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.

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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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My Hurley Dog is an asshole!

The first thing I do in the morning is take My Hurley Dog outside so he can “do his business”.  This should take no more than 5 minutes – 10 minutes tops – but some mornings this Sydney born and bred poodle/bichon frise can get mighty sidetracked by the tiniest thing and his morning poop or wiz can become a battle of wills.

DSC09986.JPGI can damn well assure you that if I had waited for 9 hours to take a wiz the first thing I would want to do once that opportunity was available to me is, well, take that wiz.  Not chase a cat.  Not tease the neighbour’s Rottweiler which I am pretty sure goes a little like this: “you’re on a chain and I’m not.  Nanananana”.  Not minutely examine a random bone that has appeared as if by miracle in your eye sight and certainly not attempt to terminate a passing chicken (I will admit I am responsible for his assassin programming to take out any chicken).  I would wiz!  Or poop!  Or damn it I would do both!!

And even when he does finally go wiz he has the ability to cause me more grief than not.  Wizzing on fresh maydanoz or nane waiting to go to market, wizzing on the abovementioned Rottweiler who chooses to behave above his uncouth neighbour or perhaps walking up as casual as can be to Vito and aiming his wiz right on his foot!

A walk with My Hurley Dog is a pain in the ass too.  It’s the equivalent of letting a drunk toddler out on the street.  Having said that I should point out that I have never seen a drunk toddler on the street although I imagine if I had seen a drunk toddler on the street I would probably call social services.  Anyway like a toddler (drunk or not) My Hurley Dog’s behaviour while on a village walk is borderline bat shit crazy.  There are too many insane things going on around him so the opportunity for sniffing, tasting, regurgitating or just generally checking it out means that a walk can go on much longer than it really should.  He darts here and there.  He pees, like, 8 million times.  He chases random cats, dogs, birds, goats, humans.  He barks at the sky.  He harrasses the guard dogs at a nearby business and then strolls away while they lose their minds.  He has been known to run through the maydanoz or nane with abandon while neighbourhood women are trying to harvest for market which causes lots of squeals and “Yapma!” as he passes by.  And I’ve mentioned before his love of all things shit related.  Horse shit.  Goat shit.  Other dog shit. General shit.  Shit!!!!  Anyway it all comes down to asshole behaviour.

I blame The Turk for My Hurley Dog’s lack of social skills.  Pre-village he was a very well behaved little mutt but since moving half way around the world all of his expensive training seems to have been left on the tarmac at Sydney International Airport while his prima donna behaviour is rewarded by The Turk instead of reprimanded.

One of The Turk ways of rewarding My Hurley Dog is that he has started taking him to the beach for a Daddy/Doggy day.  I swear to God this is a thing they do together.  They wander down the beach together.  They might go on a fishing boat and nab a few fish.  Together.  They stop by the çay evi on the way home for çay.  Together.  He doesn’t take Daughter to the beach.  He doesn’t take me to the beach but he does take the fecking dog to the beach.  Last night The Turk told me I resent My Hurley Dog.  He told me I was jealous of their relationship.  Daughter says that he might be onto something but I think they whole lot of them have lost their freaking minds!

Reading this back I have come to the realisation that My Hurley Dog is a spoilt asshole who needs to learn some manners.  Kinda like The Turk.  On occasion anyway.

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My Kedi Cat and My Hurley Dog

Two years ago today my SIL and I travelled to Istanbul to collect two of my most precious family members – My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat.  They had just flown 29 hours from Sydney to Istanbul via Malaysia.  Like all long haul travellers they were tired and grumpy and the last thing they wanted to do is spend the next 11 hours sitting in customs in Istanbul while we fought to get them released.

This is their story.

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I have mentioned before that both of my pets were rescue animals and I had no intention of leaving my fur-babies behind when we moved to Türkiye (well I had half a mind to leave My Kedi Cat behind but that’s because he hates me).  I spent many hours dealing with both Australian customs and Turkish customs ensuring I had covered every base before I finally arranged for them to be flown over. I wanted them to have an easy flight and a simple transfer into my custody at Istanbul Customs.  I was certain I had crossed every “T” and dotted every single “I” but when arriving at customs in Istanbul it was, as expected, a fecking nightmare!

