Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another dear and loved family member of mine has passed as I'm away on my adventures abroad. My grandfather, Allan Campbell, has passed on Dec. 19th. At a mighty age of 92 his heart of a horse finally gave out. As it makes me yearn for home even more during this Christmas season, I have been able to find peace and happiness in knowing that it was for the best as the last decade of his life can be defined as a vegetable. I know I speak for the entire family when I say we have loads of hilarious memories of him that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. I will never forget his deep voice and a mouth bearing no teeth in each summer (visit) morning as his caved in face would say "Why hi-lo there Ky-tee!" and freak me out at my young age -year after year! He will always be loved and we all will hold each memory dear and deep within our hearts until we meet him again. Until then, he will be truly missed and will remain the basis to which I can say: I am a Campbell.

I wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a love-filled New Year! Enjoy your time with all of your friends and family. I can't wait to see all of you again and I order each of you to not die while I'm gone!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Are you ready for a whirlwind tour of my life since Oktoberfest? Well strap your pants on! Stand up sit down, do a little dance, brush your teeth (proven fact that it helps you read better -like coffee stunts your growth and I’ve been drinking it since the 3rd grade and I’m giant!) go on, do it and read:

1.)Oktoberfest was nothing short of Ahh-mazing! Both of them! Katie and I went to Munich and Stuttgart. Mom, you are worried about losing me to Istanbul, well it’s got nothing on Stuttgart! It's gorgeous and I feel so at home in Germany! Unfortunately we didn't get to tour around Munich because by the time we arrived and got situated, it was time to drink! We met some really fun people at both fests and had a crazy time drinking with them!
Oooo speaking of feeling so at home I think I can pick up the language really fast! At the Stuttgart Oktoberfest, we hung out with a group of Germans. At one point they started speaking in German instead of English and I was able to participate in the conversation -though I only spoke English back. But they kept replying in German and the conversation kept on for a while! I guess the alcohol just brought back all that I had lost from when I was little....
We also enjoyed real huge tasty sausages atleast once a day, and trust me when I say I mean more like twice a day, not to mention the real, freshly baked buns that come with it! Wooooweeee!!
Everyone was so holly and jolly while drinking together! And these costumes they wore! So many people in the traditional dresses and laiderhosen! Awesome! All ages too! There would be groups of people my age and walking around like it was normal! Even men covered in tattoos; you know the ones that try to be all tough and then they have laiderhosen on! Haha!
In Munich, I went on rides that one sober would have problems going through! We met some crazy English boys on a bachelor party weekend at the Munich Oktoberfest, and they were absolutely hilarious! They were also responsible for me going on these rides I should have died on (I'm not sure what happened to Katie at that point. We were walking and suddenly she was gone! Apparently she met some group of Spanish or English girls and hung out with them!)!! One in particular was a fun house...er...“fun” mountain we’ll call it. I’m not sure how I survived it, nor really remember waiting in line for it, but I did have the bruises to show for it! I also thought I could wrestle with one of them, who is a really really big guy, needless to say I wound up thrown over his shoulders! The beers were huge and tasty, but as if that wasn’t enough, we even got served apricot brandy shots with whipped cream on top in little mini beer mugs. Again, like the rides, why this was such a good idea, we shall never know. Apparently, the gigantor mugs of beer were not enough!
Here’s a clip of merry men!:

Need I say more about this? Didn’t think so!
And these “tents” are sooo massive they put Costco to shame! Honestly, this video doesn’t do it justice! You can’t see all of the seating on the side and the second floor, and people are still crowded in the aisles with nowhere to sit! There’s even lines up out the door at night!! Not to mention the fact that there are atleast 12 tents that size!! Amazing!
The beer here is a grand and vast selection. I’ve gotten used to having only one brand of beer here in Istanbul and then I go to Germany and they have tons of it extraordinarily lined up and referidgerated at each corner store! I even saw a few grandpas getting an early start at crackin open a cold one at no later than 8 am! Now that is love! It def gives coffee quite a competition!

2.) Next up: film festival! One of my friend’s, who has already upped and left to go to India to extend his yoga career, invited me to the film festival to catch one of the movies. We saw Rachel’s Getting Married. It was a good movie but a bit of a downer because I was expecting the film festival to be this huge event with carpets and famous people and this huge building full of movies, but it wasn’t. It was just unusual movies for a week long in an old theater. We saw the Surprise Movie, apparently they don’t tell the viewers what they will play until that day, which is the last day. But I must say it was a really cool experience to be able to be apart of a film festival, even if it was no Cannes!

3.) Then Katie’s bro came to visit! Lots of touristic things were done with him and lots of drinking as he is a thirsty boy! That was fun! We even managed to be first on the ferry, which he really should be made famous for. People here rush on and off the boats like nobody’s business here. It doesn’t make any sense, nor are they all really in that big of a rush! Old men are even jumping ship before it’s tied to the dock! It’s unreal! We happened to be first waiting for the next ferry to come, and as people piled on top of us, we decided to try to be first on! I thought it was going to be rather easy, but men seriously started running, giving us a bit of a challenge! Lol! I even brought him into one of my fave classes (who were level 5s, they can speak fluently) and had them ask him really weird questions in order to surprise and catch him off guard! One of them asked him if he were a fruit what would it be and he replied a pineapple! After he left I made them write a personal ad for him and they all had it as one of his major selling points! It’s great!

4.) We also thew a Halloween party!! That was awesome! Especially since it was the first time for some of our Turkish friends -they don’t celebrate it here!
I was no other than the colonel from the KFC! The white beard with stache, glasses, and a big gut -no less were worn! And let me tell you, it attracted all of the women! So fellas out there, if you want to attract some honeys dress up as an old fat man! It somehow does the trick! Grant had an awesome costume too! He went to the extent of shaving off half his head, beard AND even one of his
eyebrows! LOL! He was 2-Faced from Batman, so it was only necessary!
The cops even came, our neighbors didn’t call on us, they drove by and heard the noise. Luckily our Turkish friends simmered them down and away. We also shut off the music to keep them from coming back! So that was a bit scary, especially since our Turkish friends left immediately there after! One of our friends had forgotten her ID at home and jumped in Mike’s wardrobe when she had heard they came! LOL!

