Sunday, December 2, 2007
I am a history buff and as often as I can I drag my wife off to some ruin or church or castle or... whatever. Usually she goes willingly but sometimes she has to be bribed, tricked, or cajoled. It wasn't long ago that I was standing in a field- thats right a field- talking about some battle which had taken place there. (The Battle of Issos which occurred in November 333BC where Alexander the Great defeated Daruis III King of Persia. This was the first time the Persians had been defeated with their King present. This marked the beginning of the end of Persian supremacy in the region and marks one of the most important Battles of Western Civilization http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Issus). In my mind I'm seeing phalanxes of hoplites, Persian archers and Macedonian cavalry but all she sees is a dirty river and acres of mud and the flaming heat and complaining children. Needless to say I'm lucky to still be married.
Anyway- Last week we went to Anavarsus (aka Anavarsa or Anavarza). It is an ancient Roman city that became part of the Byzantine Empire and later was used by Cilician Armenia as a provincial capital. On the hill overlooking the city the Armenians built a castle. So there was a lot to see. Here is a brief overview lifted from a travel site (http://www.planetware.com/adana/anavarza-anazarbus-tr-ad-ada.htm
"Beside the Sumbas Cayi, near the village of Anavarza in Upper Çukurova, to the east of the Ceyhan-Kozan road, lie the easily recognized walled ruins of Anazarbus, at one time the minor capital of Lesser Armenia. Perched dizzily on an isolated crag some 200m/650ft directly above the town (and reached by steps from near the theater) are extensive remains of the fortress (upper and lower fort). In addition to the ancient main street other town ruins include a Roman stadium, a theater, an aqueduct, several churches and a fine gate to the south. The local open-air museum (situated away from the site itself, in the center of the village) has some famous mosaics from the third century. Founded in the first century B.C. Anazarbus was a Romano-Byzantine town. In the 12th century, after numerous disputes with Byzantium and with the aid of the Crusaders, it passed to Lesser Armenia, the principal capital of which was Sis (Sisium/Kozan). Although from 1199 onwards the Armenian princes styled themselves kings, they were always forced, in the final resort, to acknowledge Byzantine supremacy. While close links between the royal house and the Mongols preserved Anazarbus from destruction, in 1297 a Mongol prince had 40 Armenian noblemen, together with Hetum their king, murdered at a banquet in the town."
We got a late start and so did not get to see the whole city or the museum but we did hike to the castle. We had a volunteer Turkish guide- a local who knows he can make more by guiding Americans up the hill than by raising.... whatever it is they raise there (sheep probably). He may have got more than he bargained for though as he soon realized we would not make it up the hill before nightfall at the rate we (Bennett) were moving. I already had one child (Hayden) on my back so he hoisted Bennett up on his and climbed the mountain. We walked past the remains of the Roman Amphitheater and the Roman Stadium and up onto the hill where the citizens buried their dead. This is a largely unexcavated site other than amateur (criminal) work. Occasionally we came across an excavated (pillaged) grave with bits of bone scattered about. It was kinda creepy.
Up the mountain we continued to the castle. It was a well defended site- lots of rocks and at the top of a mountain. We got to the castle and had a lot of fun running around on and in it. Arrow slits and water cisterns and everything else- our guide even pointed out the toilet. It is a large castle with multiple layers of walled defenses. A particular Armenian architectural trait was easy to see. Unlike every movie ever made where the front gate is in line with the wall (at the front of the gatehouse)- the Armenians built their front gates at a 90 degree angle to the wall (on the side of the gatehouse). This made it impossible to attack it by a battering ram. Pretty smart.
We had a great time- though we were always worried about one of the kids falling into a well or off the mountain (it is literally at the edge of a sheer cliff). From the top you can see the entire city spread out before you- probably 400 acres in size surrounded by a thick wall. The remains of an aqueduct stretch off to the North. Most of the city is flat dirt (some of it has even been plowed and planted) but here and there a temple or bath house has resisted the ravages of time. We eventually had to leave lest we be caught up there after dark.
