Meet Nancy Habbas

I met Nancy a few years ago when she first moved to Mersin. Nancy allowed me to join her on many photography expeditions around Mersin (and even further afoot), introducing me to places that I would probably have never found by myself. She is a well-renowned photographer, having taken part in photography exhibitions and festivals around Türkiye and internationally, with her most recent exhibition in Istanbul this month being a near sell-out!

One of the things I love about Nancy is her desire to get the best photo possible. She doesn’t hold back and will climb over rocks, wade through silt up to her knees or even dodge traffic to get the shot. For those of you who follow my Instagram stories you would have noticed a number of stories featuring Nancy and her crazy high-jinx’s as we travelled around Mersin taking photos and researching for the book.

These are a few of my favourite photos of her:

Sunrise at Kizkalesi. Beautiful, yeah? Gorgeous? Breathtaking?

Sunrise at Kizkalesi is all of those things and so much more. In an effort to get the photo for our cover Nancy climbed onto a long-abandoned dock resulting in her slipping in the pre-dawn light, nearly impaling herself on a metal pylon and looking like she had just done five rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson.

She also had quite a few encounters with the local dogs who were more than willing to model for her and a few even more curious four-legged friends who thought that she may or may not be available for, ahem, other things.

Nancy was never afraid to climb to the highest point of any sinkhole, ruin, mountain or cliff face dragging me kicking and screaming along for the ride!

And on-coming traffic is never really a concern… I mean they’ll stop, won’t they? Won’t they?

Mersin: All Over comes is available on Amazon on 1 June 2022. If you’re visiting Mersin, or just want to know more about the area you can pre-order your ebook here. Paperbacks will also be available on Amazon from 1 June 2022 and hopefully for those of you living in Türkiye I’ll have some available for you as well.


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Foodie’s Paradise

I’ve been thinking about food quite a bit the last few weeks. Maybe it’s the cold weather, maybe it’s the only thing I miss about living in the Village, but either way, I’m hungry.

Food in Mersin is rather unique with its mix of Turkish, Ottoman and Arabic, and a flavour all of its own. Food is always better when it is produced locally, when it is distributed locally and when it reaches the table locally. One of the biggest attributes to Mersin food is everything is fresh, straight from the pazar to the table. Here are some of my absolute favourite foods to enjoy in Mersin.

Photography by Nancy Habbas

Tantuni

Mersin has many dishes that originated from the province. My favourite and probably the best known of all Mersin dishes is – the tantuni!

Tantuni is a traditional street food dish consisting of thinly sliced beef that is seasoned with Turkish spices and herbs, usually cooked with onions and tomatoes. The combination is cooked in specially designed tantuni pans.

Traditionally, the dish is served rolled in a durum wheat wrap, with ground sumac and a lemon wedge on the side. Since every tantuni chef has his own method and secret technique of preparing the dish, it is said that the flavours of tantuni are never the same. 

Icli Kofte

Anyone who has been to a Middle Eastern or Lebanese Restaurant would have tried the similarly made Kibbe, but I know that a Turkish Icli Kofte is just that little bit better. They are incredibly difficult to make, and the few times I’ve tried have been nothing more than a disaster, but if you happen upon a local making them do not leave before you taste one (or a dozen).

Künefe 

Künefe is a crazy ass desert served here in Mersin and throughout Turkey made of cooked cheese, syrup and icecream. Künefe is well known throughout the provinces of Mersin, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis and Adana, although it is served in many Arabic countries.  If you do want to make an attempt of this amazing dessert I suggest you go check out Ozlem’s recipe.  She is, as usual, my go-to person when attempting Turkish food but this one looks a little out of my league.

Cezerye

Made with caramelized grated carrots, sugar, and nuts, this sweet concoction is rolled into balls and usually covered with shredded coconut before consumption. When I was in Tarsus recently, I was told that Cezerye is an aphrodisiac, so consume with caution.

Kısır

A classic Turkish salad made with thin bulgur wheat, tomatoes, mint, garlic, parsley, and either lemon juice or sour pomegranate molasses. Red pepper flakes are often added to the salad to make it spicier. A must-have for your mangal.

