Return to Ankara

It has been four years since I left Turkey. I lived there for most of my (young) adult life, from 24 to 30. I absorbed much of how I live my life from that time, learning to move more slowly, savor time, cook with the seasons, avoid waste and over consumption. I learned the language and culture, which means my son can grow up in a bilingual and bicultural household.

We speak Turkish at home to Kayra, and I cook Turkish meals often, but this first week in Ankara has been a whirl wind of newness for him. Rather than the normal vocabulary of daily life, he has been immersed in Turkish. I can practically see his head spinning to absorb it all. He is learning to code switch, as his grandmother and great aunt do not speak English, he notices and responds to them only in Turkish. He is learning tens of words each day and hundreds each week, it seems. I love to watch his amazement and wonder. The first time he heard the ezan, or call to prayer, reverberate off the hills and buildings in Ankara he looked at me and asked “bu ne? (What’s that?) The camii, I said. He repeated it two or three times, rolling it around his mouth, such a new word, such a new sound.

We were only in Ankara for a week. He met his extended family, and I was able to visit my old friends with him, some of my chosen Ankara family. We went to Kuğulu Park and visited the swans. We listed to the amca (uncle) playing the accordion for tips in the park, wearing Apple ear pods, of course the juxtaposition of old and new in Turkey is always there. We walked by my friend Terry’s old house and I practically stopped in for tea, so strong are the memories of love and adventure with friends.

Chasing pigeons in Kuğulu Park

The city I grew up in has grown, and shrunk, the politics have change, there has been a coup, there is an undercurrent that I can’t quite figure out. Many things were different, but many are still the same. Just like me. I came to Turkey as a young woman, fell in love with the land and people, found friends, lost family, and generally became an adult. The woman that came back to Turkey this summer is not the same woman that left four years ago. I have grown, developed, discovered a career I love and an ambition I didn’t know I had. I got pregnant, and birthed a child, I am stronger and braver and more full of love than I ever knew I could be. I am glad I left, it was the right time for us and allowed our life, personal and professional, to flourish in a way they would never had here. However, I am glad to be back, for the summer.

Listening to music in the park while eating a cookie from Mado.

Home Again and Back

Last Sunday I flew home to the US for a whirlwind visit.  We had many plans to do many things.  While  was able to do most of those things, we had to plan and re-plan ad revise our plans.  This was because of the snow! DSC_0055

I love snow and I miss snow so I didn’t mind.  My parents have so much snow that the mounds from pushing off the deck are snow several feet higher than the four foot deck itself.  The snow now needs to be lifted and thrown.  DSC_0039

When I was home I was lucky enough to see a lot of my family, including several cousins, my parents, grandmother and my darling  brother.  My parents thought it would be fun to take a trip to New York.  One of my aunts lives in NYC, so we headed down to see her.  It was lovely.  My parents and I took the Acela (fast) train from Boston.  It was wonderful and quick, only about 3.5 hours.  There was one small issue though.  On the way home it took 7 hours instead of 3.5 to get back to Boston.  This was because our train derailed less than a mile outside of Penn Station!  We had to be evacuated from the train, they built a staircase and shoveled a path to transfer us from one train to another.  We then had to go back to Penn Station and get on the next train a couple of hours later. No one vas hurt and it certainly spiced up the story.  Why was your train late?  Oh, no reason– it just derailed, slid off the tracks and we were evacuated.  (It was only the first two engine cars actually, but sounds better that way.)

Train wreck aside, the visit was wonderful.  I had an amazing time just hanging out with my parents, going snow shoeing and shopping.  It was so nice to spend time with my family and friends, I really enjoy these trips home. I think the time with my family seems so precious because it is so limited.

I am now sitting in an airport waiting for my plane back to Ankara.  I am happy and excited to be going back, but also glad that the plane has no rails to have issues with.

Amasra: Last Road Trip with the FamFam

Before the wedding, when my parents were in Turkey we took the opportunity to see as many parts of Turkey as possible.  We went to Cappadocia and saw the fairy chimneys.  Then we started on our Black Sea tour.  The first stop was Safranbolu, and the next was Amasra.

