Turkish Housewife For The Win!

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 yabancı gelin 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!!!

FARK!

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 biber salca (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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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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Breakfast at Melemez

Anyone who has visited Turkey has no doubt indulged in an authentic Turkish kahvaltı (breakfast). Tables of food filled with kőy (village) grown or locally sourced products lovingly prepared by your Turkish host.

Here in Mersin, there are many, MANY places to get a Turkish breakfast but, like most things, the challenge is finding the best spot to indulge. One such spot I got to experience recently is Giritli Cemilenin Yeri Kahvalti. This lokanta is in Melemez, a village not too far from my home, and is unlike anything I had ever visited before in Mersin because Melemez is, in fact, a Greek village.

Settled in the late 1800s by Muslim Cretans, they brought with them their Greek colours, Greek lifestyle and even, bless them, their Greek wine-making skills.

Following the distinctive Greek signage into the small village the lokanta succeeded in whisking me away to my distant memories of Crete with its eclectic style but, as usual, I thought only with my stomach and what excited me the most was our breakfast table literally groaning under the weight of all our breakfast choices.

Along with a variety of cheeses, crisp cucumbers and baskets of freshly baked bread there was green and black olives, village eggs cooked to perfection, sun-ripened tomatoes, home-made fig and apricot preserves, pekmez (grape molasses), creamy yogurt and more borek (cheese pastries) that you could possibly consume. We were welcomed like family and the owner even suggested we finish off our breakfast with a sampling of his home-made wine (a breakfast tradition that this token Aussie could totally get behind!).

Weekends get busy in Melemez with visitors coming from all around to enjoy the unique village and their weekend market, where the locals sell their products including şarap (wine), zeytin yağlı (olive oil), salca (tomato paste) yumurtular (eggs) and turşusu (pickled vegetables), is usually teeming with people. The roads can also be busy, but this is probably due to the four feet kind of traffic rather than a four-wheel kind.

Credit: Moe

A Turkish breakfast is meant to be savoured and time will slip away from you but before you leave Melemez behind take the opportunity to wander around this picturesque village. Being with two photographers (who are prepared to get down and dirty when they need to) we got to meet quite a few of the locals who were glad to show us their homes, their gardens and even their ovens (as you do).

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Ugly Expat 911

Expats are few and far between in Mersin, and over the years I have met some very *ahem* exciting characters.  Some I see once and then block them from my mind and social media in the hope of never passing paths again, and others are my closest friends and allies here in this crazy city hahaha.

new expat

The thing with having such a small group is that when you do meet that character that you just don’t gel with it can be nearly impossible to escape from them.  You see them at the same events, hanging out at the same restaurants and you bump into them at your local pazar/beautician/dentist – but of course you introduced them to said pazar/beautician/dentist!  You dumb ass!!

This happened to me recently, and I found the whole experience quite exhausting.  I was my usual friendly persona, welcoming said expat with open arms and introducing said expat to other members of the group and beforementioned pazar/beautician/dentist; however, I realised pretty early on that I had nothing in common with said expat.  I found said expat’s behaviour towards others in the group appalling and said expats behaviour to the locals ludicrous at times.  Oh, and I also realised pretty early on that said expat was batshit crazy!

Said expat found themselves in a bit of a jam as well while here in Mersin and when the situation imploded (which of course it did) it was all hands on deck.  However, despite other members of the group giving sound advice and being a listening board said expat decided to do the absolute opposite to the advice that was given and found themselves in an even more precarious position.  I don’t know everything, in fact, I don’t know a lot, but I do know that when a situation is shitty, it’s time to leave.  It’s not the time to include as many people as possible in your personal drama.

I think the thing that frustrated me the most about said expat was the fact that she felt she was so entitled to her opinion and expectations and also expected all of us to drop everything to deal her every problem.  Oh, and said expat never said thank you.  Not even once.  Rudeness!

Said expat has gone now thankfully.  I hope said expat never comes back to Mersin or if she does come back then hopefully she doesn’t contact me again – of course she probably won’t because I have already blocked her on my social media and she was banished from the expat group due to her nastiness.

Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.

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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Hello, it’s me, Janey … in Mersin (in case you forgot).  I know I’ve said this in the past but my life has definitely been really busy over these few months.  Some days are out of my control and by the time that I get home I’m usually exhausted.  It takes all my effort to pour that first glass of wine.  The second and third glasses do come a lot easier.

In all honesty, I haven’t felt particularly motivated to write.  Mersin has its moments but they are nothing new.  I’ve written about them before.  Roosters crowing?  Wrote it.  The Turk fighting?  Done it.  Random family members doing random crazy shit?  All over it!  I have done a little more travelling, went to a wedding or nine and maybe I will post a few blogs in the coming weeks but unless aliens land here in the village there won’t be an awful lot to write.

Australia 2017

Daughter and I were away for two months, spending quality time in Australia and a naughty side trip to Bali.  It was definitely good to get back to Australia and spend time with our Aussie family and friends.  I even had the opportunity to catch up with some school friends which was fabulous.  I will miss my 30 year high school reunion later this year (although do I really want to catch up with most of them?  Nope.  I had my core group and I loved them.  The rest can go and jump in the lake).  And it was definitely great to eat bacon.  Man, I love me some bacon.  Yes, I know you know that but I just needed to reiterate it one final time – I love bacon.

Even though I was away I had some pretty remarkable hits on the page mind you.  It looks like Mersin is slowly being considered a tourist destination in its own right (I know I’m as shocked as you are).  The Turk suggested to me that perhaps I was being stalked but I’m not sure why anyone would want to stalk me, because as fascinating as I believe I am my life here in the Village is truly dull and exceedingly uninteresting.  And before you laugh it has happened before people turning up on our doorstep having tracked me down.  No!  I swear it’s true!  But that’s okay, as long as they’re not Ted Bundy or that Manson fellow … or maybe IS.

Summer is definitely here and Mersin is feeling like Satan’s asshole right now.  Coming from a very pleasant Sydney winter (with its average temperatures of 22-24) I’m a little jealous of my friends up in the mountains with their mountain breezes although the two times I have been up to visit since my return it’s been 30 degrees both days.  Not so cool (although it was probably mid-40’s back in the village).

Socially here in Mersin, many of the expats and locals disappear for summer.  Like me, the expats go and visit their homeland and the locals get the hell out of Dodge because it’s just so freaking steamy as feck.  A few of the expats have moved on to new cities and countries but when one goes another usually arrives although sometimes this can be more drama than it’s worth.

Oh, and I’ve finished the first draft of my novel (which takes up an extraordinary amount of time).   It’s currently being read by a few trusted friends and I got some pretty realistic feedback so on their recommendation I’ve sent it off for an edit.  We’ll see where this goes.  And it’s only the first draft so I expect there will be another 100 drafts before I am finally satisfied with it.  Give me the strength!

So, keep an eye out for some new material in the coming weeks.  I will be in touch and remember to message me on my FB page (here) if you want or need to make contact.

 

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After The Fall

It wasn’t really a fall, it was more of a complete transformation of a mild mannered *cough, cough* Aussie chick into a fully functioning, homicidal maniac but I must say I felt better getting it off my chest and I want to give all you guys a shout out as well.  So many of you wrote to me and told me your horror stories living here in Türkiye (and elsewhere) making mine seem perhaps a tad absurd but also giving me the strength to face a new day.

depression 1

I haven’t always been honest about how I was feeling mostly because I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining.  For many of us there is a romanticism to living in Türkiye.  I get that.  So many people say how lucky we are and how they would love to do it too.  Sure, we are very lucky – we chose this life but it isn’t always easy.

