Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Raining, Hallelujah!

Ok, so not much to add, we're just getting into a regular routine of working. Remember how I said we were going to Bada St? Haha! Well it's actually Baghdad St! They pronounce it Badat St., and spell it Bagdat St here! lol! Way off!

Oh we went to this flat party the other night on the European side! The guys we went out for beers with a few nights before, one of them knows this guy that just moved into a flat and was having a welcoming party. Dude, this place is nuts! He's a yoga instructor and his company is paying him to live there, and the flat is also the studio. Only they barely use it! It's completely decked out in super contemporary decorations and everything. Not only that, but the view from the roof top is unreal. 360 view of Istanbul! You could get lost up there for days! So anyways, a few nights later, we went back to the European side (just Katie and I) to go to Taksim (the big quarter to go out in, tons and tons of bars and clubs). We went there to meet up with this Aussie we met at English Time head quarters, Mitch. He's at one of the other branches over there. We told him we hadn't been out to the Euro side yet so he invited us out. Well out of ALL places we could have ended up that night, we ran into Dylan -the guy who had the flat party! It's a small roof top bar that had amazing world music playing. It was odd because we barely even got to talk to Dylan at his party and when we ran into him, he was so stoked! He whipped me out onto the dance floor almost immediately (which was awesome except I really had to pee and really needed a beer after the loads of stairs we climbed before we finally settled on that bar -it took us 3 or 4 for Mitch and his friends to settle on a place, all of which had flights and flights of stairs to climb since they were located at the top of each building). Katie and Mitch met up with beers on the dance floor where we proceeded to dance the ENTIRE night! Perfect! Dylan is this hilarious, odd guy. He's a crack up! Anyways, he wants me to be his tango partner! Haha! Cuz you know, you go to Turkey to take a Tango class! So I told him I would! Once I get the details on it, I'll decide for sure!

Mustafa and his wife just keep getting better! The other day, maybe an hour before I had to go to work, Mustafa comes to my door with a bowl of Cusir (type of couscous dish)!! I had been hoping they were just gonna offer some of there good, authentic home cookin that we so often smell just delicously wafting about the place! I ate it in my room as I was getting ready, and then on my way up to wash the dish -right before I left - I see and thank Mustafa and he was like chai chai (turkish for tea, black tea, not like chai latte) while motioning me into their apt-like-room. I really had to go and I tried to tell him, but he just couldn't understand why I would eat a meal and not finish it without tea! So I finally gave up and went in to his apt! Which is exciting cuz it's all Turkish style furniture and stuff. His wife was sitting in the middle of the floor on a carpet and had a huge tray that they eat off of with various other items surrounded about. We started telling each other what each thing was in Turkish and then in English (since they want to learn too!) It was so cute! They make so much fun of me for not hearing or not getting a word correctly, but when it was their turn, they couldn't do it either! Haha! They were making fun of each other and blaming the other one if they couldn't remember! Ha! I love 'em!

Today it's raining SUPER hard! I love it! Finally, not soo freakin hot! Plus it's thundering and lightning out, I think one of my fave weathers! I had just gotten back from "an interview" and went up to the kitchen (top floor, where the common room is -which also has a large patio). I just finished making tea and was looking out the windows in the common room when Zabada and her 14 year-old son Ramazaan, came with tarps. At this point, it was coming down extremely hard, and they went out to go put the tarps on the floor -wearing no rain jacket or anything! I couldn't just stand there and watch them get soaked, so I ran out to help them! She was yelling at me to get back in, but I just grabbed more tarps! It was so much fun! We were laughing the whole time, she couldn't believe I went out in the rain in my nice work clothes! After we were done with the tarps we just stood there laughing at each other getting even more soaked by the rain! I would have stayed out there longer, but I didn't want to get struck by lightning -the top floor is part roof, where the patio is).

Friday, July 11, 2008


I freakin went to the Black Sea yesterday!

I mean who says that?!! AMAZING!

