Dos Amigos

Literally blown away today.  Had Mexican.  My taste buds had an orgasm.  I am happy.

All right let me just calm down for a moment, take a breath and start again.

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Here’s the thing with expats.  Most of us are happy to get down and dirty with the local cuisine.  I’m all over a good kebab.  I’ve accepted the fact that I am more than likely going to have corba (soup) for breakfast and every now and then a neighbour will sacrifice an animal and get busy making enough food to feed the village.   I’m totes good with that.  I swear.  And as an Aussie, I am a big fan of multiculturalism as well as immigration, same-sex marriage and anything else that’s currently political in Oz.  I ain’t no Donald Trump.  I love everyone (well I hate a few bitches that I went to school with but generally I love everyone) and in reference to this post, I love Mexicans.  I don’t want to build no wall.  I love their culture.  I love their food and their music and their fabulous beaches.  I admire their ability to stick it to others and how they support their state and their culture.  Mexicans know their shit (and their food) and I respect them for it.  One of my fondest memories was of a dirty weekend down in Tijuana when I was in my early-20’s that resulted in a hangover that lasted for a week.  Good times.

Anyway as I said up top I had a hella meal today at a little place called Dos Amigos.  Now when an expat gives you the thumbs up on a restaurant or a cafe we swarm like ants.  Expats appear from every direction and rush to said restaurant to enjoy that little bit of home (or Mexico) and that’s just what is happening with this place.

The restaurant is in Pozcu.  I don’t often go to Pozcu as its busy and parking is a bitch so I parked in Forum and wandered over.  The restaurant was cute.  Nice and modern.  Very promising from the get-go.

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I had the meat nachos.  Nachos usually blow here in Mersin.  If you are silly enough to order nachos you will get some Doritos on a plate with some tomato sauce and cheese but not at Dos Amigos.  Today’s nachos had it all.  They were as close as they could be to the nachos I consumed on that crazy weekend back when I was still hotter than feck.  Nacho chips, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans (which were the bomb – I could have eaten a whole plate) and beef perfectly cooked with just enough spice to make me go “Woah!”.  My friends both had burritos (one chicken and one beef) and they were good sized servings.  The only thing missing was a margarita but I guess I can dream of that next time.

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So I’m going to hit you with a “Do Yourself A Favour”.  To those of you living in Mersin get down to Dos Amigos and have your mind blown by a damn tasty feed at a freaking reasonable price.

dos amigos

Photos are my own or courtesy of Dos Amigos

Telephone:  0532 628 46 96

Instagram: Dos Amigos

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Ugly Expat 911

Expats are few and far between in Mersin, and over the years I have met some very *ahem* exciting characters.  Some I see once and then block them from my mind and social media in the hope of never passing paths again, and others are my closest friends and allies here in this crazy city hahaha.

new expat

The thing with having such a small group is that when you do meet that character that you just don’t gel with it can be nearly impossible to escape from them.  You see them at the same events, hanging out at the same restaurants and you bump into them at your local pazar/beautician/dentist – but of course you introduced them to said pazar/beautician/dentist!  You dumb ass!!

This happened to me recently, and I found the whole experience quite exhausting.  I was my usual friendly persona, welcoming said expat with open arms and introducing said expat to other members of the group and beforementioned pazar/beautician/dentist; however, I realised pretty early on that I had nothing in common with said expat.  I found said expat’s behaviour towards others in the group appalling and said expats behaviour to the locals ludicrous at times.  Oh, and I also realised pretty early on that said expat was batshit crazy!

Said expat found themselves in a bit of a jam as well while here in Mersin and when the situation imploded (which of course it did) it was all hands on deck.  However, despite other members of the group giving sound advice and being a listening board said expat decided to do the absolute opposite to the advice that was given and found themselves in an even more precarious position.  I don’t know everything, in fact, I don’t know a lot, but I do know that when a situation is shitty, it’s time to leave.  It’s not the time to include as many people as possible in your personal drama.

I think the thing that frustrated me the most about said expat was the fact that she felt she was so entitled to her opinion and expectations and also expected all of us to drop everything to deal her every problem.  Oh, and said expat never said thank you.  Not even once.  Rudeness!