When I self-analyse my meltdown (thank you Google) I think it mostly stems from a depression that snuck up on me, so quietly that I didn’t even realise it until it swallowed me whole.  I had an inkling back in January that there was something askew while I was having a long weekend in London.  I caught up with my bestie who lives there and spent much of the day in tears.

Up front I don’t consider myself someone who gets depressed easily.  I am pretty chill and I think most people who know me would agree however since my knee operation and its very, VERY slow recovery I found myself becoming increasing depressed which has been magnified by the fact that I am living in a country that doesn’t really take its mental health all that seriously (as it fecking should)!

Putting aside Türkiye’nin domestic and regional tensions an expat here is also contending with bureaucratic bungles, visa issues, cultural differences, language barriers – ugh the list goes on – but all of this has the potential to send even the sanest among us kicking and screaming to the looney bin.  The simplest of tasks become untenable and, as an expat, it’s hard to make people understand that you feel lost and need help.

For me personally I find that, despite being surrounded by family ALL THE TIME, I still feel isolated and unsupported and very much alone.  I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry and cry.  I really started to resent the family, not just The Turk and Daughter, but the extended re-mix of family that lives within spitting distance.  I missed my privacy.  I can’t walk around naked (I would never walk around naked but now I don’t even have that option).  Cooking a meal requires every pot and pan in the house and for feck’s sake why do they all have to YELL????  ALL THE TIME???  It rattles me.  A family dinner is exhausting and takes me days to recover.  A bayram is my personal hell with family coming in from other cities to add to the chaos.  I’m getting the sweats just thinking about it.

The Turk isn’t really as supportive or sympathetic as he should be.  I think growing up in the Village he has seen it all and his mindset is to ignore the problem and it will go away.  Daughter is a hormonal teenager off doing her own thing and I often go days getting little more than a grunt from her as she passes me in the hallway.  So it’s just me.  Alone.  And being alone can be scary.

But what I DO know about me is this I am, in fact, one badass bitch!  I am fecking sensational!  I am Sensational Janey (such moniker given to me by an equally sensational Turk) and I am part of a group of Sensational Bad-Ass Bitches who navigate life here in Mersin.

Now I’m taking it one day at a time.  I find something positive and I run with it.  I went to the pazar in Menderes this week (it is seriously the best pazar in Mersin).  I spent much more than I had anticipated (tomatoes were surprisingly expensive with 4kg setting me back 18TL) followed by a delicious yogurt tantuni with one of the Bad-Ass Bitches that live here.  I am really pushing myself to walk again to build strength back in my legs and to improve my health generally and finally, I am back to writing, which I have always found to be very cathartic.

Oh and I have wine.  A LOT of wine!

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The Day That Türkiye Broke Me

I always refer to Türkiye as a woman.  Türkiye is strong.  She can be a little temperamental at times and has even been known to chuck a wobbly every now and then but usually things return to normal.  I mean it’s normal for relationships to have their ups and downs and yes I am aware that in psychology circles I would be called an Enabler.  Oh and upfront this is not a political post.  I will not make any comments in relation to that ridiculous Referendum and its outcome.  Oops.  Sorry.

Back to my story.

Yes Türkiye can be a little tempermental but usually I forgive and forget – but not this time.  What started as a day became a week and seriously seems to be moving into a month and everything here in the Village, in Mersin and even in Türkiye, is pissing me the hell off.  I held out as long as I could but enough is enough and finally, she broke me.  Türkiye broke me.

FireAnd even as I write this I know I am being a pouting princess and I know how lucky I am living in this beautiful country, but honestly shit should get easier, you know!

Alright let’s rewind and I will vent and then maybe, just maybe, I can move on from her most recent transgression.

