Have a dose of what life is really like living here – from my single-handed destruction of the Turkish language, random arguments with random relatives about everything from apples to vaginas to learning the secrets to making the perfect içli köfte! Highs or lows this is my observations from the melting pot of crazy that is my life in Mersin.
Heads up readers. This will be a post about going potty, not crazy, but the other potty, you know, in the bathroom… anyway, you have been warned.
When the world went crazy for toilet paper during COVID-19, most of us in Turkey were pretty chill about the need to stock up because we have a taharet musluğu on our toilet. Taharet is Arabic for cleanliness and musluk means tap, so I’m sure you work out what it does.
I admit that I don’t often use the taharet musluğu because, well, I prefer tissue, however, on occasion it can get a little iffy “back there” and I need to give my bot-bot an extra squirt for good measure.
I recently had the need to use the taharet musluğu thanks to a particularly spicy Adana Kebab that was made by my BIL (who doesn’t really like me and possibly made it a little spicier than usual). I can handle it (and the aftermath), but still, I turned on the taharet musluğu to, well, I don’t need to explain what happens next… plus it’s pretty dang hot here right now, so my bottom was enjoying the refreshing spray. But then something happened, something completely unexpected – boiling hot water suddenly shot up my bum hole. I screamed in pain, it was like someone had poured a kettle on me. I jumped up and watched the steam rising from the water, not from my poopy mind you, the water! Yep, boiling water was shooting out of my taharet musluğu! I could have been maimed! My bot-bot could have sustained third-degree burns! Shit just got real… really, real!
Now I haven’t had much luck with my water recently. You might recall this post about our hot water system exploding late last year, since then we’ve had numerous “village” plumbers visit on multiple occasions to try and fix the numerous problems to no avail. Of course, it’s to no avail because these salaklar aren’t actually trained plumbers!
We finally arranged for a plumber from the city, a REAL, honest to God, plumber! I felt like I’d won the lottery. Anyway, the plumber fixed the problem, but he also pointed out that our pipes were wrongly connected. He said that our hot is cold and our cold is hot. I’d never noticed that and it really didn’t affect me … until now!
So if you see me wandering around the village this week and I’m walking a little *cough, cough* delicately, well, now you know why!
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There I was, waiting to pass through immigration at Istanbul New Airport. I watch, at a socially-acceptable distance, of course, as the person in front of me has his passport stamped and I step up to the counter, smiling widely as I hand over my passport and kimlik.
“Where are you going?”
Ah, yes, Australia with its 352 covid-19 cases. Australia who, along with its forward-thinking neighbor to the east, New Zealand, seem to have its shit together, despite their half-assed lockdown (Australia, not New Zealand because Jacinta Ahern is a Goddess who locked that country down faster than you could say ‘feesh and cheeps’!).
“Is it essential travel?”
Long pause while he stares at his computer doing secret stuff.
“What will you be doing in Sydney?”
What will I be doing in Sydney?
“First stop? I am buying clothes. T-shirts without awful prints. Blouses without ugly flowers or wildly inappropriate slogans. Bras with underwires! UNDERWIRES!!! Undies that aren’t white cotton or completely trampy (for there is no in between). Once I have filled my empty suitcase with clothes I will hit the supermarket and I will stockup on essentials like Dairy Milk chocolate and Tim Tams.
I will then eat my weight in bacon, ham and salami while washing it down with a good Australian wine (which means I’ll single-handedly be keeping the Australian wine industry afloat).”
Sensing I’m losing the agent I continue. “VEGEMITE!”
“Vegemite is a prohibited item.”
“NO IT’S NOT!!! YOU’RE NOT TAKING MY VEGEMITE AWAY FROM ME!”
I try to make a run for it but don’t get far and am tackled by two guards carrying semi-automatic weapons. They drag me away kicking and screaming while taunting me with a very Seinfeldian, “NO VEGEMITE FOR YOU!”
I wake in a pool of sweat and realizing that I am NOT actually travelling anywhere anytime soon, burst into very real tears and go make myself a cup of çay … with milk (because I’m a rebel).