Said expat has gone now thankfully.  I hope said expat never comes back to Mersin or if she does come back then hopefully she doesn’t contact me again – of course she probably won’t because I have already blocked her on my social media and she was banished from the expat group due to her nastiness.

Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.

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Squatty Potty Disaster

A public toilet in Türkiye can be one of the most feral places on earth. I guess I could say that about any public toilet around the world but as I live in Türkiye and this is a story about Türkiye then I’m going to say Türkiye.  Anyway, you would think that in the thousands of years that public toilets have existed, someone would have thought to modernise the ancient art of sıçmak (shitting) amongst strangers. What makes it all the more worse is if you really luck out and find yourself desperate to use the facilities, you follow your helpful host down a funky smelling corridor, praying that you are not about to be sold into slavery, and into a damp, dark room (why is there never any electric?) only to find … a squat toilet in the corner.   FML!

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Long term readers are already aware that over the years I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the squat toilet and, despite a few near misses, I actually consider myself as a pretty knowledgable squatter.  I can usually be called on to give helpful advice to any virgin squatter setting them on the righteous path of dryness and some fabulous thigh muscles.  I mean in all these years I’ve never had spillage or splash back.  I totally have the angle sorted.  Yes, of course I bring my own paper and I always have 1TL in my pocket to pay at the door.  I can dodge a puddle and unknown entities do not phase me.  I have even mastered the skill of blocking out that smell – you know the smell –  but since my knee reconstruction it has become abundantly clear that all my past successes adds up to exactly squat (no pun intended).

While visiting Kozan recently to photograph the sunflowers (thus the photo above) I found myself needing to visit the little girls room and I was relatively happy to find a clean-ish public toilet.  Yes it was a squat toilet which could’ve potentially caused heart palipations for any lesser yabancı but for me I was happy to see it was a 6.5 on the squatty potty scale of cleanliness.  I went in for I am the Squatting Master.  I have the skills of an Olympic gymnast and the little matter of a still troublesome knee reconstruction wasn’t going to stop me from my goal.  What was going to stop my from my goal was my skin tight jeans on a fecking hot day!  Do any of you remember that episode of Friends with Ross and the leather pants?  That was me.  I was Ross and I was fecked!

ross1I don’t think I actually have to go any further.  You all know what happened next.  *Sigh*  Yes, I had a squatty potty disaster – and it wasnt a little splash back situation, no ma’am, this was a fully fledged guidance system failure thanks to my sweaty skin tight jeans that I could only drag half way down my legs and fecked up knee bent into an unholy angle leaving me in a position that I couldn’t recover from.   And as soon as I realised what had happening it was too late and I literally peed all over myself!  To add insult to injury and to drag others into my mess a friend came running to my aid only to bend over and rip her own pants!  So there we were, two yabancılar in a little town a couple of hours from home, me covered in pee and my friend showing off her blue Primark knickers (I’m not sure if they actually were blue Primark knickers).  I am sure the locals had a good old laugh after we left.  The words salak yabancılar come to my mind and I’m sure it came to many of theirs as well!

What to do?  What to do?

I guess I should say I was lucky it was so fecking hot so I dried out pretty quickly and a few squirts of deodorant returned me to my pre-pee fresh scent but after this little disaster I have made an executive decision.  There shall be no more pee stories from this little yabancı. I am now on the hunt for one of those P-EZ pee-cups stat.  In future I shall stand tall and pee freely!

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After The Fall

It wasn’t really a fall, it was more of a complete transformation of a mild mannered *cough, cough* Aussie chick into a fully functioning, homicidal maniac but I must say I felt better getting it off my chest and I want to give all you guys a shout out as well.  So many of you wrote to me and told me your horror stories living here in Türkiye (and elsewhere) making mine seem perhaps a tad absurd but also giving me the strength to face a new day.

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I haven’t always been honest about how I was feeling mostly because I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining.  For many of us there is a romanticism to living in Türkiye.  I get that.  So many people say how lucky we are and how they would love to do it too.  Sure, we are very lucky – we chose this life but it isn’t always easy.