My SIL and I arrived in Istanbul from Adana at 6.30am and I had arranged a return flight for 5pm.  I assumed that this would be more than enough time to collect my two fur-babies, do all the custom rigmarole and have heaps of time to get our flight home with my fur-babies in tow.

Nope!

Every single thing that could have gone wrong did go wrong.  It began with the Veterinarian not arriving to sign my babies off.  Why didn’t he arrive you wonder?  It was raining.  Poor love.  After a lot of yelling by my SIL (God bless my SIL) he was finally roused into work but did not arrive until after 3pm so basically we sat in customs for nearly 9 hours.  We weren’t allowed to leave, even a toilet break was frowned on.  We had to sit there in case the Vet arrived so we could point out our pets.  They were the only two fecking animals in customs so obviously they were fecking mine!!!!!  I spent a lot of that time in tears.  I could hear My Hurley Dog howling through the customs door but I wasn’t allowed to see him.

After being examined the Vet then questioned whether My Kedi Cat had rabies as he was vicious.  In fact the Customs officers back in Sydney had put a sticker on the cage – “Handle with Caution.  Dangerous Animal”.  After I explained that My Kedi Cat was always vicious – frankly the cat is a bit of a shit – and finally they were signed off.  But that wasn’t the end of it. There was still more paperwork and more money handed over (grease the wheels guys) before finally my two fur-babies were released into my custody.

I know a lot of expats bring their pets with them and I wonder whether flying into the more regional airports would be an easier option.  I expect that if I had taken a direct flight from the UK and arriving into, say Bodrum, then the customs guys would be quite used to nervous yabanci and would deal with them swiftly.  Perhaps but then really Istanbul is one of the biggest airports in the world.  They really should have their shit together!  It’s a domestic cat and a fecking poodle for Christ’s sake!  I know I should be thankful that my babies arrived safely because many do not.  While arranging for my babies to travel I read of many cases where domestic animals pass away en-route due to the stress and being mistreated by airport staff.  The thing is that flying is stressful for us humans I can only imagine what my fur-babies throught was going on.  Being put in cages and stuffed into a very noisy, very cold cargo hold before finally being delivered into my very relieved arms.

After collection we made our way to Domestic to catch our flight to Adana which, of course, we missed thanks to the lazy Vet.  The following flight was already booked with animals and they too would not let us on.  Finally a flight was made available at 11.30 that night that would allow My Hurley Dog in cargo and I would carry My Kedi Cat on my lap in the cabin.

Got home at 3am the following day.  My Hurley Dog was ecstatic and showed his excitement freely.  My Kedi Cat bit me and hid under the bed.  I chose to sleep on the couch for the next few days – just in case the cat tried to kill me in my sleep!

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Two years on and My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat have settled into life in a Turkish village.  My Hurley Dog has not made many friends with the village dogs as they are all a lot larger than him.  They are farm dogs and not prepared to deal with My Hurley Dog’s precious, precious ways but he does have lots of people to hang around with.  He gets fed at every door (although not usually allowed in every door) and more often than not gets a pat on the head from visitors.  On the other hand My Kedi Cat who, back in Sydney, was a very high maintenance cat seems to fit right now.  He disappears each evening with Evil, My Stairwell Cat, and returns the next morning covered in dirt, mud, thistles, whatever.  He drags himself onto the bed and sleeps until evening.  In fact the other night I was taking My Hurley Dog for a walk and I found him in a dumpster.  So yeah – he is now a Turkish Cat.  It’s called assimulation people!

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Kedi Update No. 3

Well it’s official.  I have morphed into a Turkish Cat Lady (as opposed to Crazy Cat Lady).  I am thinking of getting myself some of those baggy village pants (which would be incredibly comfy I don’t doubt) and, if you are looking for me, I will be found walking around the village being followed by stray cats (ala The Pied Piper) hoping that they will be brought into the inner sanctum.