All bok aside though it’s Daughter’s 18th birthday and we’re supposed to be in Sydney now celebrating with family and friends. Instead we are here in our little home on the outskirts of Mersin and wondering when the second wave will hit (and don’t kid yourself people… it WILL hit!).
Turkey had it all under control. I was incredibly impressed with how the Government handled itself when the first case was reported on 10 March 2020. And then it hit the fan. Intermittent lockdowns were put in place which still enabled much of the economy to splutter along somewhat but slowed the numbers considerably. School was cancelled for the remainder of the school year and, after a rather rocky start, online classes began. Under 19’s and over 65’s were not allowed to leave their homes but here in the Village that didn’t mean an awful lot. With no school, kids were running around like headless chooks and don’t think you can tell any of the over 65’s here what to do. Hell to the no! They’ll give you a tongue lashing that will send you scurrying under the covers (not me though because most of the time they yell in Arabic and I have enough trouble understanding them in Turkish). Edit: Before the keyboard warriors come at me AGAIN… Mersin has a large population of Arabic decent… no they are not migrants or refugees and just because “your wide circle of friends and their grandparents” can’t speak Arabic it doesn’t mean a good god-damn to me or to anyone else frankly. The Turk’s family do speak Arabic. Why? Because they can. Why do I speak Italian? Because I can. Why do you speak whatever language you speak? Because you can… so shut your pie-hole, Karen?
All right, all right, I will admit that many people did do the right thing but if you were ever out wandering around the Village at 5AM (which I often was with My Hurley Dog and a mask… me not the dog) it was like Times Square on NYE out there. Sticking it to the man! Our neighbour’s even had an elaborate birthday party for their one-year-old twins. Half the village was there, for feck’s sake. There was music and dancing and a jolly good time was had by all. I thankfully wasn’t invited and wouldn’t have gone because, you know, there’s a pretty dangerous virus out there, but that’s another very dramatic story for another time — and trust me it’ll be totally worth it.
Us yabancılar (aka Daughter and I) have been taking this shit seriously though. Daughter hasn’t been allowed out AT ALL! I am, of course, the worst mother in the whole, wide world but I’m good with that if it means she’s safe. All her friends have been out. All her friends have been doing exactly what they always do, ignore the rules and do whatever the feck they want, because they’re all spoilt, self-indulgent, brats (because that’s what they are, Karen). Daughter and I have gone weeks at a time without leaving the house relying on The Turk to do our shopping or to ensure we weren’t dead and being eaten by our numerous kediler. For those concerned we did have enough toilet paper, in fact we still have enough toilet paper. Phew!
But then the restrictions were lifted and the new cases have doubled in a week. Here in Mersin there have been clusters which is rather worrying as Mersin had relatively low numbers.
Masks are mandatory in shops and you need to get your temperature checked before entering many places now. There is hand sanitizer or kolonya available for everyone and God help you if you cough. Allergy season has taken on a whole new meaning for The Turk and Daughter, that’s for sure.
Today Turkey stands at a total of just under 180,000 cases with 22,000 currently active and nearly 5,000 deaths. And just to reiterate, mostly because too many people here don’t seem to grasp the severity of covid-19, in the past week new cases have doubled in Turkey. DOUBLED! Clearly something’s not working.
Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe my fram.
And one final little tidbit, Karen, Vegemite is NOT “black salt spread”. Wars have broken out over less!! (FYI this is also humor not a declaration of war).
Final edit: Yes I had a Karen come at me. It was fun. I enjoyed it immensely.
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This post is a public service announcement for all the Aussies out there living in Turkey but still fecking around with their Australian driver’s licences.
Now anyone who has been reading my blog for a while now knows I’ve had my fair share of issues driving in this great country. There was, of course, the great One Finger Salute of 2018, a tale so infamous that the story is still whispered in certain circles both here in Mersin AND in Adana, as well as copious near-misses, traumatic incidents and, well, just general bok involving shitty Turkish drivers!
