Sunday, August 23, 2009

last night

Hey everyone!
Sorry for my delay in posting the last update. I'm in America now, and have been for a little over a week. However, the pictures from my last night are way too good to go unposted, so for your viewing pleasure, here they are. One note: apparently it's a Turkish custom that, when your guests leave at night, you stay up with them until they leave. As our flight left at 6am, we stayed at the house until 4am- and the whole neighborhood with us. It was a great night.

Here's the cookout with just our family (that's my host mom Fatma on the right)

This is my host-dad Kadir ingeniously lighting his cigarette with a coal from the grill

This is Maggie (the girl in the program who was also in my house) and I with Seda, a really nice Turkish girl who lived just a few houses down.

Me with two of my amcas ('amca' means uncle in Turkish and is what I called most of the male neighbors), Ali Amca on the left (with raki!!) and Kazim Amca on the right

Me with all the amcas! Ali, Habip, Kadir, and Kazim

At one point, pretty late and after a LOT of raki, Habip Amca actually sat us down to pray. But everyone in the neighborhood was cracking up (including me) so I'm pretty sure it was a joke; Habip is basically the clown of the street.

Seynaz Teyze is lovin it

Seynaz Teyze, about a half hour before we left, went into the kitchen to make us some delicious cheesy Turkish item for our departure.
It was actually really hard to leave, but it is so good to be back. Thanks to everyone who kept up with the blog, I really appreciate it. Until next summer (back in Turkey hopefully!),

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Final Trip, 4 Days Left!!

Merhaba all!
Well, I've got 4 days left, and as little energy as always for this blog. Sorry I've done such a bad job with updates. Today, as usual, is mostly pictures and captions. But I'll be seeing most of you in less than a week so we can do the stories in person in AMERICA.
We got back from our last trip, to Amasra and Safranbolu, yesterday. Amasra is a small town on the Black Sea coast about 5 hours from Ankara and Safranbolu is a small Ottoman town on the way back. Before we got to Amasra we stopped in Cakraz, an even small beach town down the coast to go to the beach. Here's a hilarious picture of us at lunch, me and our teacher Nese:

After lunch, we explored for a bit and then swam. It was pretty cold and rough, but I've now swam in all of Turkey's seas, Black, Aegean, and the Mediterranean! Pretty cool setting too:

After Cakraz, we headed toward Amasra. Here's a view of the town from above:

It is a beautiful little town, with really interesting architecture:

The house on the right is the one we stayed in, so beautiful:

And the view from the backyard:

And another direction:

Here's the restaurant where we had dinner. It's pretty usual for restaurants in touristy areas to have various flags out front, but I've never seen the Confederacy:

This is the light up portrait of Ataturk that is on the Roman/Byzantine castle that overlooks the city:

This place is so beautiful:

After an entirely too short stay in Amasra, we headed the next day to Safranbolu. Here's the view of the famous old houses:

After the beautiful Black Sea, it was a little bit of a let down; not to much to see, aside from some really cool Ottoman mosques (but I'm really the only one into that kind of stuff hahaha):

And we got back last night. Bonus picture of the mosque by my house and the sun over Batikent:

So it's Wednesday night now. We have class tomorrow, final exam Friday morning, final party Friday night, and leave very early (flight at 6am) Sunday morning. I land in DC at 2pm Sunday, and hopefully will be in NC a few hours after. Doubt I'll post again, so to all those who have read, thanks for checking up on me, I apologize for not writing better or posting more often, and I truly cannot wait to see you. Love and miss you all, and I'll see you so soon!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hittites and the Mediterranean: 2 Weeks Left!

Herkese Merhaba!
Hello all! And sorry it's been so long since my last post. In that time we've had two trips, so that's what the pictures I'm posting are from.
The first was a day trip to Hatusa (the s has a thing under it, so it's pronounced 'sh'), the capital of the Hittite Empire. The Hittites were one of the world's first empires, contemporaneous with the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Mycenaeans, existing from about 1600-1200 BC. Their civilization is not nearly well known as that of their neighbors, and even today little is known about the Hittites, a fact that becomes abundantly clear when you visit their capital. Very little survives, and these few physical remains (together with the thousands of clay tablets with Hittite cuneiform) are used by historians to describe an entire civilization. Still, it's pretty cool to see such old stuff, especially the outdoor rock carvings of Hittite gods:

Again though, not that interesting. It was a good day, but a day (including the four hour trip from Ankara) is definitely enough to see Hatusa.
Our next trip, however, was one of our most highly anticipated ones: to Alanya, on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Get ready for a dramatic change of scenery:

This place is beautiful:

And this is Turkey, so of course mixed with the beautiful landscape is history, this time in the form of the 13th century Seljuk castle:

Our first day (we took the night bus, arriving at about 7 in the morning), we went scuba diving. Yeah, scuba diving. My first time, too. It was amazing. Here's where we were:

In a little cove at the base of the hill the castle sits atop. Just beautiful. Not too much to see in terms of fish, and no coral, but it was such a great experience; I really would love to do it again. Plus we got to hang out on a boat all day,

Turks are crazy. I did this same jump though! Not like that, but from that height, maybe 15 feet above the water? Sans glasse of course, so it was a big deal for me! And I loved it.
The next day, we had another outdoor adventure, this time to a nearby river for rafting. Not exactly whitewater, but there were some rough patches. Aside from the other rafts who kept splashing us (especially the Iranians; don't think it was political, they're just obnoxious), it was a great trip.
Our last day (yeah, 3 full days!) was free, so I went with a couple people to visit the castle before hitting the beach. On our way there we got a glimpse of just how touristy Alanya is. There is basically no Turkish here; everything's in English, Russian, or German, and while I can't speak for the latter 2, the English is HILARIOUS:

Probably. Who knows?
I mean I just don't even know what this is saying/asking.
But most of all was this little gem:

A Russian tourist passed out drunk at 11AM, after what looks like a beer and a half. Only the finest come to Alanya. This place is just touristy beyond belief.
The castle was really amazing though, with breathtaking views; it sits on a peninsula, dividing the city in two, so the views are really cool in both directions:

Hey, it's me!

After a few hours of exploring, plus lunch, we made our way down to the beach at the base of the castle:

We had a great time swimming in the water, which was actually a little too warm. Still, absolutely beautiful. It was such a great vacation; we really needed it.
When I got back on Sunday morning though, after a 4 hour nap, it was back to work, this time picking the family's apricot tree. Here's half of our harvest. My host mom's on the left, and a neighbor's on the right:

My host dad playing backgammon (tavla in Turkish) with a neighbor; typical Sunday afternoon.
So it's Tuesday now, August 4, and we just had our final performance, a bunch of Turkish songs and dances that we performed at the school for our host families. Of course, a bunch of my neighbors came as well. The neighborly bonds here in Turkey are really incredible, and sometime I really wish we had in America. The street really is a tightknit group. Anyways, tonight was great, and I absolutely love traditional Turkish songs (especially turkus, old Turkish songs about life and love and death and stuff, usually funny and always fast and catchy) and dance. If you have time, search 'Kolbasti' on youtube; I somehow learned how to do it today, and performed it with a couple other people. Hopefully I can post video somehow in the coming days; if not, in America, where, coincidentally, I will be in 12 days! Less than 2 weeks. At this point, I'm pretty ready to come back, but I know that I'm going to miss the program people and especially my host family so much, and, even more, I'm scared of losing all the Turkish I've learned this summer. But mostly I can't wait to see all of you again. Love and miss you all, and I'll talk to you so soon!