Dirty Laundry

It’s been a busy few weeks for me here in the Village but thankfully yesterday gave me a reprieve of sorts and I was able to spend the day playing catch up.  Catching up on cleaning and catching up on the piles of laundry that never seems to diminish and just catching up on life in general.

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With my second load of laundry drying on the balcony I took the third load down to SIL’s line knowing that it would be under the watchful eye of FIL who was sitting in the sunshine warming his bones.  A couple of hours later I went back downstairs to bring the washing in only to find that it was missing.  It had been stolen.  All of it!

What was stolen?  Two pairs of men’s jeans, two men’s sweaters, a shirt, copious pairs of The Turk’s underwear (with Batman on the front) and The Turk’s funeral jacket (which has been overused this week with 3 funerals – 3 funerals!!  I know right?).  Also stolen were two pairs of The Turk’s shoes, a pair of my gumboots and an old pair of Daughter’s converse.  I can be cynical right now and start cursing these people who stole The Turk’s Batman undies or I can hope that whoever took the clothes needed them more than we do.

As I walk around the Village I pass many new faces.  The Village has had a transformation of sorts over the past three years since we moved here due to the influx of refugees living in Mersin.  In fact the city of Mersin with its population of over 1 million people is thought to have (officially) more than 150,000 Syrian refugees (unofficially that number is likely closer to 350,000) based here waiting in limbo between the hells of war and an uncertain emigration to Europe either by boat or overland.  We should also not forget that the escape to Europe by boat is still very much a dangerous proposition and, although it is no longer headline news, there are still too many deaths happening off the Turkish coastline.

Some refugees are making a new life for themselves here in Mersin.  They have taken apartments, their children go to schools and they have integrated into the Turkish way of life but these are the minority as way too many refugees just do not have the capital with their lifesavings paying for their trip across the Mediterranean Sea.  Arabic signs have been installed in many shops now and rather than the shopkeeper knowing English they all now seem to be proficient in Arabic.  There has also been the opening of NGO’s around Mersin to assist those refugees who have decided to make Mersin their home rather than attempt the dangerous crossing to Europe.  The NGO in Mezitli is a huge success offering a Syrian curriculum to 2,000 pupils in its own school, manages a clinic and eases administrative formalities for refugees.

Turkey’s recent agreement with EU leaders to receive 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) as part of a package of incentives aimed at persuading it to do more to stop the thousands upon thousands of migrants leaving for Europe is a great beginning to supporting the refugees however the concern for Turkey is that if the refugees treks are halted here then this influx of population will put more of a strain on this country’s resources and on the already overflowing population.  The Turkish people, widely known for their generosity, are finding it difficult to smile through the cost to them personally.  Lower paid workers are suffering with Syrians willing to do manual labour at half of the rate of a Turkish worker.  Right now I can’t see an viable solution to this situation and the overwhelming wave of displaced people now no longer on Turkey’s doorstep but rather in its living room.  Frankly Turkey is going to need more than a short term answer of monetry aid, it is going to need the whole world to work together to help the refugees either return safely to their homes or to help them assimilate into their new homes whether it be here in Turkey or further abroad.

The city of Mersin is changing quite dramatically as is the Village.  To the person who is the proud owner of The Turk’s Batman underwear I hope you enjoy them and I hope you and your family make it to wherever you are attempting to go.  I did ask FIL if he saw someone steal our clothes and he nodded and laughed.  Seriously this guy is bat shit crazy!

Photo credit: Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America

Side note: For those of you who recall my recent post Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom the writer of that book Lisa Morrow has been working with an NGO in Istanbul called “Small Projects Istanbul” who, similarly to the NGO in Mezitli, Mersin, assist with education, and formalities for refugees living in Istanbul.  Lisa has generously agreed to donate AUD$1.00 for every one of her books sold for the month of February so anyone wanting to help should grab one of Lisa’s wonderful books on either Kindle or hard copy from Amazon.  Also Small Projects Istanbul have a craft collective where Syrian refugee women have the opportunity to develop skills in handcrafts and earn livelihood support to help them rebuild their lives.  They sell their handcrafts here.