When I self-analyse my meltdown (thank you Google) I think it mostly stems from a depression that snuck up on me, so quietly that I didn’t even realise it until it swallowed me whole.  I had an inkling back in January that there was something askew while I was having a long weekend in London.  I caught up with my bestie who lives there and spent much of the day in tears.

Up front I don’t consider myself someone who gets depressed easily.  I am pretty chill and I think most people who know me would agree however since my knee operation and its very, VERY slow recovery I found myself becoming increasing depressed which has been magnified by the fact that I am living in a country that doesn’t really take its mental health all that seriously (as it fecking should)!

Putting aside Türkiye’nin domestic and regional tensions an expat here is also contending with bureaucratic bungles, visa issues, cultural differences, language barriers – ugh the list goes on – but all of this has the potential to send even the sanest among us kicking and screaming to the looney bin.  The simplest of tasks become untenable and, as an expat, it’s hard to make people understand that you feel lost and need help.

For me personally I find that, despite being surrounded by family ALL THE TIME, I still feel isolated and unsupported and very much alone.  I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry and cry.  I really started to resent the family, not just The Turk and Daughter, but the extended re-mix of family that lives within spitting distance.  I missed my privacy.  I can’t walk around naked (I would never walk around naked but now I don’t even have that option).  Cooking a meal requires every pot and pan in the house and for feck’s sake why do they all have to YELL????  ALL THE TIME???  It rattles me.  A family dinner is exhausting and takes me days to recover.  A bayram is my personal hell with family coming in from other cities to add to the chaos.  I’m getting the sweats just thinking about it.

The Turk isn’t really as supportive or sympathetic as he should be.  I think growing up in the Village he has seen it all and his mindset is to ignore the problem and it will go away.  Daughter is a hormonal teenager off doing her own thing and I often go days getting little more than a grunt from her as she passes me in the hallway.  So it’s just me.  Alone.  And being alone can be scary.

But what I DO know about me is this I am, in fact, one badass bitch!  I am fecking sensational!  I am Sensational Janey (such moniker given to me by an equally sensational Turk) and I am part of a group of Sensational Bad-Ass Bitches who navigate life here in Mersin.

Now I’m taking it one day at a time.  I find something positive and I run with it.  I went to the pazar in Menderes this week (it is seriously the best pazar in Mersin).  I spent much more than I had anticipated (tomatoes were surprisingly expensive with 4kg setting me back 18TL) followed by a delicious yogurt tantuni with one of the Bad-Ass Bitches that live here.  I am really pushing myself to walk again to build strength back in my legs and to improve my health generally and finally, I am back to writing, which I have always found to be very cathartic.

Oh and I have wine.  A LOT of wine!

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#First World Problems

Daughter and I have been in Sydney for the past 6 weeks as well as a sneaky side trip to Bali with a few of my girlfriends so I have been MIA in case you hadn’t noticed (what do you mean you didn’t notice???).

While Down Under I got to spend desperately needed time with many, but not all, of my most beloved peeps (and purchased some desperately needed bras – my boobs are back in the Northern Hemisphere again) and Daughter also got to have a few catch ups, again stalked members of 5SOS and even went to see The 1975 in concert.  Sydney was definitely a win/win sitch for both of us (although Calum from 5SOS is still playing hard to get).

Bali 1Now we are back in my Türkiye and back in the Village I find that things haven’t changed.  At all.

Of course I am aware that Türkiye was on the news while I was away.  As an early riser I had the news on and was watching the ‘incident’ as it happened.  (I will call it an incident however I won’t make any further reference to it due to the current political climate here).

“Holy Shit!” said I.

“Don’t go back!” said most, if not all, of my acquaintances back in Sydney.

Coming back home I admit was a little nervous but now that I am here and have been out and about I can say that in the Village and in the city of Mersin nothing has changed.  The sun is still shining, people are going about their business and life goes on oh and The Turk actually didn’t know that the ‘incident’ had taken place.  Slept through the whole thing.  And before you Negative Nelly’s start banging on at me yes I know that Mersin is not Istanbul and that there are continued protests there as well as other cities including Ankara but, just in case you didn’t realise, this is a blog about living in Mersin.

