Where For Art Thou?

As you can see it has been some time since I have blogged.  I have taken a break from me.  Janeyinmersin has had to take a back seat for the moment with real life taking over.

The Turk remains in Sydney and is still quite sick.  Last week he took another turn and ended up back in hospital.  He is feeling a lot better now – thankfully – but there have been a few sleepless nights in the past week with calls from the hospital and from friends.

I am still fluffing around waiting on either my Residence Visa (applied for in August) or my kimlik (applied for last December!).  After trips to both the Emniyet and Nufus it seems that my visa is still “processing” and my kimlik needs The Turk’s signature on something – so that’s now put off until his doctor gives him the all clear to fly.

My days have been full as well with Kurban Bayram meaning we have had a full social calendar for the past 10 days (yes Kurban Bayram may not last that long but this family do not want to stop the party).  Other than a sneaky expat night out my days has been full and my nights even fuller.  I have said it before and I will say it again – “their ain’t no party like a Turkish party ‘cause a Turkish party don’t stop!”

Back to the blog though.

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Mersin really does shine during October.  Tarsus Mountains now has a light smattering of snow on their peaks and yet the days are still hot here on the plains and the sun is still shining brightly.  Late in the afternoon Mother Nature likes to throw a little crazy at us and we are hit with some magnificent storms that blow in from the sea and dump a massive amount of badly needed rain on the village.  As happy as the farmers are here in the village, I do not love the downpours quite as much.  Why?  Well firstly we lose our electricity for days on end but also due to the ridiculously bad construction of our home when the heaven’s open I find myself spending hours – literally hours – sweeping, mopping, squeegeeing, sponging and scooping the excessive rain water that as accumulated on my roof terrace towards the measly drains at each end.  I just want to add that we are not talking about a smidge of water either, we are talking about water you could bath in (well it is above my ankles in places).

I don’t really mind, I have got to be burning off some calories as I collect my rainwater and I get up there with my i-pod blasting my playlist aptly called “Sweep and Sing”.

So what is in my “Sweep and Sing” playlist.  MC Hammer told me that “You can’t touch this”, Bonnie Tyler told me to “Hold out for a Hero” and there is even some Scandal in there “The Warrior”.  I’m not some old codger either as thanks to Daughter there is a bit of Iggy Azalea telling me to “work, work, work, work, working on my shitz”.  I had a good old laugh the other day as I was up there blasting out my usual Karaoke tune “Like a Prayer” I did not notice my neighbours sitting on their balcony enjoying the show.  They called for an encore so I found myself singing a bit of “Thriller” which included the dance moves to finish off my show.  To show their appreciation my neighbour’s wife brought me a plate of hummus and home-made chilli paste.

Teşekkür ederim!

I promise my blog posts will be a little more regular over the coming weeks.  Life has returned to some form of Turkish normalcy and I am back to my over-opinionated, now brunette self.  For proof of life I can usually be found sitting on my terrace enjoying the late afternoon rays and a glass of red.

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Elektrik ve sürprizler

The good people of Icel are not sharing nicely and now it seems we are running out of electricity.  I am not sure how a city (or in this case a province) runs out of electricity but in order to control the said good people of Icel (and maybe to teach them a lesson in sharing) they have all been put in the naughty corner by the local Electric Company who has decided to switch off the electricity to teach everyone a lesson (although they are calling it maintenance).  

Not only are they switching it off in the middle of summer they are switching it off in the middle of the day so for the next week (with the expected weekly average of 35 degree – that’s 90 degrees for readers in the US – in temperature) the electricity will be turned off for a period of 4 hours each day between the hours of 9 to 5.  You don’t know when.  It will be a surprise. 

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Speaking of surprises I find that my house is a revolving door.  There is always people coming and going.  Family, friends, neighbours.  It can get on your last nerve when you hear the door bell (which is an annoying tune of Greensleeves) constantly blasting.  Last night we had Kemal’s aunt visit and then a cousin.  Then his sister in law, brother and their two kids showed up.  His elder brother popped up to give me some paperwork (for my fiasco of a residency visa application) and finally . . . it was quiet.  When suddenly that damn doorbell rang again!  Enough!