It all started last Wednesday.  It was a normal Wednesday.  The Turk and I had kahvaltı on the terrace while below us Dede was screaming at the passerby (yes this is normal for us).  I mentioned to The Turk that we had no internet and no telephone – again.  “Sorun değil aşkım” was his reply and he rang TTnet to arrange for a service.  I pointed out that I think we needed an electrician but, of course, The Turk knew better (and God forbid he is never wrong).  At this point I just want to say that I am also dealing with a temperamental 14 year old who literally HATES THE WORLD so when she realised on Wednesday morning that there was no internet – again – seriously folks don’t worry about North Korea dropping a fecking nuclear bomb on anyone worry about Daughter blowing a fecking gasket!!!

By Friday the internet was still not fixed AND to add to my current woes we also had no electricity.  I thought this would be a good time for me to get out of the Village and do the grocery shopping.  I hit Migros and I brought up big!  Came to the register to pay, handed over my credit card and – declined!  WTF???  Of course I didn’t have the cash to pay for my groceries so I had to leave them at the shop and return home empty handed.  And that was it.  It was that simple.  I broke.

By the time I got home I was in tears.  I threw myself on the couch and cried for a good few hours before finally putting myself to bed.  At 4pm.  It was suggested to me that I needed chocolate and red wine – stat – but as my credit card was declined I didn’t even have these simple medicinal necessities to tide me over and so I lay in bed crying my eyes out and wishing I was back in Sydney where this shit just wouldn’t happen.

Sure I know these are all First World Problems, and yes, I know I am being a bit of a şımarık, but seriously no electricity, no internet, no telephone and now no cash!  What the feck did I ever do to you Türkiye?  Have I ever done anything but love you?  Support you?  Talk you up to my friends?  Yeah that’s right!  And you turn on me!  Well I’m pissed off and I won’t stand for it anymore!  In fact I’m breaking up with you!

friends breakup photovisiAnyhow, TTnet finally arrived on Saturday morning and confirmed that we did, in fact, need an electrician so The Turk called a guy who knew a guy who promised to be at ours by 2pm.  At 6.17pm four teenage boys arrived at our house.  They were the electricians!  Ugh!  One of the boys refused to come into the house because of My Hurley Dog so screamed instructions through the door (Çek!  Çek!) to the other three as they re-wired our telephone and internet.  By 10pm they had finished.  We had internet.  We had telephone.  Yah!!!  By 11.15pm? Gone!  Again!

It comes and goes now.  That’s okay.  I guess.  And we only lost the electricity once yesterday (although it was for 6 hours).

What I find so incomprehensible is that everyone seems to accept substandard workmanship and bad behaviour.  They have all these social niceties but when it comes to service they just accept that the work will be dodgy or the quality of their goods and services will be less than stellar.  It is the norm here in Türkiye but it shouldn’t be.  People should expect excellent service if they are paying for it.  The Turk just shrugs as says “Bu Türkiye!”  Nope more like Bu-llshit!!

And speaking of bullshit let me just tell you one more little story before I get dragged off to the looney bin.

After my second meltdown on Sunday to my BIL (as my television had no signal and our intermittent internet was gone – fecking again) a television service was arranged.  The dude arrived yesterday on time (a first) and proceeded to reconfigure our satellite dish for a better service.  I only really watch one or two shows on television, I don’t really care if there is service or not because I watch television via the internet (if we have internet that is) BUT there is one English news channel – TRT World – and even though it is a completely bias channel run by the Government (please don’t shut me down “Powers That Be”) it was, at least, in English.  Until our little friend serviced my dish that is, now we have lost the channel.  FML!

Anyway before he left he asked to use the bathroom.  He disappeared behind the door for a good thirty minutes.  What on earth did he do in there?  Well I certainly found out within moments of him leaving when an entity crossed my path.  A shit entity.  A smell so foul that it was as though he had smeared shit from one end of the guest bathroom to the other!  I literally had to open all the windows and sit on the terrace for an hour before the house had been cleared of the putrid smell!  I still haven’t gone in there either.  I’m a little scared of what I might find that he left behind for me.  I’ll send The Turk in to take the bullet.

Sorry for lumbering all this on you all.  I don’t know when I’ll be back.  But I will.  Eventually.

Ugh!

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