Caretta Caretta

For anyone travelling to Mersin over the next few days why not head to the beach around sunset for the chance of witnessing one of nature’s miracles.  Right now in Mersin the baby loggerhead turtles also known as Caretta Caretta have begun to hatch and can be found early evening making their journey towards the sea.  The turtles were on the decline but with conservation efforts by the local belediyi their numbers have increased and this year there was over 530 nests found in the area.

"Caretta caretta yavrularını elinize almayın"

Just remember to keep your distance and please don’t pick them up as they can become disorientated and the walk to the ocean is actually a way for these little guys to strengthen their muscles.

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200 (+ 2) stupendous posts!

I have finally made it to the 200 post mark, well 202 because I hadn’t checked my stats recently.  Again I am amazed that I have kept this blog up, that my brain has had 200 (and 2) separate thoughts that I felt were interesting enough, or funny enough or important enough, to be immortalized for all to read.  Forever and ever.  On the internet.

200

So let’s talk about a few of these tremendous, colossal, amazing posts.

The most popular post was, as expected, My Letter to Özgecan.  I was amazed at the response that I received from everyone to this post. Özgecan’s death sparked a lot of debate here in Mersin and in Türkiye regarding violence against women.  Three men are currently on trial over Özgecan’s murder and will face a life sentence if convicted of charges including “murdering with a monstrous feeling”.  Türkiye does not have the death penalty (although perhaps it should).

The post that caused the most outrage (and had me forcibly removed from one of those Turkish groups on Facebook) was, 10 Things I Hate About The Turk.  Written in jest it seems that this post upset every Turk within 100 miles and perhaps it can be said that my sense of humor does not translate into all languages.

Yesterday’s most popular post is Satan Called.  I agree it is “kinda” hot here in Türkiye at the moment although perhaps not really as hot as Satan would like.

I got on my high horse quite a few times over the past 200 posts but I also fell of my throne more than once .  For a bit of toilet humor enjoy Rage Against The Latrine.

The post that made me giggle was To My No 1 Fan.  I am always so happy to hear from someone who has felt any emotion after reading one of my posts.  The fact that this particular fan was bat shit crazy only adds to my enjoyment of the whole thing.

So enough about the posts.  Now a quick rundown of other stats:

692 subscribers is amazing (a big thanks to each of you) and 738 ‘likers’ on my Facebook page (go on click on it people – you know you want to).

Over 100,000 page views is phenomenal!  I mean that’s a big number.  That’s a lot of people that either stumbled onto this blog or intentionally went out looking for it (which is nice).

I’ve had some crazy search terms as well including: “naked turkish moustache men”.  I like that one, in fact, I am going to Google that right now and see what comes up.  (Edit:  DON’T GOOGLE THAT!).  “I am selfish” – I think maybe this is a running theme with my blog.  How about “Let’s have sex tonight” – hey, I just met you, and this is crazy but here’s my number … um, no thank you but it is definitely nice to be asked.  “Ball busting bitch”.  The triple “B” threat.  This one is also obviously about me.  I don’t know how Google sends these people my way but my definite favourite search term would have to be “mersin hate sad cookies”.  This one just shouts out my name doesn’t it?  I did actually also Google “mersin hate sad cookies” and had to scroll through about 30 pages of rubbish before I found myself so whoever that searcher was must have really, really – REALLY – wanted to find me!  And anyway just who hates cookies in Mersin anyway and why would someone who hates cookies in Mersin want to Google it and make their way through pages of crap before coming across my page?  And just precisely why are the cookies sad?  Who made them sad?  Who the feck are these people that make the cookies sad?  To hell with them!

Finally I have received so many lovely messages from you guys.  I want to thank you all.  If you do ever find yourself in Mersin please look me up, well unless you were the one that Googled “mersin hate sad cookies” anyway.

Here’s to another 100!

