Paradise Found

One of the great things about Mersin (or Icel) is that it is not usually on the international tourism wish list.  I get it.  I really do.  It is an industrial and farming province.  There is no airport and frankly no one speaks English.  It is kind of cosmopolitan and unique but its lack of infrastructure, its occasional domestic issues and now its proximity to unstable borders means that it is not really a draw card for visitors.  After all why come to Mersin when you can go to Marmaris or perhaps Bodrum for your sunfilled vacation?

For those of us living here though it is a godsend that the international tourist passes us by.  Why?  Well if you, the international tourist, go elsewhere it means that the hidden gems found along this magnificent coastline are left for the Turkish tourists which means – Turkish prices!

During Kurban Bayram the family and I travelled to Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu and I honestly I feel like I have truly found my new favourite spot in IcelSusanoğlu actually is part of the seaside town of Atakent, 65 kilometres west of Mersin and only 15 kilometres east of Silifke.

susanoglu

Susanoğlu Playa itself is a nice enough beach but there is more to Susanoglu than the main beach.  You don’t want the main beach.  You need to keep looking.  If you blink you will miss it for it is not on the main drag.  It is a secret after all, locals only, and they are not going to give up its location to a yabanci readily.  You are going to have to work for it.  You will need to park your car.  You will need to stalk a Turk (as no doubt they know where to go) but, with perseverance and a little good fortune, you will come across some ancient stone stairs on the side of a cliff (not as daunting as it may sound) leading through a smallish little forest.  Through the pine trees you go until you get a glimpse of that perfect mavi (blue) sea.  Step towards that colour and know that, finally, you have arrived at Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu, a hidden gem along the coastline surrounded by Turkish beach clubs and restoranlar.DSC00437

This place bay has the feel of a party all day long.  Families gather for picnics, girls sunbath in their itsy-bitsy bikinis while watching the boys prance by showing off their muscles.  Old Turkish men do calisthenics on the rocks before making their way to the nearest lokanta for a glass of raki (medicinal I am sure). The surrounding restaurants sell simple Turkish food, but simple can at times be extraordinary with amazing balik, kofte and tavuk dishes on offer for the low non-touristy price of 10TL.  Even more importantly the drinks too are ridiculously cheap and the Efes’ are ice cold.  The music is blasting and it is always Turkish.

susanoglu 2

No one, I repeat, no one speaks English and you will no doubt find yourself, as I did, sitting next to 70 year old Turkish lady who told me her life story.  Sure you may not understand what they are saying but they will still talk to you anyway.

I think I have found my incredibly cheap but now not so secretive paradise.

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Where For Art Thou?

As you can see it has been some time since I have blogged.  I have taken a break from me.  Janeyinmersin has had to take a back seat for the moment with real life taking over.

The Turk remains in Sydney and is still quite sick.  Last week he took another turn and ended up back in hospital.  He is feeling a lot better now – thankfully – but there have been a few sleepless nights in the past week with calls from the hospital and from friends.

I am still fluffing around waiting on either my Residence Visa (applied for in August) or my kimlik (applied for last December!).  After trips to both the Emniyet and Nufus it seems that my visa is still “processing” and my kimlik needs The Turk’s signature on something – so that’s now put off until his doctor gives him the all clear to fly.

My days have been full as well with Kurban Bayram meaning we have had a full social calendar for the past 10 days (yes Kurban Bayram may not last that long but this family do not want to stop the party).  Other than a sneaky expat night out my days has been full and my nights even fuller.  I have said it before and I will say it again – “their ain’t no party like a Turkish party ‘cause a Turkish party don’t stop!”