At the car we had the offer of buying coins our guide had found around the city. We also payed the guide- he really liked my Maglite flashlight and that plus 20 dollars brought our transaction to a close. Linda and I both felt we ended up paying too much but it is hard to say no the man who carried your child up and back down a mountain on his back.
I wasn't going to write this part but Linda threatened to if I didn't. I wanted to drive along the aqueduct. I knew it parallelled the highway and figured I could get back without too much trouble. After driving for a few miles without seeing any way back to the road we turned into a small village. I did my best to get back to the highway but ended up in a farmers front yard. He and his sons were very nice and directed us to the road. Hopefully we don't become the butt of a "crazy American" joke retold for the next decade in the town.
For those of you who are Google Earth fans, Anavarsus is located at 35 degrees 53 minutes east latitude and 37 degrees and 15 minutes north longitude- the ancient city is the big green blob with the black line (cliff shadow) as the right border.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Anyway - back to the castles...! The weather was beautiful and we all had a great time. The kids collected pieces of pottery and roman coins (we have no National Parks Service here). Then we all had a picnic lunch. Maryn had a snake fall from the ceiling on to her head. She just said "Cool!" and then called her dad over to tell her what kind it was. The other little girls that were with us were pretty freaked out and avoided that room of the castle for the rest of the visit. Even I was a little nervous. I like snakes, but I still didn't want them dropping on me!
Halloween was also fun here. It was very military-ish. Trick or treating was to be executed in designated areas between the hours of 1700 and 2000. This is all very new to me. Maryn was a princess again and Dallen was a ninja. Bennett was going to be the Blue Power Ranger until -
a) he saw that Dallen was a ninja
b)he realized he'd have to wear a mask.
c)he realized that Power Rangers don't carry weapons
So, we had two ninjas this year. One of them didn't cover his face, much to the irritation of the other one. "Bennett! Ninja's are supposed to wear this up over their faces! You have to be disguised!" "Dallen, Ninja's don't like masks" And so the evening went. Dallen tried unsuccessfully to yank up Bennett's mask as they walked to each house.
Hayden was a duck. And a very cute, chubby one at that. I will also try to post video of him walking (sort of)
Until next time!
Monday, October 29, 2007
I immediately thought back to a time when I was ten. I had looked up a phone number and was reciting it to myself. As I walked down the hallway on my way to the phone, one by one, all of my brothers descended on me like locusts, pulling me away from the phone and shouting random numbers at me to make me forget what I had been saying. I still don't get why. But for this reason (and many others) my daughter gets her own party each year. =)
Besides - each of the kids requested a different theme. So unless BirthdayExpress.com has started making "Princess Ninja Pirate Duck" plates - I am out of luck anyway.
But I digress....
Michael made it back safe and sound. He said he felt "okay" about his test. We will see in three months. (Yes, they make you wait that long for the results. No, I can't believe it either) A huge "Thank-you" to Ken and Ashlee for letting him stay with them in Philly! I am holding you to your promise to come visit! =)
He also said that it was great being back in the U.S. But, he was kind to me and didn't rub in all the Restaurants he visited. Someone asked me once what I miss the most about America. I'd have to say that would be Restaurants. It is not that I don't like Turkish food (I REALLY do) It is just that, that is ALL there is! (Go Figure) I never really thought of that before coming here. In America, if you are in the mood for Thai, Mexican, Burgers, Soup and Sandwiches, whatever - you just go to the appropriate corresponding restaurant. But here, there is Turkish food. (And Taco Bell) It is not that they don't try, but even the "American" food on base ends up tasting Turkish. Because that is who is cooking it!
It is an interesting dynamic. ALL of the restaurants in Adana serve the same thing. The Turks are very traditional. They take a "this is what we have always cooked, and this is what we will always cook" attitude. Believe me, it is cooked VERY well, but sometimes I just want to go to an Applebees! =) I try not to think about the fact that Michael did - like four times!!!
As far as the political situation goes (regarding the Armenian Resolution) - we are still in a "wait and see" mode. Things are a little strained, but most of the Turks in our village are as nervous as we are. If anything happens to the base, their livelihood is gone. Besides - most of them truly do like us and want us here. We did have to be locked on the base a couple of times last week. There were some heated protests about the Turkish soldiers killed near the Iraq border. The protests were not anti-American (the people want the Turkish government to find the Kurdish rebels that did it) but our Base commander wanted to be safe. You never know what kind of looneys show up to those things. Just look at any University campus in California. =)
So unless the Resolution passes, things will stay calm here. Like I told my brother, there is no sense in freaking myself out about it. All I can do is make my opinion known to my elected officials, get my affairs in order, and go on with my life. The rest is completely out of my hands. It helps to remember that The Lord sent us here. I still truly believe that. I just hope He didn't send me here to teach me to not be so attached to my worldly possessions! =)
(Editors Note: The previous paragraphs were written a day before they were posted. We have since learned that Nanci Pelosi got a clue, the Resolution was dropped, and we can all let out our long-held breath.)
We are all well, safe, and happy. I am still trying to get Michael to sit down and write. Not only does he need to write about the Turkish Bath House, but he also attended a traditional wedding on Tuesday. We've got great video of him dancing! =) So far I have been unable to get him to log on. What? Does he think he is BUSY or something?
Oh, and one last thing. We have definitely decided to baptise Dallen in the River Jordan. It is possible with planning, so we are going forward. I mention this now so that anyone that wants to join us in the Holy Land has fair warning. We are looking at setting a date for the second week of November 2008 (Most likely Tuesday the 11th). We are planning on taking tours of the Garden of Gethsemane and Christ's Tomb, etc. So it will definitely be worth it! I can help with finding hotels and stuff, just let me know. I just thought I'd dangle the carrot! =)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Of course the day he left, was the day my busy-body neighbor decided to freak me out. For those of you that follow politics, there is a resolution before Congress about the Armenian genocide. I won't bore you with long descriptions, but apparently the Turks are VERY upset about it. All of the service members on base received a memo to be cautious and alert because if the resolution passed, there could be demonstrations. We were not placed on lock down or anything, just warned to be on our guard. ANYWAY - this neighbor of mine got me completely freaked out because she is convinced there will be violence and we will have to be evacuated. She was here at the start of the Iraq war, and she was evacuated then. Apparently you get very little notice and you must leave everything behind. They were displaced in Germany for two months before they got the all clear to return to their homes. But of course she darkly pointed out that THIS time it is an issue with the Turks, so we could be kicked out for good. In fact, she said that if that happens, we might never get our things back. "Oh, the Air Force will try to compensate you, but how can you put a price on family heirlooms and photos?"
Yeah, go ahead and just ROCK me to sleep tonight.
Fortunately, I talked to a few other people that told me how unlikely this all really is. But it is still in the back of my head. I still feel so out of place here. The adjusting is harder on me than I thought it would be. I don't know, maybe it is just that my husband is gone again. Just my luck that this all happens right as he leaves. Only 9 more days and counting....
Friday, October 5, 2007
I know it sounds trite, but there HAS been a lot going on. I actually drove for the first time off base and into the city. (Got terribly lost, paid a toll on the Turkish Otoban, asked a donkey cart driver for directions, smiled politely and nodded when I didn't understand a bit of what he said - you know - the usual) Oh - and a man was electrocuted on our front lawn. Don't worry though, he's doing better now.
So, let me start at the beginning. Last Thursday, I woke up and rushed around my house to get everything ready for the "Planned Power Outage"at 8am. Contractors were fixing a transformer in front of our house, so our whole block lost power that day. My friend Angie and I had decided to go into Adana rather than be stuck at home with no power. She showed up just as the power went out. We went to get into the car when all of the sudden we heard a loud popping/banging noise and a man was on the ground in front of the transformer with smoke coming out of the top of his head. Then everyone went nuts. (By the way - Turkish people are NOT calm in a crisis.) It took us forever to call for help, because of the aforementioned "power outage" no one's electric phones were working. (Note to self - get a corded phone)
At this point everyone is in panic mode. It seemed like every Turkish handyman on the base (there are A LOT) was running to try and help. Many of the Turkish nannys (there are even MORE) were crying. My neighbor's nanny just wrung her hands and kept yelling, "cok gec" (chalk gech - "it is too late") The lady next to her turned pale until I pointed out that the man was moving his hands and nodding his head.
