Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Christmas Camel Ride

One great thing about Turkey is that in some places you can find tourist camels. Not camels who are tourists, but camels for the tourists. They live on the roadside in popular destinations like Cappadocia. For a small fee you can climb up a ladder and onto a big cushy camel saddle. For another small fee you can ride that camel up and down the street.

The other day while James and I were driving back from visiting friends for Christmas we drove by a roadside camel and I shouted, “STOP!!” James freaked out and pulled to the side of the road thinking that I had gone into labor or that the car was about to explode or something (not that I’m pregnant or have any special impending explosion sensing powers). He was like, “What?” and I was like, “Hello? A camel! We have to get a family photo!” We had a photo taken a couple of years ago, (as you can see on the side of the blog) but we've had another baby since then and I decided it was time for an update.

So we all piled out of the car, Marie yelling, “Tamoh, tamoh, tamoh!” And running as fast as her little feet could carrier her toward the giant beast, and Elise being dragged out of the car complaining that we were interrupting her Veggie Tales movie. Obviously no real live hairy camel can compare to Larry the Cucumber.

The camel keeper guy set a ladder up and I climbed on first, then James handed up the baby. Suddenly a family camel photo did not seem like such a good idea. I mean what kind of mother holds her tiny baby in one arm while seated precariously nine feet in the air, on top of a wooly camel? Next up was Elise, still mad about us interrupting her movie, then Marie who was freaking out and shouting, “No tamoh... no wan it. No tamoh!” Finally James squeezed his way onto the saddle and the camel guy snapped a few photos.

Elise only lifted her head for the picture upon being threatened to have her movie taken away if she didn’t. Marie quietly cried, and I smiled while silently praying that the camel would stay still and none of my offspring would fall to their death.

Three pictures and a few dollars later we climbed down the ladder, I breathed a big sigh of relief, Marie went running toward the car as fast as her little legs could carry her saying, “No like tamoh. No wan it,” and Elise got back to her precious video.

Threats, smiles, tears... all in all a fairly normal family photo session. Except that instead of in front of a Christmas tree, it happened to be on top of a wooly camel.

I’ve thrown in a few extras I snapped of other tourists getting their camel experience. Enjoy.

These poor girls started screaming the second their dad put them up on the camel. I broke the camera out just a few seconds too late, but at least you all can still enjoy the look of betrayal and utter fear on their faces with me. . . sad but funny. It reminded me of watching kids getting on Santa's lap at the mall... the things parents do for a good photo.

I love this one... I think the camel is asking, "Okay, who's next?"

And two more happy tourists hop on.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Vacuum Hangers

These are suction cup hooks that you can hang on the wall so you can hang stuff on the wall.

The front of the package lets me know what they are in both Turkish (Vakum Aski) and English (Vacuum Hnagers), which is really handy for me.... it makes my life easier.

It gets better. The directions for use are on the back. And they are 100% English. Follow along with me as I figure out how to hang up my hangers. . .

1. First choose the right mounting position and clean off the dust and grease on the mounting surface.

2. Like the chart shows installs when please do speak the sucker the lock catch from under upward switchroom

3. Pastes the sucker is assigning the position, the forcibly compaction sucker central position, as far as possible except internal air.

4. After the sucker compaction, downward tightens the sucker lock catch from on, then uses

Um. . . I don't know what went wrong. I was not successful at hanging my vacuum hangers, but I did successfully speak to compacted internal air on a sucker chart in the switchroom. . . so I guess that's worth something.

Friday, 18 December 2009


I LOVE LOVE LOVE to watch Turks dance. One dance is called the halay (hall-eye). Everybody gathers into a line, links pinkies, and then jumps and kicks in unison along with lots of hooting and hollering. The line goes around and around in a big bouncy energetic circle. . . SO MUCH FUN! Sometimes on summer nights we come upon a bunch of people out in the street dancing and celebrating a wedding. Five years ago James and I tried to get lessons... it never worked out, but that's another story for another time...

