Friday, December 18, 2009

Look at That

Now how cute is this? Come on. Just look at her. She's like, .....perfect.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Translating Seven Different Languages

The true mark of internationally-minded people is being multi-lingual--at least bilingual, but certainly, in Europe, being bilingual is not nearly the rare accomplishment it is in the States. But here we have a Europen fluent in SEVEN languages. Wow! You have simply got to see this.

My New Best Friend

One of the perks of working on a University campus is free access to the gym/rec center. Now, to be sure, the rec center is nothing special, but it's got a bunch of treadmills, elipticals, stationary bikes, and almost every weight machine you could ask for. There is no swimming pool for me to use (disappointed sigh), and there is no track for me to run (eyes rolling--come on, is this a university or no?). But, I do have the BUTT MACHINE. My new best friend. Why? Because this little somethin' is making my knee feel better than it has all year. Part of my runner's knee problem is weak hips. This is something that affects a lot of female runners. So I am doing lots of the butt machine, both where you close with your knees like on the machine in the above picture, and especially the opposite one where you turn the pads around and push them out with your outer bootay muscles. SO GOOD!! And doing it's job because my knee pain has steadily decreased in the last few weeks. Ahhhhhhh......

While spending so much time at the gym, I get to observe the behavior of the Turkish students and people who work here. I must say, it is quite entertaining indeed! It's just generally in the form of people doing next to nothing or ineffective things, like, barely spinning the stationary bike or walking at a snail's pace on the treadmill. Seriously, you would walk faster just naturally walking along. Further observational study is required before I begin posting about my stereotypes.

Personally, I find the gym to be a necessary evil. I hate working-out inside. I hate treadmills. But it gets dark at 4:30 and there's no way I'm getting up early in the morning to run. Yuck. But it is making my knee feel better. And fortunately, I can pass the time giggling to myself about gym-behavior and do my little ethnocentric comparisons.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bali's Double-Wide

And yes, Bali is getting a bit double-wide herself. But this is about her awesome scratchy.

She's never had one she can actually sleep on and love on and take baths on. In other words, this is Christmas times twenty for her. And speaking of Christmas, yes, there are Christmas decorations everywhere! It's a Muslim country!!! Turns out, Turks, especially, our super-secular families in this part of Ankara, celebrate Christmas as New Years. When they say "merry Christmas," they mean "happy New Year!" It's true: everyone loves Christmas.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Workshop in Dubai

Ahh, how fitting: I can hear the call to prayer....

In the middle of October, I had my first real Arabic experience: a professional development workshop in Dubai. Nevermind that only maybe 20% of the population of that city are actually residents of the UAE.
"20%?" you ask. "Really? So few Arabs?"
Really. The other 80% of the population of that place I loving refer to as Vegas-Without-The-Gambling-and-Free-Booze, are the people shipped in to build the place and staff the place and drive the taxis and clean the houses, and the Europeans who go to work their crazy real-estate, finance, and whatever other posh jobs are available there. But this post is not about the human-trafficking and indentured-servitude masked as "providing jobs where the less fortunate can come and work and send home lots of money from the land of prosperity." This post is about my impressions, however misinformed they may actually be, of Dubai.

Without further adieu, the moment you've all been waiting for.... Yes! I went to Mall of the Emirates. Wooo, fancy! What did I find there? EVERYTHING. No, seriously. You name it. It's there. It's a crazy uber-shopping complex with labels and stores and things from all over the world, complete with more Bentleys, Ferraris, and Porsches I've ever seen in one place at one time parked out front. And yes, you've guessed it---THE largest indoor ski resort in the world:

A little anti-climatic? Perhaps for you. For me, it was standing on snow inside, while it was 95% Fahrenheit at 10 o'clock at night outside. It was a ski lift, in-freaking-doors! It was a tiny terrain park. It was women in full ha-jibs tubing! It was 4 ski trails, the longest of which are 400 meters long! It was Japanese tourists skiing! (as an aside, I adore Japanese tourists)

And yes, too, it is one of the most incredibly atrocious wastes of natural resources I have ever seen in my life. Seriously. It makes me a little ill just thinking about it. It's a travesty.

