Starry, Starry Night

Anyone who has driven down into Mersin on Akbelen Boulevard has no doubt seen Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painted onto one of the old buildings along the street.  If like me, you wondered who did these paintings, I can now give you the answer as I recently had a chance to connect with the artist Ertuğrul Çavuşoğlu.

Toroslar 7

Originally from Van, Ertuğrul is a self-taught artist that has been employed by the Toroslar municipality, along with Nazife Bilgin Hazar, to beautify the area and I think they are doing a splendid job, don’t you?

They have completed ten buildings but they are hopeful that their work will continue well into 2018.  They have chosen a range of famous works by Turkish and Arabic artists as well as the European masters mentioned above.

Toroslar 3

Ertuğrul is hoping that his work will inspire younger people into wanting to learn more about the famous paintings that he has replicated and the artists behind the work.  He wants his adopted city to know that art is important.  Art makes you feel and art can take you places you have never imagined.  Art is fundamentally the same all over the world and is a common language which (for me at least) still allows us to all enjoy the work together.

I love this last photo.

Toroslar photos

All photos are courtesy of Milliyet with Ertuğrul’s full approval.

You can follow Ertuğrul’s progress on his Instagram – ertugrul1828 – here.

 

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How about a colouring book from Amazon so you can make your own masterpieces –

Sorry, Not Sorry

I have tried not to post any political opinions on my blog, and I think I have been somewhat successful at keeping my blowhard points of view to myself BUT here I am today being all political yet again.  I am sure I will offend some of you, but *sigh* I don’t care to be honest.

drama

My very first post on this blog explained how I came to be living here in Türkiye.  I won’t bore you with the details (you can read about them here) but in short, I had an epiphany that would lead me to travel to the Middle East and Türkiye and to that fateful evening when I met The Turk.

I wanted to travel to Jerusalem.  I wanted to learn about this city that is home to major Muslim and Christian shrines, as well as Judaism’s holiest site.  I wanted to float in the Dead Sea, and I wanted to hit all those nightclubs in Tel Aviv.  Finally, I felt a need to understand why there is such animosity about this fascinating part of the world.

DOTR

In preparation for my travel, I took a couple of theology classes to learn about the long, and, at times, painful, history of the area.

I learned that the Temple Mount in the Old City is the most sacred place in Judaism.  It is the site of Solomon’s Temple which is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant.

I also learned that it is the third holiest shrine in Islam, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. It was the scene of Prophet Muhammad’s ‘Night Journey’ ascension from Earth to Heaven, and the compound incorporates the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The city is also sacred to Christians and Catholics with millions visiting Jerusalem to undertake the Stations of the Cross which follows Jesus’s last day as a man before being crucified on a hill outside its walls.

Finally, I learned that I would never truly understand the complexities of the area.

But Jerusalem also has hugely important implications for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the United States of America have completely derailed any chance of peace in the foreseeable future with Trump’s recent declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city.  This has just added to the instability of the region.

I mean he is totally giving the Palestinian people the finger.  Ugh!  The man is a complete moron.

Moving on.

Those that know me personally know that I am no fan of Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his push for power in my adopted homeland however his speech given yesterday regarding Trump’s threats to cut funding if countries didn’t vote alongside the US was, in my opinion, fecking fabulous!

erdogan

By way of context and for those of you living under a rock the US President Donald Trump, being the very embodiment of a bully, threatened to cut funding to countries that would vote against them on the UN motion condemning the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Some of Erdoğan’s comments include:

“They call the U.S. the cradle of democracy. The cradle of democracy is seeking to buy a nation’s will with dollars.”

“Mr Trump, you cannot buy our will. I am calling on the whole world: Do not sell your struggle for democracy for a few dollars. Your stance is important.”

“I hope that the U.S. will not get the result it expects today and the world will give the U.S. a very good lesson.”

Yesterday President Erdoğan made the US aware that they are no longer the powerhouse that they once were and that no country should accede to their whims and flights of fancy.  They have dragged themselves down with their ridiculous agendas, casually forgetting about those who have been, up until now, their friends and allies.  The US has swiftly moved from being a joke to being the most hated nation on earth.

Thank you, President Erdoğan for saying what the rest of us are thinking.

And to you Mr Trump – make your fecking list.  Feel free to bluster and blow wind up your own ass because clearly, no one else is interested in your opinions anymore.

Incidentally, the UN General Assembly voted 128-9 declaring Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void”.

Merry Christmas.

