Mersin: All Over

I know I’ve been threatening to do this for a while now but it looks like it’s really happening… Mersin: All Over is being formatted as we speak and will soon be live to purchase on Amazon, IBooks, Kobo, and many more!

If you’re thinking of visiting Mersin, or maybe, like me, you visited family each year and always found yourself wandering around aimlessly having no idea where to visit next, then this is for you:

MERSIN: ALL OVER

Written with 20 years of experience, expat Jane Gundogan, has assembled her knowledge, anecdotes and research into Mersin: All Over. This is the ultimate guide to uncovering the real story of this fascinating part of Türkiye. For the first time ever, this area is getting the recognition and resource it deserves, catering to a little of everything, from hidden castles to the author’s favourite restaurants. You’ll be surprised by what this often-overlooked part of the Mediterranean has to offer.

In Mersin: All Over you’ll visit the Big Five of Mersin including the incomparable Kizkalesi, historical Tarsus, the stunning dining experiences at Mersin Marina, the almost hidden Alahan Monastery, the recently-discovered Gildiere Caves and, of course, the unspoilt beaches of the Mediterranean coastline. This book will give you the inside information to discover little known places and the juicy stories behind them that bring the area to life.

Inspirational colour photography by the well-renowned photographer, Nancy Habbas, does more than just provide pictures of Mersin, her images prepare you for the beauty of what you will see. Mersin: All Over doesn’t stop at giving you helpful guides and information on places to avoid, it is also filled with hilarious anecdotes, and tips to fit everything into your day. Jane shares her expert advice for exploring the wonders of this little-known province so you can make the most of your time in Mersin.

Release date: 1 June 2022

Pre-order available soon.

And for those of you living in Türkiye I am currently in discussions with a Turkish publisher so you can buy direct at an excellent price (none of those pesky international postage charges that we all loathe).


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The Bane Of My Existence

No, I’m not talking about my monsters-in-law (although they would run a very close second). I’m talking about my inability to get a fecking decent hot chocolate here in Mersin.

I love me a good hot chocolate. Always have, always will. As a child, my mother would make hot chocolates with cocoa and marshmallows, and as an adult non-coffee-drinker, I would usually buy myself a hot chocolate as a treat for my morning pick-me-up. Today, and particularly in winter when Mersin’s temperatures resemble the Artic circle, a hot chocolate is my go-to to warm up my weary bones.

Türkiye is famous for its excellent kahve (coffee) and its çay (tea) served in tulip-shaped glasses. Sipping on a çay as you shoot the breeze is practically a national sport. People just don’t drink hot chocolate. And I appreciate that, in fact before Starbucks arrived in Mersin getting a decent hot chocolate was as rare as hen’s teeth. If you were lucky enough to find a place that serves them, they usually varied from bad to an abomination that will live in infamy in certain circles. But hear me out, if a restaurant has sıcak çikolata (hot chocolate) on the menu, then damn it, they should know how to make one, at least.

“If you’ve ever wondered what tar and the tears of children taste like – drink their hot chocolate.”

Moe, 2022

This quote refers to the most God-awful concoction that was purportedly passed for hot chocolate that I and my friends had the misfortune to try from a very well-known restaurant here in Mersin. I will not name the restaurant, mostly because I don’t need the blow-back, but let me tell you the story.

After a lunch with a group of my yabancilar friends, a few of us decided to hang around enjoying the pleasant ambience of the restaurant. We would frequent this place regularly. The food was pretty good and the prices were always reasonable. At this point I should mention that there was in fact a Starbucks located directly across the street but we chose to stay put, mostly because we couldn’t be assed standing in the queue.

Hot chocolates were ordered.

Within minutes a glutenous concoction in a small white mug was delivered to each of us. It was thicker than mud, hotter than the sun, and as stomach-churning as kokoreç (well-known Turkish offal dish) on a good day. Honestly? It resembled the packet pudding that is so often served in Türkiye and tasted like it as well. After a polite explanation as to how a hot chocolate should be made, the apologetic waiter retreated to re-order. We stared longingly at the people sitting in the sunshine opposite us, no doubt sipping on their perfectly made Starbucks hot chocolate, until our waiter returned with attempt number 2. I crossed my fingers for him and for us, I even prayed to all the deities available to me that it would be good.