Of course, let's not get carried away with crazy, flashy city-land. I was there to work. I was sent by my school to go to a workshop for IGCSE literature, a two-year course I am currently teaching with my darling little 9th graders (a post for some other time). Here I am getting LOTS of work done:

It was this school's location that gave me a crash-course in Arabic culture every morning. There are no addresses. Everyone uses a PO box for mail, and the city is divided into districts and neighborhoods. In order to arrive at your destination, you must either have: 1. a very detailed map (a little difficult to obtain for a city that is constantly new and expanding) which was not provided for participants, or 2. a taxi-driver who knows the area. No taxi drivers know the area. They are all from Pakistan or India (and kind of hate Arabs, I think). I guess it sort of makes sense that they wouldn't have addresses. I mean, the city is younger than I am and before there was a city, there were tents and camels and horses and that's all.

However, they do happen to have a lovely metro:

I could have even sat in the women-and-children only car, but I did not, since my traveling partner and colleague is a dude. I would have though--for the novelty of it.

Honestly, this is more like what travel has come to mean to me:

An opportunity to drink good beer that I can't get at wherever my current home happens to be.

Yes, as you may have noticed, all my pictures of Dubai are from the inside. Because that's where life has to be lived, because it's too freaking hot out to hang around outside. Humans weren't meant to live in that kind of heat. Nothing is. That's why it's a desert and nothing more. Literally, it's just sand. Which is another reason why my pictures are from the inside. Not because sand is ugly or I don't especially love the desert, because I do. But when you build a city on sand, the air is filled with dust. You can't see far around you for the haze--there's just a ton of dust in the air. And that is why, when you google pictures of Dubai, all you get are computer-generated images. No one can get a good shot of the city because it's too hazy. And that is why I have no picture of the Burj for you, or of The Palm Islands, or of construction progress on The World Islands.

I did manage one photo of the crazy 7-star hotel out in the ocean:

But here's what it really looks like. I stole this pic from Wikipedia:

"Will they finish The World?" you ask.
"Is The Palm sinking?" you wonder.

I don't know. All I know is, the exchange rate is plummeting, there are countless half-finished sky-scrappers, and my fancy-schmancy hotel was the same price as my kinda-crappy last hotel room in Istanbul.

Obviously, my three whole days in Dubai has made me a literal expert on all thing UAE and Arabic culture, so just feel free to ask me anything.

Friday, October 30, 2009

In Which I Attempt to Not Gush About Austria

This is how awesome Tim happens to be: he bought (yes, purchased) access to the website so that we would have the ability to buy tickets to the U2 show next September in Istanbul before tickets open up to the public. This is a man who pretty much just goes to punk shows and events that sell for $20 a pop, don't sell out, and are not huge productions requiring a year of work in advance. We just bought said tickets and, yes, they are way more fabulous than anywhere I have ever sat for a U2 show. And that's how much he loves me. Wow.

In other news, we have just ended week 2 of the "thank-God-we-don't-actually-eat-pig-because-THEN-how-bad-would-the-flu-outbreak-be-here?" freak-a-thon. And that IS a reason why Turkey is more prepared and will not suffer from the swine-flu as badly as so many other countries. But if you do happen to eat pork, make sure you cook it to above 40 degrees, okay? This comes from the Ministry of Health and our school doctors. Thank goodness we're in such capable hands!

I do worry a bit for our summer. Sure we were supposed to deliver curriculum online and yes we did. Did the students access it? Eh...maybe 60%. Will that count? Will I lose any Saturdays? 2 weeks off my Greek paradise cruise and stay? A day or two off school is fun for everyone. 2 weeks? Not good! Not good at all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some Things

*The car is ours--officially. Bought and paid for, and this weekend we took her climbing. Well, she took us climbing and provided a nice, comfy ride on the way there and back. I've named her Buda in honor of her one owner before us--the Hungarian ambassador. Get it? Buda? Short for Budapest, but also much like Buddha, taking us along on our path? It makes sense to me at least, and that's all that matters.

*All her life, Bali has had cardboard scratchy things. If you don't have a cat and don't know what this is, it's just corrugated cardboard turned on it's side, so the corrugations face up. Cat's like to scratch it. And you can put kitty-nip in it and it makes the cat especially happy. This week, Tim found her a double-wide. She's laying on it regularly, loves to launch off it while being chased, and generally rolls all over it. She loves it. This is one happy kitty.