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So this just happened …

Daughter had me edit this post as I had originally said there was 312 water balloons.  She explained to me in earnest that I should not lie on the internet.  There is in fact 450 water balloons!  So starting now …

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Daughter just returned from the market with 450 water balloons.  The old bloke at the market must have thought she was quite mad.  450 balloons seems a like a lot of work what with the filling them and then the pesky tying of the knots.  I don’t envy that job!  But she seems intent of arming our house – just in case.

water-balloons

Me:  “Just in case of what?”

Daughter:  “Zombie apocalypse”.

Me:  “In the Village?”

“Daughter:  “Sure.  I mean it makes sense.  Around here I sometimes wonder whether it’s already started.”

I just spat out my mouthful of red!  So wasteful!

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Do you ever shut up?

You know that thing where you realize you are talking too much, but you can’t seem to stop yourself from talking, and then you just keep talking and talking and talking and in your head you keep telling yourself to shut the feck up but somehow your mouth doesn’t get the message and then you start to panic because you realize how annoying it must be for the other person but you just keep talking and talking and talking? Well this happens to me all the time and I really need to make it stop!

pap smear

This time my verbal diarrhoea happened while I was having my pap smear.  I hate having pap smears, every woman hates having pap smears.  It is a well-documented fact. I put them off as long as possible which is probably how I got myself into this mess in the first place.  Ladies – don’t neglect your pap smear!

Anyhow, so living in Mersin is, of course, difficult when there is no one who speaks your language so visiting my gynaecologist is a great excuse to blab away in my mother language and know that at least one person understands me.  My gyno was down the other end nodding his head so I think he was listening, actually I don’t even care if he was listening, but told him all about my trip to London and The Turk’s operation and even my dolmus ride into the city.  I was just about to start on my next topic of conversation (whether or not to change Daughter’s school) when he shot his head up over my flabby stomach and said, “Do you ever shut up?”

Oh my!

That seemed a little harsh from the man who sounds like a half crazed vampire when he laughs but … whatever.  I lay meekly in silence trying to wish myself away pretty much anywhere else while he finished up and wait for the order to hop off the examination table.

Dead set.  I swear.  This is exactly what he sounds like!

We left it with these words, “You are more difficult to examine than a Turkish woman”.  Well thank you sir, I take THAT as a compliment!

Oh and for those wondering, the tests came back fine.  I need to go back more frequently for check ups (and I will) but right now I am feeling fine.

*Knock, knock* Hello?

You might not have noticed but I haven’t posted for a while.  Why have I been so neglectful?  Why, oh why, have I left you, my dear followers and friends, hanging for the next episode of action packed drama that is living in Mersin?  Well to be honest I haven’t been particularly happy recently.

The Turk and I have been fighting – a lot – and not just a little scrap here and there, no, we have been having a few smack down whoopings that a stoned Hulk Hogan atop a wrecking ball could be proud of.

hulk hogan

Yes.  Seriously.  This is the current synopsis of our relationship.  I am not sure if I am Hulk Hogan or perhaps the wrecking ball and I never thought I would see the day that I had to quote Miley Cyrus but over the past weeks and months all The Turk has really achieved is to “wreck me”.

I am not really sure where it all began but since The Turk returned from Australia (after his heart attack) he has had difficulty settling back into the village way of life.  He has found fault in everything and everyone (including me) and has made me feel that our relationship is irretrievably broken.  To add insult to injury, and despite the fact that the first heart attack should have scared him straight, he has not changed his diet or his habits and in early June was admitted into hospital to have a triple by-pass.  Officially he now resembles Frankenstein’s Monster.

Adding to these current woes and health issues is me being diagnosed with “abnormal cervical cells” which has required treatment.  My doctor speaks pretty good English, although when he laughs he sounds a little like a hyena on crack, but I am relatively confident with the treatment that I have had and I go back next week for another check.  Fingers crossed that the treatment destroyed all the cells and nice, happy, non-cancerous cells have grown in their place.