Mahoney told us that he would take us on a tour of the Asian side and the whole time Katie and I were wondering what the heck we were gonna see over on this side, maybe some posh cities around here or something, the water....? But when we met up with him yesterday morning he told us we were going to the Black Sea!!! Crazy!

Mahoney stopped at a few cities along the way the way there. First, we stopped to buy 3 different types of Turkish pastry like treats, sitting seaside at a cafe with tea (naturally). This cafe also happens to have a tree that is 700 years old! yowsas! Plus it's gigante! So beautiful. I must tell you know, every single place he took us to had spectacular views -it's like he said: each place just gets better. Katie and I were constantly stunned and speechless, just standing there in awe and he would be like running to the next spot after 20 seconds of looking at one, rushing us to come see or get going. We would have been fine with just one view and staring the whole day! So we had to snap pictures super fast and rush to the next spot, which would be just as amazing or even better! These views never get tiring! Anyways, so after he stuffed us with fatty pastries at this cute little seaside town that is known for its trees and used to be known for growing cucumbers. He then took us to another city known for its yogurt. Ok, yogurt hails from Turkey, and really, this country should be called Yogurt, they barely even eat Turkey here anyway! They are serious about this stuff, I could see them going to war over it or killing themselevs if they were ever to run out! So we stopped, at a cafe also located seaside, for yogurt and topped it with powdered sugar. Tasty treat, but still full from breakfast, but stuffed it down -this was a 5 minute drive mind you from breakfast to yogurt town. Then along the way to where the Bosphoros meets the Black Sea, he decided to quicklly show us a famous cemetery. Apparently Moses' cousin is buried there, in a 17 meter long grave. He gave me this scarf so I could bobcha-myself up! Haha! Even he was laughing at me and told me it was too much! This cemetery is located at the top of a moutain, so again, we were in awe of the view! Then off to Yorus Castle just north of Anadolu Kavagi (sp?). Holy cow! It's a super ruined castle, but it has a crazy view of where the Bosphorus meets the Black Sea (also located on top of a mountain)!!!!! Crazy! Actually, Katie just stopped taking pictures at one point and just videoed it bcuz it's just that good. Oh I should tell you, the water, it's aqua and clear; at yogurt town in the cafe, there was a short wall that separated us from the water and you could see jelly fish and fishies swimming by! So of course Katie and I were just beside ourselves! Plus what American can easily say "oh I went to the Black Sea today"?!! We're sooo lucky! Mahoney also told us that many people don't know about this castle, even Turks! Then we went into the super cute, tiny village (which was a step back into the old world for sure!) and had lunch, actually, we didn't we had a feast. Oh, but on the walk there, all the men were saying things and Mahoney was telling us. He was so excited bcuz everyone was jealous that he was with 2 gorgeous girls! It was cute and also another great perk for us, since he was so excited by this fact (he didn't need strangers to tell him) it got us more stops along the way that he typically doesn't show people! Ok, so the feast, oy-vay! This was also seaside, with another breath-taking view....he ordered us all of these traditional dishes. Which was great, we've been wanting to try lots of it! So we're sharing these little dishes, very family style here, everything's tasty, yes, even the calamare (wouldn't ever order it on my own or eat a ton, but it's not that bad -though he did make me eat the last one, you know the girl that doens't like fish -great...). So I knew I was going to have to be forcing fish down at some point of this day right, but since we're sharing I was getting so stoked thinking great I can get away with just a few bites of it and I'll be done with it! Perfect, right?! Right?! Well I got up mid-feast (they eat for hours here) to go to the bathroom and when I came back (duhn duhn duhn), we each had a whole fish to ourselves and it looked like it just came out of the water -so skin, eyes and all...mmmmm tasty. Plus before I went to the bathroom, he was saying how he hates leaving any food behind, everything must be eaten. Crap. This fish was just cooked, they didn't put any sort of spice or had a dip on the side or anything with it. But luckily, it wasn't super fishy. So it wasn't complete torture! Katie kept looking at me to see if I was going to vomit or something! Haha! She was so scared for me! I just ate it quick to get it over with! .....on the way back he showed us more views of the city, girls: I know some great places to get married -like woah! (Oh Shawna!! forget Mexico get your butts over here dude!!), we went to another hill over by our place. Another CRAZY view with a restaurant and cafe on top overlooking the city. So because we were famished since we hadn't eaten in forever, we shared two pieces of tasty cakes and had tea/lemonade. During that time we were discussing our plans of wanting to go to the European side the next day, and he told us that he would take us another day! He couldn't go the next day because of work but, we are meeting him later this afternoon and he's taking us to Bada (sp?) Street, apparently one of the Rodeo Drives of Istanbul. Ferraris run rappent over here, or so I'm told. All my students are always telling me to go. They love it here. We are really sooooo lucky to have met Mahoney, the places we got to go many people don't know of, and the Black Sea isn't that close to Istanbul either!