*This week, we booked my Austrian ski vacation. We are going to St. Aton for Christmas and we'll be there in the Alps for 8 days. I'm so freaking excited I could pee. Plane tickets to Munich are booked and our bed and breakfast is booked. We arrive Christmas Eve and leave the 2nd of January.

*Tim is making me an omelet.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eurasia Marathon! (okay, 15k)

This is not a picture from our race. Maybe it came from last year? I don't know. I stole it off the internets. But I did not run with a camera. And Tim did not run with a camera, so I'm reduced to stealing photos. But this is how our run across the Bosphorus looked. Before we ran across the bridge, from Asia to Europe, we stood around in the rain for an hour. That's not really the best way to start a race. It does very little for morale, it's cold, and it's uncomfortable. Yours truly, however, was able to recover as soon as she warmed up--10 minutes or so into the race.

I actually ran quite well and took 10 minutes off my 15k time! Yes, I've only run 15k once, but I think I'm about in the same shape. And yes, that last one was at 10,000 feet. But I ran hard for me and that was nice. My only real problem is that I was out of energy. I wasn't able to eat breakfast that morning. So I had a pack of shot bloks before the run and two gels during the run. Not enough fuel for 9 miles of go. I was totally out of mojo by the last mile, but still pulled it through.

The differences in experiences between racing here--Turkey (it's almost Europe for crying outloud)--and there--South America (the shit-show) are stark. I will take a Quito race over an Istanbul race ANYDAY! I was blown away by the lack of organization this past weekend. There were barely any kilometer markers, aid stations had only water and they were tiny and understaffed, and I couldn't get my finishers medal at the end because I couldn't deal with 50 pushy sweaty bodies trying to get finish bags from ONE volunteer. Freaking Quito can do this better, people! Tim got a medal, but turns out it's the marathon medal.

I also really missed the Quiteno enthusiasm. People there would line the sidewalks and shout and cheer and sweetly offer you anything they had. Random runners would lead off into a motivational cheer or two. All that enthusiasm was sorely missing and missed. There were hardly any spectators. The one time I was cheered for during the race was when I passed by a Spanish family. Go figure. Oh, and at the end, because I was the only chick surrounded by men. And anytime there are few women, you gets lots of encouragement.

But all that being said, it's quite cool to run from one continent to another....and I'll take any excuse to hang out in Istanbul for a weekend. Maybe next year I'll run the marathon?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flu Vacation

Yes, this is a media circus outside of our school today. All day. They were out there, filming the closed school. Exciting!

I guess Ankara is currently freaking out. It's here, people--swine flu! Arrgghhh!!!!! While I think the whole flu thing is completely sensationalistic, I do get a vacation, which is awesome. Last night, school was called off for today. Then today we got word that there are several confirmed cases and so the ministry of health has shut us down till next Wednesday.

We're still planning on heading to Istanbul this weekend for the Eurasia marathon (we're running the 15k), but now it's looking like we get leisurely long weekend there. Darn!

Here's the link to the news craze:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On the Frontpage of

Turkey isn't a country I thought you'd see much of on the news in the States. But this afternoon, upon opening up the national (as in, your national--the States) edition of CNN online, the number one story was all about a cab driver in Istanbul. Perhaps you all are tired of updates on the health care debate and the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps we all need a little Istanbul sometimes.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Sevket Sahintas works the night shift driving his taxi around Istanbul, Turkey, from midnight until dawn.

Sahintas says he wants Turkey's "happy people" to see how less-fortunate Istanbul residents live.

Sahintas says he wants Turkey's "happy people" to see how less-fortunate Istanbul residents live.

His route takes him past symbols of wealth old and new: the ornate carved stone gates of a 19th-century Ottoman sultan's palace, the gleaming high-rises in the city's rapidly growing financial district.

Periodically, Sahintas stops his yellow cab not for customers, but for photos.

Under a roaring overpass, he steps out of his vehicle and walks across the street to two homeless men who sleep huddled on the concrete under a blanket next to a half-finished plastic bottle of water.

Sahintas pauses for a moment and presses a button on his small camera. A flash erupts, then he turns and walks slowly back to the car.

In addition to being a cabbie, Sahintas is a self-taught photographer. He focuses his lens on the poorest segments of Istanbul's society. Sahintas, who began driving a taxi when he was 19, said he started taking photos five years ago when he began working the night shift. Video Watch Sahintas as he photographs street scenes »

"I saw people on the street in winter. They were cold at night," he said. "To make their voices heard, I wanted to buy a camera and show that these people are living in difficult conditions. That's how it started."