Sarimasakli Kofte

People may try telling you this is an Adana dish but don’t you listen to them, it’s definitely a Mersin tradition. Made from the same bulgur wheat as the kısır, they are rolled into tiny balls and boiled. After cooking its topped with a sauce made with garlic, lemon, salca, parsley and oil. Delicious.

Batkırık

Similar to kısır, batkırık is my go-to for a quick and easy meal. These are so easy to make but the secret to a successful batkırık is the sauce. Onion, cumin, salca and oodles of garlic. Mix it into the bulgur wheat before making patties. Batkırık is also sometimes made as a cold soup with tahini and water added.

Fındık Lahmacun

A specialty from Tarsus, these are easy to snack on at any time of day. Topped with mince meat, herbs, red peppers and spices, these have the added ingredient of hazelnuts before being baked to perfection.

Sıkma

When you’re driving down the D400 you’ll probably pass tiny shacks on the side of the road selling sıkma and çay. Usually made with flat durum wheat break or rolled pastry they are filled with onion, white cheese and parsley. Sıkma means handshake so I imagine these little morsels were thus named because they fit in your hand so easily.

Karsambaç

A traditional dessert originating from Camliyayla, a small town high in in the Toros mountains. Similar to a snow cone, but completely unique, Karsambaç is made with a combination of clean mountain snow (straight from the mountain) and a sweet syrup such as sugar syrup, or molasses.

Taş kadayif

Crispy on the outside, walnut in the middle, and coated in a decadent sugary syrup.

Kerebiç

A local dessert unique to Mersin, is made with semolina and is often served during Ramadan.  


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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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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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Dog v. Nemesis

More than a few weeks back My Hurley Dog (who as you can see by his mug shot below, is the epitome of a gentleman’s gentleman) and I were in the garden with my various in-laws making bread when who should appear over the back fence but my nemesis, asshole rooster. For those of you not familiar with my nemesis he is currently a rather handsome black rooster but over the years he has been many shades of asshole and I’m pleased to say that each and every one of those noisy bastards were delicious (and don’t come at me again Karen all BBQ (mangalar) were done with the full knowledge and approval of Crazy Eyes, the owner of said asshole roosters).

One of my favourite things about My Hurley Dog is his willingness to protect his humans, and so, with a flick of my wrist, he took off across the garden after my nemesis who apparently had grown a set since our last alteration and decided to Cobra Kai his ass. Needless to say my precious poodle did NOT expect a fight, and came to a dust-screeching halt when the asshole rooster turned his beady dinosaur eyes on him. At that point, the supposed adult, me, intervened and chased my nemesis back to his side of the fence where he sat and screamed rooster profanities at both My Hurley Dog and me for a good 15 minutes.

Now I may not know many things, but one thing I know for sure is that that asshole rooster took a hit out on My Hurley Dog that day as he has had numerous attempts on his life since then. 

The first attempted assassination happened a couple of days later when we passed a flock of sheep while we were on a walk through the village. Anything larger than a fat poodle is generally given a wide berth, and sheep definitely fall into that category. We crossed to the other side of the paddock, but it was too late. They spotted us and decided that My Hurley Dog was either (a) one of their own due to his similar styling; or (b) an infiltrator that needed to be taken out. Suddenly we were surrounded. My Hurley Dog bravely stepped up to his sworn duty and protected me, barking louder than a horny howler monkey until he finally gained the shepherd’s attention who meandered over to round the little bastards up.

Were they merely being curious or were they acting on the order of a crazy asshole rooster, I guess we will never know… but then this happened.

We changed our early morning walking route to avoid that particular paddock and instead decided to loop the block. When we stay closer to home, our numerous kediler usually join us. This means it’s me, My Hurley Dog, the dog next door and one, two or three cats. I’m pretty sure the entire village calls me the Pied Piper of Stupid behind my back (or to my face because let’s be honest my Turkish is crap-tastic at best).

There we were enjoying our early morning constitutional when a mama crow swooped down low on us, no doubt warning us to keep away from her nest. The cats were enjoying that game and stayed behind while My Hurley Dog and I continued along. A few minutes later plop… a huge poop landed on My Hurley Dog’s back and then plop… another one, this time on his head. The crow pooped on him with assassin-like precision. He was most unhappy, not because of the pooping but because he knew what would happen next. A bath!