Anyway after staring at the television for hours I realised that something that was so huge in Türkiye and that held such huge ramifications for this country as well as the rest of the world it was merely a ripple in the pond in Australia (and possibly other countries) and was only getting about 7 minutes of airtime with the Australian media.   I should just stress at this point that the home that I was staying at only had free to air television – in fact I didn’t even get to see the finale to Game of Thrones until I got home!  #FirstWorldProblems

Everybody-Loses-Their-Mind-GoTAustralia had a general election during my time Down Under and so I did my civic duty and cast my vote.  I actually received a fine for not voting in the last election although on checking with the Consulate here in Türkiye I found out there was in fact nowhere to cast your vote unless you did it by post.  Have you ever tried to send mail from Türkiye?  Has it ever arrived or did it take 6 months?  I betcha that if I had done the postal vote in the last election my solitary postal vote would have been crucial in stopping that tosser Abbott getting elected!  And did you know that this is like the 50th freaking election since 2010 – not really – but it sure seems like it.  I mean Australia change leaders like others change their undies!  #FirstWorldProblems

I took Daughter to the hairdresser in Sydney.  Now, back in Mersin a trip to the hairdresser including a wash and blow dry will set you back 9TL or AU$5 (the price has gone up in our absence).  In Sydney a wash and blow dry at a suburban hairdresser set us back AU$60 or approximately 120TL!!!  #FirstWorldProblems

I made potato kofte for dinner for a friend and after a quick trip to the local supermarket I realised that Türkiye beats Australia hands down on the cost and the quality of the fresh produce available.  Of course here in Türkiye fruit and vegetables are seasonal but after I paid AU$3 or 6TL for one (rather crummy) bunch of maydanoz (parsley) I realised just how great I really have it here.  I couldn’t even get my hands on any nane (mint) either!  I mean WTF??  It’s mint for feck sake.  Here it’s growing on every freaking street corner.  I think back to when we lived in Sydney and we always had mint on hand.  Of course The Turk would grow his own.  Duh! #FirstWorldProblems

Although Australia did win hand over fist time and time again.  Electricity is abundant as is fresh drinking water.  I had only been home in Mersin a few days when the electricity was cut and the water disappeared from our pipes.  It took 2 days for the water to come back but the electricity did crank up again pretty quickly (and a good thing too with the current temperatures here in Mersin hitting mid-40’s (that’s Celsius to you freaking Americans) on a regular basis.  Sidenote – Daughter just stuck her head out the door and asked me “When’s it winter?”  LMAO! #SydneyoverMersin

The traffic back in Sydney is as always a dream to navigate although peak hour did my head in on more than one occasion.  I love that the speed limit isn’t just a suggestion and I seriously don’t think I heard a car horn during our whole time there!  #SydneyoverMersin

Of course the biggest drawcard and the one thing that I can’t replicate in Mersin is bacon.  Sydney has bacon.  A lot of bacon.  And I ate it all!  #SydneyoverFECKINGMersin

bacon 1So now that I’m back I will probably be back to whinging about all and sundry and hating this and that again but right now I will just say that I’m glad to be home.

Oh and yes I was playing with hashtags.  They are stupid and I hate them.  I vow this day to never use them again!

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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?

cenaze-islemleri

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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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.

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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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Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom

These days you will find me on my terrace soaking in the last rays of sunshine before the grey of Mersin’s winter takes over.  I will no doubt have a cup of çay (sorry guys it’s not particularly Türk – white with two sugar) and, depending on the time of day, perhaps a biscuit (or two) to tide me over until akşam yemeği (dinner).  Basking in the sunshine is also the perfect time for me to catch up on my reading.

Tulips

As a blogger I am always on the hunt for fellow bloggers and writers that live in Türkiye, telling their own anecdotes of life, love and the numerous catastrophes that befall them living in this crazy country.  One of my favourite’s is fellow Aussie, Lisa Morrow, with her blog insideoutinIstanbul.  Her blog is filled with tales and photographs of her life living in one of the most incredible cities on earth – İstanbul – so when I received a copy of her most recent book, Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom, I knew that I needed to find a comfy spot in the sun where I would no doubt be entrenched until I had finished the very last line.