Sahintas takes photos of homeless people, who often sleep barefoot in bus stops next to billboards where smiling models advertise everything from ice cream bars to credit cards. Photo See the streets through Sahintas' lens »

"I like to capture those contradictions," he said. "Happy smiling people on the ad boards beside that unhappy person who is trying to sleep. I want the happy people to see that minority and do something about it."

Sahintas also takes black-and-white portraits of the other characters who roam Istanbul's streets at night: dirty street children, garbage pickers, transvestite prostitutes.

Eventually, Sahintas' nocturnal perspective on Turkey's largest city began attracting attention, both at home and overseas. This month, an exhibit of his photos titled "The Other Side of the Night," is on display in an Istanbul gallery.

"Basically, we were amazed by his photos," said Anna Heidenhain, one of the directors of Manzara Perspectives, the art program displaying Sahintas' work. She compares his photographs to the social documentary form of photography that rose to prominence in the 1930s.

But Sahintas is the first to acknowledge he approached photography as an amateur.

"I didn't know anything about photography," he said. "I didn't know any technical terms, just an on and an off button."

He keeps an eye out for subjects while driving Istanbul's winding streets.

At 2 a.m., he spotted a freelance garbage-picker patrolling Istanbul and hauling giant rolling carts through traffic.

Sahintas stopped and met with the man, named Yasar, and offered him a cigarette. Yasar told Sahintas he scavenges packing paper and cardboard boxes from garbage bins for resale to private recycling companies. Working until dawn, he can make the equivalent of $7 a night to feed his family of six.

"We are struggling to earn enough money to buy bread," Yasar said, before trundling off into the night with his cargo of paper, a lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

This week Turkey, one of the world's 20 wealthiest economies, is holding an annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The delegates are expected to discuss ways to battle poverty and strategies to prevent a repeat of last year's global economic crisis.

But Sahintas disagrees with experts who rate economies based on gross domestic product.

A country's wealth "should be related to how that money is distributed," he said. "If all the money is controlled by a few monopolies, I believe it shows a country's poverty, not its wealth."

Sahintas' work highlights the huge income gap in Turkish society. Even though the Turkish economy enjoyed steady growth for much of the past decade, the latest government statistics show that nearly one in five Turks live below the poverty line. During the past year, the economic crisis pummeled Turkey's export-driven industries, pushing unemployment to record highs.

The downturn has hit many Turks -- from Istanbul's garbage-pickers, who say there is less useful trash to scavenge, to the city's cabbies, who complain that fewer customers can afford their services.

Still, at the station from where Sahintas operates his cab, taxi drivers are quick to heap praise on their colleague.

We're proud of our friend. We like his pictures, as well," Tolga Donmez said between glasses of steaming hot Turkish tea. "He makes us want to learn new skills, as well."

Despite the attention, Sahintas doesn't make enough money from his photos to earn a living. For that, the photographer has to work the night shift in his yellow cab.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Kitties of Istanbul

The Turks immediately endeared themselves to me when I realized we had a very special something in common: the love of kitties. Turks love kitties. There are stray cats everywhere in the cities, but they aren't really stray because they belong to everyone and everyone takes care of them and then shares the kitty-love. Seriously, big tough dudes will play with the cats on the street-corners, giggling and smiling the whole time. More often than not, there are kitties in restaurants, kitties under outdoor tables, and kitties that know how to break into the first floor apartments of our staff housing.

During my time here, I've developed a new game: spot the kitty. It's a pretty easy and obvious game but you'd be surprised by how much better at it I am than you could ever hope to be. But, of course, with this game, everyone is a winner.

So that brings us to Istanbul (NOT Constantinople). Istanbul is a beautiful city; it has loads of old-world, European charm, thrown in with all the Islam and mosques and calls to prayer. Everyone loves Istanbul. We'll be heading back in another 2 weeks for the Eurasia marathon (though we're only running the 15k) where we'll run from Asia to Europe. I imagine, rather than focusing on my race, I'll be spotting kitties, much like I was the last trip. It's such a great game. Here, join along with me:

I spotted the guy in the above photo from a balcony where we shared a late-night meal with some friends. Actually, I spotted 3 kitties from this higher vantage point.

