Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's not much, but it's our home

Lots of people have asked about where we live.  With the exception of one of my brothers, none of my friends or family have been able to visit us since we moved to Antalya.  And I know they are all curious about where we live.  So, here are a few pictures to help you get an idea of how we transformed the company provided, boring, beige, little, 2-room, hotel suite into the place we call home (for the time being).

Please excuse the quality of the photos.  These were among the last pictures I took on our worn out camera before it gave up on it's not-so-glamorous photographic life and became too de-pressed (on/off ... get it?) to even get turned on by me anymore.

The little "kitchen" we put together using the hotel-provided desk, our camping fridge/freezer combo, and an el-cheapo oven-cooktop combo we picked up on sale.  The desk drawer contains the cutlery and the coat cupboard in the right off the picture houses all the other kitchen utensils, plates and glasses as well as serving as our pantry.  All those jars beside the oven contain all kinds of medicinal herbs we use for tea and some dried fruit and nuts - Kaya's staple snack foods.  The double teapot is traditionally turkish.  Strong tea is cooked in the top pot and diluted using the boiling water from the bottom pot.

This is Ky's play area / day bed / guest bed.  The 2 drawers below the bed are part of an old baby crib that someone had thrown away and house Ky's wooden blocks and wooden train set, as well as lots of balls of different shapes and sizes.  The top 2 shelves of the book case are mine and the bottom one is Ky's.  The cupboard below the books is also Ky's and is full of stackable toys and puzzles.  Under the bed on the right side you can see a basket full of soft animals.  Behind that is another basket of musical instruments.  On the other side of drawers, under the bed is my God-forsaken sewing machine.  I painted the swirls on the drawers - a fun little project.  The blow up mattress in the right of the picture is sitting in front of the "forbidden area" - TV, DVD player, and drawers of CDs, stationery and computer paraphernalia.

This is the family bed.  It's just 2 mattresses lying together on the floor.  We removed the actual bed bases  because Ky was constantly rolling off the edge.  The bases actually stacked together quite nicely in an upright position (out of the picture opposite the bed) and we use them as a storage cupboard for our sheets and blankets and suitcases.  The rocking horse was Kaya's 1st birthday present from his Turkish grandparents.
This area beside the bed was originally planned to be Kaya's sleeping area but we quickly figured out that it was much easier for everyone when Ky slept with us rather than in a bed of his own.  

This set of 3 pictures is my knock-off version of some artwork I saw on the internet (I can't remember the name of the artist or where I saw the pictures).  I painted these while I was pregnant with Ky.

This soft monkey is also one of my creations.  I made him to match the bedspread and curtains I made for Ky which we've never had the opportunity to use.

My 1st year wedding anniversary gift to Murat.  What do you think?  Did the artist do us justice?

And finally, this is our bathroom.  Unfortunately, the basin also serves as our kitchen sink since it's the only water supply in the apartment.  I wish we had a bath.  My goal is to be living somewhere with a bath by the time our next baby comes along.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Bloody Car

One of the things I like best about travelling is experiencing cultural differences. Now that I'm living in Turkey, I'm exposed to a myriad of differences on a daily basis - cultural, religious, national, political, secular. Sometimes I smile with pleasure when I witness or experience the difference. Other times I'm shocked and sickened. Many times I laugh. 

One day I'm going to have to devote a post entirely to all the interesting customs, old wives tales and religious duties that I've experienced in Turkey. And the faux pas I committed because of my lack of understanding or acceptance of them. There have been some funny experiences, let me tell you! But today I want to describe a custom that I observed for the first time only recently. 

Kaya was taking me for our usual daily expedition of "outside". We were wandering through the carpark when I noticed smears of blood all over the wheels and front bumper of a brand new car. At first I was shocked and saddened, imagining the poor animal that must have been hit by that car. And then I felt disgusted that the owners of the car hadn't even bothered to wash the blood away. A few hours later when Kaya and I met Murat after he arrived home from work, I showed him the car. Murat informed me that the blood was not caused by an animal being run over, it was purposely smeared on the car! Apparently, when a new vehicle is purchased, it is common practice in Turkey to sacrifice an animal, such as a goat or chicken, and smear the fresh blood on the car. And apparently, the brutal killing of this innocent animal and it's blood being splashed all over the vehicle is somehow meant to prevent the vehicle crashing when driven. What the F!@#? Where am I? What century is this? How ridiculous! 

Looking at the statistics of traffic accidents in Turkey, obviously this stupid practice is not working. Each year in Turkey, there are approximately half a million traffic accidents, 9000 of them fatal. How about instead of slaughtering animals for the sake of preventing accidents, let's educate drivers to stop at red lights, observe speed limits, wear seat belts, drive one car per lane (instead of the usual 4 or 5 cars across 2 lanes), drive on the correct side of the road, not stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason ... oh and here's a novel idea, how about teaching drivers to give way to other traffic occasionally! 

On the topic of driving in Turkey, I cannot believe how often I see children jumping around in the back seat and even on the driver's lap! Oh, and what about the families of 3 or 4 or clinging on to each other on the back of a moped? The other day I even saw a moped going along the highway carrying a man (driving), a small boy, a woman holding identical twin girls on each KNEE, and a second boy on the very back! I wish I'd had my camera with me that day. Incredible! Incredibly idiotic!

You know what else is normal practice in Turkey? If a car breaks down, or has been in an accident, the driver places a large rock, or pile of stones on the road about 15 feet behind the car to warn other drives of the upcoming hazard ... doesn't anyone wonder what their hazard lights are for? Rocks are also used in this way by council workers digging up roads. One day, Murat and I were driving home along a brand new road late at night. There was no street lighting. At the last moment we noticed a sizeable rock in the middle of the road and Murat quickly swerved to miss it. About 20 feet in front of that rock was a huge hole. And I mean HUGE. It was deep enough to fit several cars inside and in fact there was an earth mover down in there. Can you believe it? No reflective signs, (in fact no signs at all), no barriers, nothing. Oh except that one big rock.

*Sigh* Living in Turkey is certainly interesting. But fortunately most of the interesting characteristics of Turkey are not as negative as those I've just described. In fact, most of the time I feel inspired by my experiences in Turkey. Next time I write about Turkey, I promise to write about some of the beautiful things that distinguish Turkey from other places.