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}.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008. Resting Day. Sushi Dinner. Day 17 of 21.


This is a recovery day, hopefully. My cough is deep and often, and I take a couple of naps during the day. The cough sounds like a train crash, or if you know bad things about dogs, it sounds EXACTLY like a dog with distemper.

Cihan gets home from work and begins his second job, as Sushi Chef. He specializes in preparation and presentation. No, wait - taste. No, wait - spearfishing the fish! Wait, all of those. Here are some photos.




Place the rice on the seaweed and flatten


Using his sushi kit, Cihan rolls one


After unrolling, filling, rerolling, dipping, it's time to cut


Cihan's new knife sharpener makes for an easy job


Artistically arrange the rolls onto the presentation tray


A good start


The table looks awesome


Tara's pregnant friend Karrie has been craving sushi for a few days, so it's a good excuse for a sushi party. Her husband is out of town, so WE GET HIS!


The individual trays and plates start the juices flowing.

We set aside about half of the sushi for tomorrow night's dinner. Yum

I send out Reports 9 and 10.


Thursday, December 4, 2008. Resting and Packing Day. Day 18 of 21


I spend this day resting again, and it feels pretty good. Sharon resumes a task she started some days ago, which is the cracking and shelling of pecans.

{As you can see from some of these pictures, I was listening to music so Bob and Tara had to listen to my singing along with the songs. You know how that goes; you sound so good in your own ears, because you actually can't hear yourself. Tara and Cihan had gotten these pecans from a friend of theirs and we had them in a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, but now I was finishing them so Tara could put them in the freezer while they are gone. Did you know that pecans were not actually domesticated until 1867? I'm reading a great book of Tara's about the domestication of foods and animals around the world. I wonder if before 1867, people still had pecans but only by picking them in the wild?} I complete my packing, except for the computer, camera and a few other items.

Cihan comes home from work, and we polish off the rest of the sushi. It's the best second day sushi I've ever had in Turkey. And to my surprise, it's just as good as last night's.

I send off Reports 11 and 12


Friday, December 5, 2008. Bus to Ankara. Day 19 of 21.


I get off Report 13, just as Tara's friend from directly below their apartment comes up to say hello, and to wish us a safe trip. She will take care of Tara's plants. She and her husband have a boy and a girl. The girl is in college and the son is in high school. Both live at home, and they love Tara and Cihan.


Cihan's Bonsai, held by their downstairs neighbor, who will care for the plants while they're gone

I'm told our bus leaves at 1 pm. Cihan comes home, and they bring down their bags. The plan is for Cihan to load up the car and take Sharon. They will go to the bus stop, and leave Sharon and all the luggage. Then Cihan will come back, get me and Tara and the rest of the luggage, then drive to his friend's house near the base entrance, park, and we'll walk to the bus stop, just outside the gate, but across the busy highway.

He takes off with Sharon, I stay down with the rest of the bags, and Tara goes upstairs to make last minute checks. She comes down just as Cihan returns. Cihan goes upstairs, and it's 1240. Twenty minutes. Looks like we'll have plenty of time.

Tara's friend who visited us this morning comes out to leave and talks with Tara while we're waiting for Cihan. 12:45. 12:50. 12:55. 12:58. 1:02. Cihan comes down.

We take off like it's the Indy 500, and park at Ciihan's friend's apartment, then start walking/hustling toward the gate. I learn that the bus is scheduled for 1:05, not 1:00, so that's a little better.

We get there, pass through the gate, me first, then Tara, then Cihan. I turn in the pass that got me and Sharon off and onto the base during the past three weeks. Cihan talks for a second to the guard as Tara and I go on. Tara hurries up and I speed up too. We see an EFE TUR bus go past. I hope that wasn't ours.

It's about 1:10. {At this time, I'm starting to get nervous. Several buses have gone by but they are the smaller ones so I don't think they are ours. They stop and other people get on. Cihan said our bus leaves at 1:15, I keep looking for them tp come back with the rest of our bags.. Finally, a big EFE TUR bus stops by me. A man gets off, looks at me and the luggage with a question on his face. He doesn't say anything and I am too flustered to remember enough Turkish to say "Is this the bus to Ankara? Can you wait?" Well, to tell the truth, out of that whole sentence, I might have been able to say "Ankara?" But I don't say anything, give the universal shrug of the shoulders to say "I don't know" and he gets back on the bus which pulls away about 20 feet pausing to pull back into traffic.}

We climb up the slight rise to the street, and see the EFE TUR bus pull out from the bus stop, heading to our left. THIS MUST BE OUR BUS. Tara yells at Cihan. Cihan yells "Fudge." Only he didn't say fudge. You know what he said if you ever watched "A Christmas Story".

But Cihan is waving to the driver, who sees him, slows, and stops. Cihan goes around to the other side of the bus. The driver and the porter/attendant both come out, and have a discussion with Cihan, who is such a good story teller that within 15 seconds, the bus driver is laughing. Cihan has the bus driver back up to where Sharon is, they load all our bags, and we get on the bus. {I was watching the bus pull away, still not having seen Bob, Tara, and Cihan and suddenly I see Cihan in front of the bus stopping it. Great relief!}


Our bus looks like this. It's tall and comfortable.


We take off for Ankara. I tell Cihan that I'm proud to be a part of what is surely a new world record in the closest you can POSSIBLY come to catching a bus without missing it.

It's 1:17 pm and we're on our way, in Seat 43 and 44. We go around a cloverleaf to go to the main bus terminal, and I barely get a shot of a fascinating scene (see photo below).


A submarine surfaces in the cloverleaf

Cihan says they have landscaped the surrounding cloverleafs with interesting objects, which have local meaning and application. This one represents the naval base in Golcuk. Cihan says that they hired the navy to build this, and that it uses parts of an actual, retired submarine.