Here's another kitty being bad. He's crossing a second story light-fixture. There are people eating dinner below him.

Here's a kitty checking out the fire-escape. Must be sure it's kitty-approved!

Here we are taking a break from kitty spotting and touristy places to stock up on house stuff.

This little guy belonged in the bar that apparently serves the only Guinness in Turkey. Thank goodness we found it. I guess it was our only chance. This little baby had a twin brother but they were darting all over the place instead of posing for my camera.

You get double points when you spot two kitties at once, and you win for like, a year, if a kitty gets in your lap. This is out side the Topkapi palace.

Here's a kitty with his big, pink tongue sticking out for some water.

I guess what's supposed to be great about this photo is that, first off, it's taken in the Hagia Sofia, and secondly, that thing I'm in front of is a vase carved out of one piece of marble. I clearly only have eyes and time for one thing....

This little baby was outside on the steps of the Blue Mosque. The Japanese tourists loved him too. He's totally posing right now.

I think this kitty must be some decedent of the Sultan's kitties. Look how regal!

Here's two little guys playing in the street below our hostel.

No kitties in this shot. It's just a cool Istanbul-ish pic. I imagine after our second trip, or when Tim gets his blog up, you can see a post about all the cool stuff in the city. I imagine my promise of excellent kitty-sightings will not be enough to convince you to come visit. So we'll be sure to show the stuff everyone gushes about. For now, though, it's just about the kitties.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The House Tour

Before the tour begins....this is how cute my cat is. She takes baths and forgets her tongue is still hanging out. How perfect is that????

Okay, here it is--the long awaited house-tour (Hi Mom!)

We are pretty stoked on where we live. It's a five minute walk to work, which means we also get an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Quite the change from the last two years of a 45 minute morning bus commute, landing at school that began at 7:20. That's right. You do the math.

The house is nothing special, but since our recent visit to the Istanbul IKEA, it sure feels like home. And Bali loves it, so that's affirmation enough for me.

Here's what our building looks like, even though this particular building is the one across the way from us. No matter--all 8 staff apartment buildings on east campus look the same: 3 stories, 4 apartments on each floor. We live on the third floor, which somehow means our place is a little bigger than the lower floors and for some reason, means we are also blessed with 3 whole porches. 1st floor has none!

Here's my favorite feature: miles and miles and miles of lovely rolling hills full of trails!

Here's our front porch. We drink a lot of beer here. It's a great spot for watching the sun set and the moon rise.

And here you can see our living room and most-used porch off the front. In the book case, there's a fold-out desk on which we sit the big laptop and watch My Name is Earl, movies, and other such things. Bali loves the armchairs and spends 8 hours of daylight in them everyday. Then there's the nighttime. Oh what to do? If you're Bali, you're in an armchair.

Here's Tim's massive, gourmet kitchen. See the island and the pot racks and all the utensils he could ever need? See the massive industrial stove, stainless steel fridge and granite counters?

This used to be a bedroom. Now it's where we have our office, where the kitty goes to poo, and is our gear storage/ski locker.

Here's our bedroom and the newly installed wall-decal. Thank you, IKEA, for your affordable down bedding and big things to put on walls that make my house look better.

Sure, the place lacks some decoration and what-not, but we've only been here a month! Give us 2 seconds to track down attractive wall-hangings!

And here's the car we're trying to buy. It's a Nissan, Toureno or something. I don't know. All I know is, it's in great condition, is diesel, and has only been owned by the Hungarian ambassador. The Hungarian embassy isn't returning phone calls at the moment, so we're having problems getting it released to us, which is also why I'm not giving you more pictures now. What if it doesn't work out? We'll save the car post for when it's officially ours.

And because you should never be left without a gratuitous Bali-shot:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ala Dağlar (The Crimson Mountains)

Sweet--our friend Carrie already posted about our vacation! We didn't actually have a charged battery in our camera and so Carrie took all the pictures. So.....since she's a lovely writer and an excellent picture-taker, and possessor of all existing pictures of the vacation, we'll just leave it to her. You can follow this link to read about our fabulous, exciting, relaxing, and awesome climbing road-trip to a magical area. Or, you can access Carrie's blog, Turkish Adventures, on the right side of this blog, under "Who I Read." It was actually Carrie's blog that first convinced us we could probably live in Turkey quite happily. Check her out!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Month

A lot happens in a month when you move to a new country.
We've been a lot busier than expected. And for some reason, I often can't access blogger, which is a BOTHER!

