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The Turkish Experience

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This is kind of a little update post on some things we’ve experienced or just noticed since being here.

Turkish Livestock

Or rather, wildlife. In SD we saw lots and lots of deer, an occasional fox, prairie dogs, antelope, buffalo, bighorn sheep, and tons of Turkeys. Here there is a different set of wildlife we will get to know. The base vet warned us that there would be lots of spiders (who build little holes in the backyard and will take over if you or your dogs don’t stay active back there – have I ever mentioned how terrified I am of spiders??), snails (which are apparently bad for dogs to eat, but also known to many dogs as a tasty treat), snakes (including venomous vipers!), feral dogs (they are EVERYWHERE), and hedgehogs. I was pretty excited about the hedgehogs. I think the are adorable. And I didn’t have to wait too long to see one. Saturday night Will yelled for me to come downstairs because he had spotted a big one hanging out in the yard. We made sure to tell the dogs NO so they didn’t try to play with it or attack it. The vet also told us some dogs had tried that and been rewarded with puncture wounds from the hedgehog spines. I didn’t brave picking this one up, but next time I totally will. He was very calm and we tried feeding him some sweet potato, but apparently that wasn’t his thing because it was still there the next morning.

The feral dogs are a hard thing to see. This is a no kill country so strays are usually rounded up, tagged and released far from whatever area they are gathering in, but because they are not ever euthanized, packs of them are everywhere. And they chase and attack people and domesticated dogs. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that they aren’t abandoned dogs, their ancestors hundreds of years ago may have been, but these dogs are wild animals. They view you as a threat, and I’ve heard they view your dogs as fresh meat. We’ve been around a few, and they seem to mind their own business for the most part, you just kind of have to be cautious. There is a pack or two that have found their way on base and a friend of ours said she came across one while she was out on a run and the leader of the pack started coming after her, but luckily didn’t pursue for long and wasn’t followed by the rest of the dogs. Still scary to think about!

Our First Meal Off Base

Saturday night we worked up the courage to venture off base for the first time. There is an area directly across from the front gate called the Alley. It is full of shops and restaurants and bars put there mainly to cater to the base residents. We’ve heard there is a process for a business to get approved to open a store front in the Alley that helps offer some protection for the active duty people and families that shop and eat there. We weren’t feeling super adventurous so we basically walked out the gate, straight to the restaurant, ate, and walked straight back on base, but we had a really great experience. Our first restaurant was the Moonlight Cafe.

Will started with an Efes Dark. I tasted it and I may be speaking out of hand since it’s been months since I’ve had a full beer, but I thought it was one of the best ones I’ve ever had. We soon learned however that the Efes original was the same price and came in a much bigger bottle, so after that Will switched.

We had been told that we couldn’t miss out on the cheesy bread…and that was a solid recommendation. it’s basically like a sauceless pizza and is served with a slightly spicy garlic sauce, hot sauce, and jelly. 

I didn’t want to believe that cheese bread and jelly would be a good combination, but I soon learned the error of my assumption. That was my favorite “sauce” to put on the bread!

Our waiter recommended the Joe Montana Special, an oven baked dish with chicken, onion, mushroom, green pepper, cheese, rice, cream…and some fries thrown on top for good measure. I was really happy I heeded his suggestion because it was really good. 

Adana, the city where the base is located, is known for its famous kebab so we knew we had to try it. Will got the Home Make Kebab. I’m sure we will need to try a few more kebabs to form a good opinion, but it was pretty delicious for what we know. 

They also brought us out a salad (on the house) which we dove into before remembering we had been warned not to eat salads in town unless we wanted to develop the “Turkish Trots.” Luckily neither of us ended up getting sick. Then when our meals came they also brought out a pan of grilled veggies (on the house). By the time everything was on our table Will and I looked at each other wondering how in the heck we could even eat a third of what was in front of us. 

We each managed about half of our dishes and were relieved to find that the Turkish are cool with providing doggie bags. We had enough food to last us through the next night! 
We thought this warning label was pretty funny, and also appropriate for us. I wasn’t sure if the people here are very stringent about pregnant women tasting beverages, but I snuck a sip of Will’s beer anyway. 

We had heard that the Turkish people love children, and we have found this to be absolutely true. In a briefing Will had the other day he was told that the base has never had a single incident involving children. During the day around our house, and sort of all over the base, children are out riding their bikes and scooters and playing and running around. It’s kind of amazing and makes me wish our child was old enough to have that experience. I can’t think of anywhere else that children have such freedom to just play and enjoy themselves without the threat of predators. 
While we were eating, a family came in that had a baby and a couple of younger children. The male host almost immediately took the baby from the mom and began playing with it and walked the family (while still holding the baby) to their table. Everywhere seems so family friendly, and children are just adored. 

Randomness

We’ve accepted that in Turkey you stay in a state of general stickiness. It’s hot. Although I will say surprisingly bearable compared to what we expected. Even days that are 107 degrees don’t mean you are forced to retreat to the AC. There is usually a nice breeze and some cloud cover that somehow makes it not feel quite so sweltering. Either that or I’m still thawing out from the arctic tundra that is South Dakota. Anyway, I’ve taken a break from trying to curl and fix my hair. I’ve been rocking a french braid most days and foregoing makeup outside of some waterproof mascara. No sense in wasting it when it will just melt off in an hour or so haha! The evenings here are wonderful. It cools off, but stays plenty warm enough to be comfortable sitting or walking outside, and a lot of people seem to partake in the break from the heat. It’s been so nice to see people out and about everywhere compared to SD where it took us months to meet our neighbors who shared the duplex we lived in. I’m a very social person and the community here, and access to people to talk to and hang out with is so far making me a very happy girl!
We have been surprised at how many Turkish people speak really good English, and just how friendly they are. Seriously, we have met some really nice people since we’ve been here. Both on and off base. 
And speaking of…speaking (geez I’m so good with words today), another kind of cool thing on base is seeing, and hearing the variety of languages and nationalities. I believe we have active duty turkish, american, british and dutch on base. You never know what language you will hear as you pass people on the sidewalk. 

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