The Turk and I still feed as many strays as we can but winter was harsh here in Mersin and we lost a few of our regulars (sadly that included Stanley) but now that spring has sprung we are overwhelmed with kittens and, honestly, I am not sure how we are going to continue to feed them all. DSC02147

Right now, in total, we have 19 kittens!  Yes that’s right.  A ridiculous number I know.  Most of them are terrified of us humans and won’t come near us but Mama being so domesticated all her kittens come running when we come downstairs each morning.

My Hurley Dog aka The Terminator is fascinated with the kittens but due to his desire to kill and maim we have to keep a close eye on his shenanigans because although I forgave him for killing the chicken I’m pretty sure I won’t forgive him for murdering a kitten.  The dog spends his day in the garden stalking the kittens and taking the occasional nip while the kittens spend their day hunting the dog and then running back to the undergrowth if he starts to chase them.  It works out well for all of them.

In the interim the vet came the other night to check everyone out – well as many as he could catch anyway.  A few of the kittens appear to have fluey symptoms however they are still too young for medicine so we have to wait and hope that they pull through.  The vet has diarised coming to collect Mama for her to be de-sexed as well however the other cats all ran when they saw him so I think it might be up to The Turk to capture and deliver the last few mothers to him over the course of the next 5 weeks. Our hope is that we find home for as many of the kittens as we can and, with the remaining mother’s de-sexed, we might be able to control the population (at least for now anyway).

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And for those of you wondering My Stairwell Cat, Evil, has now fully infiltrated our home.  If she is stealthy enough she might get to stay the night but generally she arrives each morning and waits patiently at our front door.  She will then spend her day sitting on the terrace in the sunshine or on the couch where, as you can see, she makes herself very comfortable indeed.  After an evening meal, Evil will disappear into the night with My Kedi Cat for their nightly entertainment.  Seriously I have to wonder what these two get up to because they come home covered in dirt, cobwebs, caked in mud and, on occasion, a gluey substance that I have had to cut out of My Kedi Cat’s luscious long hair.

My life *sigh*

And just because kittens are so cute one more photo:

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Turkiye’s Very Own Polar Vortex

In case you have been living under a rock the past few days social media in Turkiye has been blowing up with both the expats and Turks alike going on about the crazy cold weather we are having right now.  Soğuk, çok soğuk! (It’s cold, very cold!). Talk about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, Turkiye goes and freezes over just to be like their fancy neighbours.

All over the country the weather has been abysmal.  Villages and towns have been snowed in, flights cancelled and even here in Mersin hell has literally frozen over.  I mean really – it snowed!  I know right!?!

Mersin snow

This shouldn’t happen.  I was only writing here about how hot it was a couple of months back.  This is an extreme turnaround and it really isn’t acceptable to me.

Electricity is scant and this transforms The Turk from his manly man Turkish self into, well, into a bit of a girly princess.  As expected this transformation has also pushed The Turk into his “I want to go back to Australia” phase of his re-entry into Turkish life.  We don’t have a soba here (Turkish fireplace) so when the electricity dies then icicles begin to form over any uncovered appendage.  The Turk is definitely concerned about his favourite appendage freezing and breaking off and has been checking it regularly.  Last night I threatened to move into the Hilton just for a hot bath and internet access (side note – what is it with Turkey not having instantaneous hot water?  Install a fecking Rheem for Christ’s sake!!).  But no I stayed and suffered in silence, well relative silence compared to The Turk that’s for sure!

But it is not just us who are suffering in the cold.  I feel for the stray animals that live in our village.  The kediler are breaking into any house with an open door trying to find a warm spot and I swear I saw a pack of kopekler milling around an open fire on an empty block.  I am not going to say that they started the fire but … it looked very suspicious.  My Hurley Dog is refusing to go outside and when I finally got him outside his pee froze mid-stream!  True!  I swear!!

I know I am ridiculous.