The ambulanz finally arrived and he was whisked away. All of us were still pretty shook up, but we had to leave in order to make it back in time to get our kids from school. Besides, there was nothing else we could do at this point. So on we venture. (a sane person would have noticed that this experience did not bode well for the rest of the day, but since when am I sane?)
So, we leave the safety of our little base and venture out into the great wide world. Now I was trying to find the office of my Turkish friend, Delik. She had offered to take me to get a cell phone. Mostly because the prices on the base are more expensive. Anyway, I spent about 30 minutes doing what should have take 5. (I tell you, these roads are made by blind-folded, drunk donkeys!) When we finally found her office, I go to get her - and she sends out her Boss instead. Apparently she wasn't able to get away. I had met him a couple of times, so I felt only a little weird having him help. I probably would have said "no thanks" but we REALLY needed an interpreter.
So he takes me to the cell phone store, and again I feel as though I am 6 years old. I am standing there feeling stupid while they talk over my head. I basically have to trust that this man, Sefer, is actually buying me a cell phone and not selling me into slavery.
All goes well, and I am feeling confident enough to drop Sefer off before the I head over to the bazzar. He keeps asking, "you are sure you know the way?" "Of course" Angie says, "It is a straight shot right?" (By the way - this is the same Angie that accompanied me on my infamous "dolmus" trip. Something else a sane person would have noticed)
As I am sure you have guessed by now, we became lost. Very, very lost. Suffice it to say, asking for directions around here is like playing a twisted game of charades. Luckily for me, Sefer had programmed his cell phone number into my phone. We called him and he talked us back to the main roads. Thank heaven for bilingual friends. All these close shaves have made me study my Turkish even harder.
It is funny how being safe at home makes these stories funny.....
Next week Michael returns to Pennsylvania to take his National Board Exam. I might not get much written while he is gone, but I will try to post some pictures. Oh, and the man that was electrocuted really is okay. He had some pretty severe burns, but it could have been SO much worse! Here's to the next adventure! Gorusuruz!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Anyway, I have been up to my eyeballs in boxes. We finally cleared a space in the office for the computer. So now we are back - and badder than ever! =)
I realize I never wrote about the Baptism last week. It was so neat! We had to drive about 45 minutes to get to a part of the coast that you would want to set foot in. (That is the one thing I have decided I don't like about this country - the garbage. I don't know if it is because of the poverty around us or what - but there is garbage everywhere! It makes me sad! Some of the places we have visited are so beautiful, and people just toss junk around. The cities don't seem to be too bad, but the villages are awful! Michael made a good point though - the villages are where the poorest people live. When you are just trying to survive, you don't really spent time on "adopt a highway" programs.)
Back to the Baptism - we went to the coast and had a neat little service. Then the little girl (Kaylee) and her dad walked out into the Mediterranean Sea and she was baptized! It was so neat! Dallen is excited that he will get to do the same thing next fall. Although Michael wants to see if we can get him baptized in the River Jordan. I think he is getting his hopes unrealistically high. But if he wants to try - more power to him!
Not much else has happened this past week, mostly because we have just been trying to unpack and get organized. Although we did venture to the city yesterday so we could go to McDonalds. The kids about had heart attacks when they saw the "golden arches". This is as close to American food as we can get here. To be honest though, I think they just loved the familiarity. I know I did. We couldn't read anything on the menus or posters, but everything still looked the same. I will post some pictures of the playland guidelines in Turkish.
Anyway, I think I will sign off because I am falling asleep as I write! I just wanted to let you all know that we haven't fallen completely off the earth, just half way! =) Thanks to everyone that has posted comments or sent e-mails. I do read them even if I don't answer. We love and miss you!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Finance has also done me the favor of messing up Michael's direct deposit. Because I had nothing else to think about right now.....
But enough moaning! I had a small bright spot today- Apfel Schorle!!!! For those of you who don't know what that is, I will enlighten you. It is a wonderful sparkling apple juice that my oldest brother introduced me to when I went to visit him in Switzerland. And they have it at our Commissary!!!! Believe it or not, that actually made my day better. I had gone to the store to forget that my personal belongings were not being delivered. And there it was! So, see, someone out there wants to make sure I don't seek revenge on the TMO office.
