Mutlu Yillar (Happy New Year)

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Middle East » Turkey » Mediterranean » Antalya
December 30th 2010
Published: January 4th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Winter in AntalyaWinter in AntalyaWinter in Antalya

Turks know it's winter when there is snow on the mountains overlooking Antalya
Mutlu Yillar (or HAPPY NEW YEAR) and welcome to Bill and Carol's Senior Years Abroad, Months 6 and 7. Though we continue to be extremely happy here, we talk often of our family and friends at home and find ourselves longing for news of all of you. Of course, that's especially true during the holidays.

Since Turkey is a Muslim country, we expected Christmas would be a non-event. But the Turks have adopted all the non-religious decor from western Christmas for their festive New Year's celebration, so the streets and shops are full of lights and decorated trees--just as they are at home. And Antalya is an international city, so the folks from countries that celebrate Christmas have had their influence. As a result, there are Christmas bazaars, parties, and concerts. We went to see a fine performance of the Nutcracker Ballet on Christmas Day--for 10 TL (about $8.00).

Bill and our New Zealand friend, Anne, prepared an unforgettable four-course Christmas Eve dinner. The planning began long before with a devious plot to purchase an officially forbidden ham from an unmarked butcher shop across town. When Anne and Bill finally found the shop, they came home with a gorgeous
Christmas PavlovaChristmas PavlovaChristmas Pavlova

Our New Zealand friend Annie baked this NZ meringue cake for our Christmas eve dinner
but gigantic (7.5 kilo/16 1/2 lb.) Italian ham. Later, with a Turkish friend translating, we realized that what we had was, in fact, a prosciutto-- fabulous meat but requiring a whole new menu. The culinary team went back to the drawing board, and the end result was, well, a triumph. We sang Christmas Carols by candlelight at the end, then collapsed in sated ecstasy.

Speaking of Christmas, we want to pass on the little-known fact that St. Nicholas, the model for Santa Claus, was from a place that is now in Turkey. He was a bishop in 4th century A.D. in Demre, a smallish Mediterranean town not far from Antalya. According to the most commonly told story, Nicholas was an unusually generous cleric who frequently gave anonymous gifts to poor families who could not afford dowries for their daughters. (That circumstance was a frequent cause of prostitution.) In order to make gifts secretly, he put gold coins in socks, knotted them, and tossed the socks down the chimney of poor families' homes. Eventually, he was caught in the act and became famous for his kindness. The red suit, the pipe, the North Pole, and the reindeer were 19th Century
Our Italian adventureOur Italian adventureOur Italian adventure

We thought we were getting a "Christmas ham" from a Greek turned out to be a huge Italian Proscuitto.....Yum!
additions by some New Yorkers, but apparently the stocking gifts and the chimney have their origins with the historical St. Nick.

And here's a little holiday story. This one is personal and illustrates the kind of warm interactions we have in Turkey: When Bill asked what I wanted for Christmas, I asked for a floorlamp--since I love reading with good light. Floorlamps are rare in Turkey, and since shopping adventures are fun for me, I set off with Bill's blessings and a clipart image of a floorlamp. After seeing a couple of lamps that were too expensive and too flimsy, I headed to Gulluk, the used furniture district where we have bought all of our furniture. Two hours and perhaps 30 shops later, I was beginning to head home, dejected and lamp-less. Then I heard someone running after me, calling "Hanim! Hanim!" (Madam) It was the older man who had sold us our living room furniture nearly seven months ago. He kissed my hand and pressed it to his forehead (a gesture of respect), inquired as to my health and Bill's, and invited me to have tea in his shop. When, over chai, I showed him my crumpled clipart
St. Nicholas in DemreSt. Nicholas in DemreSt. Nicholas in Demre

