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.