There have been a few moments over these months that I have sat on the couch in tears and a few moments where I have wanted to pack my bags and flee back to Australia but I cannot because Daughter is so happy here (although I need to update you guys on her most recent boy drama when I get a chance).  Being that I am officially (yes it is officially) the Best Mum In The World I also took her to Londra in June for her birthday to a “5SOS” concert.  For those of you who have no clue what a “5SOS” is you should Google them because apparently Daughter is going to marry either the Lead Singer (who I suspect could be a world class tool) or the Bass Player (who reminds me of a dopey puppy).  The concert itself wasn’t too shabby, they reminded me of a very young INXS, although a little more polished than the INXS that played at Manly Vale Hotel back in the 1980’s.  I also got some shopping done in Londra so it was a pretty successful trip for both of us.

5sos

We also chuffed off to Rome for a week which was lovely (although the restoration work on the Trevi Fountain is STILL NOT finished!  How fecking long does it take?) and finally for a break in Istanbul.

As you can see there should be quite a bit to blog about but my sadness and health concerns have unfortunately overtaken my mental functions and writing proved very difficult over the past weeks.  I will be back to writing a little more often and hopefully I will return to a more comedic writing style which is how I would normally feel.  I am also going to re-jiggy the blog a little bit as I have had a lot of requests for more touristic information on Mersin (as there is limited information out there) and its surrounds so if I go off-line in the near future don’t distress it is merely my ridiculous attempts of navigating the web page tools (which will no doubt prove to be a little difficult for my pea-sized intellect).

And in case you are wondering yes The Turk is still smoking!

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Kedi Update No. 3

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

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

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

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

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

DSC02176

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

My life *sigh*

And just because kittens are so cute one more photo:

DSC02162

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Mersin Deniz Park

Two posts in one day!  Wowza!

But wait … oh no she is getting on her high horse again *rolls eyes*.

mersinpark

Mersin Deniz Park was opened to much fanfare two years ago at a cost of 35TL million.  The park was approved by the previous Büyükşehir Belediye CHP and has been enjoyed by tens of thousands of people (including myself and my family) since its opening.

The new Büyükşehir Belediye (MHP) has now decreed that the Park was built illegally, has violated many marine laws, was built on landfill and finally the money spent was not in the best interest of the public.  This week demolition work began to remove the illegal structures (no doubt at a huge cost to the public as well).

The Büyükşehir Belediye has also instructed the demolition of many of the small cafes and çay houses on the waterfront declaring them illegal structures (and don’t even get me started on the removal of the outdoor area of one of my favourite eateries Leman Kültür – also an illegal structure).

In a previous life I worked for Environmental Planning Lawyers back in Sydney.  I understand better than most here in Mersin why approvals are necessary and why laws are put in place.  What I cannot understand is why the Büyükşehir Belediye decrees illegal work for previously approved structures and the removal of such structures that generate much needed funds for the Büyükşehir Belediye (and of course the loss of jobs for many hundreds of people).

Well done you gooses.  Well done.

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Driving Miss Janey

I recently started driving here in Mersin having purchased a brand spanking new, beyaz (of course) Nissan Juke.  I am finally an independent woman and can get out and about without having to catch 1, 2 or more dolmuş.  This has the added bonus of being less likely to be sneezed on, kidnapped or generally treated like a second class citizen while travelling on the public buses here.

Speed-Limits

Because I am a kind and thoughtful blogger I have put together a few helpful hints for those of you who intend on driving here in Türkiye:

  1. When driving on the road use your horn – all the time. It seems that we have been wrongly instructed to only use the horn sparingly.  Fallacy!  Use your horn to show how happy you are, or how sad you are, or even how horny you are (get it.  horn/horny).  Rarely the horn is used to in agitation.  Better to use your horn than your brakes (after all the horn will last longer).
  2. Pedestrian crossings are not actually for pedestrians. These black and white zebra style markings on the road is in fact a sign for us, the driver, to speed up.  If some fool does try and cross my best suggestion would be to aim right for him.  This has a two-fold effect.    You get where you are going faster; and 2.  You help him get a cardio workout.  In fact you are doing him a favour and he will no doubt smile and wave to you when he reaches the other side of the road.  This has happened to me often.  The Turk tells me it is not waving but that is neither here nor there.
  3. When at a red light you are at liberty to disregard such red light.  Instead you should think of your car as a chess piece and it is now your move.  Manoeuvre your chess piece to the front of the lights so when the lights turn green (or orange) you can shoot out like Mario Andretti.  If you do not play chess then be prepared to start using that horn (as mentioned above) and hit it as soon as the light change to show how happy you are.
  4. Left or right side of the road?   Either.  Whatever.
  5. Feel free to ignore those silly signs on the side of the road. You know the ones 50, 70 or even 120.  These signs are not actually the speed limits they are signs that indicate how many pedestrians have successfully made it to the other side of the road (true!).  The numbers never change because making it successfully across is a pipe dream.
  6. Another rule that was drilled into us while we were learner drivers and that should be totally disregarded here is using your mobile phone. In fact I stress to you that you must use your mobile while driving.  Multi-tasking is a skill that should be utilised by you.  I find that while driving you merely point your car in the direction that you want it to go and continue your chatting on your mobile or texting your cousin.  Allah will get you to your destination.  Or not.

Bonus hint – Seatbelts are an optional extra.  Merely a suggestion by the manufacturer.  And if you, like me, have a new car with that pesky alarm warning you of your impending death should you not wear your seat belt merely lock the seatbelt in place before you sit down (as suggested to me by my brother in law).

* Disclaimer:  Some days my humor is lost on The Turk and so, on his advice, I disclose that this post should not be construed as instructions on the driving laws here in Türkiye or in any other country.  You should always adhere to road rules in the country that you are visiting or live in and here in Türkiye “road rules” means “no rules” LOL!

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Gallipoli 2015

On 25 April 2015 Australians and New Zealanders around the world mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings on Gelibolu peninsula.  For Daughter and I it will have a very special meaning – my Grandfather and her Great Grandfather fought at Gelibolu as part of the 7th Light Horse Regiment, 1st Division (although the terrain at Gelibolu was deemed unsuitable for mounted troops after the initial loss of lives his regiment was sent into battle as reinforcements in May 1915).  More so Daughter’s Great, Great Grandfather on her father’s side fought and died at Gallipoli when the first wave of troops landed at ANZAC Cove.

7th Light Horse Regiment, 1st Reinforcement

I did not get the opportunity to meet my Grandfather Leslie Vivian Morgan.  He passed away long before I arrived on the scene.  I do not have any photographs of him and I do not have anything personal to hold but I do have my mother’s memories in my heart.  Memories of a man who fought bravely at Gallipoli for his country.  She spoke of his bravery and his sacrifice and gave thanks to him and to his “brothers in arms” so that we could grow up in a country of peace and prosperity.

Now 100 years on I thought it would be a fitting memorial to my Grandfather and, of course, to my mother to attend at the commemoration on ANZAC Day.  Sadly in January I found out that I was 18 months too late to apply for tickets.  It also seemed that as we do not live in Australia we are ineligible to apply anyway.  “But hold on!  I live in Turkiye!  And my Grandfather fought at Gallipoli!  Surely that has some merit?”  Hayir!

As much as I could kick myself for not investigating how to obtain tickets earlier I am also so proud of how many Australians want to be there to recognise the service and the sacrifice made by so many men all those years ago.

Poppies-Original-Landing-Point-Gallipoli

As I do each year on 25 April I will be up at dawn.  There is no dawn service here in Mersin so I will walk down to the beach, close my moist eyes and, in my mind, I will hear that lone trumpeter play The Last Post.  I will think of my Grandfather and all those boys, those men, both the Mehmets and the Johnnies, who lost their lives fighting for you and me.

Lest We Forget.

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How to Barbeque like a Turk

I know how to barbeque.  I am a good Aussie girl and was taught the art of barbeque by the Zen Master of Barbeques – my Dad.  His barbeque boot camps were the stuff legends were made of and anything he put on his barbeque would be cooked to perfection every single time without a drop of beer ever being spilt.  Yep I was taught by the Master and have crazy barbequing skills but here, in Turkiye, all my rad skills taught to me by my Dad are thrown out the window.  The reason?  In Turkiye a barbeque just isn’t a barbeque – its Mangal!