Yesterday was my birthday.  Did you know?  Yah happy birthday and all that!  I made a pretty strong statement on FB the other night saying it might be cold but there’s no way it will snow and certainly not on my birthday.  I will eat my hat.  Well as I was reminded by a well-wisher yesterday that it did in fact snow – soooo – would I like fries with that hat?  Humfph!  The Turk also reminded me of my wording off this morning and handed me his beanie and the salt and pepper shakers.  I didn’t eat it as that was his hat.  I agreed to eat mine.  Technicality?  Yep but I am going with it.

So happy birthday to me – and welcome to the Ice Age!  Bbrrrr!

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Kedi Update No. 2

It has been a while since I have mentioned the stray cats here in the village so I thought today I would give you an update on their welfare.

Last December I had managed to find homes for two of Nanu’s kittens.  Two little girls were lucky to have a home where they will be loved and cherished.  Or so I thought.  While Daughter and I were in Australia the two kittens who were now fully grown cats were abandoned back in our yard.  Not only were they abandoned, they were both pregnant and they were left to try and acclimatise in an environment that was completely foreign to them.  These were two house cats, completely domesticated and they have had a hell of a rough time fitting in with the other Village Kedi’s.  I was livid.  Both of them have now had their babies although only one has survived from each litter.  Meet Sheldon and Penny.  Daughter and I are fast running out of names for all these kediler.  Sheldon’s mum has disappeared but thankfully Penny’s mum took Sheldon as one of her own and fed him.  These are two of the sweetest little kittens that currently live in my yard and are scheduled be taken to the vet next week for their first round of shots.

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penny

With The Turk now away Evil has wormed her way into our home.  This is a huge bonus for Evil as up until now she has been very welcome to live in our stairwell but entrance to the “promised land” has been off limits to her at The Turk’s insistence.  She is now spayed and has had her shots as well so welcome Evil, make yourself at home.  And she has.

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For those of you who have been wondering how the infamous Stanley has been faring (yes yet another story about Stanley) well he has taken up with the Rottweiler next door.  I assume it is because they both have no tail – kindred spirits and all that.  Regardless they love each other and it means that Stanley no longer craps in our stairwell as he can usually be found giving all his affection and time to Hercules.  My Hurley Dog finds Stanley a little overbearing. A little too much love, too much affection.  I love you.  I need you.  I miss you.  I love you.  If Stanley was human he would definitely be one of those stalker types.  He is just so full on with his affection!

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I continue to feed all the strays and, if possible, capture them for spaying.  It is a slow process.  Nanu has had another set of kittens (I have lost count as to how many kittens she has had over the years) although I am yet to find where this litter is hiding.  Pretty also had babies but I am certain they have all perished.  If I find no sign of her babies in the next few days I am going to grab Pretty and take her for spaying. She is generally a pretty unhealthy cat and I suspect there will be more to her visit to the vet than just spaying and some shots.

It is a never ending battle with these cats but I cannot abandon them.  It takes only a few lira a day out of my pocket to feed them and, although the spaying or vet bills do build up, I always reimburse the vet for his efforts (although sometimes he may have to wait a week or so for payment).  I cannot imagine how these girls (and Stanley being the only male of the group) would go without The Turk and I helping them.  Sadly I cannot help all the strays in the Village and it is not unusual to find the remains of cats and kittens (and dogs for that matter) on the side of the road.

Just a side note about the stray dog situation here in the Village.  There is usually one or two gangs of köpekler (dogs) that roam the streets here although I wonder if the Council have rounded them up as I have not seen any for a few weeks now.  I hope they have all been re-homed but realistically I suspect that this may not have been their outcome.

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Satan called. He wants his weather back!

It is seriously 10,000 degrees here in Mersin at the moment.  I am trapped in hell, sitting in my underwear right in front of my air conditioner which is about to pack it in under the pressure.  It is trying to give me what I want.  I need it.  I want it.  I feel like it is nearly there then – nothing.  It packs it in.  Someone came too soon and it wasn’t me!

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Loyal followers of this blog (and personal friends) will know that I pretty much spend all my winter months whinging about the damn cold.  I complained like a whingy feck.  “I can’t wait until summer,” I cried.  “I’m going to swim.  I’m going to swim at the beach every damn day”.  Well no I’m fecking not swimming in that cesspool that is the Village beach and no I am not taking 3 buses to get to the first clean beach outside of Mersin.  Feck my life!