5.) We tore it up on the dance floor at this reggae bar one night. Katie and I met up with Dylan and some of his friends since it was one of his last nights here in Istanbul (same guy I went to the film festival with). Since it was a Wednesday night, the club was pretty bare so we got the entire floor to ourselves doing ridiculous dance moves! Awesome! But then later on this group of foreign high schoolers came in, we made some of them and left!

6.) Unfortuneately, we all had to say goodbye to Natalie. I was lucky enough to get to know her for these past few months. We go to do some touring around Istanbul together and lots of other funs! I was also very lucky to get the chance to go to some of her dinner parties! She is an amazing cook! She had been living here the past few years but decided that Istanbul is no longer her definite place. She is from a Carribean island and will be there until she goes to teach in Mexico. Needless to say I will def go and visit her in the near future!

7.) I also went one night with Jeff and Mike to a Turku bar. Jeff writes for the Time Out Istanbul magazine and was doing this bit about Turku bars and had to go to several. It was a lot of fun. There’s lots of varieties of traditional Turkish music, and this tiny interior decorated cabin bar had great music! It was funny at first because this couple that was singing kept parading their famous friends up on stage to let them sing a song one after the other! One of them spoke English and since we clearly were the only foreigners in the bar, she made a point to use her English! It’s funny, everybody here wants to be a professional singer, they all think they have this amazing voice (hmmm...a bit like me, but they are scarily proud)! As the night went on, people got drunker off nasty Raki (you know it as the Greek Ozo) and started dancing. The waiters randomly pulled out these huge drums which swung over their shoulders and started pounding away to the songs! One of them even started traditional dancing with the customers! It was great! They tried to get us to come and dance which naturally, I was itching to do, but by that point it was getting close to my leaving time (hey, I had a class to teach the next morning and once I get started on a dance floor good luck stopping me!) So needless to say, I held back! But we are planning to go back for more and discover others! I can’t wait to do some traditional dancing!

8.) There were lots more inbetween, not to mention the butt load of work I’ve been having, but lets jump to the Thanksgiving feast! That was amazing! And yes, I can officially say, I have had turkey in Turkey! Wahn wahn! We ran into the 2 guys that were hosting at the grocery store the night before. One’s british (which they don’t have this holiday) and the other is American. They asked me if we were vegetarians because the dishes we were both bringing were just vegetables. I was like no, why would you ask that?! And they’re like well no meat! So I told them how the only dish is really just turkey and they were quite surprised! I def had my doubts about the dinner after that convo but man, did they surprise me! Such a huge turkey and it was soooo moist!! Also, the brit made a cottage pie (which I learned is a shepard’s pie but beef instead of lamb) so that was super tasty! It has been a while since I’ve had one of those! Plus, he said how I can call him up for the recipe or if it’s too hard to make, I can call to order and he’ll whip one up anytime! So naturally, I told him he better get ready for some phone orders! Which I should make one soon….

9.) We finally made it to a hamam!! Soo cool! Not being a tourist has its perks as we only had to pay a quarter of the price the tourists do over on the other side! Woohoo! Though I imagine the experience is a heck of a lot longer and perhaps a little more sanitary! Anyways, Jeff’s 18 year old niece and her friend were visiting and he wanted to bring them to one. They divide the girls and guys into separate hamams, so he asked us to escort them. After a strong “pull” of my leg I went with these two sheltered, innocent, conservative, young girls from the south – Georgia!! Ahh! At hamams, you are pretty much naked. Being that they were visiting a male, they had no idea what any of the details of what they were in for! They give you a room with windows, to change out of your clothes, but these 2 wanted to get naked in a bathroom! It turned out not to be possible for them to do so since the bathroom was in the bath part and you aren’t allowed with your clothes on! Katie and I had out bikinis and we dropped trou immediately. Ok, so you’re not super naked. You are completely except for you keep your bottom underwear/bikini on – so topless. The girls had no choice but to get over it and had to deal with going in their underwear. So we go on in and there’s this customer that happened to speak English there! She was super nice and explained everything as we didn’t know what the heck to do! As she was explaining to us, it was her turn to get scrubbed and washed down on the giant marble slab in the center of the room (Everyone sits along the outer edges of the wall next to their own marble sink so you can constantly wet your body down. The room is quite hot, sauna style, but not so sweltering.) So as she’s explaining to us, this old saggy fat women was scrubbing her about in her chonies as well! At one point she put this English speaker’s face right in her naked chest so she can scrub the back of her neck! And this woman just keeps talking acting like it’s a normal thing to practically motorboat this half naked woman! Lol! Luckily, she didn’t do it to us, as she new we were first timers! She did give us perma wedgies though! Each and everyone of us! Hey she had to make sure she gave us a good ass scrubbing! Oh man, you should have seen all of the nasty black flakes of skin that come off of us! Especially after living through the nasty heat of the summer here in such a dirty and polluted town! Wait, I guess I shouldn’t have said that after talking about an ass scrubbing! Haha! Our entire bodies were flaking! But so soft afterwards! I didn’t even have to put lotion and I tell ya, way smoother than a baby’s bottom! Delightful! They even wash your hair and give you this wicked head massage! Unfortunately the massage isn’t as long as I would have enjoyed, it was more of a tease than anything! But nonetheless, it was super relaxing! Katie and I are def planning on going back! And earlier to, as we went close to closing time, so we think that’s why the massage was kinda cut short. The girls seemed to loosen up after a while too, I think they found it to be an awkward delight in the end!

10.) Alright! I'm stopping there! Hopefully it'll be sooner than later the next time I write on this thing! Sorry guys! I'll just stuff myself in a canon for you!
What can I say?! Time flies and then all of the sudden it's been months since I've written! Hope you're all well and Happy Holidays!!

