Dognapped!

The neighbour’s Rottweiler is chained up all day.  His owner (Vito) never let’s this beautiful and gentle boy off its chain and he spends its day sitting staring morosely at the passer by.  I know its normal in Turkey but it’s still heartbreaking all the same.  The Turk pities Hercules and takes him for a long walk every morning and afternoon as well as ensuring that he gets a decent feed every day.  The dog does have his quirks though.  He will not go on a lead and I don’t really blame him because he is chained up all day so he will carry his lead in his mouth and walk alongside The Turk (which is ridiculously cute).  Of course this causes drama in the village as they all assume Hercules is some crazed man eater and will rip them apart as he wanders by.  He won’t ’cause he’s a big baby (I mean look at him with Stanley) BUT if he sees a soccer ball (or a dirty nappy) he will lose his fecking mind.  The Turk has been forced to carry 10TL every time he takes Hercules anywhere to hand over to crying children when Hercules steals yet another ball.

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Anyway The Turk took Hercules for a walk this morning and everything was going along swimmingly until the dopey dog spotted a stray off in the distance.  As Hercules is a dopey dog he took off leaving The Turk to chase after him like a Looney Tunes cartoon.  After 20 minutes of searching The Turk gave up and started home.  As he reached our local market he spotted Hercules sitting happily outside lapping water from the bowl that is left by the shopowner.  The Turk stormed over and started yelling at Hercules who seemed pretty perturbed by all the yelling.  The Turk pointed Hercules home and he meekly followed The Turk at a safe distance.

An hour or so later there was an almighty kerfuffle outside!  Now it is not unusual for yelling in these parts or for the polis to arrive to be honest so when I hear some crazy Turk yelling for some reason or another I usually ignore it however as it was ruining my morning serenity I hung over the terrace to watch the show.

Outside Vito’s door was an itsy, bitsy Turkish man seriously foaming at the mouth with aggression, two bored polis smoking cigarettes and chatting on their phones, one dishevelled Vito (who had clearly just been woken by said itsy, bitsy Turkish man and two bored polis), Hercules sunning himself on the concrete … and Hercules miserably sulking on his chain in the corner.  Wait!  What?

Yep we seemed to have acquired a spare Rottweiler leaving Vito scratching his head, The Turk realising his error and the itsy, bitsy Turkish man now believing that his dog was being despoiled by Hercules (who I admit did seem up for the task).  It was a clear case of dognapping and it certainly didn’t take the two Pet Detectives long to crack this case wide open.  The Turk was extremely apologetic and laughed it off with the polis however the itsy, bitsy Turkish man continued to foam at the mouth (no doubt in need of a quick trip to the hastanesi) and insisted that Vito or The Turk or both of them be thrown in gaol.  Vito continued to be confused as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and Hercules continued to lie in the sunshine lapping up all the attention.  In the end common sense prevailed and the original Hercules was reinstated to his chain, the reasonable facsimile along with the tiny little Turkish man left carrying a big bag of maydanoz and the polis sat in the sunshine enjoying another cigarette and some fresh Türk kahvesi.

On closer inspection it should have been clear that it wasn’t Hercules … the reasonable facsimile had a tail (Hercules does not), the reasonable facsimile had a different collar but the clearest indication that it was not Hercules was … she was female!

Duh!

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No Winter Blues

When we lived in Oz we always arranged our holiday to Mersin during September.  It was still deliciously warm but there was that cool breeze that soothed the rocking hell-fire that usually descends on the province during August (which has been known to send even me a little deli).  Winters, on the other hand, were a non-starter, no way I was skipping my summer in Sydney for the grey backdrop that would no doubt be Mersin during December or January.

Now that I live here I realise that that was my loss because while Mersin in the heat of summer no doubt rocks, it’s also got some pretty cool moves in the dead of winter as well.

Mersin snow

Falling temperatures sprinkle new magic on the small villages in the mountains and the medieval kalesi (castles) along the Mersin coastline and although I have not done much in the way of exploring thanks to my bung knee this winter I can say that over the years the chill brings a moody new perspective to the province.

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Daughter and I did zip up into the mountains a few times this winter and while the city of Mersin or our little village may be grey the Toros Mountains were gloriously sunshiny.  We took My Hurley Dog for a doggy snow day as Daughter had recently seen a video with dogs having a sensational time frolicking in white stuff but, of course, our asshole dog hated every moment of it.  He did, however, manage to find the carcass of some poor animal in the snow and try to drag it back to the car – I swear that dog disgusts me sometimes.

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With a smattering of snow the traditional Turkish villages are so enticing that a trek through the lower hills of the mountain range is something not to be missed.  Oh and for those of you who actually want to attach those silly wooden planks to your feet Kayseri is only 3 hours away with 8 lifts and no doubt more than enough apres-ski nightlife to suit everyone.

The coastline takes on a new role as well.  The beaches are still pristine but now they are empty.  Surprisingly the water isn’t icy either.  I mean I wouldn’t swim to Cyprus or anything but a paddle is pleasant enough.

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One of the bonuses during winter is it is much easier to visit the ruins (without self-combusting in the heat).  I have been known to lose myself for hours while exploring the many castles that dot the coastline and winter allows me to continue my exploration without breaking a sweat.

Winter also has salep, which is a mix of hot mastic milk, sugar, and flour made from orchid tubers, served with cinnamon.  Sold from street carts in the old part of the city you can enjoy your salep alongside a paper bag stuffed with kestane kebap (freshly roasted chestnuts), also purchased from street carts.

Today The Turk and I are off to Sarniç, a village 15 minutes outside of the city.  I’ve visited there so many times that he is beginning to question whether I’m having an affair with a local goat herder so today we will go together for lunch to celebrate our wedding anniversary (see we still adore each other – sometimes).  There is a fantastic lokanta on the main road that serves traditional Turkish food (the sucuk hummus is to die for) while you warm your weary bones by a roaring fire.  Yet another great reason to visit Mersin in winter I think.

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I mean if you really need another reason that is …

Disclaimer: my expat friend who lives up in the Yayla would not agree with anything said in this post.  She has had enough of the snow.  She (and her recently Home Alone kedi) wishes that the snow would feck off!

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