NOTE: Additions to the text in red were added during the report compilation, for the website.
NOTE: Sharon's comments will be in {curly brackets}.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. Exploring Cihan's High School Island. Day 13 of 21.

PHOTO NOTE: There were way more photos taken during the day to include in the narrative below. If I had included them, it'd take an hour to download. Instead I put about sixty of them up on Picasa, with notes, and you can access them at


It's 8:30am, the sun is up, the weather is clear with scattered clouds. It's cool and a little windy but nice. Sharon is downstairs already having her morning coffee. {I was up at 7AM to enjoy the sunrise and the harbor views and decided I could navigate the Turkish cafeteria to get a cup of coffee and let the others sleep. I ask the young man manning the breakfast buffet (all of the staff here are young men serving their military duty that all Turkish men have to do). I ask him for Koufaci and he asks me if I want Turkish coffee. "American" I say as the Turkish coffee is strong and usually only drunk in the evenings. He says "Nescafe?" and I say "evet" (yes). The young man who brings it to me in the sunroom (Um, so warm out there) starts a conversation in English, asking me where I am from and how I come to be here. (I'm sure it is unusual for Americans to be at the military hotel). I compliment his English and he says he would like to go to America. He has a friend who works on a cruise ship and he thinks he might work on one too. What I know is that if you start a conversation with anyone here, it will go on indefinitely as people here are so friendly. But after a while he leaves and I enjoy my book and the coffee.} We are going to meet Tara and Cihan at 9:00 am and go to breakfast.I scan the water for new birds. Sharon says she saw a small bird with a black head, maybe a Little Gull, but I can't find it. I see a few terns which patrol the harbor a few feet above the water, occasionally diving INTO the water, after small fish. I think I see a black-throated diver (common loon in the US), but it is likely a shag, which has about the same configuration and posture as it floats on the water.

Sharon comes back up and we discuss the birds. Now we both think the one bird is a shag and not a diver. There are many gulls, but seem to be of only two types. A large one, which we have seen a lot of in Golcuk - a yellow-legged gull. And another one, which we peg as a winter plumaged black-headed gull. In winter the black disappears all except for a blotchy black patch behind and above the eye. They have a beautiful white and grey and black color pattern on their wing, and the white leading edge of the outer wing finalizes our diagnosis. Black-headed gull.

We go down for breakfast, picking up our cold food first. I take two tomato quarters, peeled and ready to slice. Others take olives and an assortment of things. We get to the table, where they will come and ask for hot orders. Cihan asks if I want an egg and I say two fried eggs. He asks for verification, "Two?" Yes, I say. I also ask for toast, of the US variety, not the "tost" of the grilled cheese variety. I have an apricot juice.

We start eating and the waiter brings two plates, each with two fried eggs. "There are your eggs, Dad," says Cihan. "Why are there four? Did you also order two?" He says, "You said you wanted two." "Yes, but there are four!" I exclaim. "Each order is two eggs. I thought you wanted two orders." "I don't know one order is two eggs. But they look good." "I'll help you eat them," says Cihan. And we're off.

I'm dipping my buttered toast in the egg yolk and I'm happy, though I have to gently scrape away the uncooked white, covering the yellow cooked yoke. Reminds me of the time Mom was sick at home when I was little and Dad fried me an egg, also with lots of uncooked white. "I didn't know you were a cooker," I told Dad. I wanted Mom back - the REAL cooker.

We finish breakfast and go for a walk, umbrellas at the ready, for it looks like rain. Cihan gives us a wonderful tour of his high school, showing us the indoor swimming pool, the track and soccer field, the lecture rooms and it's all fun, thinking of Cihan as a young high school student, running all over this place.


That's a statue of the revered Ataturk, "The Father of Turkey".


A wonderful symmetry characterizes this building, the date showing that the school is older than the United States!


Look at the wonderful anchor detail on the stair railings.


Looking up the cliff from the lower area. Our room is the second floor from the top, third window from the right. Wonderful views from there.

"Heybeliada" means saddleback island, because there are two high spots with a lower part in between. Speaking of spots, we spot a female house sparrow. It gets cooler and begins to sprinkle, as we have Cihan take us to the harbor where all the gulls are resting. It turns out that there all the gulls are winter editions of black-headed gulls, with their orange-red bills and legs, and all the terns are Sandwich Tern, with black bills with yellow on the tips.