 

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I’ve Been Nominated

I am lucky enough to have been nominated for IX16 Top 100 International Exchange and Experience Blogs.  I am feeling quite chuffed right now and am asking for your help.  There are no doubt many, many fantastic and deserving blogs out there but would appreciate if you would take a minute to vote for Janey … In Mersin through this link –

http://en.bab.la/news/top-100-international-exchange-experience-blogs-2016

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It’s a bit of a pain to scroll through but find Janey … In Mersin.  Give it a click and fingers crossed.  The prize isn’t money, its probably better (well in my case anyway).  It’s one year of Turkish lessons with Babbel (which of course I desperately need).

Now if you guys need some encouragement here are a few of my most popular posts –

How about that time I fell down a hole

Or that time I complained for months about the weather

Wordy wisdoms by The Turk or maybe you might like

The Turkish Moustache

You only need to vote once so get cracking!

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What would you do?

The rather morbid question was put to me yesterday which made me stop for a moment and think … just a little bit.  I love it in Mersin.  I really do.  I’ve got some great friends and am surrounded by some great family (*cough, cough*) but … BUT …

“what would I do if (if???) The Turk passed away?”

Interesting.  What would I do?

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I am not talking about legalities and all the rest of it.  Having worked in the legal field for 25+ years I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the law both in Australia and in Türkiye regarding the death of a spouse.  Yes we both have Wills.  Yes, both here and in Australia.  Do you have one?  If not you should.  Also all of our properties here in Türkiye are in both names as are our bank accounts.  Are yours?  If not, they should be.  It is not unusual for a Will to be challenged by family members so better to be safe than sorry.  Of course it won’t happen to you … but just in case.

Back in Oz I was extremely independent.  I looked after myself and didn’t need to rely on others for assistance but here everything is difficult.  How would I cope with the day to day crap that goes on here?  I may be a Türk citizen but Türkiye is not my original homeland and my Türk language skills are way below par.  But even my lost independence and language issue is not my real concern.  My real concern – my only concern – is Daughter and when it comes down to it, Daughter is happy here.

Would I uproot Daughter again unnecessarily?  Probably not.

Would I move to perhaps a more yabancı friendly area?  Tempting, but no.

Would I date?  Feck no (unless Brad Pitt tossed that skinny, lippy brunette).

Would I move back to Australia after Daughter has grown up (married Calum Hood) and moved on with her own life?  In a heartbeat!

So I guess that’s my answer.  For now.  But here’s hoping that I don’t really need to think about this for a while at least.

When discussed with The Turk last night his reply was akin to the great Mr Bennett (you know how I love to quote Pride and Prejudice):

My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves, that I might outlive you.”

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Banged Up Abroad – Janey Edition

I was watching Banged Up Abroad last night with Daughter and The Turk.  Definitely showing my old age I shook my head and tut-tutted in various points throughout the show as ridiculous stories were told by hapless tourists or morons trying to make a quick buck.  I mean we had all been there (or maybe not) but if we were all honest with ourselves we’ve done things that, perhaps on reflection, may not have been the most sensible thing to do while travelling.  You know you’ve done it too, maybe ending up on the wrong side of the law, ending up with a hellish hangover or, in my case, ending up pregnant to a Turkish fisherman.

Bangedup

After it had finished I turned to The Turk and piped up, “You know I bungy jumped while on holidays in Zimbabwe.  Did you know that?”  His reply was, as usual, full of wise rhetoric, “that must have been one big-ass elastic band”  while Daughter rolled her eyes and replied with a snarky, “You’ve never done anything remotely dangerous – or interesting – in your entire life!  You are boring!”  Challenge accepted!!

And so in no particular order I give you “Banged Up Abroad – Janey Edition”:

Canoeing through a herd of hippos in Botswana.  Did you know that hippopotamus are responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal?  No I didn’t know either.  I do now.

Smoking some weird shit in Nepal.  My entire trip through India and Nepal was full of crazy but this incident definitely came in at no. 1.  On our first day in Kathmandu my friend and I hopped a rickshaw that was kismet-ly waiting right outside our hostel.  The rickshaw driver was very friendly and before we knew it we were sitting on a hilltop being blown away by the beauty of the Himalayan Mountains before us (with a little glimpse of Mt Everest through the clouds).  Our driver then pulled out a rollie and offered us the first toke. Twenty minutes later we woke, totally dishevelled, robbed of our belongings and abandoned on that hilltop.  Luckily neither of us had anything of value on us (as we had dumped everything at the hotel) and thankfully we were not assaulted but it was a valuable lesson learned.  Don’t smoke strange shit handed to you by randoms in Nepal folks!