It was not good.

Am I a Karen? Have I become an entitled expat who expects the niceties from my homeland having no regard for local custom? I took a Buzzfeed quiz to check whether I am, in fact, a Karen and can thankfully report that I’m only half Karen… the other half is pure Janey with a little bit of bitch thrown in for good measure.

And while I’m just having a little whine for comedic purposes it doesn’t take away from the fact that I just want a fecking decent hot chocolate!

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Inside Out In Istanbul

The passion for traveling has been something that people have been doing for centuries now, but being able to document and blog your traveling adventures is just awesome.

Lisa Morrow is a great example of an expat and blogger who has documented her life in Istanbul. With her very popular blog, Inside Out In Istanbul, and four best-selling books released to date, it’s time to get inspired and discover what it’s like to live in Istanbul with my excellent interview below.

I first met Lisa in Istanbul during one of my getaways from Mersin. I must admit I was a little intimidated by her because

she was such a successful author and blogger, whereas I was just a dabbler writing what amounts to “filth” in some people’s eyes (you’re welcome, by the way).

But I am happy to report that within the first moments of meeting Lisa my fears were unfounded. Here is a woman who, like me, is doing what she loves, and blessed to be doing it in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A northern-beaches girl, a lover of Vegemite, and one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Your blog was one of the first blogs I found when I decided to move to Turkey and I think I read each and every post you wrote. When did you start blogging? And how, or perhaps when, did you make the decision to take what you’ve written and turn it into a book (or, more correctly, 4 books)?

Actually it was publishing the first edition of my essay collection Inside Out In Istanbul in 2011 that started me thinking about blogging. I wrote this book for people planning to come to Istanbul or those who’d already visited once, wanting to better understand what they see and experience in the city.

I was really new to the world of social media back then so it took me until 2013 to start my own blog. At that time most internet sites about Turkey were either commercial ones selling tours, travel insurance and so on, or personal blogs by people who had visited Istanbul but never lived here. I wanted to share the Istanbul I live in, the real everyday extraordinary of the city outside the well-known tourist areas.

For my blog I usually write short pieces capturing my impressions or put together photo essays. However my passion and I believe my forté is writing essays that combine Turkish culture and history with my personal experiences. The longer I live in Istanbul and the better my Turkish becomes, the more I have to write about, which is how my other books have come about.

Did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Not really. I’ve always made sense of the world through words. I have to be able to accurately describe what I see and experience in writing, otherwise my understanding remains incomplete. It’s the feedback I’ve received from readers rather than the process of writing and publishing my books that’s had the biggest impact on me. Readers say they feel like they’re walking the streets alongside me in Inside Out In Istanbul. Strangers feel they know me after reading my memoir Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom. Turks no longer living in the country say Exploring Turkish Landscapes makes them feel homesick but also as though they’re back home at the same time. It’s gratifying and rewarding to hear all this and makes me want to continue writing in the same way.

Congratulations on becoming an Amazon top 10 seller with your most recent release, “Longing for Istanbul: The Words I haven’t said yet”. That’s an amazing achievement (I’m not at all jealous). Has becoming a Top 10 seller changed how you look at marketing? Do you market? Or do you rely on word of mouth or other reviews?

Thank you for the compliment. Selling is, as you know, hard work and marketing is key. Millions of books are published every year and even though books sales increased worldwide in 2021, unless people hear about your books they won’t know to buy them. Being a Top 10 seller is fabulous but statistics change all the time so I never rest on my laurels. Word-of-mouth is really important but my audience spans the globe so I do market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Strangely, although the latter is based on visuals, it’s a good platform for authors. However reviews on Amazon and Goodreads do have a big impact. These days a lot of people want to know in advance they’re going to like your book, so a positive review, even a short one, goes a long way.

Speaking of reviews… do you read them? And how do you deal with less than favourable ones?