Back to the blog though.

tarsus mountains

Mersin really does shine during October.  Tarsus Mountains now has a light smattering of snow on their peaks and yet the days are still hot here on the plains and the sun is still shining brightly.  Late in the afternoon Mother Nature likes to throw a little crazy at us and we are hit with some magnificent storms that blow in from the sea and dump a massive amount of badly needed rain on the village.  As happy as the farmers are here in the village, I do not love the downpours quite as much.  Why?  Well firstly we lose our electricity for days on end but also due to the ridiculously bad construction of our home when the heaven’s open I find myself spending hours – literally hours – sweeping, mopping, squeegeeing, sponging and scooping the excessive rain water that as accumulated on my roof terrace towards the measly drains at each end.  I just want to add that we are not talking about a smidge of water either, we are talking about water you could bath in (well it is above my ankles in places).

I don’t really mind, I have got to be burning off some calories as I collect my rainwater and I get up there with my i-pod blasting my playlist aptly called “Sweep and Sing”.

So what is in my “Sweep and Sing” playlist.  MC Hammer told me that “You can’t touch this”, Bonnie Tyler told me to “Hold out for a Hero” and there is even some Scandal in there “The Warrior”.  I’m not some old codger either as thanks to Daughter there is a bit of Iggy Azalea telling me to “work, work, work, work, working on my shitz”.  I had a good old laugh the other day as I was up there blasting out my usual Karaoke tune “Like a Prayer” I did not notice my neighbours sitting on their balcony enjoying the show.  They called for an encore so I found myself singing a bit of “Thriller” which included the dance moves to finish off my show.  To show their appreciation my neighbour’s wife brought me a plate of hummus and home-made chilli paste.

Teşekkür ederim!

I promise my blog posts will be a little more regular over the coming weeks.  Life has returned to some form of Turkish normalcy and I am back to my over-opinionated, now brunette self.  For proof of life I can usually be found sitting on my terrace enjoying the late afternoon rays and a glass of red.

DSC00802

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Turkey Today

Over the past few days I have had no end of calls from worried friends wanting to know how safe it is in Turkey at the moment.  Yes there is anger and frustration in the streets of many cities.  Thousands of Kurdish people are protesting across the country including in its capital Ankara and Istanbul.  They are furious that Turkey seems to be standing by as Islamic State advances on the Syrian town of Kobane.  They say that Turkey’s failure to help the Kurdish fighters there will no doubt lead to the city falling to IS.

I have learned from writing this blog to keep my opinions to myself as I do not have sufficient knowledge or education on the complicated relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish people.  I will only say that Turkey is in an extremely difficult situation.  They are, of course, a powerhouse in the region and they will vigorously protect their land and their citizens (including their Kurdish citizens).  Should Turkey cross the border into Syria they are entering foreign soil and crossing that border would be considered a hostile act by Syria.  Should a Syrian or Kurdish citizen be injured or killed at the hands of a Turkish soldier then I suspect all hell will break loose.  Turkey also has the underlining concern of keeping peace within its Kurdish communities which can prove a difficult task particularly when Erdogan is comparing the PKK to IS.

The Australian Government has today emailed its citizens living or visiting Turkey and have advised against all travel to the towns of Akcakale and Ceylanpinar.  They have also advised against all but essential travel to areas within 50km of Turkey’s border with Syria.  You should remember that each countries give their citizens their own advice with the UK Foreign Office advising against all but essential travels within 10km of Turkey’s border with Syria.

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Friends, where we are in Mersin it is perfectly safe right now.  We are approximately 4-5 hours drive from the Syrian border.  There have been no protests however there is a heavy polis presence in the city.  If I feel in any way that the situation has changed or that Daughter and I are no longer safe here we will make arrangements to leave the city and, if necessary, the country immediately.

Remember if you intend on travelling to Turkey in the coming days I suggest that you check with your own Foreign Office.  If you are travelling to Marmaris or along the western coast of Turkey you are 12 hours – I repeat – 12 hours from the Syrian border.  Of course your personal safety and the safety of your family is paramount but do not let the remote possibility of terrorism by Islamic State (or by any other terrorist organisation) control your lives.

If you are interested in reading more about what is going on – here are a few links that I found interesting.