Santa Claus is really a Turk
drawing of a floorlamp, he bowed, poured me another cup of chai, said "on dakika, lutfen" (ten minutes, please) and left clutching the drawing. It was clear that he was going to make the rounds of shopkeepers he knew in search of my lamp. He returned with a wonderfully funky, old-fashioned floorlamp of carved wood with a fringed shade. (Somebody's grandma died and the family probably couldn't wait to get rid of it.) I loved it immediately and asked the price. He said that that the other shopkeeper wanted 70TL, but he had bargained it down to 50TL (roughly $38) for me. The price was about 1/4 of what I had been quoted for a flimsy new lamp earlier, but when I took off the shade of the lamp of my dreams, the bulbs were hanging down from frayed electrical wires and one socket had been shattered. When I asked, in my best schoolgirl Turkish where there was an electrical repair shop nearby, my shopkeeper friend flashed a proud smile: "Ben elektrik tamirci!" (I am electric repairman.) Then, with a wide kitchen knife, a roll of masking tape, and a screw driver, he set about to put the lamp in perfect working order, racing out to neighboring shops now and then to get parts. When we parted, I reached out to thank him with a little extra money and a handshake. He again kissed my hand and pressed it to his forehead. "Mutlu Yillar, Hanim," he said: Happy New Year, Madame. Now the lamp stands beside our Christmas tree, and it casts a warm glow -- almost as warm as my memory of buying it.

A highlight of this fall was a visit from Ted, who was able to wrangle time from his job in Washington D.C. to be with us for two weeks beginning in mid-November. We had a gaggle of friends over for a Thanksgiving feast in his honor. Fortunately, the weather was mostly warm and sunny, and Ted and Bill were able to swim in the Mediterranean almost every day. After Thanksgiving, we traveled west along the Sea for a few days, staying in the little village of Ucagiz and taking a boat out to a couple of great protected swimming coves. Just at the edge of the village, there were perhaps a dozen ancient sarcophagi from 2nd Century A.D.--long ago emptied by grave robbers. Such
The Christmas LampThe Christmas LampThe Christmas Lamp

The Christmas Lamp and Ficus (Christmas Tree) behind it.
antiquities are so common there, that the villagers string ropes from the tombs to hang their laundry! From the swimming boat, we could see the remains of the ancient city of Kekova and the charming island village of Kale, topped by a crumbling Roman castle. A bit farther west along the Sea coast, we came to Patara, a breathtaking ancient (2nd Century BC) site just now under restoration. One of the sites under re-construction at Patara is the first parliament building in the world. The Lycian Federation held their meetings there with representatives from all the Lycian states, up and down the Mediterranean coast. The Lycian parliament was actually a model for the earliest stages of the U.S. representative democracy. In another trip we climbed around the 2nd Century Roman ruins at Aspendos. From my observation, Ted's favorite adventure in Turkey was serving as Bill's sous chef in the kitchen. (The guy is developing some pretty fine knife skills.) Together, they prepared some sumptuous Turkish meals, and, now back in the U.S., Ted says his cooking still bears Turkish influence--especially the bulgur, large quantities of specially-prepared fruits and veggies, and a yogurt drink called Ayran.

Another great autumn treat
Red Underwear for New YearsRed Underwear for New YearsRed Underwear for New Years

This is what Turks give each other for New Years.....among other presents.
came when a Turkish couple, Emel and Ibrahim, invited Bill and me to join their university alumnae group on a weekend trip to the small Mediterranean city of Kas for a special celebration of Cumhurriet Day--the day in 1922 when Turkey became an independent Republic. It was a jolly and congenial group, perfect interpreters of the spectacular celebration. Together we joined about 10,000 visitors from all over Turkey --all of us seated outdoors at flag-decorated tables in the town square just at the edge of the Sea. After a fish dinner and lots of beer and raki (a demonic licorice liqueur), there were fireworks, high school marching bands--and then the dancing began. Traditional Turkish folk music blared, and young and old were on their feet, swaying and waving flags. We elders left around midnight, but the partying went on long after that. (An interesting aside: although there was alcohol everywhere, nobody seemed drunk or even tipsy. Maybe they're just discreet!)

We learned from our more liberal Turkish friends that this particular celebration has a sharp political context in the current environment in Turkey. The celebration we joined was particularly fervent because the merrymakers are expressing their love for Turkey
The Freighter on the Antalya RocksThe Freighter on the Antalya RocksThe Freighter on the Antalya Rocks

This freighter was blown onto the rocks in Antalya harbor during the mid-December hurricane force winds.
as a secular state, the way Ataturk formed it in 1922. Some fear that there is a trend away from secularism and toward more Islamic control in the government; they fear that Turkey could become like modern-day Iran. So, the celebration we attended was not just a huge, pretty party. We could feel conviction in the passion we witnessed there.