Not long after these first two suspicious incidents, My Hurley Dog joined me on a trip to the ancient city of Uzuncaburç. A few hours from here it’s an archeological site containing the remnants of the ancient town of Diokaisareia, and I wanted to take some photos of him amongst the ruins. They would be Insta-fabulous!

Anyway, the day started off well, despite the oppressive heat, and we travelled up into the mountains. We stopped for strawberries (a steal at 20TL) before exploring an aqueduct at Olba. Finally arriving at Uzuncaburç, we wandered around the theatre where My Hurley Dog sniffed to his heart’s delight before making our way down to the Temple of Zeus. 

And that’s when it happened. 

Eeks! 

Egads! 

We were set upon by a gang of Turks! Well, more correctly we were attacked by turkeys, wild turkeys. Angry, ginormous, ugly as shit, wild turkeys with their bumpy red heads and that hideous fleshy flap of skin. Bleugh! And don’t get me started on their thoroughly unfriendly behaviour (although if I was as ugly as them, I’d probably need an attitude adjustment as well).

Anyway, these nasty, evil, would-be assassins, appeared out of nowhere and chased My Hurley Dog (and me because yikes!) clear back to the car park. We darted left, they darted right and with a wiggle of their waddle they had both of us pinned against the car. There was a lot of yelling by me, My Hurley Dog, and the hapless employee who worked at the ruins as he tried to separate these disgusting, delicious, creatures from my poodle and I. Needless to say my Hurley Dog was in no condition to further explore Uzuncaburç so another trip in the future will be on the cards (for me because I’m certain my dog is not interested in visiting again).

Fast forward to yesterday: my Hurley Dog and I were in the garden with my various in-laws making bread when who should appear over the back fence but my nemesis, asshole rooster. My Hurley Dog and asshole rooster eyed each other off. No doubt threats were made by both parties via growls and clucks, but an unwritten agreement appears to have been reached. Asshole rooster returned to his side of the fence where he could be heard muttering profanities as he rounded up his women. At the same time, My Hurley Dog came and sat beside me, practically in my lap, where he was given a piping hot piece of fresh bread as a reward for being such a good boy.

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You Need To Calm Down

Daughter has made me vow to not use her for any of my future blog posts as it is an invasion of her privacy. Pfft! 

So here’s a story about a person that lives in my home which for the sake of this post is called “She Who Shall Not Be Named”. 

She Who Shall Not Be Named is now seventeen years old and living her best teenage life. You already know she is a well-established şımarık and brings along with her all the drama that a şımarık can bring. The never-ending phone calls and text messages that go ALL NIGHT LONG. Ding, ding, ding! The gossip. The chaos. *squeals*

Since we returned from Oz, she has been out socialising every single day – and night. Camping. Beach. Music Festivals. Nightclubbing. Vomiting in gutters. All the usual teenage stuff. It’s exhausting trying to keep track of her. Anyway, school goes back on Monday (thank feck), so I’ve said it’s time to rein back her activities, get home at a reasonable hour and prepare for the new school year. 

Sooooo last night SWSNBN (I had to shorten it otherwise I’d be typing all fecking night) came home early at 8.30. Yah!! With her boyfriend! Sure, okay. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with the boyfriend visiting. My long-term boyfriend used to spend most of his nights on my parent’s sofa. He was never allowed to stay the night, but we got to hang out, watch videos on the old VHS player (how old am I anyway?) and have a pash when we thought my parents weren’t looking. Everyone was pretty happy with that arrangement.  

Well, it all went to shit as my BIL, and SWSNBN’s umca Vito was dead-set having a melt-down when he spotted SWSNBN rock up at ours on the back of boyfriend’s motorbike and subsequently TOOK THE BOYFRIEND UPSTAIRS!!! He immediately reported it to the BossMan (the oldest BIL) who scurried over to our apartment. 

Knock, knock.

“There is a guy in your apartment.”

“Yep.”

“The Turk is not here.”

“Well he doesn’t live here so nope he’s not here.”

“Would you like me to stay?”

“Hell to the no!”

Have we gone through a time warp? Is it 1948 here in Mersin? Come on, folks! I’m sitting on the fecking sofa across from them while they watch Riverdale. Nothing hard-core happening here!

SWSNBN was mortified. The BF didn’t seem too fussed. I’m sure he’s seen this kind of behaviour before. 

As Taylor Swift would say “You Need to Calm Down.”

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Nemesis 3.0

It’s been a while since I have mentioned my nemesis. Just to remind you my nemesis has reincarnated a few times over the years but has always taken the form of a rather large and loud cock-a-fecking-doodle-doing rooster.

There was the large red cock that terrorised My Hurley Dog so much that he refused to go into the yard for a good month. That red cock ended up as a fricassee. Then there was the big black cock (what am I writing?) who made it his personal mission to ensure I never slept more than two hours a night. Now I don’t know what happened to him but when he disappeared there was nothing left of him but some feathers and a beak. I’m guessing an alien abduction was the most likely cause of his demise. Then there was a cute little brown cock. He was a sweet-looking little guy but despite his tiny stature, he had a hell of a set of pipes on him! I swear you could hear him in the city. My BIL mangaled his ass and I must say he was delicious.

The owner of all of these reincarnated nemeses in their various forms, previously referred to as Crazy Eyes, had been rather quiet of late. I hadn’t seen her, or her mother or those five unruly boys (no doubt the reason for her crazy eyes), but last weekend she reappeared in a big way and worse still she brought with her yet another big black cock. She has gotten much smarter though. She knew we entered under the cover of darkness and Seal team 6’d her roosters so she has re-housed her new black cock and his six bitches onto the roof of her house. The fecking roof! Now, this new black-feathered evil dinosaur is even closer to my window.

My nemesis started this morning at 3:36AM. Precisely. He hopped to the end of his coop (read that as Crazy Eye’s roof), stared into my opened window and screamed at the top of his lungs “HEY, JANEY? ARE YOU AWAKE? JANEY? HUH? JANEY? WAKE UP! WAKE THE FECK UP!”. I swear to you this is no lie.

As he is now mere feet from my window I immediately woke, moaned, cried a little, hugged My Hurley Dog and, when this ugly ass cock-a-doodle-dummy kept this shit up for a straight forty-five minutes I gave up on sleep and went and watched the news.

So I now have a mission (if I choose to accept it) and that mission is to find myself a big-ass rifle and, if I haven’t accidentally shot off my own head in the interim, I am going to sniper the shit out of that bastard cock-a-doodle-don’t!

I be hella grumpy when I don’t sleep.

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My Father-In-Law

My father in law passed away recently. He might have been a colossal pain in my ass but he was also a big part of my life. I will miss him a lot.

There are so many fond memories of my father in law that I could mention but perhaps my earliest memory of him is the best as it sets the tone for our whole relationship.

It was back in the autumn of 2001. The world had gone to shit and I was in a Muslim country wondering whether I should high-tail it back to the relative normalcy of Australia. Instead, I travelled from Bodrum to the Village to meet The Turk’s extended family. It was a long twenty-four hours by bus and I was beyond exhausted. The last thing I wanted to do was to be dragged into a room spilling over with people all staring and shouting and smiling, waiting to meet the yabancı gelin. I was so nervous that I nearly threw up (which is more likely because I was also pregnant at the time). There, in the centre of the room was a tall, thin and extremely loud man who was the spitting image of The Turk. Definitely his dad! The Turk introduced me. “This is Hurşit.”

Seriously?

“What did you say?”

“Hurşit.”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“Horseshit?”

Hayir, Hurşit”.

“That’s exactly what I said.”

Once The Turk translated my lousy attempt at his mother’s tongue for the rest of the family my father in law roared with laughter and pulled me in for a hug. The man definitely had an excellent sense of humour but sensibly it was suggested that from that moment on I should call him Dede.