But that’s not the point of this post.
Let me start again before I get completely off the track.
I love Australia. It’s the lucky country. It’s the land of sweeping plains (and a summer of fecking awful bushfires). And sure, everything might be trying to kill you, but its still a tremendous fecking country. But—
“OMG! Is Janey actually going to bag out Australia?”
Okay… maybe a little bit.
Here’s the thing, I’ve held a valid NSW driver’s licence and have been driving for a little over 33 years now (guess my age!).
Anyone who lives in Turkey knows that waayyyy back in 2016 all foreign driver’s licences had to be exchanged to a Turkish driver’s licence or you had to leave the country every six months to get a new incoming stamp in your passport. I told The Turk back when we needed to transfer our driver’s licences before the cut-off date, and he did transfer HIS driver’s licence. Mine? Hmmm. Nope. We’ll do yours later. But the cut-off! No, it’s fine. Well, it wasn’t “fine”, but you just can’t teach a moron new tricks, can you?
To be honest, I loved the idea of leaving the country every six months, after all coming from a country where it would typically take you a day of travel (and most of your sanity) to arrive in Europe, I thought, yeah, I’m going to hop on planes every chance I get!
Real-life isn’t like that, though, is it?
It was long past time for me to transfer my NSW driver’s licence for a sürücü belgesi (Turkish driver’s licence).
It seems that instead of Australia joining pretty much the rest of the world and having an across the board set of driving laws, each State has their own no doubt unique laws. I understand why. I mean Australia is freaking huge so it needs different laws for different states but, let’s be honest, if we can’t get our shit together back in Oz, then we’re not going to be invited to any of the cool parties like those keggers at the UN! Bullies!
So way to go guys! Ninety-one other countries have managed to get their bok together but us Aussies are standing at the front door without an invite? I also noticed that New Zealand isn’t on that list. Can’t imagine why unless they have different laws for North and South. Jacinta needs to get onto that pronto (and maybe she can fix Australia up while she’s getting shit done).
Anyway, it was time.
It had to be done.
I was going to apply for a Turkish Driver’s licence.
Off I went to a company here in Mersin who undertook driving courses. A Turkish driver’s licence requires the learner to take weekly classes and pass a written test. Bollocking bok!
The Company also provided me with a learner’s manual in English. Not the Queen’s English, mind you. More like Drunk Google English. Have a go at this:
METALLICA!!! At least it didn’t say Bon Jovi because that really wouldn’t have made any sense, would it?
I also was given a link for practice exam questions. Again I started to wonder if Google wasn’t just drunk but quite possibly on crack!
I pray that if I’m ever in a coma my saviour doesn’t refer to this page for their medical advice. Seriously. I’d be screwed.
Anyway, all joking aside, I took the exam and passed like a total boss! Google had definitely sobered up by the time I took the exam as the questions were easy to comprehend. Thank goodness!
After a few mandatory driving lessons (by a teacher who was 31 so wasn’t even an itch in his dad’s balls when I got my valid licence back in Oz) I took my driving exam (which, in my case, was a set course on the wild streets of Mersin) and guess what???
I now hold a valid Turkish driver’s licence! Another feather in my Turkish cap.
For those of you who are looking at obtaining their Turkish driver’s licence, all bok aside it’s a pretty easy undertaking. Check out Doc Marten’s page for the most up to date information.
The only very real glitch was that you need your school certificate, leaving certificate or even your TAFE or university degree. I know it’s a pain but the documents can be obtained even if you are older than Methuselah, like me (this is the link for the NSW replacement but all the Aussie states have something similar). I also took my test in an automatic car so don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done because it bloody well can!
Oh, and the price? I’m told it varies greatly from city to city but the full course, classes, written exam and driver’s exam usually costs 1500TL. There is also a payment to have the licence issued which is approximately 920TL.