Bill and I are finding our days and evenings quite full now. In addition to the Turkish lessons 3 times a week and daily homework as well as our Wednesday night bistro gatherings with English teacher friends, we join various pals for dinner or to see the symphony (which is really quite good). I have three private English students (2 are pro bono), and we both spend all day on Saturday volunteering at a dershane for public school children in a working-class neighborhood. (A dershane is an extra school where students--even elementary-aged students-- take special classes to prepare them for the exams required for university entrance.)

Our days at the dershane are a perfect example of a favorite theme of ours. It goes something like this: Whatever we set out to do in Turkey (call it Plan X), it will inevitably be thwarted, delayed, or altered beyond recognition. But, if we just relax about Plan X and pursue it in a flexible, curious way, something else will happen, and that something (call it No Plan X) is likely to be quite wonderful. We went to the dershane thinking we would be teaching children English (Plan X). Well, that hasn't really happened--at least not much--but we continue to go because OTHER things happen (No Plan X), and we never know what. One teacher brought a whole family he knows to the dershane to meet us--and they were truly extraordinary people. Another teacher brought a 16-year-old homeless girl with her and asked us to talk with her in English. This girl is absolutely delightful: extremely intelligent, fun to teach, and motivated. We've made fascinating friends there, and we wouldn't dream of stopping.

So, our lives are full of surprises. One surprise was a bit frightening. Two weeks ago, a heavy thunder and lightening storm began, and it just got stronger and stronger. Before long, the rain and wind were hammering our single-pane windows so hard that I was sure they would break. As the night wore on, we could hear things crashing and glass breaking outside--even over the sound of the thunderous wind. Our building is just 1/2 block from the Sea, so we may have gotten more tumult than those farther inland. All t.v. news (except BBC and CNN) is in Turkish, and even that is national news--not about Antalya. There was nothing on the web, so we just didn't know what was going on. But the next morning all seemed calm. Outside, a few trees had blown down, and there was some broken glass around. The internet reported that there had been hurricane-force winds and rain. There was lots of coverage about a Bolivian-flag freighter that had been moored in the Bay right near us. In the storm it had lost its anchor and crashed into the cliffs just below Ataturk Park. Of the 18 crew members, 17 were rescued, but the cook was washed overboard and never found.) When Bill went down to investigate the possibility of swimming after the storm, he found the Sea still boiling and wild. In fact, just before he arrived, a cleaning lady who had been sent for a bucket of sea water had been pulled out to sea and drowned! The neighborhood is still reeling from that tragedy.

As always, we'll include a few extra pages of photos that we call "Faces and Places". If you have time, we hope you'll take a peek.

I'll close with hearty best wishes from both of us to each of you for fun, serenity, and fulfillment in the year ahead. And when you lift your glasses tomorrow night, give a nod toward Turkey, will you? We'll be toasting YOU!


Carol (with Bill by my side, as always)

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 30


Turks on Cumhurriet DayTurks on Cumhurriet Day
Turks on Cumhurriet Day

10,000 Turks, most of them on their feet dancing, a primary form of celebration in Turkey
Olive HarvestOlive Harvest
Olive Harvest

Men beat branches with sticks and collect olives on blankets below
Hot Houses in Antalya ProvinceHot Houses in Antalya Province
Hot Houses in Antalya Province

Thanks to hot houses, in last 20 years Turkey has produced enough fruits and vegetables for home and export

4th January 2011

Your literate and interesting blog arrived this morning exciting envy on my part. What a grand time you are having! And thanks so much for sharing with us We've just had one of those wonderfully sunny and cold January weeks; it makes walking such fun, everybody is out striding around the lake. I had a wonderful Christmas season featuring lots of music and family event. Sunday we finished up by going to the Panto, a new experience for me. It was wonderfully funny and disrespectful, "Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Pigs", featuring a sexy wolf and a wanton Grandma. I worked in the garden a bit, long enough to note the perennials are beginning to stir, getting ready for spring. Cheers, Molly Holmes
4th January 2011