Anyway- I just wanted to update you all, in case you were wondering if our stuff actually came. The answer - if you missed it - is a big fat "no". I will write again after Saturday, when we attend a friend's daughter's baptism in the Mediterranean Sea.....
Sunday, September 9, 2007
After the hour meeting (everything is shorter here) we all went to this great restaurant right on the water. They served kepaps (shish kebab) on these long swords. I have never seen so much food! It was a great night.
Michael left this morning for London. He will be gone till Thursday. He has some certificate training to do. I am so incredibly jealous! I have always wanted to go! His trip is even paid for!! I made him promise to take lots of pictures.
Also, our belongings are due to arrive this week. It will be just my luck they will come before he gets back! =) But hey, I'd rather have it here!!!
Monday, September 3, 2007
The path up to the top started out deceptively easy. Then the pavement ended! But we all did okay. Even Bennett. Hayden had the sweetest ride. He was just carried up! You can tell in all the pictures, we are completely dying of heat. It was 102 degrees with pretty much no shade. (Yeah, yeah, I know, to all you Arizona people, 102 is nothing! But I wish you could see what I mean. It doesn't sound all that hot, but I have never experienced sun like this. It is indescribable! Everyone warned us that the sun is more intense here, but wow! It's like you can feel it shining on your internal organs!) I have never in my life lived in a place so hot and humid (it was 92% today!) But hey! I'll be bragging about the temperature in January! =) Maryn and Michael really checked out every nook and cranny. The boys and I decided the shade was more fun! (In my defense - I had carried the baby up! Okay- so Michael and I took turns, but I'm still going to whine!)
There was a small cafe at the bottom of the path, so we had some lunch and some frukto and yedigan (basically orange soda and sprite respectively - just not so sweet)
We had to get out of the sun and rest, because poor little Dallen was about to collapse! He had been climbing like a mountain goat, and really made himself sick. In fact, half way through his lunch, he ran to the little cement wall behind us and gave his sandwich back to a tree. Poor kid! When he finished, I cleaned him up and had him sit down. He looked at me with a pale face and in a shaky voice said, "Well, now my tummy has lots more room for candy." I guess he's just looking on the bright side, right? =)
So that was our adventure - tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode! I'm still bugging Michael to write his experience in the 500 year old Turkish Bath House.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Isn't Hayden cute? Can you believe how big he is now!? If I can get this video thing to upload smoothly, I will definetley post more.
I am planning on starting my Conversational Turkish class tomorrow. I will also let you know how that goes. My goal is to get good enough at the language that I feel comfortable venturing out. I do it anyway now, but it scares me a little. Especially after the whole "dolmus" thing.
I am also planning to post a video of our home as soon as our stuff arrives. (I'm sure you could tell by Hayden's video, we are pretty bare right now) I want you all to be able to appreciate our "dorm/student housing" lifestyle. Everything should be here by the 12th. (Happy Birthday Cameron!) We will see if it actually comes. =/
I made it back in one piece, and I couldn't stop smiling and peeking into my garage! You know, as much as I am going to miss my rental car (I say that with the utmost sarcasm!) I am just so excited!
On the note of great things happening, I had to call maintenance to report a problem with my washing machine. Well, they came, they saw, they couldn't fix it. SO! I get to have a brand spankin' new machine delivered on Monday!!!
A car AND a washer? I am in heaven.
Monday, August 27, 2007
We have now been in Turkey for 3 weeks and two days. In some ways it seems that the time has flown by, in other ways two years seems like an eternity. I have been exploring the Base, and have found a few things to do and a lot of very nice people. Life is what you make it, and we will be very happy here. Mostly because we really do want to be here.