Stories and pictures coming soon on:
  • Our apartment
  • Our school
  • Our car
  • The local crag
  • Istanbul
  • Our first vacation to the Aladağlar
In other news, I will soon be going to a workshop in Dubai! Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Arrival and Settling

After one helluva long travel day, we arrived in Ankara, Turkey this past Sunday. All of Bali's papers were in order, but, of course, there were no customs officials, no need to declare anything--not even bag scanning. The woman in Denver was so overwhelmed with all our bags and connections, she didn't even remember to charge me for Bali. This is getting easier and easier. From Chicago to Munich, we got a free upgrade to economy plus which was helpful. But we still didn't sleep. Bali just about tore her carrier to shreds every time she needed to potty. We were afraid she'd bust out of her carrier and run amok around the plane. I got her out several times to hold her and feed her water while Tim held his magazine in front of us. Pulling a cat out on the plane is a no-no!

We could only buy 2 liters of booze each once in Turkey from the duty free, but we could bring in as much as we wanted (we brought in extra from Munich). This is important to remember when you come to visit. Good alcohol is available here, but it's almost twice the cost in the States.

Several people from the school met us and took us (and our 9 bags) on a bus across the city to our new home: Bilkent University.
First impressions---well, we can't help but compare it to Quito. I think a lot of people come here having never experienced the third world and think that the city is ugly or that it's not very nice. We have been nothing but impressed so far in this first week. Ankara is not Istanbul, and everyone LOVES Istanbul. But Tim and I are not city people. What we have seen has been a clean, nice, modern city where people seemingly obey traffic laws, the infrastructure seems good, and there are a couple cool parts of town.

We live at the University which sits on the outskirts of the city and up a big hill. So, while Ankara is smoggy, we don't have to experience it. Right outside our door, the hills and open space goes on and on and is laced with hundreds of miles of trail and dirt roads. We've already begun exploring this treasure. One thing about jet-lag--we're up super early in the morning, ready to run!

The weather has been wonderful. The mornings and evenings are cool. It's hot in the afternoon, from about 12:30 to 5ish. Hot as in, in the 90s. But it's super dry, so the heat doesn't bother us too much. We also know it's short-lived. We're looking forward to experiencing fall for the first time in what has seemed like ages. It's sunny and beautiful--almost no clouds in the sky. Ever. The altitude is about the same as Boone, my hometown in NC. Oh, and there are three ski areas within 2 hours of the city--woo hoo!

Some last little observations and curiosities to leave you with because I know you're wondering:
-Whenever we need a taste of the States, there's Ben and Jerry's
-We're buying our coffee at Starbucks. And thank goodness for it because the coffee at the grocery store is crap!
-You can't say "sick," "um," or "peach/es" because these are all very bad words in Turkish
-We have not heard a single call to prayer, seen anyone praying, or seen anything that would indicate what we Americans think is Muslim except for some older women at the store who wear pants, long sleeves, and head scarves. But I can wear whatever I want. Tank tops, shorts, short skirts--anything. The conservative old-town area and out in villages are the only places I would not dress like that and only because I don't like people staring at me. I dress more conservatively naturally than many of the Turkish women I've met/seen.
-the food is GOOD
-I have not yet had the tea because it's hot
-I have not yet seen any whirling dervishes
-I have not been in a carpet shop
-There are kitties EVERYWHERE!!!!

Okay, off now to shop Ikea online (it's in Istanbul) for some stuff for the house.
I will post pictures as soon as we get the big computer on the internet. It's having issues connecting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Runner's Knee

I went to the sports doctor here in Boulder. He quickly discovered what my problem is/has been. My knee cap collapses too far to the left. My outer leg muscles pull my knee cap, causing pain due to the compression and to compensate, the tendons on the inside pull to try to align the thing, causing pain on the inside. Because of the push and pull, my patella tendon can't run in a straight line and I get tendinitis. Poof. Tah-dah. We learned this from a simple x-ray. An x-ray they didn't take, for some reason, in Quito. But the x-ray shows that it's not as bad as my MRI suggests. Thankfully, it seems to be something I can manage. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to run long distances. Ever. But who knows? I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. The good news is that I know what the problem actually is, and I can work on it. I have two physical therapy appointments scheduled so that we can make up a plan for me. And there we have it.