Friday, September 26, 2008


So we only had one night of internet-well, ok so it seems to be on again off again. Definitely not cool, an evil trick, my mouth is still watering from the little taste of it that I was able to indulge in. Also, that video is not going to happen. I’ve tried several times and it’s always a no-go. It has dawned on me that I might just know why: Youtube is banned in Turkey, so I think putting any form of video online is just not cool with the Turkish government. I’ll keep trying, but in the mean time, I’ll take some photos and post them…one day…

So the very first night I got teased with the internet was also the day I ventured off into the Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya). Despite the inside center of it being currently under construction, it was breathtaking. Though I’m still not sure if I feel ripped off or not for the 20ytl they charged me to get into a house of God. So I made sure I got my money’s worth and stayed there for a few hours! I’m really glad I did though, because there is sooo much detail everywhere, that you really don’t see it until you just sit and stare. Plus it was a cloudy day, and since I stayed there longer, at one point the sun came out and lit up the church. It was gorgeous! Oh and I stuck my finger in the healing hole, it didn’t come out moist. But then we all already know I have no ailment that needs healing, right!? Plus, another little bonus, there was some photo shoot going on and it happened towards the end of my visit! It was just one model. The dress however, oy vay! It was this sequenced gold mess and they even stuck red tights on her! But she was beautiful, hence the modeling career I sa-pose!

On my way back home from the Aya Sofya, I even got my own little photo shoot! Hahah! Or so we have yet to see! I got off the ferry and saw this long line of people that ended at this trailer, which appeared to be handing out a styrofoam pack of food asking for no money in exchange. Do I need to say more?! I mean I know free when I see it and I jumped right in line without a moment’s hesitation! Haha! While standing in line, I looked at the trailer to try to figure it out. I saw this giant Turkish word written on it that looks very similar to the French word for beef. So I immediately assumed some fast food place is opening up so they were doing some great marketing by handing out food, etc. Sweet, I’m getting free beef, right?! Well this one newspaper reporter eyed me and came right on over. Unfortunately, she knew English. She didn’t ask me really anything that I think would give a good story –just what I’m doing here, how long I’ve been here and how long I’ll stay. Then, and a little more importantly I must point out, she asked me if I knew what was going on. Haha! I told her I saw free food being handed out and got myself into the free line. She then told me it was for Ramazaan. She has very poor English, so I thought she was just telling me that they had been waiting to hand out the food for iftar (the time that allows you to break the day’s fast during Ramazan). But it wasn’t until my treck home that I realized that they were handing out free food for all of the people that were fasting! Haha! Woops! They took tons of pictures of me too and made sure they had good ones of me getting handed the food from the truck! Lol! Jeez! All of these people actually fasting, and little ol’ me comes barging in to snag some more food even though I can eat at whatever time pleases me! Unfortunately I don’t think I made it in though. It’s been over a week now and I have given up checking the paper (she honestly doesn’t have a story on me)!

So I was planning on risking my life to the Black Sea of Kilyos this past Thursday. This beach is supposedly dangerous to swim in, but then again the Turkish are really picky about where they swim…but Wednesday night blew in a wonderful thunderstorm (truly, wonderful –it was huge and I love it!) and left Thursday morning drousy, so the big group of us (apparently my last adventure to the beach sounded really enticing and a bunch of people were up for a round) decided to ditch the beach. After a morning nap (we woke up at 6:30am only to fall back asleep again), Michael and I decided to explore. We found out that the Istanbul Modern Art Museum is free on Thursdays and were planning to get in on the free the following week. Now that we had an open Thursday, it was off to take advantage of the free (what I’m so good at) and do a ridiculous walking tour my Istanbul guidebook has. Well we didn’t make it through the whole museum, we got too hungry and left. We were so comatosed (I think from those fluorescent lights) that we decided that we shouldn’t go back in to finish it off, even though it’s the temp part of the museum and the most interesting. So we decided to do my walking tour. We had to do it backwards though, as we were at the ending point of the tour. Oh dear God that tour they got going on! Haha! We’re still cracking jokes about it! We got a lot of check marks off atleast! The tour just offered things to look at for a few minutes and then you keep trecking, only most of the things in it were missing. Like 2 fountains at separate locations, which are typically quite big and hard to miss, were instead, nonexistent. Even more peculiar is that these fountains “have been” there for a few hundred years! We were definitely on the correct route, otherwise we would have never found our way to Taksim, and there were a few existent things that we were able to see. The best part is in the “hall of mirrors” (another grandiose error, well almost completely), is that there are a ton of shops in this hall and lots of ones with antique pictures, advertisements, and postcards. You best bet there were ones of Ataturk, one of the coolest ones yet, and Michael purchased it and added to the collection that is called home! We then went to a bar to enjoy non-Efes beers (this is a rarity here). Oh but back to the trip to the Black Sea- who knows if that could even happen until next Spring! Ever since Wednesday night it has been raining and cold. No there was no gradual shift of seasons, it was like someone flushing the toilet during your steamy hot shower! Bam! Ice cold never sounded so wrong; only it never went back from the slapping cold! So it’s a little hard to be optimistic at this point.

Because I have seemed to be a wanderer this whole week, the next day, I found myself back in Taksim. I happened to wander by a bar that has 3 lyra beers! My second gold mine find! I found “Heaven” (it’s our local watering-hole here that I found right by work about a month ago while I was wandering around Kadikoy. This place has 3 lyra 70cl beers –which is about half the price around here! It’s so cheap I started calling it Heaven and it has stuck with everyone ever since! A group of us often find ourselves there after our night classes. As soon as the waiter sees us walk in he immediately turns around to go fetch our giant beers!….I suppose I really didn’t need to give an explanation of why this place has been renamed. Oh, and I’m pretty sure he often undercharges us!). So now that I found this other place, but over in Taksim, we are all itching to go test it out! It’s on the other side, so it makes it a bit of a hike. But because it’s on the other side, this is even more of a mind boggler. The other side is much more expensive, so to find such a price just doesn’t sound right. So I’m excited to actually venture over there in search of truth! Actually, speaking of venturing and beer, Oktoberfest is just around the riverbend!! Holla! I’m stoked!