4 Questions  /  The Prize and Peril of Kirkuk  /  Smart Traveller  /  UK Advice  /  Ankara on Alert

Please share this page to your family members who are concerned about safety while travelling or living in this beautiful country.

Finally I will add that Turkey is one of the most amazing countries in the world with its magnificent beaches, glorious scenery and its surprising history.  The Turkish Government will do everything in its power to control the situation along its borders and to protect its citizens and its visitors – that means you!

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Kurban Bayram

Today marks the eve of Kurban Bayram and its 4.5 day celebration.  All the households are busy with preparation for the celebration.  I am frantically cleaning as I know there will be a constant flow of guests through the door.  Daughter is crazy excited as there is no school until next Wednesday and can currently be found downstairs with her cousins while trying to round up My Hurley Dog who appears to be chasing kittens around the garden.  The Turk’s sister is arriving tomorrow with her family as well which means a very full household for the next week.

All this plus a sneaky expat get together on Saturday night means I will probably not be around for the next few days.  For those of you who are unaware of Kurban Bayram I wrote a piece last year (link below) which sums up my thoughts on this celebration.

To all my readers I say Kurban Bayramin kutlu olsen and I will be back on board next week.kurban bayram

Incidentally I don’t think the sheep are really all that happy about Bayram.  Pretty sure about that actually.

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The Turkish Moustache

With The Turk currently Down Under having something akin to a heart attack I sit here in Mersin thinking about what could have been.  Not with him – I know how that story goes – but with other, more glorious, men.  I think we have already sufficiently covered my Brad Pitt fantasies.  I also have had similar fantasies with Liam Neeson and, OK look, I am going to admit it, Sean Connery.  I know he is old enough to be my father but damn “Sir” you are still fine!

With all this spare time and taking into account the fact that Brad is newly married to my nemesis, Liam is no doubt still grieving the loss of his gorgeous wife and, well, I think I need to pass on Sir Sean (unless you are reading this Sir Sean then “I’m willing if you are”), I decided to do some research on hot Turkish men.  Actors or musicians, after all I do live in Turkey and need to start being slightly patriotic (although admittedly the men mentioned above are not Aussie).  As an afterthought but certainly no less smashing I shall now mention Hugh Jackman and will also throw my hat into the ring for one of those young, delicious Hemsworth boys.

After making my decision to undertake this important research to bring you, my dear readers, the hard (cough, cough) facts, I set forth on this tough assignment by doing a Google search on “hot Turkish men”.  The search engine gave me 4.8 million results.  Hmm I was no doubt going to be very busy.  I then got side tracked and found myself doing a Google search on Brad Pitt.  This brought up 6.9 million results.  “Stop it Janey!  Back to the task at hand!”

I want to start by saying that I definitely have a type.  I like a man that is dark (well duh!), rocks facial hair and works well with his hands.  I should have an abundance of choice here in Turkey then shouldn’t I?  But I find myself in a bit of a dilemma.  The question that has given me many a sleepless night (not true) is this – what happens when you put a moustache on a hot guy?  I will tell you.  That hottie turns into a nottie!

exhibit a

Meet Ibrahim Celikkol.  Hottie right?  Yes please.  He is an actor who has starred in many television shows over here in Turkey but what happens when you put a moustache on this hottie?  1970’s porn star!  This guy is obviously an amazing actor or is paid a lot of money to sport that particular mo’!

Exhibit B

Burak Özçivit.  Again Wowza!  Young, handsome, great hair!  He reminds me a little of A.C. Slater but put a moustache on that mug and what have you got?  Freddie Mercury’s much younger cousin.

exhibit c

Look at the brooding hotness of Murat Ünalmış.  And then throw not just a mo’ but a full fledged beard on this hottie and he turns into what?  He looks like the guy that I brought my tomatoes from this morning.  Hold on, I think it is the guy I brought my tomatoes from this morning!

