Tomorrow is the last day of school, and tomorrow evening, I hop on an overnight train to Istanbul where I will pick up my friend, Rachel from Montana, at the airport. Thus begins my summer.
Just a quick cliffnotes version of my summer plans: Rachel and I will spend a few days in Istanbul, then train back to Ankara. We will hop in my newly bought car and visit Cappadoccia, then drive down to Fethiye. There, we will stay with my friends, Mark and Annie, then meet up with Stacy, Liam, and their visiting friends for a Blue Cruise. That's 4 days and 3 nights on a small yacht in the Mediterranean.
Afterwards, Rachel and I will drive back to Ankara and fly to Italy. When we arrive in Italy, we will rent a car and drive into the Alps to visit my old friend, the goatfarmer. That's Michele, and I stayed/worked with him 4 summers ago when I toured Italy on my own through an organization called WWOOF (Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms). Afterwards, Rachel and I will visit Cinquaterra. Then she will fly back to the States, and I will train to Brunnenburg, Italy, in the Dolomites where I will embark on a 3 1/2 week graduate poetry course studying the works of Ezra Pound.
When I finish on Aug. 1, I will train to Munich, where my mother will meet me. She and I will tour Munich and Prague together, the focus being on visiting concentration camps (something we both want to do at some point in our lives). Then we will fly to Istanbul, and spend 2 weeks touring Turkey together. She will be here for my 30th birthday on August 21st, then she flies home, and I begin school! I will be in and out of internet touch but will hopefully update my blog here and there throughout the summer.
For now, I want to share some from the last month or so:
Firstly, I signed up with CouchSurfers this spring, and hosted my first surfer last month. For those of you that don't know about Couchsurfing, you MUST check out the website: www.couchsurfing.org. It is such a cool idea. In the meantime, here is a little blurb about it:
* The CouchSurfing community strives to do individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing isn't about the furniture- it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world - it's about participating in creating a better world.
* "CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding."
My first couchsurfer, Cully, was from North Carolina, but had been living/traveling in Istanbul for about a month, and plans on spending the whole summer in Turkey. She came on an awesome weekend, and I dragged her along on all our activities.
We took her to a hammam in Ulus, so right away we broke down walls by hanging out together half-naked. We got the full scrubdown, massage, and eyebrow plucking.
And out to lunch in Ulus. I love Ulus!
The next day, we took her to the Carrot Festival in Beypazarı.
Beypazarı is a quaint little town about an hour outside of Ankara known for its Ottoman architecture and silver jewelry. This was its annual Carrot Festival, celebrating the domestication of the yummy root vegetable. Freshly made carrot juice was only 50 cents a cup. We also ate carrot icecream, carrot Turkish delight, and bought carrot soap. The silver jewelry was all beautiful and reasonably priced, and so I felt too overwhelmed to buy anything. But I will be back with my mother in August, and she will clean out that town.
This time period has also been marked by farewell get-togethers. My friends Annie, Mark and their baby Annalisa, left Ankara for Fethiye, and so moved out of our apartment building. These are my climbing and yoga friends, so the climbing posse had a little BBQ outside our apartment. I will be visiting them in Fethiye this summer before embarking on the Blue Cruise.
Before Cully left Ankara (she was here for a week, but split her stay between me and another host), I hosted a beading party at my flat. I have been collecting beads from cool places I've visited in Turkey, but beads came out of the woodwork; everyone had been hoarding them. It was fun to see all the different styled bracelettes and necklaces people pulled out of their creativity. I couldn't help but notice the flair everyone's jewelry ended up with, probably influenced by Turkish clothing and jewelry. Big, bright, and unsymmetrical.
Lastly, it was Stacy's birthday this month. We celebrated in a few ways, starting with dinner at the Kitchenette in Gaziosmanspaşa...
...ending three days later with a progressive cocktail party in our apartments.
Tonight, we'll attend the end of the year staff BBQ, which includes speeches for all the leaving staff. I have to give one for Stacy. :( And so begins all the goodbyes. Seventeen teachers are leaving the high school this year. Big turnover. It will be so different here when I return in August. I hate that feeling of being left behind; usually I am the leave-behinder. But on the positive side, next year WILL be different, guaranteeing variety/change/spice. I am halfway through this crazy adventure, and I can't believe it. But watching all my friends deal with moving and saying goodbye to this place, I can honestly say I am glad I am not leaving right now. I am not done with Turkey yet. There is still so much to see and do.
Check in on the blog every once in awhile this summer for tales from Europe.