Mangal means to barbeque but it also is the name of the itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny apparatus that the Turks use to cook their barbeque on and let me tell you a mangal is, in fact, an event.  To mangal takes time.  Preparation of the food and preparation of the barbeque itself – it is a commitment but the end results are always a party for your tastebuds.

Adana mangal

Like households all over the world a caveman-like primeval instinct will take over a Turkish male and it is for him to prepare fire while the females slice and dice in the kitchen preparing the meats and salads.

Watching Turkish men prepare the mangal is an experience in itself.  First they disappear into the nearest forest hunting firewood returning with, in their expert opinion, what is the best firewood ever collected.  If there is more than one Turkish man then they will need to be fierce debate over the quality of their firewood because, of course, it’s all about the size of the wood isn’t it ladies?  Once half a forest has been accumulated by our men it is time to stack the mangal.

Stacking an art form and has been known to cause WWIII on more than one occasion (in our family at least).  Like that age old question of “what came first the chicken or the egg” with mangal it is all about how you prepare the fire to get the ultimate heat.  The correct mix of charcoal briquettes and firewood set in the correct manner should ensure the perfect mangal which should, in theory, ignite with ease and, after its initial blazing inferno, should burn down to a grey ash – the perfect heat for cooking.

BBQ 1

While all this is going on I can usually be found in the kitchen helping (or hindering) my sister in law who is frantically prepare enough food for an army.  Tavuk (chicken) is usually coated with salcha (biber paste), kimyon (cumin) and kırmızı biber (paprika) while the balik (fish) will be marinated in a little zeytin yağı (olive oil) and limon (lemon).  My favourite, and usually my job when and if I ever put down my glass of wine, is to prepare the mincemeat kebabs.  These are so simple that my sister in law knows I won’t stuff them up.  Ready?  It’s as easy as mixing the kıyma (mincemeat), karabiber (black pepper), toz biber (red chilli powder), kimyon (cumin), onion (soğan) and kırmızı biber (red capsicum/pepper).  I use as much or as little as I like as there is no exact recipe so basically I can’t fail.

BBQ 3

Returning with the meats to the mangal which should by now be the hot coals and ash (remember grey ash is the best ash) the men come into play again where they stand over the food and discuss everything from politika to futbol.  One of us ladies have to appear and warn them that the meat is going to be overdone to which we will receive a hearty tamam or tessekuler and a request for another bira.  I usually laugh about now because it doesn’t matter where you are beer is always a pre-requisite for a barbeque.  A final argument about too much tuz (salt) or perhaps how many times the meat has been turned ensues before finally a mountain of meat is hauled off the mangal and to your table which is now full with numerous salads and ekmek (bread).

BBQ 2 (2)

Don’t forget you also need plates of meze to finish off your barbeque.  A quick and easy one and a favourite of mine is Biber Ezmesi.  Cook your biber (no not Justin but probably justifiable) on the mangal as soon as the initial inferno has died down.  Once cool quickly peel them and cut them finely as well as a couple of domates (tomatoes).  You can cheat and use a blender on low but my sister in law swears that cutting by hand makes all the difference.  Mix them with zeytin yağı, nar şurubu (pomegranate juice), two cloves of sarımsak (garlic) and maydanoz (flat leaf parsley) and you have a wonderful meze or relish to add to your table.

biber-ezmasi

If you are travelling to Turkiye this summer make sure you find a restaurant that serves mangal or, even better, buy your own mangal (they are incredibly cheap) and go to your closest piknik spot and prepare your own.  Most butchers sell the mincemeat already prepared with spices for kebabs and even the chicken coated in salcha.  Grab some lamb ribs and marinate them in olive oil and lemon – amazing – or maybe head to the fish market and haggle with the fish mongers for the best fish the Adriatic has to offer.

BBQ 5

If you are unsure what to buy ask your closest Turk and he will give you his expert mangal advice.

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