Last one I promise

exhibit d

How about Tolga Karel.  I think he is a reality tv star here.  Survivor or something.  Good looking guy.  Then there is his mo’ shot –this is a professional photograph.  He chose to rock that mo’ and undo the buttons on his denim shirt (do people still wear denim shirts?).  His stylist dropped the ball on this one folks.

The list keeps going.  As I said I am a big fan of facial hair but here in Turkey the moustache must be a sign of power, of virility, manly men undertaking manly tasks sporting manly, man hair.  Honestly they are all sporting the whisker here.  Someone please write to Gillette and ask for, like, 10 million free samples of their best blade.  That should be a good start to ridding Turkey of this evil appendix to the hot Turkish man.

Just to prove that it’s not just a Turkish male that cannot pull of the mo’ here are photos of my Brad, Liam and Sean rocking the mo’.  Brad – so wrong it’s not even right, Liam – there were some bad photos but then I can’t do that to my Liam and, finally, Sir Sean – a mo and a turtleneck.  Help me please.

rocking the mo

There are some honourable mentions though in the hot Turkish men Google search.  Starting with Kivanç Tatlitug.  Seriously, I could not find a bad photo of this guy.  Is it just me or does he remind you of a Turkish Brad Pitt.  Building up a sweat with this one.

Honourable mention Kivanç Tatlitug

How about Caglar Ertugrul?  He could be Jake Gyllenhaal’s long lost brother.

honourable mention Caglar Ertugrul

Come on people.  Give me some names.  I am happy to do the research for you guys, to bring you the best of the best to drool over but I am going to need somewhere to start.  But he has to be hotter than Kivanç Tatlitug.

hottie Kivanç Tatlitug package

Just putting that out in the universe.

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Mistaken Identity

A couple of weeks before The Turk left for Australia he and I were in Carsi doing some shopping when he was mobbed.  By women.  Yes.  Seriously!  Well it was only two women but it was still a mobbing.  It seems that The Turk looks something similar to Cem Özer who is a famous actor here in Turkey.  Why these women chose that particular moment to mob him I do not know.  Perhaps the real actor was in Mersin or perhaps these women momentarily lost their senses but regardless they made The Turk’s day.  Does he look like Cem Özer?  You be the judge.

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There is a vague resemblance I guess.  Squint your eyes, have a glass of red and you can definitely see the similarities!

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Too Different

I’ve talked before about holiday romances, Turkish men and the heartache that they can cause.  In fact my Love Rat post was, and still is, the post with the most views since I began this little blog.  I want to declare right here, right now, men are just men.  They are not from Mars.  They are not made up any differently to us they just have an extra chromosome (and an extra rib).  To put it simply: there are some good ones and there are some bad ones.  They can be your best friend but they can just as easily break your heart.

love rat 2

With summer now at an end the Turkish forums are full of love rats and stories of woe.  Yes there are love rats here in Turkey but they are also located in France, Italy, the US, Australia – hell they are everywhere!  But this story is about my friend Evie who knows I am writing this.  She wants people to read it, to not make the same mistakes.  She has/had a love rat and and that love rat that just so happened to be … Turkish.

I met Evelyn (Evie) at a shopping centre here in Mersin about 6 months ago.  She had moved here from northern England to be with her handsome and *cough, cough* somewhat slightly younger man that she met whilst holidaying in Antalya in June last year.  After many emails, Skype dates and telephone calls Evie packed up her life and moved to Mersin.

It has not been easy for Evie.  She did not speak Turkish at all (I feel her pain).  She could not work as she did not have the right visa and she found it incredibly difficult to make friends here.  I totally related with her after all Mersin is definitely no tourist destination and expats are as scares as hen’s teeth.  As we were both in the same boat Evie and I quickly developed a close friendship and she became a frequent visitor to our home here in Karaduvar and I at her home in Pozcu.  Her fiancé, Mehmet (name has been changed to protect the not so innocent), seemed nice enough I guess.  Definitely younger and it was clear to me that perhaps the infatuation did not run as deep as it did for Evie.  It certainly made for a difficult visit when she brought him over one night before The Turk left for Australia as The Turk is quite intuitive and could see right away that Mehmet was not deeply in love.  In fact when they went outside to smoke on our terrace their conversation that began in low voices quickly escalated loudly enough for me to go out and investigate.  Needless to say The Turk was not impressed with Mehmet.