So he dropped us off around 6ish, he had a tennis game that night, and we ran into our friend Anthony who had just dropped by with his gf and two other friends (also teachers). We enjoyed tea with Mustafa and his wife and then went off to have beers at some bar over by Bada Street (its over by us), a super nice part of town (we haven't made it that way yet)! Katie and I ordered the huge beers (surprise!) so all the guys were forced to do the same, they couldn't let a woman beat them! Let's just say it was a good night! Haha!

Oh! A few nights ago (I just had to change my wording, I'm writing like I'm talking to people who don't know English -when I come back, it's not that I think you're incompetent, it's just gonna become a natural way of talking for me! So sorry now!) Katie and I went out for beers over by our school. It was a really cool place with live music (their guitar, congas, singing really loudly! So cool!!) we met some other Turks and they gave us some of their appetizers to try -holy shit mom and dad, there was this dish, hyardi (I think), it's like tiki-wiki sauce but with garlic in it!!! Do it, Do it now!!! Anyways, I of course, had to pee at one point. Haha! So I went up the skinny little stairs and found that it was a pop-a-squat type. Sweet. Luckily, I was only buzzed, drunk may have been an issue because as I was squatting, holding on to the walls so I don't fall over and watching my aim (haha), the lights go out. I was like oh shit it would happen! luckily I already have t.p. in my hand for any easy finish as I'm bent down (with jeans on, yes I have great aim!!) BUT when I get up, I found out that it was one of those motion-sensor lights!! lol! It turned back on before I even finished standing back up!!!! Hahah! I guess it couldn't see me down there, well it's not like I was moving either though! lol! Awesome! Good times! lol!

Oh that top ten picture list, it will come it will come! Just gotta go snap a few more pics!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just Pita (pita)! Just Pita (pita)!

Ahhhh the internet is alive and working again in my room! Hopefully it'll stick! There has been SOOO much I've been dying to post but haven't been able to! So this one is gonna be a book! Hey, atleast I gave you fair warning, right?!

Things are going great here in Istanbul! It's gorgeous and overflowing with character! So much going on all the time!

(This is a typical street, located near our school!)
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to explore (other than close by) as we've had to be at work almost everyday or have been WAY to exhausted to even try! As we are still jet lagged, we often go in and out of commas at any given points of the day! Plus this teaching for 3-4 hours at a time requires soo much energy! Not only that, but you're speaking broken English and at turtle speed! But it's great once you see on their faces that they understood your lesson! Also, the heat here is insane! The both of us are swollen, seriously. Oh and the humidity -def don't miss that from Canada! That def makes you tired! Sweating has already become like breathing to me! Haha! Nasty, I know! But atleast everyone else around you is also dripping! Surprising though, not many people have crazy BO (as many of you were expecting!)! They're all well groomed here! Hah! Another thing that has quickly become the norm, is getting attacked by tons of mosquitoes at night! I've been super lucky in comparison to poor Katie who has been murdered a thousand times over -face biteS included! Thank God for bug spray! I must smell like a bed of roses....