Anchors Aweigh, Turkish Navy style.


The "old" Turkish Navy is represented in this mural, on the other side of the front of the administration building from the "new" navy I showed you in the previous email.

We exit the military property and go down to the beach, where Sharon gets us on a few Black-necked Grebes (Eared Grebes in the US), doing their diving for fish bit.

It's raining lightly but steadily and we have our umbrellas out, those of us who have them. Sharon has her rainbow pullover hat on.

There are horse-drawn carriages all over the place, and I offer to treat us to a "large tour" of the island. Cihan negotiates a price (meaning he accepts the advertised price, unusual for Cihan) and we load up. I like the old man calling to his horses Columbo and Some-Turkish-Word.


I like the old man's smile, as he talks with Cihan {I ask the man if I can give sugar cubes to the horses and he says it is Okay. Didn't you know that I often carry sugar cubes in my pocket for just such an occasion? You never know when you might meet a horse.} Upon applying common sense, I now realize he was smiling at Sharon, giving his horse sugar.


As we get into the carriage, I admire the new label of dogfood.

We pass the hotel Sharon and I would have stayed at if Cihan had not been able to get us into the military hotel. $90 vs. $7 in the military hotel!


The Halki Palace

We head up the hill in the carriage, and Cihan says, "You'll get to see where I spent my first year, studying nothing but English." I spot a European Blackbird flying from a fence into a bushy tree.


Cihan's freshman year classroom building, where they studied only English, non-stop, all day, every day. Weekends off of course. {We meet their resident cat, beutiful white, but deaf, the boy tells us. I also spot a small bird that by the high-pitched call and the eyering is probably a goldcrest but Bob doesn't get on it.}

We have a nice review of the island during our ride. The rain has let up a little, and Cihan opened up the side curtains for better views.


Heading back into the main town.

We head back down to the center of town, and the driver lets us off. I forget the price, maybe 35 ytl, or $22 more or less.

We walk a bit, and Cihan says, "Let's go into the restaurant and have some tea." We go in and unload all our stuff, then enjoy the warmth while enjoying a view of the rain out the large front windows.

We share lots of laughs, tea, snacks, and then I realize Cihan has set the manager to looking for something. "They just checked in the stove," Tara laughs. I learn that they are looking for a game we can play, which "uses lots of calories." What can this game be?

It turns out to be a game very similar in appearance to Rummikub, but is even more enjoyable. We play for hours and hours, each of us starting with 50 points, shedding points as we play, causing the game to end when the first person goes to zero or negative. Then whoever has the most points left is the winner.


The game of Okay {spelled Okey in Turkey}

It turns out that I proudly dip below zero first, and Cihan is the big winner.

We walk back up the hill, into the military compound, up to the hotel and straight into the restaurant. We enjoy another great dinner, with even more laughs. Sharon is the funniest. There are a couple of young Turks, one a singer and the other an electronic keyboard master, and I do mean master. There about twenty women, around 50 years old, in the other room, and they really enjoy these songs.

I have another lamb shish order for dinner, with french fries and peeled sliced tomatoes. I can't tell you, unless I already did, how fantastic it is to be eating fresh tomatoes still, at the end of November. They are delicious.

There is a cylindrical display case with desserts in it. Last night I had a strawberry pudding thing, and I order another one tonight. There are a couple of pieces of cake and Sharon orders one. Tara and Cihan order tasty looking desserts with what looks like whipped cream on top.

They taste theirs but the whipped-cream has set up, like concrete, and they ask the waiter how long they've been in the case. "A while," he says cryptically. I look at Sharon, and she has a hammer and chisel, trying to pierce the top of her cake to separate a chewing-sized piece, but with little success. All of this is hilarious, and it's on we laugh, to paraphrase one Yoda, from Star Wars.

And finally perhaps the best day of the trip comes to an end. The heating system of our hotel room apparently runs under the marble tiles, because I can stand on many of the 12" x 12" tiles and warm my bare or socked out feet.

Good night and may all your days be warm and cozy.

Birds: Sandwich Tern, Black-necked Grebe, European Blackbird, possible Goldcrest


Previous Report
Next Report
Report Index