Two nights ago Evi arrived on my doorstep unannounced.  It was pretty crazy at our house with The Turk having taken ill back in Sydney but Evi needed my help NOW!  Mehmet had gone.  Where?  She did not know.  All of his personal effects were gone, most of the furniture was gone and the rent had not been paid on their apartment for the past two months.  She had left that morning to go to the shops at Mehmet’s suggestion.  She had been gone no more than 3 hours.  How is this possible?  She was bereft.  Her heart was broken.

Right now I am steaming mad.  I am mad at myself for not saying something to Evie when I first had doubts.  I am devastated that my friend has had to find out that the man that she loved was not who he seemed and that the love that she thought they had meant little or perhaps nothing at all to him.  Evie was planning her wedding and Mehmet was planning his escape.

Over breakfast this morning she asked, “How could I not see him for who he was?”

It’s simple.  L.O.V.E.  We’ve all been there.  You meet someone.  He sweeps you off his feet with the romance that has been missing in your life.  Walks along the beach.  Whispering sweet nothings in your ear.  The best sex you have ever had!  Oh yeah!  Seni cok seviyorum.  I used to laugh at The Turk when he threw “I love you” at me every 5 minutes when we first got together.  But he still managed to cast his spell and I was smitten.

Two different cultures, two different countries.  Just too different.

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Angina

Yesterday I was sitting at home watching Deniz Yildisi, a Turkish soap opera which is seriously the craziest soapy I have ever seen.  Melodramatic chaos.  Seriously this show (like most Turkish soapies) has it all.  Cheating spouses.  Murder.  Bedlam.  Chaos.  It doesn’t have a psychotic doll that has come to life (ie Timmy from Passions – anybody remember that show?) but, honestly, Deniz Yildisi is some sensational, not to be missed, viewing!

kemal fish

Anyway the telephone rings.  It is The Turk – “Darling.  I am in hospital.”

Huh???

It seems that The Turk who is currently Down Under has had a little, tiny heart incident.  He thinks it might have been a heart attack.  Feck!  Now I know that I joke about The Turk and half the time I want to literally kill him but I don’t really want to see him dead.  Not at all (well maybe a little bit).  I begin to sweat.  What do I do?

I hung up on The Turk and then rang the hospital and finally was put through to his doctor who was extremely helpful.  She told me that he had had chest pains.  Now The Turk being The Turk usually ignores any type of ailment from tooth aches (ignored until it becomes an abscess which has to be dealt with on Christmas Day!) to back aches (I can still work with a slipped disc can’t I?) and no doubt he ignored the chest pain as well.  I am thankful that his friend had the sense to get him to the hospital as I am quite certain that The Turk would have ignored the pain if he was here in Mersin.  He probably would have shrugged it off and lit a cigarette instead.  The doctor then tells me that after a plethora of tests they diagnosed a chronic stable angina and will insert a stent in his heart as he has a blockage.  Ah.  My.  God!

Poor little thing.  Meek as a kitten, wanting to come home.  So the stent is being inserted today (apparently a very simple procedure) and he will have to wait 4 weeks to see the cardiologist but then he can get his ass back to Mersin.

I think I can safely say that once back in the fold of his family The Turk will never leave home again!

What’s Mine is now Yours

Now I don’t know what the correct etiquette is in this situation but let me tell you a story and perhaps you, my dear and favoured readers, can give me some advice.

Over the past six months I have been photographing my zeytin ağaci (olive tree) in my garden with the intent of showing my olives growth, change of colour, harvest and finally the curing of my olives.