How about paying off a border patrol with two packets of my precious B&H Extra Mild and a bottle of whiskey trying to enter Zambia?  I was not happy about the loss of my cigarettes let me tell you but it was better than being left behind at the border!

And speaking of border problems we ‘misplaced’ a friend in Israel while trying to cross from a Palestinian checkpoint.  Six hours later he was delivered back to our hotel in Jerusalem a little shaky but happy to re-live his story for us over and over again (and still to this day he will tell the story … over and over again).

Jet skiing through a cyclone in Cancun.  In our defence none of us knew it was actually a cyclone.  Maybe it wasnt a cyclone, maybe it was a tropical storm.  I mean sure there was wind, there was black clouds and there was a really big swell but, honestly, I’ve seen worse at Manly beach during a summer storm.  I did question about whether we should start making our way back but no one else seemed perturbed by the strength of the wind or the very black skies.  By the time we got back to shore and saw the damage that had been done we realised the danger.  At least I realised the danger.

The gift that keeps on giving.  Whilst camping on the banks of Lake Malawi and ignoring the clear advice given to me by my Doctor back home in Australia, I and the rest of our group swam in the beautiful clear waters of the Lake at Cape Maclear.  Three months later I was diagnosed with Schistosomiasis or Bilharzia.  Google it people and a word of advice – don’t swim in Lake Malawi!

I have also been mugged in NY city, slept under the stars in Jordan (and was unceremoniously dumped in the desert by our tour guide the next morning), hitched a ride with some very dodgy dudes that were packing heat in Egypt (although I suspect everyone packs heat in Egypt) and was nearly sold off to a village chief in Tanzania.  Oh, and finally, getting pregnant to a Turkish fisherman.  Have I mentioned that one already?

We all love a little adventure, after all it makes a great story when we get home, but none of us want to find ourselves in Bangkok Hilton or perhaps worse dead on the side of the road (or death by firing squad).  Safety first folks!  I glanced at Daughter and wondered what type of crap she would get up to while travelling the world.  She is already talking about her “Gap Year” and the places that she wants to go with her friends.  Brazil, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Kenya.  Good God!  I can already see a “Banged Up Abroad – Daughter Edition” in my future!  Nope, I am locking her in her room.

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The New Normal

Once again terrorism has raised its ugliness stealing more lives and ruining countless others with this most recent atrocity in Istanbul, Turkey.  My thoughts go out to the families of those who died and to those who were injured in yesterday’s attack.  I wish with all my heart that we didn’t live in such a tumultuous time but we do and we need to take control of how we react to what is going on around us.  Terrorism is rife throughout the world and frankly we need to accept that this is the new norm for all of us.  We all know that fear is a commodity and terrorists are more than prepared to manufacture fear with the help of today’s media. istanbul 3

Right now many of you who were thinking of visiting Turkey are asking the same question, “Is it safe to travel there?”  Yesterday the Turkish Government was quick to respond to the attack by declaring that the bomber was a member of Daesh (IS) and that Turkey will continue the battle against all terrorism until it no longer remains a threat to Turkey or to the world.  That’s great but does it make it any safer for tourists or for those of us living here?

I really love Istanbul.  It is, without doubt, one of the most unique cities in the world.  When Napolean said “if earth was a single state, then Istanbul would be its capital” he summed up how so many of us feel about her (yes to me Istanbul is a ‘her’).  She is a city with over 2500 years of history, culture and traditions.  She is jam packed with amazing landmarks, vibrant nightlife and something new around every corner.  She is truly sensational.  And she should not be passed over because when it comes down to it nowhere is truly safe anymore.

Paris.  Tunisia.  Egypt.  Lebanon.  Sydney.  Hell even San Bernadino in LA.  But it is our response to that fear that will determine our future.  Please don’t turn your back on these amazing places.  Do not let evil win.

Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and savour its magnificent view.  Visit the Pyramids of Gaza or Tunisia’s famous beaches and please – please – come and stand in awe at the grandeur before you in Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul.  Be amazed by the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.  Indulge in the heavenly cuisine and be welcomed with open arms by some of the most kindest people you will ever have the pleasure to meet.