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I definitely did not sign up for this kind of heat.  This day in and day out never ending hell that is the Village in the middle of summer.  You can’t go outside.  The sun will turn you into ash.  Armageddon heat.  Fire ants on crack heat.  I am thinking of spraying “Norsca” in my stairwell turning it into a Swedish sauna because that’s what it fecking feels like when I walk out my front door!  Don’t get me wrong.  I do make an effort to get out of the house.  All the time but then I step out into the Swedish sauna that is my stairwell, my brain starts to swell, my shoes start to melt and when I come to I find myself lying on the couch watching an episode of Ellen – the same episode of Ellen.  Very Groundhog Day.  Am I going to be forced to relive this hellfire summer until I do it right, Groundhog style?  I bloody hope not.

Incidentally there are a few shows here in English with Turkish subtitles but can someone tell me why I seem to watch the same show of Ellen every couple of weeks.  It’s got those two extremely obnoxious little English girls “Fatty and Rosie”.  I don’t know their names – wait I lie.  The little blonde girl is named Rosie.  She is the cute one that lip syncs or mimes.  She is the one that won’t need therapy while the other one who I have called Fatty sings, or tries to sing.  When she is older and realises how her parents have exploited her – she will definitely be spending her earnings in therapy.  How is this entertainment?  My mind tends to block it all out but they are on the show with Vince Vaughan who is probably trying to contact his agent to scream, “Why the feck am I on with these two fecking brats?  How low have I fallen down the ladder of Hollywood power?”  He is also probably wondering why he has never won an Oscar.

Back to my story.  Yes the heat.  Its fecked!

Too hot to sleep at night so I find that I have become a night crawler.  I leave the house around 10 pm with My Hurley Dog (aka The Terminator) and we troll the streets, waving to people we know and hoping to not draw attention to myself to those that we do not (after all the heat does bring the crazy out in most people).  It’s too hot for My Hurley Dog to walk throughout the day anyway.  He would rather hold his poop in until November than go outside and poop with the hot sun beating down on him.  I mean it, literally plug his butt than walk outside in this white scalding heat.  He was not designed to live in this relentless, torturous, horrid heat.  He has had yet another terrible haircut which he is totally embarrassed about.  To top it off he was attacked yesterday by two – yes two – mamma cats who ganged up on him when he went over to congratulate them on the birth of their babies.  Those bitches!  The Turk was so angry that he threw a bucket of water on the mamma cats but missed and mostly the water landed on My Hurley Dog.  I don’t think he minded though because it’s too feking hot!

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Speaking of The Turk, he has taken to sleeping on the tiled terrace in his underwear.  Daughter went out there a couple of nights ago to find him stark naked.  She came running in shielding her eyes and squealing, “What has been seen, cannot be unseen!”  Once I convinced her to not gouge out her eyes she returned to her bedroom to sleep.  A new house rule is that the Turk will always wear his underwear now.

The only one of us to doesn’t seem to give a shit about the heat is My Kedi Cat.  He no longer lives with us.  He lives in the front garden or by the front door with Evil, only coming in to eat.  He refuses to eat cat food and so I find myself cutting up pieces of steak or chicken to satisfy this bitch cat that I dragged all the way from Australia who hates my guts!  My Kedi Cat spends his days being primped by Evil (his only love) and attacking other cats who venture too close to our front door.  I sometimes see him when I am on my late night walk a couple of blocks away wandering around looking for something to kill.  He ignores me though.  Hate that cat!

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So that is today’s rant.  I am supposed to go downstairs and help make bread with the ladies.  I don’t want to unless I can go down there in my underwear but The Turk vetoed that idea.  Well if I cannot go down there in my underwear then I want to stay right where I am in front of my poor, groaning air conditioner until either it or I give up for good!

