Living in a Foreign Country – Phase II


I call Phase I survival.  You’re just getting by with what you have and figuring out what just happened.  And what to do now.  We’ve moved into phase II now – thriving?  accumulating?  I basically gave up on waiting for any of our household goods.  Washing the same 2 dishes and 2 forks for 5 weeks was about to drive me insane.  Also, I’ve finally figured out where to shop – you can get almost anything for an insanely cheap price here!  On base there is a thrift shop and a virtual “yard sale” page.  There are markets of base, and we found the mall in Adana:
It’s right next to the Adana mosque.  How beautiful is that?!?  Sorry for the poor image quality.  I was trying to drive/survive in a Turkish traffic circle.  Side note: I’ve yet to see another woman driving in Turkey.  I’m sure some do but it’s obviously very rare.  One of the ambulance drivers told me that by law women have to drive with their hazards on.  I’m hoping he’s wrong or kidding!
ANYWAY, Some of my purchases this week include this set of stoneware for $5:
This set of silverware for $1
Plus towels, bath mats, toys, books, oven mitts, pillow cases, and cooking utensils for literally pennies.  Why did I wait?!  Actually, I just didn’t really know where/how/when to go until now.  I’m feeling so much happier here now!  I don’t think it’s just the difficulty of living out of the suitcase that was getting to me, but the feeling of HOME vs. HOTEL.  

I’m not the only one feeling good here.  Actually Lucy has been loving it since day one.  Her big hobby is laying in the sun and getting so sleepy she can’t keep her eyes open:



Crochet Blanket

I’ve noticed a lot of women knit or crochet here at Incirlik. I think it’s just the slower pace of life; there’s less to do here. I’ve knitted some projects but only crochet one major project – a baby blanket for Evan. It took me years! I started it for another baby way before I got pregnant but ended up finishing it for Evan. So, I’m worried about finishing this blanket with only about 5 months until my due date. So far, I’ve been finding time for it, so maybe it will happen! I hope so – I feel less focused on this pregnancy than I did with Evan. I don’t want this baby to have less than Evan because its not our first – so here! A blanket of your own! I feel better now. 🙂


Sunday Market

I’ve already mentioned the Turkish markets on this blog but I just can’t get over it.  On Sunday we spent about 20TL or $10 for the following:

  • 2 large melons
  • 2.5lb grapes
  • 2.5lb green beans
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 1 large bag garlic cloves
  • 1.5lb cucumber
  • 1.5lb zucchini
  • 4 pears
  • 8 peaches
  • 1.5lb white figs
  • 2.5lb carrots
  • 8 apples
  • 1.5lb tomatoes

All fresh, local, and (we think?) organic.  Just the figs would have cost half that much in California!  Unfortunately, there was no egg guy this week.  The way you buy a bag of produce is odd.  You kind of bag up what you want and hand it to the stand owner.  Then he takes out or ADDs produce to get an even kg weight.  I wanted 4 zucchini but he would only let me buy 3 because of the weight.  I bagged up how many grapes I wanted but he added more to make it an even number.  It’s such a great deal that I don’t ask questions. 🙂  Having all this fresh produce around has helped us get back on the paleo wagon after our move here.  Now if we could just stop eating the delicious Turkish bread we’d be good. 🙂ImageImage




Turkish Eggs

I’ve been trying to get Evan to eat eggs since he was about 8 months old.  I’ve tried all kinds of eggs and cooking methods.  It’s been 13 months with no success – until now.  Introducing: Turkish eggs.  You buy these eggs at the market.  They come in this sketch-looking carton totally unrefrigerated off a Turkish guy’s truck:


The actual egg looks better than even the most expensive organic eggs I’ve bought in the US.  They have thick shells and bright orange, thick yolks that stand up tall.  I didn’t edit this picture:


These eggs must be organic and free-range judging by the look at taste, but not because of some idealistic idea like in the US.  It’s more like Turkey just does things the old-fashioned way.  The market produce also seems organic, not as a special thing but just because they grow old-fashioend non-GMO seeds out in a field then go out and harvest by hand.  Most unbelievable of it all is the price.  A large bag of veggies runs around $0.50, a large bag of fruit runs around $1.00, and THREE DOZEN of these fabulous eggs was about $3.50.  That’s less than one dozen of the organic, free-range eggs they had in California that Evan wouldn’t eat.  Here he is chowing down:



Turkish Housewares and Toddler Bowling

I bought some things.  I usually don’t have the time or enough interest to go out and buy things for my house, but this is a special situation.  We still have only what we brought in our suitcases, plus our Air Force-issued rental furniture, plus a few things people have lent/given us like toys and kitchen gear.  So, our house kind of feels like a really big hotel.  I ventured off base and found a couple of really fun Turkish housewares that have given me SO much joy, it’s weird.  They make it finally feel like home, I think – since it’s something that’s uniquely ours.  There are so many beautiful things in Turkey, by the way!  First, I found this gorgeous crystal bowl with a Turkish design that’s hard to see in the picture.  The bowl kind of changes color depending on what angle you see it from.  It was SO inexpensive compared to crystal in the US!


Then, today we all went out to a Turkish shop and I got this hand-painted platter.  It’s textured from the paint and made locally:


In a totally unrelated story, Evan got invited to a birthday party for a little boy turning 2 – at the bowling alley!  Who knew they made toddler bowling shoes and even have a little ramp they can push the ball down onto the lane?  Too cute.  Evan got 2nd out of 5 but I was really most excited about these little shoes.  Accessories!  Evan loved watching his ball go down the lane as you can see here:Image



Cappadocia Trip

Last weekend we made a trip to Cappadocia.  It’s about 3 hours north of here, a really cool area with underground cave cities and cave churches from early Christians (10-12th century).  The Goreme Open Air Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was our favorite part.  Christians created this beautiful cave city complete with many churches.  You can still see the beautiful paintings on the walls inside.  It was chilling to stand in a place like this, and to hear the Muslim call to prayer at the same time.  Turkey has such a fascinating history and we’re excited to see more.



ImageThe town here was charming, with Turkish shops and restaurants along a river.  We weren’t sure what we were ordering for dinner but ended up with a traditional meal – lamb and chicken stews cooked in clay pots.  At the restaurant they cut the pots open at your table with a sword.  It was delicious.  Even the hotels in the town are in caves, and beautifully decorated:

ImageThe Turkish guys running the hotel loved Evan and played with him while we ate breakfast.  They taught him some dances and gave him to some Chinese women to share their breakfast.  It’s still crazy to see how comfortable they are taking children here.  The same thing happened when we went to an underground city.   The area has these whole cities dug underground like caves and whole Christian communities hid there to avoid persecution.  Anyway, two Turkish teenagers took Evan through the caves while we followed behind just watching.  Our gardener told us Turkish people believe they get blessed by making a child happy, so maybe that’s what’s going on.  We’ve also heard that Turkish people believe a child with blue eyes wards off evil.  I wish I knew the culture and language better so I could understand.  It’s a work in progress.

Swimming lesson

Living on Incirlik is like being in the movie The Truman Show. It’s very surreal. You’re in the middle of a Muslim country that seems very third world in this area but on base it’s a little fake American city. Except its not like the city evolved naturally like a normal city. Actually, one big planner designed the city, owns the whole thing, and put it all there in the middle of the desert. Library, bowling alley, pool, arts and crafts, home store, grocery store, you name it. Even mini golf. It’s kind of hard to explain but just kind of weird and surreal.

Anyway, it’s still a small town and the base pool is a pretty big deal. We go almost every day and see lots of people we know. Evan had his first swim lesson there today and loved it!