This week has even more wandering, some hardcore wandering too. Plus I even got to enjoy an Indian dinner at Natalie’s. It was sooo delicious! She invited me and a group of friends over to feast on delicousness! She is an amazing cook! On the weekend, a group of us went to another Fenerbahce game. We had some pretty good seats too! Plus not as many people go to these games, or so it keeps turning out that way, so there wasn't half as much groping going on! Another day, I went with Grant, Mike and Jeff to this museum in Istanbul, but it takes over an hour to get to (yup this city is giganto) to go check out the Dali exhibit. I pretty much left as soon as I got there though cuz I was so sick with hangover! Haha! The museum just seemed to intensify the pain. Plus I had to be back for my night class and I was worried about how bad traffic was going to get and being late an all. I found out later that night that Grant saw me resting up against this wall holding my face and he thought I was having a moment! That Dali man, he just makes you weep! Haha! Jk! I made myself go through the first floor (which is that big) since I had to pay to get in and all the time it took to get there, but the longer I stayed the more I had to force myself to stay. So I just gave up! But no worries, I was much better after a Simit and loads of fresh air from the ferry back! Haha! I don’t normally get hungover, boy that one was a doozy and out of no where too! I did some other wanderings too, but those were the highlights!

Welp! That’s it for me! The next blog will be all about Oktoberfest and it’s glory!

Yup, your eyes do not decieve you. 27 bucks for some jif! Sad part, that's the norm if you are able to find the wonderful spread. Wahn wahn!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beach Me Like A Whale

Check it out! An update in light speed time! Wazzah!!

So I finally videod the flat! But I forgot to mention in the video that we call it “the Smooth Sailing Mac Pad”. Haha! Yes, we are geeks! I seemed to have forgotten to video the sailboats on our balcony railings as well; hence the smooth sailing bit. Mac because we all own Macs, the same ones. Also, it might help as you watch this masterpiece if I explain the delay of my videoing. It is because we had to Ataturk-arize our flat. Which is still not even complete because I still need to get a poster for my room! He’s the father of Turkey (direct translation actually. The Turks go nuts for this guy). He’s freekin everywhere here –no joke! He holds the key to Turkish history. There are a ton of strange posters of him for super cheap here! Example: him throwin back the Raki!...unfortunately we don't have that one -work in progress. However, I think it's key to note that the poster you will see in the bathroom came with the flat, not any of these Ataturk posters (mind is boggled).
And now for the feature presentation:

Ok, so the game! Crazy madness! I went to one of the qualifying games with some friends: Kevin, Jeff and Grant (well Greg, but I call him Grant). It was Turkey against Belgium. Super exciting game, minus the fact that I didn’t see any young fat boys whipping off their shirts for an exciting play. Our seats were pretty sweet! We were on the lower level kinda behind one of the goals! Booya!

So their system of letting us into the stadium, I tell ya, I now know what’s it’s like to be a cow, sheep,…etc (or as our students would say “blah blah blah” ). Absolutely ridiculous! The turn out was huge, unlike the Fenerbahce game I saw a few weeks ago! Butt loads of people! It took FOREVER to get in, and people here don’t have that personal bubble us westerners so cherish. So if you are right up on some stranger they won't even know it, they probably even feel more comfortable touching you. Lots of the Kurnel sandwiches going on (oh yes, new nickname to add to the books! Grant crowned me so to differentiate between the two Katies. Classically awesome part is that everyone always says it with the title “the”! Haha! Oh I made up the spelling btw, there’s accents and such, but ya). Mmmmm the Kurnel, it’s what’s for dinner. The boys weren’t to thrilled either. I think Grant put it perfectly when on our walk back, he asked if I got groped. Of course I replied affirmatively and he was quick to agree with how they (the boys) all did too! Not many females go to the game, so the guys got sandwiched a lot more than they were ever hungry for! So there was a lot more action than night than we all could ever imagine! So in the giant stadium hall, being herded along, groped, not walking as other people do it for you and we finally get pushed through the gate -yes! The male security guards pointed me toward the woman security guard to go get groped some more (awesome!). Even though I made sure not to bring any change or other such objects my superhero arm could chuck, I decided to wiz by them -yup opted out for the special grope. [Turk security guards are just there for the job, so they don’t care if you walk through a metal dector and it goes off or not. Safety first!]. So we somehow found four seats in our general area. It was packed with by-standers on our lower level. The pounding and pounding on the huge metal-sliding doors of all the angry people demanding to get in was still a constant. We were a bit worried, it sounded like a huge outburst waiting to explode! Almost towards the end of the first half, it finally subsided and no one was hurt. But the action in the stadium didn’t stop as the crowd was cheering like mad! I def cheered every chance I could, hand gestures and all! If I was able to pick up on what they were screaming, I was doing it. The first half was kinda sucky though, because Belgium made it look like they were playing with puppets, or maybe because Turkey made it seem they didn’t care to win. Either way, it was a pretty uneventful first half with some close plays at hand. The second half, however, got goooood! They were finally tied and that’s when they started whipping out the drama and playing dead when they got “hurt” in a play. It was awesome and so ridiculous! Even a fight between two opposing players almost busted out! It was great! The ref kept having to try to break them apart and then attend to the “hurt” player rolling around (note: he was able to shake of the agonizing pain within seconds of finally getting up to walk). Then the coaches almost got into it! Hah! All in all, an exciting game despite the closing tie! Not to mention more intense groping that followed on our way out of the stadium –note: we did wait about 10 mins for it to clear, or so we thought. On the way out, you have to go down these stairs, and it’s dark and we couldn’t see them, you just know they're coming as you're in a the thick of all of the fellow sheep, sorry people. I felt like a buffalo that was being herded off a cliff by a bunch of Indians. Kevin and I were seriously worried for our lives, we didn’t know when the steps were coming and we couldn’t see anything below us! By fate, I guess the Indians weren't hungry, we wound up in the middle and found a railing in the middle of the steps before getting pushed down the stairs. At one point I wasn’t even holding myself up, yes that’s how close we ALL were.

Another Day:
I was invited by my friend Natalie to go to the beach on one of the islands nearby with some others. She had also invited Nelly (an older, hilarious woman that says the most random things super loudly at any given time. Example: she looked at me one morning in the teacher’s room while I was reclining -all stretched out in an office chair: “Boy! You are really long!!!” This is almost 2 months in working there, she has seen me many times before, and she says it with her funny accent in a voice like she’s never seen me before. She unintentionally made the room, full of us teachers, and there’s no way you can’t hear her, crack up and in sheer confusion!). Also, Ibrahim one of the nicest, Turkish office staff guys, whose English is quite good. We all thought we were going to have a relaxing day on the beach. ARRRHNNNNN!!! (buzzer sound). On the ferry over, Natalie mentions how she knows this beach and recommends renting bikes as the walk is quite long. I’m down! I miss biking soooo much! Ibrahim is game as well, but Nelly, ohhhh Nelly. She starts freakin out, and here's the clencher: not because she can’t ride a bike. No, because she can’t go down hill. Yup, take a second…processed yet? K, so she can ride a bike, but down hill is the big issue -you know, what should be the easy part of cycling? So we take 20 minutes convincing her it will be fine. Hahah! Oh dear! Literally, every 5 minutes we end up waiting for Nelly to catch up. We all have to stop and wait and wait and wait. Then we get a little bit scared because she was so worried about biking that we start to think that she may have fallen. Well because this is no flat island, no we had a bike ride up and down and up and down and up and down these mountains, that we are much too tired to actually ride back up a dang hill looking for her. So Natalie immediately volunteers Ibrahim to go looking for her! Haha! He’s just as tired and hot as we are, but that didn’t matter –he would, however, do it each time she demanded. Luckily for him, Nelly would be just around the corner by the time he was summoned to go find out if she was alright. So after what seems like forever, we get to this beach Natalie knows of. What do I see but a house just along side the curvy road situated on a cliff. Yes, I said cliff. No little hill down to the beach or walk down to it. No, this adventure Natalie had in store for us gets better.
(The beach we hiked down to)
We have to hike down this mountain, try that on for size when Nelly didn’t even want to bike! At first, we wanted to plant our bikes on this house’s property for safe keeping (no fences up and it’s a run down home). But Ibrahim had to give his ID card to the bike guy so he wasn’t willing the risk; he wanted us to take the bikes down the cliff with us. So we make the valiant effort down one of the slopes -no doubt, Nelly complaining. Finally Nelly puts her foots down; thank God! So we start to think of another beach we could go to. Just then, the people whom live in the house come out and tell us to put our bikes on the side and they will watch them for us. Ibrahim gives in and we rush to throw them down! Then on the way down, through all of the the trees, Natalie starts freaking out thinking spiders will get her and even almost turns back (I didn’t see any spiders mind you)! Ibrahim to the rescue and we're back on going down the cliff. Meanwhile, Nelly is, of course, far, far behind. Every few minutes we would scream her name and she would scream back. Phew! Though the last part of the cliff was ridiculous! Super steep and all dirt! A bad fall waiting to happen! So we wait for Nelly to catch up and head down the worst part of the cliff (I’m in flip flops mind you). Ibrahim first, we go down! At one point he just risks it and races down. Great choice for him: as soon as he gets down, Nelly decides to decline to go down the cliff. Natalie proceeds to tell her that she will be okay and that WE will help her down. With that said, she quickly summons Ibrahim up to help Nelly down the cliff! Poor Ibrahim was a bit hesitant, but a like a true Turk, won’t fight much when he knows he must help a female.
(Poor Ibrahim going up the cliff to help Nelly)
As soon as I’m down to the stoney shore, I strip off my clothes (Woah there! Bikini underneath thank you!) and jump into the water. Perfect temperature on this remote shore, though lots of seaweed and tons of stones don’t feel peachy-keane on the feets! So I’m swimming around and they finally get down and settled (prolly 15 mins later) and Natalie won’t go past all the seaweed, so she beaches it right in the shallow end. Ibrahim, however, makes quite an effort to get out to me! Haha! I’ve never seen someone swim so awkwardly in all my life!! Lol! So he gets in (mind you being a Turk, he already doesn’t approve of the water. Sure it’s a little better than the water on the shores of Istanbul, but it’s still dirty as it is just a short ferry ride away). He starts splashing – er, sorry swimming around. You can tell he’s trying to make this breast stroke of his look dang good; but a quote from Garden State was all that could (and still does) come to mind: “Dude, you look like a wet beaver”. I was trying sooooo hard not to crack up, but that’s all I could think of! He looked soo ridiculous! There was soooo much splashing going on and he was trying to go fast but only got slower! So he did a quciky half moon and scurried right out of the water!

(Natalie trying out her skills as a green monster)
Right, so this relaxing day sunbathing on the beach, turned out to be maybe an hour's worth of time spent on the beach. We laid out for a tiny bit and then it was time to bike all the way back to catch the ferry! Natalie almost had us go the same way we came, but all I could think of was the hills we would have to bike back up. So I requested the easier way around, which is also the longer way back. Luckily, it was mostly down hill and the scenery was gorgeous.
(A few from one of our many stops. You can see Istanbul in the background)
Only, it was mostly down hill. We now had to wait for Nelly for even longer amounts of time! At some points we would get really worried because we knew she didn’t want to go down hill and so we would start to think that maybe she really ate it hard or rode off a cliff on a turn! These hills are long but not steep, so it’s not like we are putting her in great danger. Thank God for Ibrahim, when Natalie would try to get him to go (it would take more coaxing now that we are tired and this would mean riding up a long hill) Nelly would come within minutes, or be around the corner when he would actually take the challenge. As soon as she would see us she would start laughing forever in her hilarious, loud laugh! At one point we waited so long we found a corner store and got some chips, a drink and sat while we waited! Haha! It was a lot of fun and an adventure I had no idea that could be in store on an island so close! We gave Natalie crap for it and this week we are going to try to go the Black Sea where beaches are sandy and a promise that we will step off the bus and lay out…..On the ferry ride back, we were all so wiped out that we all had to lay down on the long seats! Haha! I really wanted to fall asleep but was scared I couldn’t make it to my other friend’s house for a potluck dinner that was about to start!

With the good always comes the bad. I’m really upset to say Mustafa and his family’s life have been turned upside down. I found out the other day that English Time sold the dorms I first lived in to Maramara University. Everyone living there now has to get out so they can accommodate all of the new students that need to move in. I went to go see them yesterday and brought Mike along. I feel horrible that I haven’t visited them since I moved out –I even said I would once a week. Mustafa and Zabede are so depressed. They were such different people. Usually, they are so cheerful and joking around, but this time they were quiet and looked so upset. I tried to cheer them up by finding random sentences in Mike’s super old Turkish-English dictionary. I told them sentences as “he runs up a tree like a cat” and “the arrow sticks out of his arm” in my awesome Turkish accent. Completely random, I know, but atleast they had a good laugh. Don’t ask me why you would ever look in a dictionary for such sentences, but hey, they were there and so I felt it was necessary to use them! So freekin English Time hasn’t told them what is going to happen to them yet. This means Mustafa doesn’t know if he will have a job with them at another location yet or not. They don’t even know what day they have to be out of the dorms by! They are just waiting for a phone call that will tell them they must leave (and don’t forget that this is their home) within a few HOURS. This even could have been today! If not today, then it could be tomorrow or a few weeks from now. They are just waiting for this phone call. On top of that, he might be out of a job! They might not need him at another location. He has no idea what he’s going to do. It sounds like if hey gets let go, they will go back to their hometown (an 11 hour bus ride a way). He thinks he might go back to being a barber or try out some other job. It’s horrible! It sounds like they don’t want to go back to their hometown at all. They are such amazing and giving people, they shouldn’t ever have to deal with such a thing! I wish I could do something for them....

Anyways, time for dinner: I think I will have the “no name” please!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Got Some Sweet for Your Salty!

So there are a lot that has gone untold as so many things keep happening here, and when I do finally get the chance to blog (yup, it's official, I have crossed over to the dark side and used blog as a verb), I completely forget to update you on such events! So, I'm going to do my best to give ya tha juicy highlights....duhn duhn duhn!!

We made it to the islands a few weeks ago. They are just off the coast of Istanbul and you can actually see them from our side. They are one of the few places Istanbulus (love that word!) will actually go to swim around here (Istanbul water is just too dirty for them so they must go to the Black Sea or head down South).

It's just a ferry ride over, but for us of course, a very interesting one! We were left standing on the giant ferry as it was jammed-packed. About half way there, this fairly big group of Arabs (they were on a tour, but most of them were all related to each other) rearranged themselves and told us to come sit down. Little did we know, this meant we were going to get videotaped and photographed with almost all of the men in the group -each got their own photo sitting in between us. This random event immediately began as soon as we sat down, though it started off innocently. These two cute, young girls (one poor one's name is Banana) started videotaping us and then wanted a picture with us (we learned rather quickly that they speak better English than our students! Eep!)! Then all of the sudden, 5 cameras whipped out and their older, male family members were taking turns, jumping in getting their very own shot with the 2 of us whities! Haha! We barely had time to blink let alone even think about saying yes or no to the next lucky dawg! At one point, they even dragged this old man over from around the corner to take a picture with me while Katie was talking to this other guy. They were all laughing and were so excited as they told me how they were going to show his wife when they got back, and how she will make him sleep outside for a night because of it! Not only that, but they were planning on posting our picture all over their town! Haha! So weird!
Here is a pic of us with the 2 bamboozlers/hornswogglers:
We actually wanted to get a few pics with these guys as a joke, but they def missunderstood us when we asked, and instead they ran out of the way so just Katie and I could get a picture together! Hahah!

The other major highlight is the new flat! As you may have noticed, I still haven't got that video up yet; we got some poster tacking to do ok! Trust me, it'll be worth it once it's complete! Though we did manage to have a house warming party the week after we moved in! No delays there that's for sure! It was fun despite the awkward night (us teachers have weird scheds so no one night is good for everybody)! Here are the pics including a few roomie ones! (Cousins from Winterpeg, do you know my new roomie, Michael?).

We found out from our friend Owen that we had the 30th off about 2 weeks before hand - he remembered how English Time failed to tell them about the national holiday last year so he thought he would let us teacher's know about it! This holiday there by gave lucky Katie and I Wed- Sat off! Booyaaa! So we booked ourselves outta here almost immediately! Our first choice, naturally, was Greece, but with time restraints (it's so close but so far away!!) and prices, we decided to stay in the country and settle for the south of Turkey; this tropical, holiday place every Turk so wildly talks about. We wound up in Cesme which lies outside of Izmir along the Mediterranean.

(A house in neighborhood to the left of our resort.)
We went down there thinking it was going to be a crazy scene of packed beach resorts lined up along the clear, aqua-blue shores, just one big party all day long...seeming as our students painted such pictures. Well, I think we picked the wrong spot! Hah! We decided to stay at this 5 star resort hotel -yes, we are teachers after all, 5 star only please! Psh! No, it was pretty cheap considering we got two massive, and I mean massive buffet meals included; there were 2 giganto pools; a private beach with this cool dock; a club in the hotel; all other usuals such as a bar, restaurants, get your-hair-did place, game room, food store, chach-ki shop stores; and then there was even a spa which we got access to (no-no, unfortuntely the bill did not include a massage or any such wonders -just the spa pools, gym, sauna, and steam room). It was absolutely gorgeous though quite remote. This resort left you with no reason to leave! (View from our room balcony)

We also went at the end of the season, so it was pretty much empty. Anyways, we still planned on going out, you know at least check out the club at the hotel. Haha! Not soo much! To our surprise, all we could do was sleep there, and if it wasn't that then it was eating! We tried sooo hard to go out after dinner each night but we only kept falling asleep -within minutes of getting back to our ocean view room! lol! Maybe because we kept coming back as blimps from the crazy feast we counted stop scarffing on! One night we even cracked a bottle of wine to let it breathe (now I'm no wine connasieur by any means, just give me the cheap and tasty, but let me tell you: you will do anything to try to make this Turkish wine taste at least somewhat drinkable!). But before our first sip, we freekin fell asleep!! Unbelievable!! Haha! And it's not like we did anything all day! We would just lay out and tan, the most action was swimming in the Med -but that was more floating! Haha! Pretty amazing though! (View of our private each, lay out on the right or on the giant pillows on the dock.)

Oh! Another day, one of the guests even found a small octopus swimming in our beach and took it out to show everyone! So cool! Unfortunately too though, it was a bit hazy and not as sunny and hot as we were hoping for.
(One day we opted to lay out on the dock.) One day I was getting a bit antsy so we managed to venture into town, man was that tiring! Haha! So all in all, it was more of a detox weekend! It was so great and I guess we really needed the sleep!
(Are you sleepy yet? I want a nap just looking at this view!)But have no fear! When we got back Saturday morning, we jumped right back into the norm! We went to our first Fenerbahce game (one of the well-worshiped Istanbul soccer teams -actually the town Fenerbahce is located right next to us), drinks before hand included! It was kinda bummy though, you aren't allowed to drink in the stadium!! What kind of game experience is that?! It did, however, turn out to be a lot of fun! We went with a couple of our other friends and sat in the noisy cheering section! They pound drums, shout crazy songs and never sit down!! It's awesome! Even better yet is to see these boys under 10 get so involved in the game even though you can tell they're not exactly sure why they just yelled what the did! This one fat kid a few rows in front of us even whipped off his shirt at one point to spin it around his head!! Classic!! Hahaha! This other kid, a row before us, always had so much anger whenever Fener messed up! That was hilarious too! He could make his face do some pretty strange things! Yet another interesting thing is this stadium: it barely even looks old and has never been cleaned -well I'm only guessing here but I do think I'm quite accurate! There are sunflower seeds all over the seats and floor along with a thick film of dirt! -note to self: bring a newspaper to sit on next time and don't bring change.They check for change and make you throw it in this box if you have any! That was maddening, I even stopped before hand to get more change thinking it might be handy (like the Euro, they use dollar coins here), so I lost at minimum 6 bucks on my way in! Grrrr! Apparently, I would have thrown all of my change at the players during the game had they let me in with it. Dang good thing they caught me boy! I got a throw from the top of the stadium at an angle not even a pro-American football player could reach! Psh! Actually, I'm simultaneously, working on my next game at Fener stadium -this Wed is Belgium vs Turkey; a qualifier game for the World Cup baby!

Ramazaan, as I'm sure you all are aware, has already begun. Not too much of a change as there are a ton of religions here. I even think there are more people eating during the day than when these people are not fasting...very confused. Anyways, we take a longer break during our night classes so these starved people can shove their faces with food. They have this special pitta bread everywhere for the holiday, and it's amazing with Nutella! The office staff was chowing down one night during the long break and of course, shared their food with me. One huge difference in Turkey is that everyone shares their food here, no matter what it is. Kids in class will buy a small pack of something and before even having one, will go around offering the entire class some -even if that means they would only get 2 little pieces for themselves! Ooop, that reminds me, here's a pic of me with one of my classes that just finished. Most of them were there that day, they asked to take a pic with me!

Welp! I've eaten up enough of your time and I must get to other things on this grand internet! We still don't have at home btw, but are becoming great friends with the guys at this local cafe! Oooo, that's another thing I'm lovin about my new 'hood, there are several stores I pass by each day and they recognize now so I always exchange greetings with them -some of these stores I haven't even stepped foot in! Love it!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cheerleader/the Dragon Lady

It is with great pain and sorrow to report that Joanne Ciannello has passed away on August 18th, 2008. She wasn't just a family friend, but a very close and dear family member. She was a wise and amazing woman. She was always so full of life and had the ability to touch all the hearts of those she came into contact with. Home will never be the same without Joanne. I will miss her immensely, as well as always love and carry her deep within my heart.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Series of Fortunate Events

Sorry it's been FOREVER since I've been able to blog, but I am catching you up -starting from way back when I last blogged:

So later that same day I helped Zabayda with covering the roof from the crazy rain, Katie and I were hanging out in my room and she and Mustafa came to my door with a bag of small, whole fish –he whips one out and dangles it with joy! They had bought fish (Mustafa’s fave for dinner and wanted me to join them for helping)! I was thinking NO way! Not again! So I tried to tell them I didn’t like balik (fish) and I wouldn’t have any! And Katie was like oh yes! Sign me up! So they were like ok, Katie eats you no, fine type thing. I was like sweet! It wor
ked! Phew! Right?! Right???! Nooooooo!! A little later we get summoned up, especially me. She makes me eat it, deboning a ton of these fish for me!! Arg! While Mustafa is literally dancing as he eats these things cuz he loves it soooo much!!! Not only that, but the 3 of them were making fun of me the whole time cuz they know I don’t like it!! Last time I help Zabada out! Psh!!

Here's a video so you can watching me die slowly and Mustafa enjoy it:

Though she did make up for it the other day, lol! I just finished showering (remember I live in a dorm, so there are a few other showers) and I here this calling, and it gets closer and closer, I’m thinking, yup that’s for me. So I scream out a reply, and Zabada is saying all these things in Turkish. I step out, dripping wet in my towel, and she’s motioning to come upstairs to eat; kinda looking at me like what's wrong with you showering I got food going on! I’m seriously DRIPPING! I start laughing and was like ok ok! Few minutes ya know?! Lol! So I rush to put on clothes and join them for some bbq chicken. Which was good, but questionable. It was very chicken looking and um, ya, I don’t know. But over all good! Haha!

One day Katie and I decided to just wander around the Euro side. We stumbled into Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Only we decided not to go into any of these and save them for later, but got some gorgeous pics out of it...er or of ourselves I guess! Lol!

Dude, check out these 2 old ladies we walked by! And I'm not even standing right next to them! So they are shorter than they appear!

Diana, our head teacher, is amazing! Her husband got 2 free tickets to Lenny Kravitz this past Wednesday, but due to some fortunate events (for us that is) they couldn’t go! So she had told us teachers about it last weekend, but on Monday, I was in the teacher room alone and she comes in asking me if I want them. I found out that she wasn’t charging for them and was like Yes Please! So we got to go!! He is awesome live! Even better than he sounds recorded! It was a cool venue, smaller and right on the water. Though he didn’t try to speak tukish which bugged me, and he didn’t do very well at keeping them pumped. He dances really funny though, like a Bill Cosby x 10! Pretty funny! Then there were those famous songs of his which was hilarious to hear the Turks sing along to! This one guy behind us kept singing American wo-mmmmAANNNN! He would get louder and go up a series of notes as he neared the end of the word woman! Lol! Good times!

