Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Pause in Ankara: Spring Montage

Once in awhile, I do have to stick around Ankara on a weekend. But I think the fact that I travel so much helps me appreciate the city that everyone likes to bitch about. Whenever I meet a Turk for the first time, s/he always apologetically asks, "Do you like Ankara? It's so boring." But I've come from a town of 10,000 people, so this city is overstimulating my innate desire to do and join everything. For instance:

The International Film Festival was just in town. This is Dale (my teaching partner and friend) and I having lunch in Tunali before seeing a show.

And this is the man who made my lunch.

We saw two films, one Braziliam film, "Aspirin, Vultures, and Sinema" and one American B film starring William Defoe called, "The Dust of Time." The theatre reminded of the the little indie theatre I used to go to in Virginia, my freshman year. Now all we have in the U.S. are processed stadium theatre experiences. The Brazilian film was in Portugese with both English and Turkish subtitles. How cool. I read the Turkish subtitles, of course. (Actually it's a great Turkish lesson for me to do that.)

I have also been obsessing with tango lessons this winter and spring. A friend of mine from Cinderella (the pantomime play) introduced me to the studio where he takes lessons, and the next thing I know, I belong to two different tango studios to give me options and accomodate my busy schedule. I am in love with tango! My good friend, Sara, recently sent me a yoga magazine, and in it I found an article about how yoga and tango compliment each other and it spoke my mind. When I first started, I felt my yoga and climbing self say "Hell ya!" right away. The surrender of the ego (the man leads), the breathing and staying in the present (I have to sense the male's messages and match his so that it looks like we are moving in perfect unison), and the posture and balance required of tango are also the core of climbing and yoga.

Also, it's a fun little community I've become a part of. I am the only yabanci (foreigner) at either studio, and the language barrier both makes me (and my poor partners) laugh and helps me to just concentrate on reading my partners' body language. I do have a few partners that speak a little English, but the lack of finesse in fluency results in hilarious comments like, "Don't talk. Just do it," and "When I open my sugar, you come to me." (I think he meant "shoulder"??) And one guy found out I know a little Spanish, so he talks to me in Spanish, but really at this point, my Turkish is much better, so I respond in Turkish. Goofy.

The tango community at Angora Dance Studio has fully embraced me, and I attend both a class and a practice night there each week. These are pics of the studio. The classes are in the well-lit room, and the practice nights (when all level students come to dance) take place in this beautiful space, complete with bar.

Just like spring in Montana, I like to venture out every day to watch the earth slowly come alive with color. The hills by our campus call to me every day. I am infinitely grateful for this little piece of vastness nearby. Instant escape.

The other weekend, on one of the first sunny warm spring days, some of my girl friends and I ventured off to Ulus, to the oldest hamam in town, Karacabey (dating from 1445) to have our Winter dead skin cells removed, and catch a little lunch on a bluebird day. Doesn't our skin look so clean and ready for its summer tan?

And as I write this, my friend, Christy, is in a plane somewhere over the Atlantic, traveling to Turkey to join me for my spring break. Next weekend, we will hit the road for a one week trip through Cappadoccia (can't get enough), Sanliurfa, Nemrut Dag, and Mardin. I've been looking forward to seeing southeastern Turkey since I got here. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


When I announced at lunch on Friday that I was leaving for Cappadoccia right after school, my English Dept. head said, "Aren't you always in Cappadoccia?" I don't know what myth exists concerning my love for the place, but I believe this was only my 3rd time. But for being the closest getaway -a 3 1/2 hours drive away - 3 times doesn't seem like it's enough. And considering its magic and charm, it really is a true getaway. Those two words are so overused in Guidebooks, but really, there aren't two better words to describe Cappadoccia. I would also add "full of eccentrics," because whenever I go there, I always have funny run-ins with the locals. Imagine living in a small tourist town where everyone works and lives in caves- that's gotta attract a different kind of people. Well, this weekend's adventures entailed renting mountain bikes to ride through the spring-touched fairy chimneys - what a sight for sore eyes, the flowering trees and green grass!-, wine-tasting at a winery in Urgup and hanging out with the wine pourer on a restaurant terrace afterwards (what's the name of that profession?), and eating yummy Turkish food at outside cafes. Oh yeah, and LOTS of laughing. Shauna and Wowie this weekend will definitely help me last three more weeks 'til Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Skiing in Erzerum

Palandoken is the best ski resort in Turkey, boasting some of the longest runs in Europe, approved slolem courses, and loads o' lifts. Next year, they are hosting an international European universities Winter Olympics, and so they have been revamping the lifts to make it a savvy place. And it was. Virtually no lift lines, fast lifts, and some of the longest runs I have skiied. From top to bottom, the vertical drop is 2000 ft. The longest green run is 12km, or so they say- I didn't ski it. Not a great snow year for Erzerum, a conservative city far east an hour from the border of Iran and south of the Kackar Mountains, but good snow and blue skies. We didn't get the opportunity to venture into the city, which I am curious about, as I remember reading survey results, specifically the statistic that 85% of Erzerum residents do not want foreigners to move to their city. Don't know how they'd feel about ski bums. But we stayed in the resort on the hill the whole time, one of the two places in town that sells alcohol. Although full-board and complete with sauna, the hotel was a little The Shining-esque, and the fact that there was not one tree on the whole resort made it feel a bit like we were skiing on the moon. But beautiful none-the-less.