“Kim o?” (“Who is it?) 

Again.  “Kim o?”

Nothing.  I have had enough.  I put on my shoes and stomp down the stairs to give the visitor the death stare when . . . sürpriz!  A friend and her family visiting from the UK.  Wow!  They are staying in the village with her husband’s family for the next two weeks!  I can honestly say I have never been so happy to see someone.  Not only does it mean I am not the only yabanci in the village it also means there is someone with possibly even less Turkish in the village than me!  Win, win!

They are coming for a BBQ tonight which will be amazing of course but I warned her “Don’t ring the door bell.  Knock on the door!”

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Traversing Tarsus

When I was young I watched the movie “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  This movie embedded the idea of wanting to have it all.  Be an amazing woman and have that once in a lifetime romance.

Fast forward a couple *cough cough* of years and here I am living my life being totally amazing and I got my Marc Antony (of sorts) as well.  So not only did I get my dream I now live my life not far from the city of Tarsus where, according to legend, Cleopatra was reunited with her lover after a separation of many years.  “If the tent is a rocking, don’t bother knocking.”

Tarsus is located smack dab between Mersin and Adana and, over the years, I have passed by the city while on my many travels but I have never stopped to have a look around.  Just before my overseas jaunt I found myself spending the day in Tarsus with The Turk and I can say without question this city is overflowing with historical and theological ruins.

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My first stop was, of course, Cleopatra Kapisi (Cleopatra’s Gate).  Legend has it that this was the spot where Marc Antony was reunited with Cleopatra.  A romantic notion.  The Gate is pretty much still intact, standing strong just like their love although, of course, she drove Marc Antony to suicide before killing herself but, before that, they had a powerful love for each other.  Very Romeo and Juliet.

Not all sites are walking distance but from Cleopatra’s Gate do a 180 and pass the Gözlükule Tumulus (mound).  Not an awful lot to see now (it forms part of a park) but this tumulus shows settlement in the Neolithic and ancient age.   Turning back and after passing the Tarsus Museum (we didn’t have time to visit on this trip) before arriving at the Antik Yol (Ancient Road) and Roman city excavation.  This excavation has been going on for some time and is a great example of Roman roads and architecture.

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A few more minutes will bring you to Paul of Tarsus Church and Well.  Who is Paul?  Theologians are already rubbing their hands in glee at this point.  Paul or Saul as he was also known is, of course, St Paul or Paul the Apostle and was born in the ancient city of Tarsus.  Now I do not know a lot (read that as anything) about the Bible or St Paul (or Saul) but according to the guide at St Paul’s Church he apparently wrote 13 of the 21 New Testament Epistles.  The Church itself was built in the 12th and 13th century and was accepted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage in 2000. Alongside the Church is St Paul’s Well which is over 100 feet deep with fresh drinking water.  Will it miraculously heal you?  Nah – it’s just a well but you can have a sip.

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As you wander in this area have a look at all the historic houses.  These are a good example of how Tarsus would have looked in the past, in its glory in the old city.  The markets are also close to the Mosque, both definitely worth visiting if you get the opportunity.

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Before we left Tarsus we stopped by the old Roman bridge before making our way to the Tarsus Waterfalls for cay and cezeryea (caramelised carrots with pistacios and nuts).  The waterfalls were tranquil and very beautiful and the cay and cezeryea was refreshing and tasty.  The waiter who brought us our treat informed me that the cezeryea is thought to be an aphrodisiac.  The Turk laughed and replied, “Don’t tell her that, she won’t eat it!”  Too true Turkey Boy.

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Tarsus packed a great little punch for a tourist and definitely worth stopping by if you are passing through to Adana or westward to the beaches.  We ran out of time to visit the Cave of Seven Sleepers and we also did not see the Prophet Daniel’s grave (of Daniel and the Lion’s fame) which is supposedly located inside Makim Mosque.  so do yourself a favour people.  Visit Tarsus.