There has always been a strong police presence in Istanbul and no doubt security will be beefed up again in the aftermath of this most recent attack.  For those of you travelling to Turkey remember to be safe, be aware (see links below) and be smart but please do not let evil control your future.  Only you can do that.

Travel advice for Australian tourists

Travel advice for UK tourists

Travel advice for US tourists

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Remembering Bowie

Although I was already a fan of his music my first real introduction to David Bowie was when my then love Mr Mediocre, who believed himself to be a bit of a music aficionado, took me to a concert in Sydney back in 1987.  It was the Glass Spider tour and we went on his birthday (13 November).

Bowie

Side note – anyone who knows their star signs would already know that Mr Mediocre and I were never meant to be – despite our ridiculously hot sexual chemistry, a Scorpio and a Capricorn is nothing but a recipe for disaster.  Oh, did I mention that David Bowie and I shared the same birthday 8 January?  Yep.  Me, Elvis, Ronald Reagan and David Bowie.  Genius and looks.  All of us.  Slightly off track but regardless of my doomed love life I was transfixed with David Bowie and his wonderful music.

I started to delve into his back catalogue, especially his early ‘70’s music and I was amazed at his chameleon-like theatrical flare and his musical skills.  Ziggy, of course.  Aladdin Sane.  Holy Crap!  Who doesn’t love “Life on Mars”?  And I swear that Ashes to Ashes film clip scared the bejeezus outta me!  Just wow!

Over the years Bowie remained relevant to music, morphing into new sounds and bringing those sounds to life,  I don’t think anyone would call him anything other than a thorough original.

I should also mention his movie roles.  First and foremost is Labyrinth.  I mean those tights.  Wowza!  But of course Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence was a stand out as was his portrayal of Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ.  But still – those tights!!!

To keep the Türk flavour today David Bowie released the song “Yassassin” back in 1979.  Meaning Long Live the song is quite reggae but with a definite Turkish vibe.  Enjoy.

Incidentally I was pretty impressed with PowerFM here in Türkiye.  They played a stream of David Bowie music throughout the day, new and old.  Driving around Mersin was nothing but a pleasure with me blasting Bowie throughout the city.

Vale David Bowie.

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Google Street Maps

Last summer I was driving over the railway tracks when … I spotted … the Google Street Map car!

“Hey,” I shouted to no one in particular as I was in the car by myself, “It’s the Google Street Map car!”  And low and behold … there I am …

railway tracks

Yes peeps Mersin (and Türkiye) has officially been put on the map … the Google Street View map that is.  Many of the main cities of Türkiye have now been updated including Istanbul, Marmaris and Izmir but obviously as I am a blog about Mersin I am telling you that Mersin is live and ready for your stalking pleasure.

Street view on Google Maps is a great feature, especially for checking out places you’ve never been before. Sometimes though, Google inadvertently captures some candid pictures of the spots they’re mapping.

Here is my FIL sitting on the street outside our house.  Excellent!

Dede on the street Google maps

If I zoomed out a bit you would see my underwear on the line but you really don’t need to see that do you?

Pozcu.  Lovely shot actually.

Google street view 5

Leaving Mersin.

Google Street view 4

I’m now going to spend my day looking for the most ridiculous shot that I can find.  You know like a man chasing a donkey that was chasing a dog that was chasing a chicken that was crossing the road or something.  It is Mersin after all.  I’ll get back to you.

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Phallic what?

It has suddenly gotten very cold here in Mersin, all over Türkiye in fact.  The clouds are heavy.  There is no sun.  At all.  But today while dropping Daughter off at school I came across this sculpture and it cheered me up muchly!

Looks like a penis

What the what???

I know, I know I have to get my mind out of the gutter but seriously what else could it be?

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The Return of the Nemesis

I know I said I wouldn’t be back until 2016 but I just have to have one final bitter rant before the year is at an end.

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Do you remember my nemesis The Rooster?   This post will tell you a similar story.  I still have a nemesis.  He is still a rooster but – this time it’s personal!