One of the first things Maryn discovered was the Taco Bell. We were all quite thrilled because we hadn't had one close to us in three years. The bad news is, it is the only fast food on Base. So we will see how thrilled we are with it in a couple of months! =)
My latest adventure happened this last Sunday. A friend, her visiting mother, and I decided to try to go to the fruit market in Incirlik Village. Now before you judge me about keeping the sabbath day holy - let me defend myself by saying it is the ONLY day there is an available fruit market because the Muslim holy day is Friday, and we were all really tired of eating canned produce. But as you are about to see, Heavenly Father didn't like my justification either.....
Angie and I were told to just go to the front gate and wait at the corner for a dolmus. (Pronounced - dole mush. It is basically a VW van that you pay 1YTL (80 cents) to climb into and squeeze between extremely strong smelling old men, and then hang on for dear life.) So here we are waiting, and one pulls up. Well, we climb on, pay our lira, and we are off. We were told that the market was a 10 min walk from the gate, so after about 8 minutes of driving, Angie looks at me and goes, "I think we are on the wrong dolmus." I look out the window and notice signs for Adana (the city about 30 minutes away from the village). We look at eachother and try not to panic. Angie asks the Driver where we are going, he looks at her blankly. "English?" she says. He shakes his head, rattles off in Turkish, and then says hopefully, "Deutch?" (Where is my oldest brother when I really need him!? Or Kyle for that matter?) So Angie says loudly to the entire bus, "Does anyone here speak English? We need help." Everyone looked at us blankly except for the couple of women that tried to scoot discreetly away from Angie.
Then we try to ask the Driver to let us off. At this point we are thinking - lets just get a Taksi (exactly what it sounds like) and take it back to base. More expensive, yes, but definitely more direct. The driver decided that it is not safe for him to let three women off half-way to Adana. (At least that's what we surmised from the gestures. Oh, and guess what? It is not just arrogant Americans that yell louder in thier native language thinking it will make them understood somehow)
Well, he wouldn't let us off, but he did keep saying "Incirlik, Incirlik" and pointing back at the village. So we figured he was going there eventually. We were right, as soon as he had emptied the bus, we were on our way back. Whew... Except for now we had to try and communicate that we wanted to go to the Market. Luckily, while getting a smoothie two days earlier, I had learned the words "elmar" and "amut" "apple" and "pear" respectively. I said these words while making eating motions and waving a 5 YTL. He got the point eventually, but I think for a little while he was just enjoying watching me look silly.
SO - we arrive at the market. He stops the bus and asks for more money. I hand him a lira. He shakes his head "no" and motions for more. 5 YTL. Still not enough. So I hand him 20 YTL. He keeps it, and asks for more.
At this point Angie and her mom have rounded up someone who speaks English. Who also just so happens to be a policeman. He asks what the problem is, I tell him we aren't sure what the driver wants. They speak in Turkish, and the policeman says (a little confused) "He says you owe him 40 YTL?" I about fell over! I told the policeman what happened and finished with "I will gladly pay him something for his trouble- but I am NOT paying 40 YTL for a dolmus ride!" The policeman's jaw dropped when he heard my story. He said, "He is crazy! You made a mistake! Besides, he had to come back here anyway to get more passengers!" So then he turns to the driver and they had some pretty heated words in Turkish. I am glad I didn't understand. Anyway - the driver threw the 20 YTL back at me and stormed off to his bus. We kept apologizing to the Policeman, (I am definitely NOT in the business of ticking off locals) but he waved us off. "He is crazy, that was his problem not yours" We thanked him, found our amut, and went running back to the base with our tails between our legs.
Yes, what started out as a 1 hour trip to the market, ended
as a 3 1/2 hour lesson in dealing with abandonment fears in 102 degree
Moral of the story- don't shop on Sunday- even if you think you have a good reason. Canned fruit is tasting pretty good at this point. =) Although I must say, finally getting safely back to Base helped me see the humor in the situation. And the story gets funnier as each day passes. It may sound corny, but I really have more sympathy for immigrants now. It is SO frightening to feel so vulnerable. We had no idea what was happening. We couldn't read any signs, understand any words -nothing! It must be how a child feels. All these words around you, and you know they mean something, but you have no idea what. Anyway, all is well that ends well. You live and learn. Now I know not to leave with out my phrasebook. =)
Next time, I will tell you all about my rockin' rental car....