Lisa’s descriptive style captures the sights, sounds and even the smells (remind me to never catch the no. 2 bus with her) of modern day İstanbul, giving me, the reader, not only a personal tour of her favourite haunts but drawing me in with little known stories of what is, without doubt, one of the most amazing cities in the world.  Her anecdotes of language barriers and Government bureaucracy or even her partner’s difficulties with something as simple as his name (Who?) was something that any expat living in İstanbul (or any other city for that matter) will recognise.

To quote the wonderful Molly Meldrum (I am now picturing anyone who is not Australian googling “Molly Meldrum” right now), “Do yourselves a favour”.  With the Christmas season fast approaching this will make an excellent stocking stuffer, in fact, I can think of one particular friend back in Sydney will be receiving it in the mail very soon.

Does anyone else have any recommendations for good Türk inspired reading?  With winter fast approaching it is time for me to hibernate until spring so any suggestions to help pass the time while in my self imposed exile will be greatly appreciated.

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Shiny New Expat

I met a straight off the plane, never taken out of the package, New Expat recently.  So new that she had that new car smell.  Her excitement was palpable but, unlike a case of the measles, it was not contagious and I found myself talking down the same things that I talked up when I first settled here in Mersin.

new expat

New Expat spoke of her love for her husband’s close knit family.  I found myself rolling my eyes and suggesting she should find an apartment as far away as she could get from her new extended family unless she wants them on her doorstep all day, every day.

As New Expat made cay (successfully I might add) she spoke of the more relaxed Turkish way of life.  I laughed and suggested she take a trip to the Emniyet and then let me know how she feels.

For lunch New Expat put out an impressive Turkish spread.  She explained that she had taken Turkish cooking lessons back in the UK so she could impress the in-laws.  I suggested that she might like to join a few of us for lunch at Marina in the coming weeks where we all go for our European food fix.  Her reply?  “I could eat that back at home.  I am here to eat Turkish food.”  Inwardly I groaned.  Every day.  Every day.  Every day.  Here Turkish food is just food.  Every day.

By the time I left New Expat’s shiny new home I felt like a Dementor sucking all the New Expat happiness out of her.  Will I ever see New Expat again?  Doubtful as she is probably still trying to erase my unintentional but still horrid behaviour from her memory.

Yes I have lost that glow of a new expat and what were at first little irritations are now an open sore that needs treatment – STAT!

And it is not just me that feels that stench of a jaded old expat (do we have a stench?).  One of the first people I met here when I arrived in Mersin was a school teacher from Northern Ireland who was working at one of the private schools here.  Her excitement about living in this city synced with mine and we threw ourselves into our new lives, a little scared, quite naïve but ready for a little madness.  Well that school teacher is counting down the days until the end of term.  She has had enough and is leaving Mersin to return home to Northern Ireland, happy to close the door on her time here.  Crazy Mersin has broken her.  Will she come back to Turkiye?  Yes.  Will she come back to Mersin.  Doubtful.

Yet other expats are long termers, going on 15 plus years.  Right now, today, I cannot fathom the idea of being here for another 15 years.  Please God not that long but as The Turk put it – where would you go?  Back to Australia the land of my peeps?  Yes, please, but of course I can no longer afford to live in Sydney and I certainly don’t want to return to 50 hour weeks so I would probably have to move elsewhere.  But where?  And I would be starting again.  House.  Job.  Friends.  I would be an expat in my own country.

So my question to you today is how do you keep that new car freshness living in a city that has more problems than solutions, where your opinion matters little other than perhaps an amusing anecdote to the locals?  Do you have any advice for this miserable expat? Let me know ‘cause I really need some wise words.