The other night James' school had a teacher appreciation dinner. The restaurant had a d.j. and at some point a really spunky girl who James says is the schools' computer lab teacher jumped up with a big hoot, pulled out a sequenced hankey, and ran out on the dance floor. Several of the other teachers followed her and lots of fun ensued (usually the one leading the halay line carries a brightly colored sequenced hankey in one hand and has their other hand pinkie-linked to the next dancer).

This is one moment where pictures just don't do justice to the fun scene. I was so sad to get home and see that they look like nothing but blurry people or ladies standing around... believe me, there was so much motion, so much energy, so much noise... I'll show you the pictures, but I am thoroughly disappointed in them.

You see those black boots? I want them.

Now I'm left wondering, do Turks always carry these hankeys around, you know, just in case an opportunity to dance comes up? Or did this girl just decide to tuck it into her purse for that night?

Check out computer girl's face. She was cracking me up. . . such intensity and concentration the entire time.

Obviously these next pictures weren't taken at the restaurant a few nights ago.

Shortly after our arrival in Turkey five years ago, James made a trip with some friends up to Turkey's amazingly beautiful Black Sea coastal region and ended up making friends with a group of Turkish high school students while picnicking in a lush green valley (surrounded by snow capped mountains... how amazing is that?!). Pretty soon music broke out and dancing ensued.

Don't these pictures just make you want to run into a grassy field and belt out, "The hills are alive . . . with the sound of music!!!!" I just had to throw in this last picture, the scene they were all looking at while dancing. . . Now that looks like some dancing I could whole heartedly join into!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Volleyball practice

James came home from school today with an extra skip in his step. He informed me that several of the staff were getting together for volleyball after school. He said it was some sort of staff vs. students game. He LOVES sports and doesn't get to play often so was really excited to jump into some athletic clothes, jump out the door, jump into the game, and jump up to spike that ball.

He returned about an hour later a bit disappointed. Apparently the man who told James about the game was the girl's volleyball coach. When poor James walked into the gym, ready to get his game on he found that guy and 10 high school girls... the volleyball team.

Apparently there were a few awkward moments and then James joined them for one game... The coach plus 5 girls vs. James plus 5 girls. James' team won. He told me he felt really weird being there... but felt a little more weird about showing up in athletic clothes, obviously ready to play, and then just turning around and leaving, so in the end decided that one quick game was the best solution.

After every point the teams ran to the center for a big group high five. Mostly because he wanted to maintain his distance and not give any appearance of being creepy, James didn't really want to join in the 14 year old girl group high five and tried to stay out of it. Somewhere around half way through the game though, one of the girls did a really nice set, and James spiked the ball. His whole team ran over and surrounded him for the big high five when suddenly one of the girls exclaimed "Wow! Your eyes are blue AND green!!!!" and suddenly James had five adolescent girls all trying to look at his eyes. Not exactly what he pictured when he jumped out the door and over to the school for a volleyball game.

Note: Most, though not all, Turks have dark brown eyes. They LOVE blue and green eyes and almost every time they notice them have to stop and take a look. Once while I was in the middle of delivering a baby (by c-section) a nurse noticed my green eyes, said something about it and everyone in the delivery room gathered around to take a look.

So now I'm wondering about this volleyball coach. Who knows what the guy was trying to explain... perhaps that once in a while staff members join the volleyball team at practice? Perhaps he was just explaining his job to James? Maybe the Turkish word for team and the word for staff are similar? Or maybe he just wanted to trick James into helping out at practice... I'm afraid it's doomed to be an unsolved mystery.

And what were those girls thinking about all this? Would you have thought your high school Spanish or French teacher was weird if he decided to join your volleyball practice? Don't answer that, because my poor husband really isn't that strange... culturally challenged, yes. Lingually handicapped, definitely. Strange, no.

*after writing this post, James told me that the next day at school the PE teacher told him, "James gitti mac bitti" translation: James left and the match was over. Apparently the team continued their tournament but James' team (minus James) lost miserably. Poor girls.