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The Return

Daughter and I have finally settled back in from our holiday in Australia.  Visiting Australia.  I was a visitor, a tourist if you must, visiting the place of my birth and what I have learnt from this visit?  I learnt that Sydney and Australia is a fecking beaut place to live.

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Mother nature did us a major and the weather was sensational.  It didn’t rain.  It didn’t even think about raining.  Beautiful, albeit cold, winter days.  Every day.  Fresh air.  Lush gardens.  Grass.  GRASS!  We are the only people in the Village with grass in our garden.  Grass is, of course, seen as a luxury item as everyone else utilises every inch of their land.  Deli yabanciler (crazy foreigners).

It was nice to not be on the cusp of a war zone too staying in beachside Collaroy.  Yes I gloss over Syria and its issues but Mersin is approximately 150k from the Syrian border.  We are safe obviously or I would not even think about living here but there is always an underlying threat, the knowledge I guess, that we are not too far from an area of such unrest.  Plus there is the whole Israel-Palestinian issue, the Middle East is a powder keg ready to blow and even Ukraine to the north is a mess.  Bloody hell!

Friends and family of course.  Obviously Australia wins on this front as well.  I am blessed to have some of the best friends in the world.  Friends that are always there with open arms.  What I wouldn’t do for one more boozy lunch or one more hug from my girls.  Of course this is difficult for Daughter as she has her family, her cousins that she adores, in the Village.  She has many friends in the Village but for me Sydney and Australia will win every single time.

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Speaking of boozy lunches I don’t think you can beat an Aussie Red.  Australian wines really are some of the best in the world.  I would go so far as saying that Turkish wine is swill at best and really, really expensive!

Medical care wins in Australia over Turkey as well (well duh!).  Australia has Government facilitated Medicare and even though you pay through the tooth for many things (including the dentist) visiting the doctor here is a much easier process (mainly because everyone speaks English).  So I am now drugged up for the next 12 months (my medicine cabinet is overflowing) and I have been poked and prodded and given a clean bill of health.

Shopping was a bonus too for me in Sydney.  My Rubenesque physique is now adorned in new clothes.  Oodles of new clothes.  I no longer need to wear the same jeans every single day.  My credit card did take a beating and we did have to send home 10 kilos by post but at least I now have an outfit for any occasion which is a good thing as we have at least 4 weddings to go to over the coming weeks.  Daughter’s opinion differs on this front as well as the styles in Turkey are a lot more varied and on trend.  For Daughter clothing in Turkiye is also a LOT cheaper as well.

Bacon.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Winner!!!  Lots of exclamation points here.  Yes.  Bacon.  That is all.

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Sydney did have a few downsides too.  It was so damn expensive.  Food was expensive.  Clothing was expensive.  Petrol was expensive (actually petrol is expensive in Turkey too).  I guess I have had it too cushy here in Turkey with 50 kuruş for 1 kilo of tomatoes (about AU$0.25) while they were AU$4.50 in Sydney (TL9).  Plus the fresh food is not particularly fresh.  Ick!

Peak hour traffic did my head in too.  What a bloody mess.  We had a few early morning starts and fighting my way from the Northern Beaches to the City was diabolical to say the least.  It was nice to be behind the wheel again although my first few attempts at parking were a little less than successful.  Daughter likened my parking skills to a Turkish person so I really have acclimated haven’t I?

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I think I can sum Sydney up as “Real Life”.  My friends are all working.  My family are all busy (some might say too busy to find the time to see me or even call).  The cost of living is high and the stress levels are even higher.  I know that if I too were living in Sydney I would be working.  My stress levels would be off the chart (visiting my old place of work proved that beyond the shadow of a doubt) and Daughter, The Turk and I would be miserable.  Real life sux!

The Village also has another bonus (well along with The Turk).  It has My Hurley Dog.  I love My Hurley Dog.  I missed My Hurley Dog and he missed me!

Hurley

 

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Kedilar Update

Owning a pet in Turkey has just become considerably more difficult thanks to new laws that have recently come into effect.  Before you can purchase an animal you are now required to undergo training on how to look after the animal and also prove that you have suitable accommodation and means to look after your new addition before the final sale can proceed.  Oh the law also says that if you have sex with an animal you go to gaol.  Fair call.