In the meantime, we've been running. Since my knee really only hurts after running, not during, I've kinda gone at it, and it's been great! These pics are from our 4th of July run at the Avery Brewing Company. A bunch of friends got together and ran the 4k on the 4th--then drank LOTS of beer! It was a blast!

This past Saturday, Tim and I ran a trail 10k up at Eldora and it was sooo much fun! We were flying through the woods, whooping and hollering and grinning ear to ear. If my knee ever acts normally enough for me to do longer runs, I think this one may help me convince Tim to do big Euro mountain runs with me. It was a tiny race--only 118 men and 95 women. It wasn't really a race for casual runners, either. It attracted a crazy hardcore crowd, so we didn't place very well. But that's what you get in Boulder. And we loved it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bali's Nudity

Bali's nudity is really pretty much all that's wrong with her. In less than a week after sugery, she's already putting weight on her leg, she fully extends and bends it herself (she's doing her own physical therapy), her stitches fell out yesterday, and I quit giving her pain meds days ago. This kitty is no longer a tri-pod. She is only 1/2 naked and limping. She's sleeping with us at night (not hiding) and generally letting me mess with her leg.

I'd say that bodes well for how "normal" she'll be when she fully recovers. She's still pretty embarrassed about being naked and her fur will take awhile to grow back in. But if that's all she has to worry about, I'd say we're doing great!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little Tri-Pod

Bali got her ACL surgery on Monday, and I must say, she is not complaining much! When we brought her home Monday, she was all growly, and hissy, and we're pretty sure she was not growling at us, but rather at the pain in her leg. But by Tuesday, she was all purry and lovey, and now she's not even struggling when I give her the meds.

They say it'll be 3-4 weeks before she's putting much weight on it, and another 6-8 after that before she's approaching normal. But the kitty is doing well, and maybe things will get better faster for her. What all this means is that we'll be traveling to Turkey with a hurt kitty. Will the import police have a problem with a half shaved, limping kitty, or will they not even notice her? That's the question. I'm banking on them not noticing her. But if they do start poking and prodding, I'm ready to throw a tantrum. Tantrums get you far in many other countries where English is not widely spoken.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Post About Turkey!

We are experiencing our first taste of Turkish bureaucracy as we attempt to procure visas. Because I have bachelor degrees specific to the subjects I will teach (English and Psychology), I will be employed by our school. This means that my paperwork is easy, but it takes a long time to get it. So I only need to show up in Turkey, get a tourist visa there in the airport, and then the school will eventually finish my paperwork and get my work visa.

Tim, though, is different. He will be teaching English as well, which is not what his bachelors degree is in. Therefore, he must be hired by the University. The University will then "lend him" to our school to teach. Because he will work for the University, he must get his work visa here in the States. To get a work visa, you must show up at the embassy--no mailing this stuff in like we did for Ecuador.

Can't wait to see what other convoluted, irrational hoops we'll have to jump through!

We also just bought our first rock guide to Turkey, and, thankfully, it looks like all the silly bureaucracy will be worth it. It definitely gets us excited to go. The areas really look fantastic and are pretty accessible to where we'll be.

About a month to go!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Poor Kitty!

Bali, being the true-blood Coloradan she is, has torn her ACL. We imagine she did it while attempting some sick jump from a window ledge that she didn't calculate just right. That's cool, I mean, she's the first one in a family of skiers to bust her ACL, but she's also the only one without health insurance. Maybe she should have calculated the risk a bit further. But in true Colorado style, she went ahead and tried that epic jump.

Can you imagine what ACL surgery is going to look like for a person that small? I bet her little tendon is maybe a cm long? Anyway, for now, she's a tri-pod kitty, hobbling around the house, missing out on the sweet mountain biking and trail running. But we'll get her back in shape for the winter ski season.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I'm at work. It's our last day. Tomorrow night, we go home. Our home. The home we made together for ourselves. Colorado.

We have grown so much in the last two years. The life education we received was much more intense and severely enlightening than anything we signed up for or expected. And I don't think we'll be able to focus on all the wonderful things about it until we have some distance and space from this life here.

And yet...goodbyes are in order. We leave wonderful people, a fascinating culture, my first teaching job, a language we've cultivated in ourselves, and norms and expectations we have finally adapted to. We are taking our experiences with us, the beautiful and the ugly, the severe and the suave, the scary and the comforting--they have all changed us. The rest, we leave behind.