Watch out, Mersin! Now I really can drive like a local, which means while I promise never to give anyone the one finger salute again what I CAN do is eat sarma while yelling on my mobile, with five goats on my backseat, an angry teyze beside me, while blasting Takan at a bazillion decibels as I drive down the otoban in my 1994 unregistered rust-bucket Tofaş Doğan doing 180kph!
I actually have another driving story to tell you as well, but I’ll save that for another day because I’ve got real-life shit to get on with.
Important: If you are driving on a foreign licence and do not obtain an incoming passport stamp every six months it is not only illegal but in the case of an accident, Turkish insurance companies will require a copy of your passport and last entry stamp page be included with the claim documents. If the passport stamp is out of date, then the insurance policy is invalidated, and you will personally be held responsible for the accident. In the case of a fatality, you can be sued for future financial loss by the deceased person’s family.
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I was chilling in bed a few weeks back, enjoying what could only be described as a fantastic dream that involved a naked Keanu Reeves, when I was woken by the sound of a distinct… drip… drip… drip. I looked up and stared at the ceiling. It wasn’t raining, so the only other explanation is that the dripping was coming from one of the three solar hot water systems (you know the kind, they’ve been installed by your cousin’s next-door neighbour’s uncle), that was directly above my head.
I lay there for a while listening to the drip… drip… drip… and wondering whether it was going to stop. Nope, it wasn’t; instead, the drip became what sounded like a bit of a gush. Not a waterfall, mind you, just a steady flow.
I ran down to The Turk’s to warn him of the aforementioned leak.
“Okay, okay. I know a guy.”
Sure, I might have rolled my eyes, but that’s only because its The Turk and he always knows a guy.
Fast forward a few weeks.
I was chilling in bed last night, enjoying what could only be described as a fantastic dream that involved a naked Brad Pitt (I like to mix it up), when suddenly I heard a… drip… drip… drip. I looked up and stared at the ceiling. As I stared I felt something land on my face.
And then again…
The fecking roof was fecking leaking!
I jumped out of bed and yelled every swear word that I had at my disposal. That means English, Turkish and Italian. I am a total linguist when it comes to swear words!
Lights went on. Buckets were retrieved. Threats to murder The Turk were thrown around. And then it happened!
Wait, that’s doesn’t quite give it the momentum it deserves.
Yep that better.
An explosion from above. I nearly dropped dead on the spot. My Hurley Dog nearly shat himself (okay he did shit himself) and Daughter woke up dazed and confused. Yes, it was that loud!
Suddenly the drip became a gush, nay a waterfall, nay it was a fecking tsunami, and it was happening inside my bedroom. A moment later and there were sparks and a zap. “Bzzzt”! And it was pitch black.
Yes, I knew full well that The Turk had forgotten to get his “guy”. I guess I should have chased him up, but like most things, I put it on the back-burner. We’ve just got so much going on right now so I have tried to minimise any unnecessary arguments with him. I know. Pathetic excuse.
Anyhow… picture this; me in my pink leopard print pyjamas doing a Baywatch-inspired run down the stairs in the dark (I couldn’t find my mobile so had to slow-mo it down the stairs in case I tripped over a cat or a shoe or some other ill-placed hazard). I yelled at The Turk, who was passed out on his couch. Nada. Nothing. He snored in reply.
I was back out the door and down the stairs to my BIL’s. They already knew there was some kind of commotion (after all it is 3:00AM, and unless it’s my nemesis cock-a-doodle-do’ ing it’s usually dead quiet in the Village at this hour) and were already running up to meet me. After a lot of pathetic Turk-lish being tossed around on my part, we all ran up to the roof.
As already guessed, one of the hot water heaters had exploded, and there was an Olympic sized swimming pool on our roof but what was all the more worrisome was that the other two heaters were also leaking. We were about to have a flood of Noah’s Ark proportions. My BIL quickly disconnected the water. Still, there wasn’t a lot we could really do at three in the morning, so we all went back downstairs to survey the damage to my apartment.
My BIL re-set the electric and I prayed to all the deities that my surge protectors had done their job.