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I love the idea of this law however I cannot imagine the difficulty in policing the law (the training before purchase law not the sex law although I expect the sex law would be difficult to police also unless you were caught in the act so to speak).  Anyone who has been to Turkey is well aware of the number of strays that roam the streets in any city or town and frankly pet food is so expensive I cannot imagine the average family being able to afford the weekly food bill for their pet (I often baulk when I see the cost of Whiskers or Pal here in Mersin).

In the Village there is a huge number of stray cats, in fact I am starting to think that people are depositing their strays at our house knowing that they will be fed as the number of kittens just seems to keep growing.  The Turk is literally having a breakdown every time he does a head count.   We have taken 4 females so far to the vet to be de-sexed but with the addition of at least 8 kittens in the garden and general vicinity I expect we will need to make a few more trips before all the females are sorted.  The vet that we have been using has been incredibly generous with his time.  He originally saw Stanley when he broke his tail and again when he broke his leg *sigh* plus the 4 females being fixed and a handful of kittens for shots.  I asked him if he could try and find good homes for the kittens but alas he cannot as the new laws make it too difficult for anyone to purchase an animal through the “usual means”.  Of course this means that the black market trade will begin to boom for animals trafficking which is incredibly sad to say as there is absolutely no control over this.

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There are also a large number of stray dogs (sometimes 5-10 strays) who seem to congregate in the maydanoz (parsley) across the street each morning.  This little gang of four legged friends meet just before dawn and frolic together for a good 30-40 minutes before returning to their respective homes, parks, beach or wherever it is that these dogs live during the day.  My Hurley Dog goes crazy when he sees them but I am unsure whether he wants to join in or kill them all (Small Dog Syndrome and all that).  There are a few good souls that feed the dogs but dog strays do not seem to last very long around here.  I don’t know whether they move on or pass away but there seems to be a large turnover in the stray dogs around the village.

We feed the cats each evening a concoction which I have christened the “Kedi Mix”.  It contains our left over dinner (and possibly our neighbour’s left overs as well) along with cat biscuits and the odd sachet of cat meat.  If The Turk is feeling generous he will go to the fish markets and purchase a kilo of their cheapest fish for 1-2TL.  This “Kedi-Mix” usually lasts a couple of days before we need to make more.

The Turk with his "Kedi Mix"

The Turk with his “Kedi Mix”

With Daughter and I leaving in two weeks The Turk will continue to look after the Village Kedi’s including my favourite stray “Evil” and her baby “Baby Evil”.  Evil is My Kedi Cat’s BFF and has been living in the stairwell with her baby but last night she moved out and they have now taken up residence in the chilli plants in our garden.

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Baby Evil is still incredibly tiny but seems healthy enough.  She is starting to play and toddle around but is very unsteady on her feet.  Hopefully when we return she will be running around with the other kittens and strong enough to survive on her own.

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Moving to Mersin?

I get an incredible amount of emails from people thinking of moving to Mersin or Icel.  Apart from shaking my head in bewilderment at the idea (just joking.  I love it here … sometimes) living in Mersin or even living in Turkey offers you a good quality of life in a cultural hybrid of East and West.  It has its history, dramatic geography and frankly in Mersin it has pretty good weather virtually all year round.

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I usually write lengthy replies about the do’s and do not’s that I have experienced firsthand living in Mersin.  I think I’ve got my reply down to a fine art, with some slight modification as the need arises.  So what are my “do’s and do nots” for moving to Mersin?

DO think about your decision.

Why are you coming to Mersin?  Is it for adventure?  Is it for love?  Is it for money?  Moving to the other side of the world or even the other side of the State is a huge decision.  So many factors.  Short term or forever?  Rent/sell your home.  Give up your lease.  Pack your whole life into boxes.  Storage or cargo?  Pets?  Bring them or adopt them out?  (I obviously brought my two fur-babies with me and frankly could not of even imagined this move without them).  Kids?  Bring them or adopt them out?  I am just joking.  Seriously I am.  Remember though there are no hurdles too high.