The past few weeks I have been keeping a close eye on the olives as they were looking pretty good and, in fact, I asked The Turk prior to him leaving for Oz as to when I should harvest.  “Give it two weeks,” was his reply.

Done.

So today I went out to my olive tree, my big beautiful olive tree and … my olives have been pilfered!  How is this possible?  How did I not notice that the olives were gone?  I mean I must be pretty oblivious sitting here typing away on the computer and not hearing or seeing what is no doubt going on right under my nose.

collage 15

I feel violated.  Robbed of what could potentially be my best blog post.  I had researched the best way to cure olives and also researched some quick solutions for curing (including fast curing in the oven).  I was going to bring you some amazing pieces about my olives but now I have hiçbir şey (nothing at all).

After some nosing around I found out that my sister in law harvested the olives last weekend and has already begun the curing process.  Next year then.

But let’s just look at my olive tree over the months shall we?  April – little tiny buds.  Spring has sprung and the olives are just starting to push through to reach that precious, precious sunshine.  May – I can see it, there will be olives.  They will no doubt be delicious because I am going to cure them and make them my own.  June – yep, keep it coming little olives.  I see you are trying your hardest to be the biggest, juiciest olives ever seen in Karaduvar.  July – I think you WILL be the biggest, juiciest olives ever seen not just in Karaduvar but in all of Turkiye.  Champion olives!  And finally August – you will soon be in my tummy!  Or not!

Don’t fret though gentle readers I still have my biber salçası (pepper sauce) that is currently drying out in the sunshine upstairs.  I will give you a blow by blow account of that soon enough (assuming someone doesn’t swipe my sauce under the cover of night).

So what do you think I should do?  Let it go?  Say something?  I am at an impasse.  I know, I know I will have many opportunities to cure my olives and I appreciate that my sister in law was trying to help but I really wanted to try and do this myself.  Bilmiyorum.

State of Alarm

Upfront – this is my personal opinion.  We all have them.

No doubt many of you are already aware that on Thursday the Australian Federal Police thwarted a terrorist plan by ISIS (now Islamic State) members to kidnap a random member of the public, drape them in the Islamic flag and behead him/her on camera.  Holy shit!  This is not Australia!  I cannot believe that this is even a possibility in Australia.

Since Thursday my social media (and for that matter Australian mainstream media) has exploded in anti-Muslim sentiment.  I feel I have to ask “what is happening to Australia as a nation”?

I always believed that Australia is the most tolerant country with the most tolerant citizens on earth.  Sure like all families we argue but then we have a beer and all is forgiven. Today I wonder if I am mistaken of our tolerance (Cronulla Australia Day riots aside).

Please remember not all Muslims are extremists!

Do we judge a religion by the actions of those who use and twist it’s meaning to support their extreme actions? If so where do we stop?

Shall we take the view that all Christians are evil given the findings of a Royal Commission into institutionalised child abuse? Or the deceit by Australian’s own Christian Prime Minister as common to all?

I agree wholeheartedly that people living in a country that is not their own (me included) should abide by the laws of that country and should conduct themselves in a manner that is acceptable to their adopted homeland. If you do not abide by the laws of your adopted homeland then your visa or your citizenship should be revoked and you removed from that country immediately.  Simple.

Islamic State is a growing concern to all around the world. In Turkey there is a very real concern that IS has infiltrated the country with 20+ car bombs and suicide bombers.  A very real concern by IS to attack, maim and murder Turkish Muslims. [Today's Zaman]

Australia is a nation where we are all immigrants (other than our indigenous Aboriginals).  40 years ago it was the Wops, 20 years ago it was the Asians and today it is Muslim people who suffer from intolerance by a small minority of people.  According to the 2011 census, 476,291 people, or 2.2% of the total Australian population, were Muslims.  On Thursday 14 men were detained, not 476,291.

Where there is fear there is radical behaviour, by all of us.