacked our things. Now Zeynep is a child with a will. And she has decided that she doesn’t like going to bed at a normal time…she doesn’t even like to go to bed at a late time. She wants to go to bed at an utterly insane time…especially for a 7-year-old. That means she usually ends up shutting the eyes at 1:30 or 2:00 am. No joke. That’s how it’s been all summer. So she’s been tired. And poor, sweet Mary Jane has to stay with her until she’s asleep or she’ll scream and cry and won’t go to bed. So Mary Jane hasn’t been getting much sleep. Well, finally Zeynep’s bizarre sleeping schedule caught up with her and she got a little sick my second night there. The next day she was completely better, but told her mom she wanted to go back to Istanbul. And so that’s what we did. We changed the plane tickets to that night, packed up the things, and left. HAHA. I just feel bad they flew me down there for one day, but oh well. I was happy to be there for the one day that I was because Tuesday was the day they went out on the yacht, which was an other-worldy experience. I forget how much I love boating until I get on a boat. I love it SO much. It was a gorgeous day of cruising along on the sea, looking at the breath-taking views, swimming in the crystal clear water, and eating an INCREDIBLE 10-course lunch where Sidika herself chose the huge fresh fish that they cooked up and served to us. About 4 different appetizers, various salads, breads, olives, main course, and three different desserts. It was heavenly. Oh man, my mouth’s watering just thinking about it. I am my father’s daughter.
So, I’m unexpectedly back in Istanbul, but I’m glad. I love it here. And I’m happy to get a little more time here before I leave. Today Sidika took me to the Spice Bazaar because my day tour hadn’t taken me there. It was pretty sweet. It reminded me a lot of Jerusalem’s Old City. I asked Sidika if locals ever shop there and she laughed and said no. It’s a total tourist mirage. They play it up for the tourists hardcore, but it’s still real fun to walk through and peruse all the merchandise. It connects to the Grand Bazaar and between the two you can find more random junk than you thought possible to exist, much less be accumulated in one area. Oh, sweet junk for sale--something that every place in the world has in common. Something I find hilarious is the fact that actual Turks never eat Turkish delight, but of course the tourist areas are CRAWLING with the stuff. It comes in every shape, size, color, flavor imaginable (and unimaginable). So, what do you think I bought at the spice bazaar? You got it. Turkish delight. I’m bringing home 3 boxes for anyone who wants to sink their teeth into something that looks pretty much repulsive to me. But I guess I shouldn’t judge before I try it. I’ll give it a fair chance.
Something I loved about the spice bazaar was all the animals. They sell animals of every breed there. Ducks, chickens, iguanas, puppies, cats, turtles, geese, bunnies, parrots, the list goes on and on…And the funniest thing about it is that every shop sells the same animals and they all have the same pyramids of dozens of different types of cat food/dog food/birdseed in front of their shops. I wonder how they all stay in business…no one specializes! They all sell the exact same stuff. Funny. Anyway, on the way out, Zeynep wanted to buy some chicks. So we packed up three baby chicks in a box, but at the last minute Sidika decided a bunny rabbit would be easier to take care of and asked Zeynep if a bunny would be okay instead, which of course she consented to. So we came home with an actually very cute baby bunny that Zeynep named “Bitsy.” I love it, this family goes to the market and just comes home with a bunny. No biggie. We’ll just buy a bunny today. Cool.
While I’m thinking about animals, here’s something interesting about Turkey: although it’s really modernized and European here, there are stray dogs EVERYWHERE, like in Mexico. The difference with these stray dogs is that the government takes care of them. They get a clip in their ear and then the government takes full responsibility for them, providing food, shots, etc. Isn’t that interesting? I think that it gives people a higher incentive to abandon their animals and not worry about it…but I think it’s interesting all the same. The government is spending money on homeless animals when there are plenty of people in Turkey who live in poverty. Interesting.
Something else that’s funny about this place is the driving. Similar to Israel, the lines on the road are more guidelines or suggestions than concrete lanes. And Turkish drivers can squeeze through openings so small it makes you wet your pants a little…not that I’ve had any personal experience with that or anything…cough, cough. I’ve already written about the honking, which I actually think is great. But I can’t try to start a fad with it in America because I’d get shot or run off the road. The lack of road rage here is very refreshing. I haven’t seen a single person get flipped the birdie or even a driver make an angry you’re-such-an-idiot-and-deserve-to-be-shot face at a fellow roadman. And I haven’t seen a single accident either.
There’s more to tell, but this is long so I guess it’ll have to wait. Cheerio, dear friends. Go eat some To-furkey for me.