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DO your research.

What area do you want to live?  Mezitli?  Pozcu?  Carsi?  Mersin is a large city and Icel is even larger (which includes Erdemli, Silifki, Anamur through to Tarsus).  There is a lot of choice.  Kiralama daire (renting an apartment) in the city of Mersin is quite cheap compared to many cities throughout Türkiye.  Do inspect before you sign anything as the quality may not be as high as you would be used to and check what outgoings are included.  Also remember that it is normal for you to purchase your own appliances (yes including your stove) and even light fittings.

What school okul do you want your children to go to?  There are some great özel okul (private schools) in Icel but they are hugely expensive so factor that cost in and mostly they will teach in Türk.  Originally we chose to put Daughter in a village school to give her an opportunity to learn the language by immersing herself in it.  The teachers at the village school were incredibly helpful.  I could not fault them at all and the children were incredibly generous and welcoming.  Daughter even had a nemesis which is, in her opinion, the ultimate show of acceptance.  After two years of learning Türk we moved her to an özel okul which gave us an entirely new set of challenges to overcome.

Where will you be working?  Are you allowed to work?  This is, of course, visa dependent.  Do not attempt to work without a visa.  It will bite you in the ass.  There is a desperate need for English speaking teachers in Mersin along with German and French.  English teachers seem to earn a good living so it can be quite lucrative if you have the right credentials.

DO get the right visa.

You will no doubt be scratching your head with the paperwork, fees, requirements and general stroke inducing migraines that a brought on while traversing the myriad of obtaining the correct visa.  There are different types of visas, short term (tourism), student visa and employment visa.  An employment visa will only be issued if you have a signed job contract and a work permit issued by Çalışma ve Sosyal Güvenlik Bakanlığı (Ministry of Labour and Social Security).  This application must be done in your country of residence.

You will also need a residence permit which must be applied for within 30 days of arrival.  This is issued from the Emniyet Müdürlüğü Yabancılar Şubesi Foreigner’s Division/Alien’s Branch of the Local Police Department and as I mentioned in a previous post entering this place is like entering Mordor.

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There is a lot of supporting documentation required as well so be prepared.  For example – proof of your financial situation, copies of rental agreements or ownership of your own property and (in my case) proof of marriage.  Do yourselves a favour and photocopy all your documents at least 10 times, more if you can.  Also ensure that all documents are translated into Turkish.  Do not believe the person on the street (or on this blog or that blog), you need everything translated into Turkish.  Birth Certificate – translate it.  Marriage Certificate – translate it.  If your child is to go to school you need a document from the school confirming enrolment stamped by the Turkish Consulate in your home country and then translated into Turkish.  Incidentally it was cheaper for us to translate here in Mersin at a Noter rather than back in Sydney.  Finally passport photos.  You have some?  Get more!

DO make friends – with both expats and locals.

I know, I know I do not always take my own advice but I did talk to an amazing amount of people before I moved here on various expat sites.  These guys are already living in Mersin or in Turkey and they will prepare you for the bumps in the road (there will be bumps, sinkholes and even a few bottomless pits before you begin to feel at home here).  Living here is a great experience but it’s not always easy being an immigrant.

DO learn the language.

I wish I had.  I blame The Turk.  Of course now I find myself without the benefit of language.  Paying a bill.  Difficult!  Shopping?  Difficult!  Doctor?  Dentist?  Government office?  Difficult!  Difficult! Difficult!!!  Do a course.  Try Babbel.  Do something so you are not drowning in the deep end.  Mersin is not particularly expat friendly so any attempt to speak the native language will put you in good stead with your landlord or employer or even that bored Government employee.

DO it.  Just do it!

As for the Do not’s I only have one –

DO NOT live with regret.

Oh wait one other piece of advice that will change your life – bring mosquito repellent!  It does not matter how much you have or what brand you have, bring more!  The mosquito’s here are the most desperate bloody suckers you will ever come across.  They may not sparkle in sunlight but they are lethal from dusk to dawn!

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