Goodbye, year-round beautiful flowers and gardens.
Goodbye, awe-inspiring volcanoes. Cotopaxi, twice you rejected me. I was never able to try for a third.
Goodbye, seasonless year--holding us all in a perpetual springtime.
Goodbye, rain. I will miss you not.
Goodbye, easiest teaching job ever. I may miss your ease later in life.
Goodbye, eucalyptus leaves in my running park, filtering sunlight and freshening the air.
Goodbye, fear. Disappear. I don't want to see you again.
Goodbye, chatty, kind, and endearing students. I love you.
Goodbye, slow internet. I hope one day soon you can be fast.
Goodbye, colleagues. It's been one helluva ride.
Goodbye, climbers. You people are awesome. I hope we meet again somewhere soon.
Goodbye, airplanes overhead. All the time. Oye.
Goodbye, cheap and deliciously perfect steak. I think maybe we took you for granted and may regret that soon.
Goodbye, kind families that took care of us. We will always remember you.
Goodbye, pan de yucca, fresh fruit juices, my favorite yogurt, and all other yummies.
Goodbye, all the broken stuff in my classroom.
Goodbye, tall concrete.
Goodbye, Galapagos and jungle. You are treasures.
Goodbye, Canoa--home aways from home, great friends, lovely vacation spot.
Goodbye, severe green landscape with your nausea-inducing, twisty, curvy roads.
Goodbye, valley, goodbye, sigsi--our one climbing area, goodbye clothing that doesn't fit me.
Goodbye to all the things too numerous to name but that still made an impression--like the crowded buses, the sink holes, easy travel to the coast, etc.

Tomorrow night, we board a plane and say our goodbyes from above, looking down and back, on our first international living experience.
Goodbye Quito.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I took Bali in so she could get her very official, stamped and dated health certificate. The vet listened to Bali's heart for about 30 seconds, declared her perfect, and signed the certificate. This was after much oooing and wowing over her age (kitties don't survive long south of the border) and about five minutes of me begging the vet to make the date on the cert this Friday, the day before we leave. I only had to ask twice and make a mild show of being upset about bringing in the cat too early. Ta-daaahh! Kitty ready to fly.

I'm doing something new with Bali this time. I'm not carrying litter and her little travel poo box. I'm going to try lining her carrier with diapers. Last time, she only peed in her carrier once and then refused food, water, and the chance to potty like a dignified kitty the whole rest of the travel time. We'll do a trial run tomorrow. All I worry about is how much space she has (nil) and how well the diapers will adhere and stay put.

And finally, some good news for us: we're moving to Martin Acres! A friend there needs her house sat for July. Lucky us, huh? South Boulder, watch out! Here we's come.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

4 on the 4th

I just officially registered for Avery's short run and long drink event on the 4th of July. I think you should too.
You can register here for $25.

I'm also going to try to register for La Sportiva's trail 10k the 1st of August. I think you should do that one too.

Only 2 weeks for us to go. 2 weeks and we'll be finished with our first overseas living/teaching experience. I'll re-cap soon when I have some distance and so a clarified perspective as well. Right now, I can only focus on getting to Colorado. So I'm going to continue to honor that for now, and I'll get back to Quito in my mind soon enough.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Teaching Assignment

In honor of learning my teaching assignment today (and because I´m at an internet cafe until the Censo office opens), I thought I´d go ahead and open my new blog.

Next year in Turkey, I´ll teach 3 sections of English 9 (IGCSE curriculum) and I´ll teach IB Psychology again. Blissfully, no more TOK! I´m very excited to be teaching both my loves, and only having two preps--down from my current 4. I think it´ll be fantastic!

If you have not yet heard, our house in Quito was robbed. Quite a bummer. But my cat is fine, thank you for wondering. She hid while the baddies were in our house. But they did manage to take both our computers. Since we only have about 3 weeks left in Quito, we won´t be trying to replace those until we get back to Colorado (June 28th!!! WOOOOHOOOO!!). Thus, we are sorry about the limited contact. And pictureless blogs. The camera is gone too. But we´re not letting it get us too down. We´re fine and we´ll slowly replace what we´ve lost.

Can´t wait to see everyone this soon--we are so ready for a great Colorado summer!