Amasra is a small town on the Black Sea,.  The industry is primarily fishing and tourism.  The trip there is pretty amazing.  You have to drive through the mountains, there are one lane bridges and high passes through the mountains when the road ends six inches from a hundred foot sheet drop with no guardrail.  While the driver has to have their eyes glued to the road the passengers can enjoy the troop.  The drive is incredibly scenic.  From the last mountain you drive up and over there is an amazing view of the town of Amasra.  AmasraIt is on a protected cove with two small peninsulas shielding it from the main sea.  Amasra is best known for its delicious fish and the “Amasra Salad”

Amasra 130

A mix of lettuce, arugula, green onions, green garlic shoots, dill, radishes, parsley, pickled beets, carrots and some other delicious and spicy additions.


We were there in the off season so it was nice and quiet.  We were just there to enjoy the sights and the fish.  What was interesting was that people were trying to pick us up.  There were some older women waiting on the streets, and when we parked the car they raced up to us, competing over offering us rooms at their pensions or homes.


We ended up staying in a hotel right on the water.  The pensions offered by the women who were cruising us were well priced and safe, but not on the water.  We were only there for one night and so we wanted to be able to appreciate the sea.


We had a fantastic time and it was a lovely trip with my parents.  We headed back to Ankara the next day to see some of the local sites and get ready for the Turkish wedding.

Settling In

I had a fantastic time at home with my friends and family.  It was really fantastic to see everyone.  However the transition was rough.  I flew back on Saturday night.  I landed in Turkey Sunday night, my bags were still in London.  After filling out the lost baggage paperwork we drove home.  I went straight to bed and Monday I dragged my behind out of bed at 6 to go to work.  It is difficult to have the necessary patience for 6th graders when you are tired and jet-lagged.  The first two days of the week were tough, and the next few I was used to catch up on life, sleep and laundry.  I am finally back….Which also means Back to Blogging!  Yay!  It might take me a while to get back into the swing of things, but no more long absences.

Here is a souvenir of my trip home…January 2010 029 This is my super cool little brother.  Right after this was taken he swung me up on his shoulders kind of like a yoke, head facing one way, my behind the others.  As I was struggling to get down, using my only weapon (the tickle),  his friends walked in.  Thankfully being a mature person he dealt with this tactfully.  Did he put me down?  No.  He turned so my face was facing them instead of the other end.  We may be adults, but some things never change.

Home At Last

I just love visiting home!  Though when you have only a few short visits a year it tends to be less a vacation and more like a marathon.   I flew into to Boston, and then drove directly to my grandmothers house.  We had a nice visit before I crashed from from only having 2 hours of sleep in the previous 24.  The next morning I woke up bright and early (because my internal time clock is 7 hours faster then EST.)  My parents and I hopped in the car and drove down to NYC to visit my aunt and cousin.  It was whirlwind and a blast.  I also scored an awesome wedding gown in NYC for the coming nuptials.  Then off to New Hampshire.

So breakdown of travels…

Saturday Turkey to Boston

Sunday Boston to NYC

Monday NYC to New Hampshire

I am still exhausted.  But having tons of fun.  This afternoon I will be driving to Boston to have a visit with my brother, who is awesome and super cool.  Saturday there is a big party at my grandmothers house because my mother is a genius and thought it would be easier to have a party for everyone who wants to to visit with me than for me to make individual visits to each and every person.  Then I will be back in NH trying to schedule visits with friends.  Also buying bulk of things like vanilla extract and Burt’s Bees lip balm to bring with me back to Turkey.

Family Times Ahead

I looked at the Calendar and all of a sudden we are way into January.  Crazy!  Where did the year go?  January means two things, the first is that my awesome cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Jake, are coming to visit.  It will be amazing and it will be Turkish Foodapaloza.  Jake is totally into food, so I will be using that as an excuse to eat my own weight in just about everything, of course while introducing him to the best and tastiest of Turkish foods.  I will try to record it. 

The second Family Event that January brings is a visit HOME! I will be going home for two AMAZING, WONDERFUL weeks.   I love being with my family, and cannot wait to go home. 

PS: Family I will be wanting Pork. Ham. Bacon. Bacon. Ham.  PORK!  Weird how you always want what you can’t have.