Let's see, the other teachers are super nice and helpful! We met this super cool teacher, Anthony, the other day! He was so quick to show us around and give us great tips! He actually showed us the mall right by our house (haha yes, we've already found an American mall. we really just needed to go to the wal-mart -like store ok!). He actually showed it to us on the 4th of July, so how more American could we be than to grab a hot dog there:
(mmmm tasty!)
Next he had been pumping up this super secretive swanky bar a crawl away from our dorms. He's didn't find it until the last month he moved out and wished he found it sooo much sooner! It's located above a hospital across the street (I know, what a location right?). It's a secret bcuz they don't advertise for it, it's by word-of-mouth only so it stays nice and sshhwanky! Apparently Anthony isn't a huge drinker, but leave it to the Katies to get him good and liquored up! Haha! We got the hook up big time that night and they gave us many different drinks to try! Yes, not even a week in and we have already found a new Effins! Haha! We call it "shwank" as we have no idea what the name of it really is!

Our dorms are super quiet right now, apparently lots of teachers move in during the fall. It has huge, dark, tiled hallways in the middle with single rooms outlining the building. We have bright orange, metal furniture (found out it's from Easy Jet leftovers! Haha!). And the girls bathroom have 4 potty holes (literally) and only 2 american toilets:
(I popped a squat in that my very first morning here!)

Our landlord is awesome! His name is Mustafah! lol! (how awesome is that?! Really, need I say more about him?!) He's this short, old, really friendly, smiley guy! Everytime I see him (which is atleast 2x a day), I make him teach me something in Turkish or I desperately try to practice some words that seem impossible to say! This language is nuts to learn! He told me the other day that he's my Turkish teacher (he only speaks a handful of English words but seems to understand more than he can speak)! He loves it, he gets so excited! Hehe! Tonight him and his wife (who is super sweet too and loves to laugh at my awful Turkish) were having tea and cookies at the front desk when I got back from work (10:20ish). They offered me some! They're so cute! I wish I had the slightest clue as to what they were saying! Haha!

Our first day of teaching was Saturday! We were supposed to teach from 9-12:50 (that's one class) and then again from 3-6:50 (yup, one class) -oh with an hour's length activity inbetween! It was a great start! My first class is a level 1. They were really nice and excited! "Ohhh kali-fownia!" (think the governator on that one)! All of my classes love to tell me places to see in Istanbul! One of my students told me he would take me on his motorcycle to all the best places in Istanbul! Holla! Only I might die! Either that or lose my leg on a bumper of some car! Yikes! Crazy drivers over here, and it is worse than what you're already thinking! Another student is a waiter at some super nice restaurant, and wanted me to come! I told him I would bring Katie with me! He got really excited! Hah and another works at Bim, some German store that sells electronics and home stuff at the mall here. Every break on Sat and Sun, he kept pestering me on when me and him will go see his work. Uhhhh right, about that....I tell him soon, soon! Hah! But then he asks for the specific day! Arg! At every break I hear beem (bim) over and over again! Nice guy but lay off dude! I'll eventually get to your freaking store! Haha! Then my second class were no shows! Haha! Hookie! Yay! Free time for me! Plus I was brain dead at that point so I was stoked! (Oh, each of us are taking over 2 weekend classes, they just have a few weeks left). The next day was the samething! I found out today that one of the office workers granted them a holiday, but she failed to tell anybody before she went out on vacation herself! But during that time, I found the black market of jeans!! Literally! I wondered down some street and there was store after store of big name jeans with the center of the tag cut out! And the bulk of them were Zara jeans (let's just say giant length-jeans)! Holla! I will return!

Oh and it's great! They pretty much call you "Teacher" (and will say it everytime before they speak!)! Haha! They can't pronounce "Katie" (it comes out kiy-ley) and if they are able to say it, it comes out "kyiy-tea"! They know they can't pronounce it, so they wind up saying Kate, which I tell them is perfectly fine, but they know it's not right so they say they wind up saying "teacher" or a "kiy-tea - teacher" combo! Haha!

