Birthday Week!

My birthday was in March, but Bülent “gave” me my present a few days ago.  We flew to Antalya for the weekend!  It was a whirlwind trip but we enjoyed ever minute of it.  We flew in Friday night and visited my sister-in-law, who recently got engaged.  It gave us a chance to meet her fiancé before the wedding in September.  Saturday morning we left the city of Antalya for what has to be one of the most scenic drives in Turkey, full of cliffs, rocky beaches and dazzling blue sea. This area is one of the only places in Turkey you can get blue crab, so for lunch we stopped at a seaside restaurant. 

Fresh grilled crab!

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We followed the coast to Demre, and then climbed up into the mountains.  Bülent surprised me with a night in a gorgeous B&B.  High up in the mountains, with a view of the sea, it felt like a different world.  The hotel, Hoyran Wedre, is in a remote, small köy.  Its grounds were scented with with rosemary, thyme and sage which were planted all over the place. 

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The hotel is actually located right on the Lycian Way, so we hiked part of it that afternoon, and the next morning.  As if we could resist. 

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It wasn’t hard to navigate, along the trail of the Lycian Way there are red and white tags showing the way. 



The village of Hoyran is very isolated and remote, with a very long history.  Over time, many tribes and cultures migrated through this area which created an complex linguistic situation.  The villagers have their own dialect, as well as Turkish.  Their language is a mix of an accent and a dialect, and while some things are understandable, and others are not.

The scenery was amazing.  Yes, these goats are actually eating a field of flowers.  We met the shepherd, who told us that some days he walks 30 km herding his sheep.  Though he assured us that the goats didn’t need him to find their way, his job is to keep away the wolves and keep them out of fields.  He told us about Antalya’s flora, boasting that his goats’ milk and meat was especially tasty due to their diet of wild herbs.  He quoted an old saying,“Antalya’nın taşı toprağı altın” (Antalya’s rocks and soil are golden).  We were informed that during his military service he traveled all over Turkey and never saw anywhere that rivaled Antalya’s fertile land or botanic diversity.

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We had a great time talking to the locals and hiking in search of ancient ruins.  We didn’t have to look too hard for this cistern, it is right on the village road. 

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It was an amazing birthday present, and very memorable for my last birthday of my twenties.   The area was so scenic and beautiful I felt rested just being there. 

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Next year…the big 30!

Kurban Bayrami or Eid al-Ahda

This holiday is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice. This is a very important Islamic holiday which celebrates willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael. The sacrifice was not completed as God intervened and had Abraham sacrifice a ram instead. To celebrate people usually a set of new clothes, dress up and visit family and friends and sacrifice an animal.

The animal depends on the weath of the family. Most often it is a goat, sheep or cow. The family keeps a third of the meat, gives a third to family and friends and gives a third the poor. In the country people may do it themselves their yards, but the government sets up sites of trained butchers in many neighborhoods.


On their way to the feast...

This year we celebrated more traditionally than we have for several years. Normally since it’s a long weekend Bülent and I usually travel. This year it was 6 days. We did go to Marmaris, but so did most of the family. So while we enjoyed the sunshine and nature we also celebrated Bayram. In the U.S. often there are celebratory dinners, but here it is ususlly brunches and lunches.


The family got together several times, aunts, uncles and cousins for brunches and luncheons.  It was a nice and casual way to visit.  Since it was happening often I was able to excuse myself when the level of Turkish became too high, rather to sit there bored.  Also the older generation entertained each other. This allowed Bülent and I to have more private time than we might have if we just went down with his parents. 


We had a lovely time and are our way back to Ankara today.  To the real world for a couple of days!

Two Years!

Today is my second wedding anniversary.  And the first one Bülent and I have celebrated together!  While last year it felt like a surprise that I had been married for a whole year, this year it doesn’t.  Not in a bad way but in a good way.  This year we have dealt with a lot of things, cancer, chemo, death and despair, and Bülent has been there through everything.  He supported me in every way he could, even when when I took a leave of absence from my job to spend time with my dad  and flew 5000 miles away—for 6 months.

I am very lucky to have a partner as wonderful as he is.  I still feel like  I did last year, ecstatic to have a BFF and a lover wrapped up into one.  But even luckier this year, because I know when things get tough, things are still good.


The Road Trip Begins

Last Friday Bülent and I  flew to Dallas from our respective cities.  We have had a blast visiting with friends in Texas, and made a mini road trip from Dallas, to Austin to San Antonio and back.  There will be lots coming on our time in Texas but it needs its own post.  Our plan was to fly down, hang out, buy a car and drive back to NH.  And today it commences.   Bülent is picking up the car this morning and from there we will be hitting up cities willy-nilly in a northerly direction.  YAY!  It should be blast, and give me lots to post about.  I may be trying to post from my phone, so bear with me.

2nd Year!

366 days ago I got married.  Today is the 1st day of my second year of marriage!  (Which means yesterday was my 1st anniversary-but I couldn’t post since I had to finish a paper for my Masters)

My husband is actually in Turkey, and I am in NH—So we did not celebrate this anniversary in person together.   We had a romantic dinner before he left for Turkey, and a Skype yesterday.  When I get back we will do something on the date of our Turkish reception as well.

It seems crazy that I have been married a year. But crazy in a good way.  Like Crazy Awesome!  Living with your BFF who also happens to be your lover is a great way to spend your life.


