Bir başka Alanya yok: “There is no other Alanya”
What if you looked at a beautiful painting, dragged your eyes over it admiringly, but as your gaze progressed the canvas never ever stopped, just went on and on and on? That is what life feels like. Here are some of elements that add color to my painting.
- Eating three kilos of tangerines my host mother’s mother (my host great-grandmother?) insisted upon giving me after my visit to her home. Also meeting my host mother’s 90-year-old grandmother (my… host great-great grandmother?) and watching her embroider beautiful perdeler (curtains).
- Touring around the Taurus mountains, visiting the villages and the river. Nothing special…except that I adore the mountains unceasingly. Plus, there is a place on the coast outside of Alanya’s city center where the Dim river flows into the Mediterranean. It was fun swimming there and feeling the contrast between the frigid, fresh mountain water and the warm, salty sea.
- Going to the hamam (Turkish-style sauna and bath) where I was steamed, bathed, and then scrubbed so thoroughly and fiercely that great black globs of dirt and muck oozed out of my skin. …I am not even kidding.
- The giant Christmas tree that appeared near the iskele (pier), probably erected as a gesture toward the 10,000-strong predominantly German foreigners who live in Alanya, but a gesture that I can also appreciate. Just as a sidenote, some Turks celebrate Christmas as a purely secular holiday, exchanging gifts on New Year’s.
- Chatting with Turkish high-school students who know more about American culture than I do. Also watching the The Tonight Show and a rerun of Home Improvement with said high schooler and learning vocab from the Turkish subtitles.
- Spontaneous ukulele jam sessions in the apartment.
(Ukulele=great Christmas present for Cassie.)
- Warm bread and pide pulled out of the local bakery’s oven seconds before I buy it to eat for breakfast. Fresh bread is amazing.
- Reveling at the quietness and darkness of the world during a 12-hour electricity outage. Also, blackouts are an excellent excuse not to do homework.
- Late-night motorcycle joyrides around town, up to the castle, and along the coast.
- Going to the beach, swimming in the sea, playing beach volleyball with pleasing-to-the-eye Turkish males, and then chatting with a friendly Russian tourist …in late November.
- Ascending to a lookout point four hundred meters above the coast and watching lightning flash above the sea. Winter in Alanya generally means rain, rain, rain, which should be good for us students because it forces us to stay inside and study for exams. Alas, we have so far been blessed with persistent clear sunny skies and 70°F weather.
- Watching the sunset every evening for a week. As it turns out, the sun no longer goes down behind the mountains in Cyprus, as it did earlier in the year. Still, the blue sky melts into pink and purple as the sun approaches the horizon line, and then after the sun has dipped below the horizon the sea turns strikingly glass-like and silver and glows with its own inner light, as if it had swallowed the sun.
- Exploring abandoned buildings and construction sites. Physical boundaries are fluid here, although social boundaries make up for it.
- Receiving complimentary cups of çay everywhere I go. I feel like a magnet for tea. It is an awesome feeling.
- Attending a celebration put on by my 13-year-old host sister’s middle school, devouring a delicious breakfast buffet, and then later participating in the sackrace competition and winning second place. (Just for the record, I was competing in the parents’ race.. although you are free to imagine me mowing down a bunch of 11-year-olds in my thirst for victory if you wish).
So, that’s a bit of my boring but pleasant life. Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving!