A month in…

Here we are a month in to our stay in Ankara and one week in to the school year.

We’ve been fortunate to have our Korean and American neighbors, Daryl and Amanda, join us this weekend on their meander back to Korea.  Their visit has helped us to reflect on how much we’ve enjoyed the beginning.

Korean hospitality was fantastic.  Our Turkish neighbors have been bending over backwards to best our Korean experiences.  Daryl and Amanda Flew to Istanbul and caught the first bus to Ankara.  They guessed that they would arrive between 6-8 AM. They caught a bus right after their flight and arrived at 3:30 AM. Problem, they didn’t have our apartment number. They new our building, not our apartment… The campus security gaurds spent 1.5 hours figuring out who they were visiting, calling sleeping people and everything.  The security guys tried inviting them to nap in their home, but Daryl and Amanda were willing to sit on our stoop and wait for us to take Remi to the bathroom at 6:30 AM. They finally tracked us down and rang our doorbell at 5 AM and we tucked them in.

Saturday we took it easy.  We chilled out in the morning, went for a long walk with the dog, and found their guest apartment.  After tucking into their guest apartment we went exploring at the local mall and grocery store.  Finally we went to a neighborhood bbq, where we had burgers cooked on the grill and chips in the local Turkish flavor – yogurt and paprika.

Brunch at  Eğriçimen Restoran

Brunch at
Eğriçimen Restoran

First Thing Sunday, just like America, was a nice bruch. Turkish brunch, however, is a bit different. We had Pide bread, whipped cream, and honey right from the comb – it’s the best combination in the morning, ever. Combined with fruit, an egg and sausage bake, olives, and Turkish tea, and we were ready for the rest of our Sunday adventure. Want to see someone famous eat it? Watch Anthony Bourdain eat the same thing at 3:02 of this video, but watch the whole thing, ’cause all the food here is unbelievably delicious.

Kisilay Monument

Kizilay Monument

We went from here up to the Kizilay neighborhood of Ankara. This in one of Anakra’s old downtowns, where giant shopping centers are neighbor to streets lined with groceries and Doner Kebap places that stretch on for blocks. We found candy stores, cute clothes shops, and a wonderful little bookstore where three generations of men served us tea and helped us find Turkish children’s books. One of them is a writer, and he gave us his book as a business card for the store. On Fridays and Saturdays they have live music, so we hope to go back there soon for a relaxing evening.

Kizilay is a bustling, tree-lined, very middle-class feeling neighborhood. Ankara’s not an especially toursisty city, everyone is very kind about offering samples of the amazing food.

The future, revealed!

The future, revealed!

Later on we stopped at a coffee shop for traditional Turksish coffee. This involves a very finely ground bean that isn’t filtered out before you drink it, which leaves a big cake of grounds in the bottom of your cup that you shouldn’t drink even if you’re just curious about it. If you have the ability and believe in such things, you can tip the cup over and ‘read your future’ in the grounds. So we tried our hand at that as well.


Examining a mystery fruit


Exploring the Chapparal

Later we went for a hike in “the wilderness” that surrounds campus.  We are at 3,000 feet elevation in an arid climate and the closest biome I’ve found so far is chaparral. It definitely isn’t a desert.  We have all sorts of crazy beautiful plants and fruit trees growing around us, including very sour wild plums.   Mike and I have been hiking “the wilderness” for weeks and were happy to explore new terrain with friends.
In the end, we have a lovely, quiet visit exploring the town. Now they are on their way to Korea via southeast Asia.  Hope we get to see them again soon.

Lastly, I am sneaking in a plug for the awesome photo blog our friends around the world have been building with me.  We submit photos of our daily lives in Australia, Mexico, the Ukraine, Korea, Canada, America, Turkey, and traveling S.E. Asia. Check out what we post daily and join us if you’re up to it. Viewmaster365.


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Our new home!

Oh my gosh, I am so psyched to introduce you to our new apartment. Just to contexualize it for you, we live in on campus faculty housing just south of my school.  There are 11 faculty apartments, 2 are family buildings (even bigger kitchens and living space) 9 are 2 bedroom 12-plexes.  Each floor gets bigger.  The bottom floor is a nice 2 bedroom, the second floor has a bigger floor plan and 2 small patios, and the 3rd floor has a bigger floor plan and 3 patios (We’re on the 3rd floor!)

We went shopping at Ikea and Bauhaus a million times to get the place set up and I hope we can paint around October, the white walls are too sterile and cold, but it already feels much homier than our Korean apartment.  Our director and his wife really encourage us to settle in, paint, update the furnishings & appliances (they match us on cost) and decorate.  We are given the impression that they want to build community.  It feels good. We also built a composter on the patio!

We have a great view of the desert that lies between our part of Ankara and the main city. We have walked the puppy there several times and had great adventures. When we left home for Korea we wanted a change from the prairie and were excited for the ocean and mountains of Mokpo.  We were pretty open to geography when we searched for our second school, but are really enjoying the high plains of Anakra.  There is a lot to explore in Turkey, The mountains and shores of the Black Sea, Capadocia, Konya, Izmir, and of course Istanbul.

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  It will be a l o n g day. I teach from 8-4 daily.  I pick my 3rd graders up at the bus at 8 and I drop them off at the bus at 4:05.  It is a very long teaching day.  Tomorrow we have an opening ceremony and begin to orientate the students to their new grade expectations. I hope that you enjoyed our home tour and that you can find time to come stay with us soon.