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Dede was a constant source of entertainment (and more often than not bewilderment) for me. He was crabby and very bloody opinionated, but he could be swayed pretty easily with a glass of wine or slipping him a few lira so he could have a flutter on the horses. He was practically deaf and spent his days shouting at the television or yelling at the family (or at anyone who happened to pass by for that matter) but when he wasn’t bellowing about the state of the world he would be singing and loved nothing more than an appreciative audience as he sang Turkish love songs in an effort to make us smile. Time passed and dementia reared its ugly head but that didn’t sway Dede’s smile or laughter, although now he spoke mostly in Arabic which made it impossible for me to understand him or to tend to his needs. Dede hated my cooking but he still ate with gusto. He could swear like a sailor and very much appreciated when I swore back at him because it meant that at least I was practising my abysmal Turkish. He was at his happiest sitting beside a mangal (bbq) in the sunshine surrounded by his family.

Over the years we had all been on the receiving end of Dede’s scathing humour. I never really mind because most of the time I totally deserved it, in fact one of my final memories was of him making me look like a bit of a galah … again.

On a recent shopping trip I had totally splurged and brought myself the most fabulous leopard print jacket along with a pair of knee-high boots. After an outing wearing my spiffy new outfit (and feeling like bir milyar dollar I might add), I returned home to find The Turk and Dede partaking in a glass of çay at my front door. He took one look at me and nearly busted a gut laughing. I knew I was just about to become the butt of one of his jokes.

“Neye gülüyorsun?” (“What are you laughing at?”)

He pointed at me. “Salak!” (“Idiot!”)

I gave him the finger. “Sen salaksin”. (You’re the idiot.”)

He laughed even harder and hit me with his cane as I passed. “Siktir git ya!” (“Fuck off!”).

The Turk watched on with glee before he too started laughing. I stormed off tossing swear words back at them as I left (mostly in English but with a few choice Turkish words thrown in for good measure). I could still hear Dede’s raucous laughter as I stomped off up the stairs.

Yep, I am really going to miss that man!

Başiniz sağ olsun (Let health be on your head)

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What Time is it? It’s Salça Time!

I used to say that making salça (paste) with my SIL was the most fun you could have in the Village with your clothes on.  In fact, I even complained a few years back about my SIL’s family taking over my salça making duties and ruining my fun.  I take it back now.  All of it.  Salça making ain’t fun.  In fact, now I think that making salca is the equivalent of giving birth.  It’s long, painful, incredibly messy, it can take weeks of recuperation afterwards before you feel yourself again but, surprisingly, in the end, you’re prepared to go through it all that pain again next year.  And of course you’ve got all that fabulous salça at the end of it all.

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Well that day is here again and I was chomping at the bit to make our kırmızı biber salça.  200kg of kırmızı biber (red capsicum) ready to be transformed into salça by me, my SIL and her mother.  Oh, and My Hurley Dog who assisted by chasing kediler (cats) and rolling in the mess until he was stained red.  He is not happy right now and is well aware that a bath is in his immediate future.

Back to my story.  200kg of kırmızı biber is a lot of biber.  My SIL called me down at 5 am, not to start work but to help make the ekmek (bread) for kahlvatı (breakfast).  To me making the ekmek is more work than its actually worth.  I’m happy to nick to the market and grab a couple of loafs of bread for 1TL each!  After the ekmek we started on the salca and it was just freaking exhausting.  Toiling away (before the real heat of mid-morning hits) with the cutting, cleaning, mulching (is it called mulching) before lugging buckets of biber salca up three flights of stairs and spreading it out in huge bowls to spend the next ten days in the sunshine (I swear if it rains!).  Nine trips up those stairs today with two buckets each trip!  FML!

The stairs are now stained red.  My feet are stained red (blending nicely with my orange nail polish) and my hands are as red as my eyes.  I’m exhausted.  Time for a shower, a glass of red (same colour as my hands, my eyes, my dog and my stairs) and an early night (just like after I had a baby – well I didn’t have the glass of red but the rest stands true).

Quote of the day by my 7-year-old niece – “cok tatl” (“so cute”) upon finding a worm (or maybe a maggot) in one of the biber.  Don’t be horrified by the idea of a worm/maggot in the biber.  Anyone who has ever made salça is well aware that its luck of the draw with those massive bags of biber.  Some are good, some are bad and sadly, some are rotten.  Adds to the taste according to The Turk (although the worm/maggot in question did not form part of my salça I swear to you).

So, when I say next year that I am making salça someone point me to this post – and to the looney bin.

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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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