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Dognapped!

The neighbour’s Rottweiler is chained up all day.  His owner (Vito) never let’s this beautiful and gentle boy off its chain and he spends its day sitting staring morosely at the passer by.  I know its normal in Turkey but it’s still heartbreaking all the same.  The Turk pities Hercules and takes him for a long walk every morning and afternoon as well as ensuring that he gets a decent feed every day.  The dog does have his quirks though.  He will not go on a lead and I don’t really blame him because he is chained up all day so he will carry his lead in his mouth and walk alongside The Turk (which is ridiculously cute).  Of course this causes drama in the village as they all assume Hercules is some crazed man eater and will rip them apart as he wanders by.  He won’t ’cause he’s a big baby (I mean look at him with Stanley) BUT if he sees a soccer ball (or a dirty nappy) he will lose his fecking mind.  The Turk has been forced to carry 10TL every time he takes Hercules anywhere to hand over to crying children when Hercules steals yet another ball.

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Anyway The Turk took Hercules for a walk this morning and everything was going along swimmingly until the dopey dog spotted a stray off in the distance.  As Hercules is a dopey dog he took off leaving The Turk to chase after him like a Looney Tunes cartoon.  After 20 minutes of searching The Turk gave up and started home.  As he reached our local market he spotted Hercules sitting happily outside lapping water from the bowl that is left by the shopowner.  The Turk stormed over and started yelling at Hercules who seemed pretty perturbed by all the yelling.  The Turk pointed Hercules home and he meekly followed The Turk at a safe distance.

An hour or so later there was an almighty kerfuffle outside!  Now it is not unusual for yelling in these parts or for the polis to arrive to be honest so when I hear some crazy Turk yelling for some reason or another I usually ignore it however as it was ruining my morning serenity I hung over the terrace to watch the show.

Outside Vito’s door was an itsy, bitsy Turkish man seriously foaming at the mouth with aggression, two bored polis smoking cigarettes and chatting on their phones, one dishevelled Vito (who had clearly just been woken by said itsy, bitsy Turkish man and two bored polis), Hercules sunning himself on the concrete … and Hercules miserably sulking on his chain in the corner.  Wait!  What?

Yep we seemed to have acquired a spare Rottweiler leaving Vito scratching his head, The Turk realising his error and the itsy, bitsy Turkish man now believing that his dog was being despoiled by Hercules (who I admit did seem up for the task).  It was a clear case of dognapping and it certainly didn’t take the two Pet Detectives long to crack this case wide open.  The Turk was extremely apologetic and laughed it off with the polis however the itsy, bitsy Turkish man continued to foam at the mouth (no doubt in need of a quick trip to the hastanesi) and insisted that Vito or The Turk or both of them be thrown in gaol.  Vito continued to be confused as he wiped the sleep from his eyes and Hercules continued to lie in the sunshine lapping up all the attention.  In the end common sense prevailed and the original Hercules was reinstated to his chain, the reasonable facsimile along with the tiny little Turkish man left carrying a big bag of maydanoz and the polis sat in the sunshine enjoying another cigarette and some fresh Türk kahvesi.

On closer inspection it should have been clear that it wasn’t Hercules … the reasonable facsimile had a tail (Hercules does not), the reasonable facsimile had a different collar but the clearest indication that it was not Hercules was … she was female!

Duh!

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F*ck Terrorism

Update:  There was little information in relation to the attack in Mersin as authorities had issued a media ban.

Further 11 suspects have been detained in connection with the attack. It was also revealed that it was suspected that the PKK, a terrorist group active in the country since 1980s, is the likely culprit.

The PKK resumed its armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015, unilaterally violating a cease-fire agreement. The organisation rose to prominence in the early 1980s in southeastern Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population.

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Yesterday afternoon a bomb exploded as a service bus carrying polis passed by here in Mersin.  Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said 17 police officers and one local were wounded in the attack. He also added that it was a “terror attack”.

bomb 1

The blast occurred on the main road which was full of commuters on their way home from work and children on their way home from school. It took place in the densely populated area of Yenisehir. I had friends on that road. I myself was with Daughter only a block away.

Of course, Daughter and I had no idea. I mean mysterious explosions happen in Mersin all the time anyway. The other night I was on my terrace and the loudest bang I had ever heard nearly blasted me out of my seat. No idea where it came from. No idea what it was. No one seemed perturbed and went about their business in the Village so ‘whatev’s’.

Whatev’s has been fine up until now. Now, for the first time, a terrorist attack has come within spitting distance of me, my family and my friends.

I have always felt safe here in Mersin.  There has always a very large polis presence on the streets and security at government buildings, shopping centres and community gatherings.   Roadblocks and licence checks are common (hell it happens to me all the time). In fact, you can rarely drive through the city without passing polis on main corners carrying big-ass guns and checking cars as they pass. On the news, we get regular updates on terrorism threats and the polis efforts in thwarting these attempts. Arrests. Crackdowns. And with Mersin’s polis force on the hunt, we have not suffered from any significant attacks. Until now.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing although the initial word is that it is Kurdish militants who frequently target police vehicles and transports vans. I expect the polis investigators will be all over this and arrests will be made very soon.

My heart goes out to the 17 polis officers and one civilian that were injured in this attack.

This shit has got to stop.

To those of us living in Mersin and Türkiye – be vigilant guys.  Be aware of your surroundings.  If shit looks iffy its probably for good reason but my hope is that this was an isolated incident.  I also believe that security in Mersin will be even more heightened in response to the attack.

And my response to terrorism, we owe it to those injured in this attack and to all the other victims terrorism attacks around Türkiye and the world to not let the terrorist win by being terrorised.  That’s exactly the response they want.

Feck Terrorism!

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What Time is it? It’s Salça Time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Squatty Potty Disaster

A public toilet in Türkiye can be one of the most feral places on earth. I guess I could say that about any public toilet around the world but as I live in Türkiye and this is a story about Türkiye then I’m going to say Türkiye.  Anyway, you would think that in the thousands of years that public toilets have existed, someone would have thought to modernise the ancient art of sıçmak (shitting) amongst strangers. What makes it all the more worse is if you really luck out and find yourself desperate to use the facilities, you follow your helpful host down a funky smelling corridor, praying that you are not about to be sold into slavery, and into a damp, dark room (why is there never any electric?) only to find … a squat toilet in the corner.   FML!

sunflowers 1

Long term readers are already aware that over the years I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the squat toilet and, despite a few near misses, I actually consider myself as a pretty knowledgable squatter.  I can usually be called on to give helpful advice to any virgin squatter setting them on the righteous path of dryness and some fabulous thigh muscles.  I mean in all these years I’ve never had spillage or splash back.  I totally have the angle sorted.  Yes, of course I bring my own paper and I always have 1TL in my pocket to pay at the door.  I can dodge a puddle and unknown entities do not phase me.  I have even mastered the skill of blocking out that smell – you know the smell –  but since my knee reconstruction it has become abundantly clear that all my past successes adds up to exactly squat (no pun intended).

While visiting Kozan recently to photograph the sunflowers (thus the photo above) I found myself needing to visit the little girls room and I was relatively happy to find a clean-ish public toilet.  Yes it was a squat toilet which could’ve potentially caused heart palipations for any lesser yabancı but for me I was happy to see it was a 6.5 on the squatty potty scale of cleanliness.  I went in for I am the Squatting Master.  I have the skills of an Olympic gymnast and the little matter of a still troublesome knee reconstruction wasn’t going to stop me from my goal.  What was going to stop my from my goal was my skin tight jeans on a fecking hot day!  Do any of you remember that episode of Friends with Ross and the leather pants?  That was me.  I was Ross and I was fecked!

ross1I don’t think I actually have to go any further.  You all know what happened next.  *Sigh*  Yes, I had a squatty potty disaster – and it wasnt a little splash back situation, no ma’am, this was a fully fledged guidance system failure thanks to my sweaty skin tight jeans that I could only drag half way down my legs and fecked up knee bent into an unholy angle leaving me in a position that I couldn’t recover from.   And as soon as I realised what had happening it was too late and I literally peed all over myself!  To add insult to injury and to drag others into my mess a friend came running to my aid only to bend over and rip her own pants!  So there we were, two yabancılar in a little town a couple of hours from home, me covered in pee and my friend showing off her blue Primark knickers (I’m not sure if they actually were blue Primark knickers).  I am sure the locals had a good old laugh after we left.  The words salak yabancılar come to my mind and I’m sure it came to many of theirs as well!

What to do?  What to do?

I guess I should say I was lucky it was so fecking hot so I dried out pretty quickly and a few squirts of deodorant returned me to my pre-pee fresh scent but after this little disaster I have made an executive decision.  There shall be no more pee stories from this little yabancı. I am now on the hunt for one of those P-EZ pee-cups stat.  In future I shall stand tall and pee freely!

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Work at ANZAC Cove

For many of us Aussies a pilgrimage to Gelibolu (Gallipoli) is a must do in our lifetime.  The area is steeped in history, an ancient history, a pained history and a history of heroism by the boys and men who left home yearning for adventure, ready to fight for their King and country only to lose their lives and lay buried far from home.

Anzac 3

We visit the memorials at Çanakkale Şehitleri Anıtı (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial), the Nek or Kanlisirt Anıtı (known to us as ANZAC Cove), and these memorials are a reminder that war is full of unsung heroes and, whether they were part of the Allied forces or a Turkish soldier, we remember the sacrifices that they made so we could live today in freedom.  This bond between the Johnnies and the Mehmets was well expressed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkiye, who in 1934 made this uplifting and consoling comment to an official, Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting ANZAC Cove:

Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries …
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.

Those words make hearts swell around the world in pride and are now an integral part of the Gallipoli story.   I remember standing at the memorial at Kanlisirt Anıtı  and I openly wept as I read those immortal words.

Tonight this news item passed my desk –

gelibolu-yarimadasindaki-kitabeler-onariliyor-89763

I felt sick to my stomach.

There were more photos but these appear to have been deleted.

Before we all jump the gun and turn into keyboard warriors (and believe me I was screaming blue murder and ready to call Karl Stefanovic who would fly over and single-handedly sort it out with The Powers That Be) the report attached to this photo states that the Canakkale Savaslari Tarihi group are undertaking maintenance and repair to the memorial due to natural erosion to the inscriptions and repair work and this work is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.  Although I understand that the work may have needed to have been undertaken this memorial is held in extremely high regard by Australians and New Zealanders.  I think that perhaps some discretion should have been taken by the officials undertaking this work to minimise the shock to visitors who have come to pay their respects.

I hope that the work is completed quickly and this site which is so important to all of us is returned to its former glory – for all our sakes.

(If anyone has any further information regarding this work please send me a link).

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Spirit in the Sky

Mersin is full of so much history and gorgeous scenery and yet, living here, I seldom get further than my front door so the opportunity to join a couple of amateur photographers as they travelled deep into the Tarsus Mountains to explore the ruins of a monastery was an opportunity just too good to miss.

Alahan 2

After an early start, we left the shimmering Mersin coastline behind us and followed the Gosku River up into the winding mountains, past fertile plains and sweet smelling pine forests before finally arriving at our destination – Alahan Monastery.

Alahan 7

Built over 1500 years ago the monks of Alahan must have known they were onto a good thing when they chose this spot.  It’s a prime location rising 1300 feet above the surrounding valleys with numerous caves, natural water courses and good crop land below.   The ruins are still in excellent condition despite earthquakes, a few wars and no doubt general tomfoolery of locals and can be traversed fairly easily (even with my banged-up knee).

Alahan 4Alahan 5

We entered the Monastery via the Basilica where the reliefs on the columns and remaining stone are a good example of the Byzantine era.  Past the Basilica is a small Baptistry for pilgrims to be baptised before following the remains of the colonnade to another larger Basilica.  Archaeologists believe that the larger Basilica is a good example of domical construction using carefully cut and assembled stone without mortar to build the domed ceiling.  The larger Basilica is highly praised for its resemblance to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia (and arguably built before the famed Hagia Sophia).  The stone and slabs are decorated with reliefs of fish, foliage as well as clearly defined Christian crosses.

Alahan 8

Credit:  N. Habbas

Alahan 9

Credit:  N. Habbas

The Monastery has been extensively restored and was re-opened to the public in 2015 and is included on UNESCO’s Tentative World Heritage List.

After spending an hour at the Monastery, we travelled back down into the valley passing fields of red poppies as well as row after row of kayısı (apricot) trees before returning back to Mersin, stopping along the way for the well-known Mersin favourite – tantuni.

Entrance fee: 5TL or free if you have the Müze pass (Museum pass).

Getting there:  Approximately 3 hours (including 2 stops), take the D400 to Silifke and then follow the D715 to Mut.  Alahan Monastery is located about 20km past Mut.  Keep an eye out for signage as it is easy to miss due to current road works.

Best time to go:  We were here on a weekday and had the place to ourselves.  Locals tell us that weekends can be quite busy with bus tours visiting from neighbouring cities.

Tip:  If visiting in summer it will be hot, hot, hot.  Take water and wear sunscreen.

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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.

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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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