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The Turk in Oz

I think being a yabanci, an expat or an immigrant (call it what you will) is extremely bloody hard.  I am not going to whinge and carry on today but rather tell the tale of when The Turk first arrived in Australia all those years ago.  Let me turn the table on my usual yabanci whinge-fest and tell you all about how The Turk coped when he was the yabanci arriving on foreign soil, a stranger in a hostile land, so to speak.

Life in Australia was good for me in 2002.  Daughter was a damn good baby.  I had a job that I loved and I lived in an apartment that was all mine.  I was content and having The Turk arrive should have made my life pretty much perfect.  Shouldn’t it?

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Post 9/11 the Australian visa process was daunting but with perseverance and his sponsorship being guaranteed by an amazingly supportive friend, The Turk arrived in Sydney one sunny morning in December 2002.  Not wasting a moment The Turk hit the ground running and by the first week of January 2003 he had procured gainful employment as a storeman and packer.  He was good at his job because he wanted this job.  He didn’t love the work but he wanted this life in this strange new world to be a success.

My friends and family were welcoming and The Turk soon turned my friends into his friends although, as hard as he tried, he just wasn’t fitting in.  I knew it and he knew it.  No one spoke Turkish and Turkish people were as scarce as hen’s teeth where we lived (read that as non-existent).  No one understood what he was going through or where he was from and perhaps I was not as helpful as I could have been.  During those early years Australia was not an easy place for a Muslim and The Turk was racially discriminated against by strangers and even the police on more than one occasion.

The Turk began to drink and gamble.  I knew he liked a drink – still does – but the gambling was a problem as we did not have that much money to start with.  Was I as supportive as I could have been or help him deal with his obvious addictions?  No.  I turned on him and badmouthed him to whoever would listen.  The bright new world was slowly becoming jaded and life was becoming more difficult.

By 2006 The Turk had had enough.  This new home had beaten him and, while Turkey may not have all the bells and whistles that Australia has, he gave me an ultimatum.  Return to Turkey with him and forge a new life there.  I refused to leave and finally he packed his bags and returned to Turkey without us.

After six months in his homeland The Turk returned a new man.  Still gave me a migraine daily but at least he had fresh vigour about his life and what he hoped to achieve in Australia.  He got not just one new job but two, landscaping by day and a sous chef by night.  He was happy.  He was working his ass off, providing for his family and could hold his head up high.

He still had not made any friends however and we really had no family other than my father who had remarried.  The Turk brooded a lot and we fought a lot, until finally, after one particularly explosive argument, he broke down and told me the truth.  The real truth.

He had never really adjusted to his life in Sydney.  To Australia.  As much as he loves Australia and he loves his family and friends living in such a foreign environment was just too damn difficult.  He had no support.  He had no one who understood how he felt and Australia had slowly broken him.  Into tiny, little pieces.

Obviously we got past that dark time in our life and we stayed together.  Sure he drives me crazy but he is my Turk and I do love him.  Sometimes.

The point to my reminiscing is this – moving to a new country has so many hurdles to overcome.  There is a drama at every turn.  Renting an apartment, finding a job, obtaining your visa.  Bloody hell it is hard work.  Doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from this is a fact.

When I first arrived here in Mersin it was difficult and there were a lot of tears.  Two years later it is still difficult (and there are still tears).  So what do I do?  Do I give up?  Run home?

I can now honestly say I understand why The Turk left back in 2006.  I really do.  Mersin is no Sydney and life for me back in Australia would be so much easier.  I would have my friends.  I would return to my fantastic job working with people I adore.  Life would be grand.  So why don’t I run home?  Why is it that I am coping in this chaotic country while The Turk collapsed in the reasonable sanity that is Australia?  Simply put I have met a great group of people who I can truly call friends.  They understand just how crappy a crappy day can be here in Mersin and will laugh right along with me (or pull me back from the abyss if necessary).  This was what The Turk was missing in Australia.

To anyone who is taking the plunge in a foreign land or to those of you who have their partner moving to yours know this one thing.  Find a support system that works for you and surround yourself with people who will lift you up when needs be.  Of course social media makes finding these like-minded people that much easier (man how I wish there was FB back in 2001).  I can thank social media (and this blog) for finding my support network – they are my rock.  Yes!  You guys truly rock!