Happy New Year
Thanks, as usual, for the update. And Happy New Year to you!!! Just in case you are interested, the fireworks at the Space Needle were probably the best I have ever seen. We watched them from home with our good friends Ted and John. I think we were just lucky to stay up past midnight!! Today is my second day of retirement. Yes, I retired at the end of the year. Feels great so far. The dogs are sure happy. Not so sure about Eileen. Just kidding. She has been very sweet and supportive. Thanks for sending all of the pictures. It looks fascinating and it is piqueing (sp) our desire to come see you. Be safe. Be adventuresome. Be happy. Blessings, Cindy, Eileen, Seda and George
4th January 2011

great blog
Thanks so much, Carol, for the delightful news of Turkey, Ted, your full lives, and all. I took Sylvia's grandsons skiing, and am playing lots of tennis and go. And trying to figure out how to promote direct democracy (not doing well on this front). Looking forward to your next blog
4th January 2011

Salt Lake City
Great to read this blog. I'm glad you're enjoying the volunteering but wondered if you had pursued the English teaching at a local university. Like you, I am ambivalent about "working" at this point in life. I enjoy the work (if there's not too much of it) and the extra money is fine, of course, but I'm always wondering if I shouldn't be out enjoying myself while my health and mobility are still good. Great the Ted was able to visit. I'm sure that adds to the memories. We had ham too! And proscito! Went to Denver for the holidays and had the whole fam-damily came to our old house. I did all the cooking. It was great for everyone. I find myself envying you! Sounds like you are having a great time and seeing lots. The story aboaut the lamp was charming. I'm going to Denver this weekend. Have met a female of the species and we seem to connect very nicely. We'll see. Who knows I may wind up moving back to Devner...which would not be a bad thing. Love, Rich
4th January 2011

Happy New Year to you two/too!
Dear Carol and Bill, I LOVE your periodic letters and photos. It's no doubt a bit of trouble to put them all together, but you sure are educating and entertaining a great many folks in a wonderful way! You make me yearn to kick the traces . . . We are well in Seattle. Tristan is having a better year than average, loved being on a soccer team with other nine-year-old boys and a great coach, is striving to make friends (will go to 1.5-hour weekly sessions at Wally's Club next year where ADHD kids are taught social skills and emotional literacy), is finally reading easily, and has his own personal counselor through the Ryther Child Center. Cameron is doing very well in school, entertains people casually after church playing the piano (but can I get him to PRACTICE?), has a 15-year-old mouth on him that I could do without, and loves life. His occasional party includes all the church youth group as well as some school kids. My daughter visited for two weeks in Dec. and both boys loved that; they have also slipped more comfortably than usual back into the routine of Grandma care after her departure. I'm counting my blessings. I believe Heather Lynn Hansen is doing a good job at church, as is Ben Tompkins and the rest of the board. There is a lot of energy, and a number of new people and kids have come along. Perhaps no more than usual but good to see. We miss you very much! But it's worth it to get these great letters from you. Stay healthy, whatever else you do. Love, Carolyn
4th January 2011

HNY right back at you!
Thanks for sharing you delightfully chaotic (no plan X) lifestyle and experiences with us! It is a thrill to enjoy it all in a virtual fashion. I look forward to hearing yet more. Take care! Rick
5th January 2011

Hi Carol & Bill Thanks so much for the update on your adventures! We love reading about them! If we were really adventurous we'd talk about coming to visit you. Jennie
5th January 2011