In the past my nemesis (or nemesi – plural?) seems to have had a pretty short life span.  If it wasn’t one of the stray cats or My Hurley Dog that terminated my nemesis then I guess he usually ended up fricasseed or something because they never lasted long enough for me to want to go nuclear at the neighbour.  Until now.  This time around the neighbour seems to have replaced those early model nemesis with a crazy ass, psycho ninja nemesis that seems to be quite prepared to feck shit up!  This little bastard has turned the table so to speak.

He spends his days terrorising the strays, stealthly appearing and disappearing before trying to peck out their eyes.  He cornered My Hurley Dog in our garden and attempted to dismember him piece by piece before finally, he turned his evil ninja sights on me, stalking me in a manner that made me feel like my life was in real peril.  He did.  I swear!  Thinking he’s all Sylvester Stallone and puffing his chest out stomping around, again in our garden, flapping his wings and squawking at me all offensively while I was grabbing lemons off my lemon tree.

You might be wondering (and rightly so) why this fecking crazy ass ninja nemesis is in our garden?

Well let me tell you – the neighbour’s fecking chicken coop backs onto our fence (incidentally the fence is about 10 metres from my bedroom window) and my nemesis seems to not only be some crazy ninja he is also pretty good at escaping said chicken coop.  He is everything that a nemesis should be!

Did I also mention that my nemesis seems to have a cock-a-fecking-doodle-doo crow that sounds like an angle grinder had shacked up with nails on a blackboard resulting in this crapfest of a rooster?  And did I mention that this shitty angle grinder, nails on a blackboard asshole starts his incessant crowing at 4am?  Ugh!  Now I don’t want to sound like a bitch (I actually do want to sound like a bitch) but it’s not like we live in a rural area.  We might live in a village but honestly it’s more of a distant suburb of Mersin and we are packed in here pretty tightly.  Buy your fecking eggs from the fecking shop!  In fact if you get rid of your fecking shitty angle grinder, nails on a blackboard asshole crapfest nemesis rooster I will fecking buy you the fecking eggs!!!

I have just read that roosters can live to be 10 years old!  This brought tears to my eyes!  Actual tears!!

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Ho Ho Ho!

It’s just after midnight here in Mersin which means today is Christmas Eve.  Santa has already given me my Christmas present as on Wednesday I was given the all clear from the doctor and could get out of the house and frantically finish (read that as ‘start’) my Christmas shopping.

Thanks to social media I know that back home in Oz friends are indulging in some early celebrations with photos at packed beaches, parties on Sydney Harbour, leisurely lunches and generally having a merry old time.  They are frantically hitting the shops to buy their prawns and oysters, as well as mangoes and avocados all in readiness for their Christmas celebration whether it will be at the beach or by the pool or even a barbie in the backyard.  Ah Sydney – I can dream can’t I?

Christmas in Sydney

Here in Mersin, Christmas has been a pretty low key affair; in fact the last few years have been positively depressing.  On our actual first Christmas Day here I made a huge fuss and arranged a full Christmas lunch for the family with presents for everyone.  Unfortunately none of them came because, well, it was just Wednesday to them (plus most of them work and were unable to take a day off).  Having learned my lesson last year The Turk took Daughter and I out for lunch which was nice but not really special or Christmassy at all.

This year, however, I am excited at the prospect of Christmas Day as I have been invited to a friend’s house for lunch.  I am told, however, that calling tomorrow ‘Christmas lunch’ is not giving justice to the day or the meal for that matter.  This is no mere Christmas lunch; this will be a Christmas extravaganza.  There will be pork, and bacon (Eeekkk!).  There will be turkey (yes haha turkey in Turkey – hilarious).  There will be prawns.  There will be gravy and oodles of vegetables, and sugary biscuits and lots of Gluehwein.  There will be something called an Eton Mess and finally there will also be ox tongue (I’m not really sure what to say about that but it’s apparently a tradition).  This will not be a mere lunch either.  This is an all day, into the night and with the possibility of continuing into Boxing Day spectacular.  I am thinking of wearing my tracksuit pants as they are stretchy enough to sustain themselves throughout what will no doubt be a wonderful day full of great friends, lots of laughter and waaayyy too much food.

ChristmasDinner

To all of you who follow my ridiculous antics here in Mersin I say thank you and may all your Christmas wishes come true.

See you in 2016!  2016???  Crikey!

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