Many writers say not to read reviews but I do. Writing is a solitary occupation and a lot of the time it feels like throwing ideas out into space and never knowing where or if they’ll land. Positive reviews are the echo telling me a reader gets what I’m trying to do. Luckily I haven’t had too many unfavourable ones (fingers crossed saying this won’t jinx me). What I really dislike though is when a reader gives a one or two star rating and can’t be bothered to say why. Maybe they don’t like Turkey, possibly they don’t like something they think they know about me or it could be they really didn’t like my writing after all. Unless they give a reason, it just pulls down the book rating and doesn’t help potential readers decide whether to buy it or not, which is one of the major reasons to leave a review.

You recently had Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries translated into Turkish (Türkiye’yi Keşfederek Sınırlarımı Aşarken). Why did you decide to have it translated and where is it available?

Back in 2019 I was interviewed by SBS Turkish radio (in Turkish) about why I moved to Turkey with my husband Kim, also a non-Turk. After it broadcast I received dozens of messages from people telling me I was THE topic of conversation in supermarkets in Melbourne, Australia, where the majority of Turks live. This was the first time they’d heard from a non-Turk who’d chosen to live in their home country and they were fascinated about why I’d done so and what it was like. Many of them were thinking of moving to Turkey themselves, even the Australian born ones, and they really related to what I said in the program. It was clear to me I should make my books available in Turkish because there was an audience keen to know more.

I chose to start with Exploring Turkish Landscapes because it covers my experiences in different parts of the country, and at different stages of my life and knowledge of Turkish language and culture. It’s available in Turkey as an ebook through D& R or internationally from Kobo and in paperback from Barnes & Noble and other booksellers.

I’m visiting Istanbul right now doing research for my next book… a literary pilgrimage, so to speak. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before you visit somewhere new?

When I first left Australia to travel to London and from there to Europe and eventually Turkey, I did very little research. The internet didn’t exist, travel guides were heavy and expensive and I preferred to party than check out books at the library. Now the internet provides thousands of websites, blogs and references and it’s easy to drown in too much information. I’ve been to all the main tourist sites in Istanbul, many several times, but these days I travel further afield. Every outing involves food in some way, whether it’s a new restaurant to try or going to a shop selling specialty Turkish foods or hard to get non-Turkish items.

Usually what happens is I’ll be on my way somewhere and spot something unexpected from a bus or the corner of my eye. A church tower or intriguing doorway I hadn’t noticed before, a sign that piques my interest or an unusual window display. Depending on my schedule (and my hunger) I might go in straight away, or just make a note or take a photo and research it when I get home. I use guidebooks and the internet to find out more and focus mainly on Turkish origin blogs and websites as they often contain more information than those written in English. However I read a lot of non-fiction books about Istanbul too, and when I come across references to places I don’t know about, I write them down and then go looking for them.

It’s the unexpected that excites me most so I prefer to visit a place first and research it later. Otherwise the joy of immersing myself in the atmosphere and discovering small beautiful details is lost in the act of looking for particular things noted in guidebooks. That’s the idea underpinning my essay ““Büyük Çamlıca Camii” in Longing for Istanbul.

Is there anywhere in Istanbul that you still want to visit, or perhaps a hidden gem that you’ve kept to yourself?

I think there will always be places I want to visit in Istanbul. My list expands all the time, partly because there is already so much to see but also because there are new discoveries being made almost everyday. Add to that long abandoned sites being restored and opened to the public and the possibilities are endless. My focus in the coming months (when it gets warmer) is to use Istanbul’s excellent public transport system to go further afield. I don’t drive in Istanbul so going to Beykoz, Atatürk Kent Park or Polonezkoy is a bit of an expedition. I enjoy it though, because being on trains, buses and ferries gives me what I call empty time, when I have the space to daydream and random thoughts often become concrete ideas.

One thing I really love about Istanbul is whether you’re rich or poor you can drink tea and eat a meal by the water, enjoying the same mesmerising views, no matter your budget. It’s very democratic in that way so my hidden gems are the places locals can go and feel like royalty, whatever their social status. Spoiler alert – they’ll stay hidden.

What surprises you most about living in Turkey?