This job is crazy, always ups and downs –it all depends on the moods of your students. Turkish students, especially women, take out their bad day on teachers. So that’s a lot of fun! I have a problem class, and the office staff had to talk to them! But then, two weeks later, one of the office staff tells me how much my class loves me! How it’s so much fun and they can’t believe how fast time flies in my class. So I’m sooooooo confused, I haven't changed anything I'm doing with them! I can’t wait for that class to finish! It’s really hard, you gotta have tough skin for the job, something I’m not to sure I have. Gotta grow some quick or get out I guess…

Which brings me to my other tough skin, what should be the toughest skin on my body, the bottom of my foot…it’s no longer!
Our friend Josh inivited us over to his shabby place to hang out by the pool and drink and eat and what not. Josh knows everybody in his complex and kids were playing bball on the half court located on the tennis court. Being bball players ourselves, we decided to play a game -in our barefeet. Well my right foot rips open, I guess from being so dry, sure it hurt –but I kept going, playing more on the side of my foot, of course. I could see a huge chunk of skin flapping, knowing it wasn’t a good thing, but the game wasn’t over and I didn’t have time to stop and really take a gander at it. So I sucked it up and carried on playing (kinda playing half-assish though). After the game I showed the guys and they all freaked out and then it was a huge ordeal trying to find bandages big enough, Josh had to get scissors to cut the flap of skin off, he had to get disinfectant that hurts like a mother to clean it….good times. Poor Katie got to clean it, she tricked me at one point and pored rubbing alcohol on it when I wasn’t looking, I almost socked her several times. I seriously stopped myself just inches away from her, the pain just kept getting worse and worse!! But don't worry!! I didn't! I wouldn’t have done that to her! Come on! I’m not that mean! So the fortunate events part: Josh doesn’t really work at English Time anymore, he lives a little further out and has a ton of private students and is hoping to open his own school within the next year. Well one of his student’s that was there was on his way to go have dinner with his family over in our area –so sly Josh got us a ride home! Only we aren’t really good with car directions since we never go in one, so we got let off on a street close by us. Which is perfect cuz I needed some sort of gauze and shtuff for my foot! Not to mention the butt load of bandaids are flapping like my skin was bcuz of the puss that had soaked through and stopped it from being sticky. So we’re limping along hoping to find some sort of Quickee Mart (which there are some every few feet around here) that would actually sell huge bandaids and not just candy. Well we went into one of them that was bigger and looked like it had some potential, and this teenager that worked there tried to help me. He found out I need a bandaid and brought me back downstairs to the cash register and had the woman whip out a pack of bandaids. Dude, there were maybe three in a pack. I was like oh no! no! no! and tried to say in Turkish I need a huge one and kind showed my wound. Then, her husband (this couple are in their 50s) said all these things in Turkish and told me to wait a few minutes….He came back and pointed down the street and told me in a crazy way which store to go to. Thank God for pointing, cuz atleast I kinda knew where to go! So we take off, and all of the sudden, a customer from the store came up and he walked us all the way over to the store the guy was talkin about. Now this was way out of his way and completely unnecessary of him! So nice!! Only when we got to the store, it was closed! And he tried to tell us the only other option was the hospital! We told him no, thanked him, and parted ways. So on the way home now, we passed by this pharmacy that was closed, except the door was slightly open! So I squished inside and got the woman to help us! It took a little time, but we ended up with gauze, tape and disinfectant! It’s funny cuz the Turkish name for gauze is very similar to the English word for it –but she couldn’t get it (oh you mean Coffee Bean AND TEA LEAF?!). So we happily limp back! Katie has a bunch of patches just waiting to be popped, I have one on my other foot and and one on my big toe on the same foot as the battle wound. The best part is Zabada found out and she clapped her hands at me and shook her head before she even asked me what happened! Lol! But then she offered for me to come eat with them! Only I didn’t cuz we ate a ton of Chinese food at Josh’s! A little later that night, I was up in the common room and Zabada busts out this giant tub, soap and a scrub. I was like oh crap! This is gonna hurt! She starts washing my foot! It hurt too much to let her do it, so I started doing it myself. Mustafa then told me he would take me in the taxi to work because I can't limp all the way there! Which didn't end up happening because I ran into an older teacher that takes the taxi to work, so I went with him! The Turks really freak out here about wounds and immediately want to take you to the hospital. It's kinda funny, but they are super nice and attentive! It's really great to see! My wound is completely fine though! Mark's girlfriend, who is visiting and is a nurse at a hospital, looked at it and she said it is perfectly fine! Phew!

Mark is one of our hilarious friends that we hag out a lot with. He had a bday bash the other week. That was a lot of fun!The other week, Mustafa's oldest son - Serkan and his nephew, Ahmet, visited for a few days. When I got back from work one day (10:20ish pm), they were all upstairs hanging out. Of course, I was invited to come up. They were eating a pile of nuts, which you can get everywhere here (I think they might be hazlenuts -no idea)

Well I MUST go BECAUSE….duhn-duhn-nuhn-naaaa…..I have to get ready to move!!!! We can’t have visitors in the dorms...well actually, Mustafa found out we were looking to move the other day, and he looked at me like I was an idiot and was like of course your friends can stay here I’m not going to tell on you! But we really want a real place to live (ie. family room) plus we have some friends coming mid-sept (yay!) and we rather have a real place for them. So we’ve been looking and got this number of this guy that rents out furnished flats. We call him yesterday and all of the sudden, we are being hurried over to our new flat in the quaint little town of Moda to see the place! It’s super nice! Two block from the water! Sooo awesome! So he wants to give us the keys today!! Holla!!!! Jeez things happen fast here! Haha! Oh and Michael, a fellow Kanuk, is going to be living with us! Poor Katie! Mwhahaha! She'll be a Canadian before she knows it! So I gotta go pack and avoid Mustafa and Zabayda –they will be super sad….(oh you don’t have to give notice here, you just up and leave).

Noshk! (bye in Markasha talk)