I ran to my computer (to hell with everything else… this had 50,000 words of my next novel on it!). Working! Thank goodness.
Oven? Cooktop? Check. Check.
Surge protectors for the win!
And then we went back to my bedroom.
False ceiling? A write-off (it was now partly on my bed).
Mattress? Also, a write-off.
Duvet, pillows, bedding, summer clothes, and all the rest of my crap stored under my bed? WRITE THE FECK OFF!
When the sun finally came up, The Turk appeared at my door.
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We’ve had no electric for the last ten out of fourteen days. It’s practically medieval times here in the Village so with no electric and in an effort to save myself from going bat-shit crazy out of boredom, I’ve slapped on my şalvar, wrapped my hair (to hide the grey no less) and reverted to my less than enthusiastic Turkish Housewife mode.
First job tackled was the salca.
All of you already know that one of my highlights since I moved to Mersin is to make the salca. It reminds me of my wonderful mother-in-law and how she welcomed this somewhat reluctant yabancıgelin into the family and started me on my Turkish life. She taught me that sometimes the old ways are better and if you’re expecting several consecutive days (try several consecutive months) of 38ºC (100ºF) Mediterranean sunshine, then your salca will be much more successful if sun-dried rather than making it in the oven/cooktop.
This year’s salca experience could have ended up being a disaster, but thanks to my sister-in-law, who is nothing if not enterprising, her quick thinking saved the day (and the salca).
My salca story started just fine. I had a shopping list:
250 kilograms kırmızı biber (red capsicum)
100 kg domates (tomatoes)
100 kg acı biber (hot chilli)
That might seem like a lot of capsicum but it never really is.
Excited, I hit the pazar and negotiated in my best Turklish to get a reasonable price, and when that didn’t work The Turk stepped in and got me the best price.
I got cracking-a-lacking on the domates and had them chopped up and blitzed early on Saturday morning so by the time my SIL got home that afternoon I had already carried buckets of mulched domates up to the roof and had poured them into my rather dodgy (but does the job) plastic sheeting/slab. SIL did bring reinforcements for the kırmızı biber (her mother and sister), and thank goodness because without them we could have been there all night. The 100kg of acı biber are a little dicier (no pun intended). We split them into two – 50kg cleaned for salca and 50kg cleaned and cut for drying.
By 8:00 PM everything was sliced, diced, blitzed and shattered (and that was just us).
And then, and to quote the great Annie Lennox, here comes the rain again.
First rain of the season. Yah! NOT!!!
3:00 AM and SIL banged on my door sending My Hurley Dog and me into hysterics. Once I realised we weren’t under attack, I followed her up to the rooftop. There we were in our pyjamas (or in my case my undies and a singlet because it’s still stinking hot here in Mersin) running around in the bucketing rain, trying to save our kırmızı biber from washing away. We MacGyver’ed the shit out of my sun-lounger and some plastic to fashion a make-shift tent and even though the roof resembled a crime scene with the overflow of sauce mixed with rainwater on Sunday morning, our salca and sliced acı biber were saved and able to be returned to their rightful place in the sunshine.
It might have taken a little longer this year to dry out (thanks to said bucketing) but we now have enough tomato paste and capsicum paste to feed an army, or at least feed the family through until next September. I might sound like a typical Türk but I could never go back to store-brought salca now. I mean just look at that kırmızı bibersalca (capsicum paste) beautiful dark red colour. Trust me when I say it tastes amazing!
And because I never want to find myself with a pickling emergency I also perfected my pickling this past week. After a few trips to the supermarket and buying out every single bottle of üzüm sirkesi (grape vinegar) they had in stock I pickled the hell out of any vegetable that was lying around including salatakık (cucumber), soğan (onion), havuç (carrot), lahana (cabbage) and yet another 5kg of acı biber. I’m pretty sure we’re sorted for hot chillies to keep us warm on cold winter nights.
And just because I’m Aussie I got a fabulous recipe from a local chef who makes the most amazing pickled beetroot so I was back to the Mezitli pazar last weekend to pick up pancar and yet more vinegar for testing out his recipe. Finally I can get some decent beetroot for my burgers.