How kind Turkish people are, no matter what’s going on in their lives. I’ve seen the Turkish economy rise and fall over the years and right now people are doing it tough. Yet that doesn’t stop them thinking of others. Last week I was on the way to my gym and an older man slipped and fell while running for a bus. He cut his forehead quite badly. I picked up his transport card as a younger man helped him up and both of us gave him tissues to help stem the blood. Two woman suggested he might need stitches so the younger man escorted him across road and directed him to the hospital. This level of assistance is normal. I tripped on a bollard once and fell over and people even crossed a busy road to help me!

Then there’s the traditional pay it forward schemes like askıda ekmek where you buy an extra loaf of bread for someone without means and the modern version called askıda fatura. People in need are carefully vetted by councils and the government so strangers can pay money towards their bills (fatura in Turkish). This level of humanity is rare in the world these days but it’s an everyday occurrence in Turkey,

I Googled you today. Not only are you an author and blogger but you also write for media outlets, like CNN. Have you got anything exciting in the pipeline you can reveal?

Yes I do. I have a feature on beaches along the Lycian Way coming out in CNN Travel in the next few months and have also had an article on Istanbul accepted by the New York Times. I don’t know when they’ll be published so watch this space!

Add your own question that you’ve always wanted asked but never has been…

I’ve always wanted someone to ask me what I find the most frustrating part of writing. The answer is finding the exact word to describe a specific moment, feeling, touch, taste, sensation etc. I want people to know how Istanbul smells, what it’s like to be bathed in urban sweat, the emotions you go through as you negotiate life in Turkey as a both a foreigner and a local, and that can be extremely difficult.

I grew up in a house full of books, played word games with my parents and am a former English teacher (both as a foreign and second language). I know words matter and choosing the correct one can be agony. However when I do find the word that expresses precisely what I’m trying to say, it fits into place seamlessly and gives my writing an almost organic character, as if it came into being fully formed. In truth it’s the result of hours sitting at my computer, staring out windows, making notes and writing the same sentence three or four different ways to see which one works best. Nonetheless, no matter how exasperated I get, I love writing. It’s a privilege to be able to share my words and thus my world with others.

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How much have you integrated into Turkish culture?

I had an interview with an UK-based blogger recently and he asked me this question. I’m not usually lost for words (in fact you can rarely shut me up), but I was in this case.

How much have I really integrated into Turkish culture?

After over eight years here, I don’t think I’ve integrated that much. I still crave bacon and a variety of different countries food (that usually includes pork). I still struggle with Turkish but I can at least order a bottle of red wine so that’s progress. And Oh.My.God I still roll my eyes at the inconsistency of the bureaucracy here.

However, I respect this country and abide by the laws when I am out. I wear a mask (and at the rate we’re going probably always will), rarely speed (total bollocks but then to be truly Turkish you must speed, am I right?), never litter (why is it so hard for someone to put something in the bin?) and always pay my bills on time.

I may have jumped into my life here in Turkey with blinders on but now that I am truly out in the world with no buffer (aka The Turk) I think I am beginning to really come into my own. It was easy to integrate in the beginning. I was the new plaything for the family and was lovingly introduced to every facet of Turkish life. I worked in the kitchen perfecting my baba ganoush, and learned to accept tomatoes despite a lifetime of hate. I love, love, loved making salca and harvesting the olives, and I loved nothing more than sitting with my mother-in-law drinking Çay and listening to her and her friends make fun of their husbands, but after the breakdown of my marriage I found living in the village stifling. Why after all these years, you might wonder? It was fun, don’t get me wrong. It was a completely different way of life. Definitely a slower way of life and a much healthier lifestyle. But as time went on the dust that never goes away, the constant electric cuts, the non-existent internet, the village dramas, the weddings (or funerals) that I have to attend even if I’d never met him, her or them, and last, but certainly not least, his fecking family who I’m quite certain have a voodoo doll with my name on it squirrelled away somewhere, sent me so far over the edge that I found myself in freefall. Now I’m living in the city and I’m loving every second of it, despite COVID lockdowns and restrictions, despite my sometimes dire financial situation and despite the fact that our swimming pool hasn’t been opened this season (which is the real kick in the pants).

So now I’m going to ask you, how much have you integrated into Turkish (or other) culture? Let me know in the comments below.

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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!

sunflowers 1

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.

depression 1

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.

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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