It seems with every base there are always people who love it, and people who hate it. When we got Ellsworth as our first assignment, I can’t tell you how many people looked at us with pity and told us having to go there first at least we would probably get a great second assignment. I was hysterically upset and dreaded moving there with every fiber of my being. As any of you familiar with this blog know, South Dakota was anything but bad. Sure we grew very tired of the snow and cold (I still currently hate snow), and longed to live somewhere that didn’t require a 5 hour drive to get to another city, but we committed ourselves to making the best of our assignment there. Many people choose to cocoon themselves in their base. Box Elder, where Ellsworth is actually located, is a brown expanse of ugly Prairie Land. The only restaurants off that exit (not including the two restaurant food court and dining facility on base) are a Pizza Hut and a Diary Queen express. It’s crazy windy and very depressing at times. The 9-hole golf course is by far the prettiest thing you see until you drive the 20 minutes to town. If you didn’t break out of your base comfort zone and get yourself into the beautiful Black Hills, I can fully understand how Ellsworth would be an assignment from hell. The very first weekend we were in town we set out to get to know our new home. In fact, there weren’t many weekends that we didn’t hit the road to see what we could see, and discover some new town or trail. In the end, we built up a store of amazing memories, grew so much as a couple, made friends, and thrived. We were ready to leave when the time came, but having a good attitude turned what could have been a disappointing assignment into one that we will always think of fondly. Attitude is everything. In life of course, but in the military it is crucial.
Contrary to Ellsworth, when we received our assignment to Incirlik we were bombarded with people telling us how much they loved their time here. How amazing the travel opportunities were. How delicious the food was. And how close-knit the community was on base. We came here with very high hopes and a lot of excitement.
So far it’s been a mix of what we expected, and a little bit disheartening. The base itself is decent, maybe not quite as new as the facilities at Ellsworth, but more than satisfactory. The commissary is obviously going to be a challenge, but I had always intended to do most of my shopping at the local markets. No way I was going to be this close to the abundance of Turkey and not take advantage! It’s hot, like kind of oppressively hot during the day, but the afternoons are very pleasant. And thanks to it being election time, there are protests going on in Adana that have cause our curfew to be moved up from midnight to 9:00pm, and our access to be restricted to the base and the Alley. In other words we aren’t allowed to go out in the city at the moment, although we ARE allowed to drive through it in order to get to other places like the beach or Cappadocia or anywhere else we might like to go for the weekend. The idea of going out into a foreign city is already intimidating, and the restrictions and protests make it feel much like an impossibility. So we feel a little caged at the moment. I know this will change once we have a car, and once the restrictions are lifted, and once we take our first trip outside of the gates and realize it isn’t so bad. Any assignment has the ability to force you out of your comfort zone, and a Turkish assignment might be one of the most challenging.
Something we hadn’t expected was the negativity from the people who have been here a while. Contrary to the accolades people sang to us about how great Incirlik was, the people here feel very differently. Almost everyone we’ve talked to can’t wait to leave. They are trying to be sensitive to our feelings and the fact that we just arrived, but their small hints at the frustrations of living here haven’t been lost on us. Oddly we, or at least I, haven’t really been phased by this. I think Ellsworth was good practice for us in not letting others’ opinions affect our outlook.
It’s too early to really make a judgement on this place. Until we get settled in our house, venture off base, and get a better understanding of just what we are dealing with, it would be unfair to write this off as a bad assignment. In all honesty, I feel happy. We haven’t really seen or done anything particularly exciting or awesome, but just going through this process and accepting that we are now living overseas is really cool. I’m determined that once again our attitude will play a leading role in our happiness here, and I refuse to accept that with so much at our fingertips we can’t find a way to really enjoy our time here. Our immediate location may leave things to be desired, but there are really amazing places just a short drive or short (and cheap) flight away. At this point even going out to dinner is an adventure, and you know how much we love a good adventure.
So how are we? We are feeling positive. We are taking things a day at a time. We are being patient. We’re here, this is our new home, and we are accepting that. And yes, we are still excited about this awesome opportunity 🙂