Thankfully the electric is now back (and hopefully will stay again for at least a few days).
Finger’s crossed because seriously if I lose my electric again today, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Seriously! Watch this space!
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You guys might remember this post from March when my friends and I took a road trip up to Gülek Kalesi. That road trip turned out to be a complete disaster, and we ended up drenched, discouraged and downright depressed, but at least we made it out alive. Just to recap it was a little touch and go at times on the single-laned, pot-hole ridden track disguised as a road with its thick fog, sharp turns and blind bends that in my mind would have been more befitting Bolivia’s “road of death” than this little mountain outside of Pozantı.
We recently made a second attempt at visiting the Kalesi, travelling the same road up into the Tarsus Mountains. Thankfully we didn’t get lost, but we also didn’t recognise much of anything either.
Case in point:
After some accommodating locals pointed us in the right direction (and practised their English on us), we finally found ourselves at the top of the mountain and at the historical site of Gulek Kalesi.
As my friend Moe put it so succinctly, “this Byzantine, then Armenian, then Arab, then Ottoman and now tourist destination has sat on this mountaintop, casting a shadow on the village below for almost 2000 years. Yadda, yadda, we trip over that shit down here.”
I laughed so hard at this – but it’s all true.
We came for the photo, the famous ledge that hangs out over the mountain and looks straight down the otoban connecting Adana and Ankara. Sadly none our photos are as fabulous as those that are floating around on the internet, but the pride that we felt as we stood on that ledge was just as rewarding as if we had climbed Everest (and if felt like that at times as we traversed the craggy rocks to reach our destination).
We did it!
For those of you based in or around Mersin it’s totally worth the trip (about 20 minutes outside of Tarsus) but do yourselves a favour and do it is summer or check your weather apps because shit gets real up in them there hills when the weather turns bad.
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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.
“There is a guy in your apartment.”
“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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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 had a road rage incident here in Mersin a few months back. Full disclosure it was (kinda) my fault and I regret the whole incident but thankfully I lived to tell the tale to you guys now and, who knows, maybe my story will be a lesson on what not to do while on the roads here (or anywhere in the world these days for that matter).
Driving in Turkey can be a little *ahem* challenging at times but I can play Super Mario Kart as good as any nine year old so I feel I have the skills necessary to dodge bananas, shells or out of control turtles as I manoeuvre through the chaos of Mersin traffic.
So recently I was meeting a friend from Adana for lunch. Regrettably, we had chosen the weekend of the Portakal Festival which meant that everyone who had ever owned a car here in Mersin was out on the road and traffic was completely gridlocked. Neither of us minded too much as we weren’t in any great hurry, however and as usual, the impatient drivers of Mersin had all taken on their alter ego of Mario Andretti and believed that they were on the final straight at the Daytona 500.
Fast forward to 1 km from our destination… the train station in Çarşı and that’s when it happened.
We were stuck behind a car who was attempting to park on the busy road. Yes, the driver may not have had the best parking skills but as I said we weren’t in any great hurry so came to a stop behind him and waited. However, the wack job behind us in a banged-up white Fiat wasn’t as patient.
My reply (to myself mind you). “Dude, chill.”
Now (and mostly because my ears were actually bleeding at this point) I threw my hands up in the air very dramatically ensuring that the nut bar behind me could clearly see I was frustrated by his behaviour.
My reply (out loud but not out the window). “What the hell do you want me to do, ya bloody dickhead!”
It happened a third time.
I moved forward slightly to enable the hot rod enough space to nudge into the traffic beside us. He passed. Slowly. And I did the unthinkable… I gave him the finger!
Yep, I flipped him off. I showed him the bird. I gave him the highway salute.
Hindsight and all that I knew I shouldn’t do it but on very rare occasions my Aussie-ness explodes out, and I’m drinking beer, calling people “flamin’ galah’s” and, well, giving people the finger. In Australia it’s endearing. That’s how we Aussies say hello. I swear! Okay maybe not.