The Village

I have now been living in the Village for 10 months and have decided that it is not really a köyü (village) it is more of a şehir (town), in fact that way that it has been growing you could even say it is a suburb of Mersin proper, an outer suburb but a suburb nevertheless.

When I first started coming to the Village 13 years ago it really was a köyü.  There was more farmland than houses, more farm animals than people but in the following years the urban sprawl that is Mersin has spread and, like a disease, taking over the quaint köyü and turning it into part of a spreading metropolis.

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Although we are still surrounded by farms the view of the sea has disappeared behind apartment blocks 5 stories high.  There are still farm animals but they are a rarity now (except for my damn nemesis that lives behind us) and what was once grazing land just west of us is now streets full of little houses (and some not so little) being built at a speed that astounds me.

It is lovely and warm now (in fact I would go so far to say it is hot) which means I spend more time going on walks or riding my bike around in the köyü (or şehir).  I did not realise just how big the Village is.  To ride my bike around the whole köyü would take me a good hour or two and walking would probably take me a full day (taking into consideration stopping for chats).

I often ride my bike from Atasyolu to the north right around to the deserted beach east of the Village.  The Turk and I sit at this beach and dream (well he dreams and I lie on the sand and enjoy the sunshine).  He wants to win the lotto and buy the land here, turning it into a resort (so, you know, adding to the urban sprawl).  The beach really is exquisite, so clean and the sand is like soft, white snow.  This beach could give some of those resorts on the west coast a run for its money.  Again anyone who does eventually get their hands on this land (assuming we don’t win the lotto) would definitely be onto a winner particularly if the Council start to realise just what a beautiful spot it is and utilised the potential instead of squandering it by allowing industrial filth to be built there.

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Honestly just look at this beach!  It could be Fraser Island – in fact here is a photo of The Turk on Fraser Island a couple of years back.  Amazing!  This beach east of the Village is pristine beach.  Unpolluted.  Unsullied.  A dream come true.  The Turk and I can sit on this beach for hours and not see a soul.

Not Turkey I repeat not Turkey!

Not Turkey I repeat not Turkey!

 

Frankly it is a little sad that the modern world has caught up with my quaint köyü and tainted it (slightly) for me.  But such is life is it not?  If you don’t keep up you will only be left behind.

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Birthday Lunch

Daughter took me out for my belated birthday lunch today.  We left the Village behind us, passed by the historical (and chaotic) Carsi and travelled west to the more European inspired area of Mersin for lunch at the new Marina.

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Arriving at the Marina is akin to arriving back in Sydney and going for a day at Darling Harbour.  Lots of sunshine, tourists, designer shops and European-styled restaurants.  Daughter picked a great looking restaurant that had good old fashioned burgers and, although it was empty when we arrived, 20 minutes into our lunch we were surrounded by a bus load of German tourists who appeared to be drinking their way around Turkey.  They were travelling from Alanya and were expecting to continue their historical tour of Turkey by visiting Tarsus this afternoon.  Honestly I cannot imagine how they will fare wandering around all the historical sites that Tarsus has to offer – I should watch the Haber (news) this evening to see if there was a group of German tourists arrested for disturbing the peace.  They were a very rowdy bunch but Daughter thought they were excellent value and befriended them.  She was having an awesome time.  She taught them some Turkish swear words and they reciprocated by teaching her some not so appropriate German.  It’s great to have a multi-lingual child!

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After lunch we spent time in the sunshine just wandering along the waterfront.  It was such a lovely afternoon – we stopped for cay at a tea house, Daughter befriended some puppies (and tried to convince me to take one home) and we brought freshly roasted chestnuts to nibble on while watching old men fishing from the wharf.  As the sun began to set on my birthday day some ominous looking clouds appeared on the horizon.  Rain?  Nah!  But we better find a dolmus just in case.

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Incidentally it has only rained four times in Mersin since September.  That’s over 120 days of sunshine.  I get quite excited when I see the clouds and the prospect of rain but it just never eventuates.  I know that Australia is sweltering in 50 degree heat and America is suffering with their “polar vortex” but I must say that winter in Mersin is extremely pleasant.  So lucky!

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