Last night was a great surpise! We met this level 5 student a few days ago, and I had him in one of my activities on Saturday. His name is Mahmut (pronounced Mahhh-moot). You must pronounce the H, even though when he says it, you can't hear it! Anyways, he wants us to call him Mahoney (lol, some teacher told him to just go by that) instead! So Katie and I were walking back from the Wal-Martish store late last night and all of the sudden we here "Katies!" from out some car! It was Mahoney! lol! He offered us a ride home (a whopping 2 min ride), so naturally, we jumped in! He then offered to take us to the BEST ice cream place in all of Istanbul before we hit home (oh all the students somehow know where the teacher dorms, Lojmont, are -its a 20 min walk from school)! So of course we were game! (BTW, ice cream is on every corner, literally, we're talking worse than Starbucks here -a good worse though! haha!). It turns out it is the oldest ice cream place in town (which also happens to be the quarter of town we want to live in! Holla! The pic below was taken in this quarter) and he insisted that we would get 3 scoops each (he had to buy bcuz he says Turks believe it's rude if the male doesn't pay)! Delightful! Then he took us to this place on a dock for some tea (him being a Turk, we had to have tea!). On the way back, he saw I was wearing my seatbelt in the backseat and got offended! lol! He couldn't understand why one would need it back there unless they were with a really bad driver! We rushed to tell him its the norm to wear it in all of the seats in the US! haha!
But one of the best parts, is on the way to ice cream, he had to play us Michael Jackson (and made sure he told us he only likes the '83 and '87 Michael!)! "Suuuper!" He shouted so many times! Then, he told us that pop songs are hard for him to understand (they go to fast) and asked us what some words are. We were listening to "Beat It!" at the time, and when the chorus came on, he told us if he was right in hearing "Just Pita!" (instead of "Just Beat It")!!! LOL!!! I can definitely hear it now and strongly suggest you go dig up that song to hear how it sounds like Just Pita! So funny esp cuz he was so serious! He was like I can't understand why he would sing about pita?! lol!

Mahoney had also told me on Saturday that he would take us around (as he would really love to be a tour guide plus he gets free English practice out of it!)! Well he wasn't lying as he told us last night that he would pick us up at 10am on Thursday (we're off that day)! He's going to give us a tour of the Asain Side (our side) and take us to some amazing fish restaurant (def gonna have to suck it up and pretend fish is mouthwatering good! eeek!) for dinner!

Oh!! And icing on the cake:
Our awesome manager, Diana, brought us to go get our tax numbers today. The office ladies at the place thought we were prostitutes! lol! Apparently there are lots of light featured, foreign women here that take on this profession! But the kicker is, if we actually were prostitutes, why the heck would we want a tax number?! Now that's honesty for ya! Imagine a prostitute paying taxes?! Crazy! lol!

Alright! Enough already! Haha! I told you it would be a book! I will post a top ten of crazy things seen on a regular basis here in Istanbul tomorrow -with pictures!
And remember: Just Pita! (pita) Just Pita (pita)! Just PITAAAAA!! PITAAAA!!....mmm doner......

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We´re In!

Merhaba (Hello)! Sorry ıt´s taken so long! The ınterent ın the dorm hasn´t been workıng! I´m actually on a turkısh computer and man thıs keyboard ıs CRAZY!

Istanbul ıs packed and crazy but absolutely amazıng! So gorgeous! There ıs so much goıng on here! The cıty ıs really old mıxed ın wıth the new! We are lıvıng on the Asıan sıde! We begın teachıng on Saturday but have been doıng stuff at our school each day! The staff ıs great and really helpful! And the language ıs so fun to hear! ıts a really gıbberısh but beautıful soundıng, ıt flows so nıcely!

As soon as the ınternet ın my room ıs workıng I´ll post some pıctures! There are some crazy thıngs we have seen here so far!

Gotta run! Take care! Lots of love!