He makes life exciting.  He whisks me away for romantic weekends and is always on the look out for things I will enjoy.  He knows when I am having a bad day and pre-orders take out for us.  He holds me when I cry and and when I laugh.


I want nothing more than many more decades with this man, on our own adventures.

Happy Anniversary  Şekerkalbim!

Girls Play Football?

Yes we do!


My husband and I joined a football league.  Actually, he was invited and I tagged along.  While it is not usual for women to play football (soccer) in Turkey, the organizers welcomed me on to the team.  There  were only two women in the league, both on the American team.  The teams were mostly made up of embassy staff members, so we played many different countries, all with their own styles.


This was a player from the German team I had to guard against an entire game.  Yes, the photo is true to scale, that guy is HUGE.  I have to admit it was not my best game.  Mostly because I was afraid we would jab me with his elbow and break my nose.


I play defense and am usually a pretty strong player.  I played especially well in the games against Qatar and Japan, since the men were just about my size.  I don’t mind taking a fall, or pushes and shoves.  An elbow in the ribs is no problem at all.  I have had several of those this season.  I just don’t want any facial injures—vanity!


It was also very fun to play with my husband. Our teammates did tease him a little because I would call him “Honey” on the field, but he didn’t seem to mind.    He has beautiful ball handling skills and can out maneuver most players.  He is very sexy on the field!  Lots of people asked him if he minded if I played, since it is a contact sport, but he was really proud I could get out there and hold my own.  He also gave me some tips on how to elbow and shove.

LASIK Shout Out!

Traditionally after the wedding the bride and groom exchange gifts.  Or so I was told.  So for my gift, my new beloved husband told me he would finance my LASIK surgery.  YAY!  My eyes are horribly myopic, around –3.75 plus astigmatism.  His gift was perfect.  We both can’t wait.  However, since it is my EYES and if we mess it up there could be serious complications, we have proceeded cautiously.

Hospital #1: Super Shiny!  Clean and New!  Expensive and commercial.  We felt that they did not care about safety as much as money.  They wanted to give me LASIK after only one week of not wearing contacts.  I have been wearing soft contacts for 10 years, seven days a week, 15-18 hours a day.

Hospital #2:  Our new doctor is SUPER conservative.  Maybe too much!  He saw me (after not wearing contacts for two weeks) and said at least one month later.  So today I go in—after not wearing contacts for six weeks.  (Side note:  I hate wearing glasses) He wants to wait six more months of no contacts before the surgery.  That seems excessive to me—what about you?  All the research I have done says that before LASIK you cannot wear soft contacts for two weeks, toric for a month and hard lenses for a month for every decade you wore them!   Am I mistaken?  I really don’t want to wear glasses for six more months if I don’t have to, but I also don’t want to ruin my eyesight.

Any suggestions?

We are going to Hospital #3 tomorrow.


This man loves dogs.  Any dog.  My husband is as burly and masculine as you can be, but get him near any type of canine and he is like butter.  Which is truly adorable.  We spend a lot of time petting street dogs.   Lately we have also been feeding them.  We bring our leftovers to the park near our house where the dogs hang out.  They love it.  When I jog in the park I am now trailed by several dogs who alternately beg for food and affection.  Spring 2010 Ankara 164

Recently we heard about a dog shelter through some friends of ours who volunteer there and have started a community campaign.  It is the only one we are aware of in the  city.  Dogville, as  has been dubbed, is home to over four thousand dogs.  There are even hundreds of purebred dogs there, due to dog ownership issues in Turkey. The shelter is supported by the city, but there are just not enough funds to sustain the dogs.  They are malnourished due to a mainly bread and water diet.    A large problem now is the cold.  The dogs are hungry to start with, but the bread/water mush freezes in the winter before they have a chance to eat it. They are in mostly uncovered cages with no protection from the elements. There are some doghouses for shelter, but usually not enough for all the dogs in the cage.  The cages also tend to be crowded.

Bulent has been buying dry dog food and organizing food donations from hotels in the area and feeding the dogs at the shelter a couple of times a week.   Our friends have also been volunteering and are working on creating awareness and a sustainable aid project.  There are lots of ways to help, both physically at the shelter, and with other types of aid.  If anyone is interested in helping please check out the website.

Ways to help:
• Bring and distribute food
• Make sure the cages have water
• Clean the cages
• Help with improving the cages
• Pet the dogs
• Donate food, or blankets
• Call local restaurants and hotels for leftover food donations
• Send food (via mail order)
• Spread the Word

Whoops…Diagnosis: Googleitis

You know you do it.  You start sniffling, coughing, get a symptom that you are not used to and…using Google, self diagnose.  This activity can go two ways, you can decide you have some benign virus, or convince yourself you may die before the sun comes up.

You know you do it.  I do it.

Like the time I thought I had a brain tumor.  In my defense my pupils kept dilating unequally.  Funny—later I noticed a warning on my allergy eye drops that they may dilate the pupils.  Oops.

The other day I thought I was developing sun poising, I had had it before and knew what it looked like.   I did not have all the symptoms, but the rash on my chest looked like sun poisoning.  So there I am, researching sun poising, thinking over my day trying to figure out how much sun exposure I had.  And that was when I realized I was trying to diagnose whisker burn.  Oops.  But in my defense Bülent does not come with a warning label.