Anyhow… Mad Max came to a screeching halt about thirty metres ahead, and he jumped out of his car and raced towards us like Usain Bolt while being chased by two other car occupants who were attempting to tackle him to the ground.
“Holy shit!” said I.
“Oh my!” said my more eloquent friend.
I became my very own version of Mario Andretti and floored it, swerving through the traffic in an effort to get as far away from this wack-job as possible. And then it happened.
Dude threw himself at my car, like his whole body, flying through the air at the passenger side of the car! I didn’t stop. I looked through my rear vision mirror and watched him roll neatly into the gutter, dust himself off and immediately give chase again. There was no stopping him! He was the T-1000 from Terminator 2. Holy shit!
Thankfully we lost him in the chaos that is every day Çarşı, and I dropped my shaken but not stirred friend at the train station. I drove home in a state of panic to update The Turk who immediately took me and the car to the polis merkezi to report the incident and to obtain paperwork for the insurance claim on the body-sized dent in our front passenger door.
Unfortunately, the polis was not as helpful as we had hoped and informed me I had “antagonised” the other driver so nothing could be done, in fact he had the right to make a complaint against ME! They also gave me a warning about driver safety and road rage because if you piss someone off here, the other driver could pull out a gun/axe/knife/pitchfork and really go to town.
Being a sensible kind of Aussie and wanting to learn my lesson I did a little research on road rage around the world and do you know what? In a recent report commissioned in Belgium, it seems that 77% of Australians have been subject to an “obscene gesture while driving”. Crikey! I wonder how many of them were me???
In Turkey, authorities are at constant loggerheads about how to control the trafik canavari (traffic monster) and road rage that seems to be an everyday occurrence.
The moral of my story is to never, ever give anybody the finger; you never know what type of looney tunes is in the car behind you, or beside you, or in front of you.
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Gülek Kalesi is a small castle between Tarsus and Pozantı , an easy drive of approximately 90km from Mersin. Visiting the castle is not the main reason people visit this little known ruin. The main reason anyone visits Gülek Kalesi is for the photograph. I mean just look!
A little deli perhaps?
It was decided we should visit Gülek Kalesi as one of our friends was relocating to Istanbul and we wanted one final group photograph together. We were a merry bunch as we left Mersin behind on our drive to the castle. It might have been slightly overcast but it was surprisingly warm with patches of blue sky. Winter seemed to be behind us and we were ready for the long, never-ending, fire ant on crack, summer to begin. I will admit to you, dear friends, that the weather app that I check so vigilantly every morning “might” have suggested storms were imminent and, yes, there “might have been” in the distance, the very far distance mind you, some menacing looking clouds that could “possibly” be moving in our direction, but all in all a pleasant day was expected for our drive into the mountains.
Well, possibly turned into probably which turned into holy hell we were all going to die and by the time we reached the lower hills of the Tarsus Mountains it was bucketing down but we’re a resilient bunch and wouldn’t be put off by a little itsy rain. We were making memories and the photograph would probably be amazing with the natural light and slightly grey backdrop.
We thought of ourselves as valiant explorers and pushed on through the rain, then the sleet … then the snow (a real WTF moment considering it was March), yavaş yavaş ever higher up the mountain on a road that slowly disintegrated into nothing more than a muddy death trap with potholes the size of small cities, sharp turns and deadly cliffs on either side. The only other car on the road flashed his high beams as he sped down the mountain, away from the once in a lifetime storm (a slight exaggeration on my part). I bet he checked the news that night to see if there was any information about the car filled with yabancıların that had disappeared Amelia Earhart style never to be seen again.
We finally made it to the top of the mountain and we all tumbled out of the car to take in the fabulous view.
Are you ready?
I mean it’s totally amazeballs.
I guess another trip up the mountain is in order and perhaps we might wait until summer really kicks in but most importantly perhaps we bloody well SHOULD pay attention to my weather app that never, ever seems to be wrong.
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