Happy New Year to You Too!!!
What a marvelous delight to have just read your last 2 entries--we continue to be amazed at the many people, places, and events that have filled your adventure already. Your photos are beautiful and we linger on each one. December flew by for us as we prepared to have our "this-is-our-Christmas-to have-everyone." We had 19 people sleeping here and all 5 big dogs--it was great. Myra June's 2 year old and Alyssa's 2 year old were the biggest challenge--not really good playmates most of the time. 7 grandchildren and #8 due the end of March--Derek and Amy's first--gender to be a surprise. Of course we would like a girl as Myra's 6 year old Maryn is our only granddaughter but then Derek also says he is the only one to carry on the Hrubes name--safe arrival and healthy is our prayer. Our big celebration the day after Christmas came because Justin proposed to Melody and gave her a lovely ring. No plans soon as she is in 2nd year of residency in Chicago and he has been working this last year as a lawyer in Atlanta. Mother is doing quite well--we have such bittersweet feelings as the Bristol Road house sold and closed the first week in December--they built that the summer I started 6th grade. But Mother is in a lovely one bedroom apt. in a very pleasant assisted living complex just a few blocks from Eric Todd. He is there almost every day and brings one of his little granddaughters frequently. His string quartet is very busy and since the Brazos Chamber Orchestra performs nearby, I was able to take her to the fall concert when I was there in late October and Jamie took her to the Christmas one. Todd played Silent Night cello solo with orchestra and choir accompaniment--thrilled Mother! We did not have a white Christmas here in Montrose but snow and very cold temp came by New Years. Our house has been on the market since June 1 with not one inquiry--we have to sell as none of our land is selling. Myra's husband Rick lost his bank job of 14 years in October (his bank doing fine but corporate not so they made cuts). So we have grave concerns about many people and families but we are so very grateful that both of us and our families are in good health--my mind can't quite realize even yet that Al turned 70 in August--how much we would love to come have an adventure with you! Continue your wonderful travelogs and our love to you this 2011.
6th January 2011

Happy New Year!
Carol and Bill, your blogs are extraordinary! Thank you so much for taking the time to put all this together, so that we can share your adventure, albeit vicariously.
10th January 2011

keep the blogs coming!
I so enjoy your travel blog, and Carol, your signature (with Bill by my side, as always) was just heartwarming. How lucky we are to have found our soul-mates and travel-mates too. I loved the story of the lamp and the red underwear picture too. Looking forward to the next installment. Meanwhile, Happy New Year! Connie
1st February 2011

Hi Carol & Bill, Thanks for your periodic blogs. Between the stories and pictures, I almost feel like I'm there. What an exciting adventure you're on. And you're really making it your home, as you build lasting friendships. As much as you miss us back home, you will miss them when you leave there. I recently got back from 2 weeks in Thailand. What a lovely place and with the kindest people I've ever met. I had a lovely time, but after 48 hours of no sleep and severe jet lag, I got a bad virus that I've been fighting for almost 2 weeks. Oh, well, this too shall pass. I'm beginning to think about my next adventure. I'm thinking either New Zealand or Costa Rica. I would love to find a partner to travel the world with. I'm still doing the online dating thing and am having fun this time. As long as I'm having fun, the rest will happen....or it won't. Either way, I'll keep traveling... Lauren
10th February 2011

I love reading the blog - thanks for including me! All is well in Seattle if you love to work on never-ending, never decided transportation issues. I continue to work ORCA and Ron continues to plan LINK. I just wanted to let you know that I have a friend who has become quite interested in traveling in Turkey in June and has asked us to go with her - she and her husband are Maia's godparents, and she was my very first friend in Seattle when I came in 1974. Her daughter is my goddaughter who just gave birth to a baby boy last week! SO I am a grand-godmother or god-grandmother or something like that. Anyway I will keep you posted. My friend wants to rent a sailbot and hop the coast. Ron gets very sea-sick so that probably won't work for him, but we are trying to come to some agreement. I will let you know what we work out. Is there any chance that the Tunisia/Egypt unrest will spread to Turkey? TAke care, Laurie
10th February 2011

wrong email
the comment I just sent has the wrong email I just realized - it was some weird combination of my work and home email because there are 2 bickering children behind me. Laurie
11th February 2011

what a surprise
Malva told me that you moved to Turkey--what a great choice!! If I wasn't Greek (and wanting for my family to speak to me) I would move there myself. It's a beautiful country with so many fantastic Greek ruins. This is a great blog and I will visit it often. In case you didn't know, we go to Greece every summer in a small village called Kanali, 10 minutes from the town of Preveza, in the Northwest. It's beautiful up there and not very touristy at all. We build a small house with my brother and his family leaving next door. This will be our retirement place. We would eventually spend our time there from March to November. We haven't figure it out yet where we will be from December to March--it will depend on the kids.. It is great to see your pictures--you all look wonderfully relaxed.. Take care and lots of hugs(as we do in Greece), Fotini

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