We go to yet another bus stop, and as we leave it, we notice a fire up on a hill. It looks like a residence, but when I zoom in on the photo, the fire is not in line with the other houses. It looks like a large trash or leaf fire, or maybe a car on fire. But not a house.


I believe this fire, big as it appears, is NOT a house fire.


We hit the main highway and the attendant comes down the aisle offering free crackers, brownies, fruitcake, water, other drinks. I get a cup of coke, and the cup fits neatly through a hole in the drop down tray, sliding all the way down so that only the rolled rim stops it from going clear through. I get some crackers. Neat and out of the way. No way willl THIS cup ever turn over.

I just finished The Yogurt Man Cometh, about an American's adventures teaching school in Ankara for one year. Now I'm reading Fiasco, a clever Turkish mystery translated to English, and Sharon is reading Guns, Germs and Steel, a book apparently about everything. {This is the book I was telling you about. It explores history through the development of things like cultivation of crops, domestication of animals leading to further civilization and inventions. A fascinating book.}

Tara's literary translation connection, Nancy, gave us two books, and Fiasco is the second one I've read. Sharon borrowed GG and S from Tara.

I drop something onto the floor and I can't reach it with the tray table down, so I lift it up. DID I FORGET SOMETHING? You bet I did. I forgot about the coke, and with it setting so low in the hole of the tray table, it wasn't visible unless you're looking right at it. Now I'm holding the coke up against the fabric of the seat in front of me. "Uh oh," I say as I remember what the situation is. It's not too bad yet, just dribbles. But to recover, I SLOWLY let the tray table back down, and THAT'S when the spillage occurs, coking up my camera, my vest and jacket on the floor, the seat back and the floor.

Way to go BOB, my memory nagger says, giggling away (not Sharon. My own internal one. You know the one).

To get a napkin, I notice there's one on Sharon's tray table. I grab it, not noticing the cheese sandwich on it. I pull the cheese sandwich off the tray as I slide the napkin off, both halves landing on the floor, cheese side down. Way to go BOB. Oh shut up. {We are laughing so hard by this time my eyes are watering. Way to Bob, keeping us entertained always.}

We finally get everything cleaned up, Sharon declines a replacement sandwich from Tara, who has packed several for our trip (Cihan's mom Aysel has taught her to take food along on such trips for emergencies. Tara has learned well, and has needed the food a couple of times).

As in an airplane, there is a dropdown widescreen TV screen every three seats or so, overhead. There's a satellite receiver dish on the roof of the bus, with an enclosing plastic housing. This lets the satellite signals through, keeping the rain, wind and dust out. Gyroscopes and gimbals keep the dish pointed at the selected satellite no matter which way the bus turns, goes up and down hills, or leans to the left or right. OK, OK, it doesn't work so well in a tunnel, freezing the picture till they exit, picking up again then. But it's pretty cool

We pass a neat little valley with a stream, farms and fields, and cattle. I'd like to live here, I think, safely knowing I won't, of course. But it's an inviting valley. Further on, Sharon spots us a GREAT EGRET. We see snow on a mountain peak far in the distance.

At about the halfway point, we stop at a bus stop/snack place, and Cihan goes with me to buy some goodies - some to eat on the bus, others to take back to the US. The toilets work just fine here too. Sharon is asleep, so we leave her undisturbed on the bus.

As we take off, we see another bus pulling in with a sticker on the bumper. It is an advertisement for a product, apparently called the Voith Recorder. Wait. What?

Sharon shows me in her book that the Finnish language had no sounds with the letters b c f g w x or z, so they dropped those letters from their alphabet. So we start making up sentences in English-Finnish. "Hello, My name is O." "Hello O, I am Sharon. You are my husand." Ait. hat?

I tell Cihan about the time I was a little kid, and had just learned the alphabet. I was carefully writing down each letter, singing the song in my head. I came to a letter that had puzzled me. The letter after 'K'. "Mom," I asked, "How do you draw an LMNOP?" Thinking that was a letter, just like the letter 'K' or the letter 'Q'. Cihan laughs, then says, "I thought you said 'Elephants are Pee.' "

A sign says 11 degrees. They use Centigrade, aka Celcius here


Sharon asks, "What's that in Fahrenheit?" I know a few math tricks. I know that zero Celcius is 32 F. I also know that there are 1.8 F degrees for every 1.0 C degree. I also know that to multiply anything by 1.8, you exactly double, then exactly subtract 10 percent of THAT number. I also know that 10 percent of anything is produced by simply moving the decimal one place to the left. When you put this all together you take 11 and multiply by 1.8. Do this by doubling 11 to 22, then subtracting 2.2. Well, I just round off to 2.0, subtract THAT from 22 and get 20. Then add that to freezing (32). 32 plus 20 is 52. It's 52 withing plus or minus 0.2.

"52" I say, about 10 seconds after Sharon asks.. Sharon says, "The other day it was 15 degrees, and you said THAT was 52. It must be only 42." I laugh and say, if I said anything else I was wrong. 11 degrees C is 52 F. She doesn't believe me, or more precisely, she wants an independent calculation. "Cihan, what's 11 degrees in Fahrenheit?" Cihan has this cool PDA/cell phone/calculator/micro computer. "I can calculate that," he says.

About ten minutes later, he says, "52." {DANG Bob is right , again}

We come into Ankara, and it takes another hour to get to the bus station. There, we see a couple of vehicles like delivery vans with phone numbers on the side. Cihan calls one and the fellow shows up in no time. Amazingly we get all of our luggage plus all four of us into the van. Cihan rides up front and chats with the guy during the entire ride to his parents' house. {Cihan's great idea as we are driving is to have the van take us directly to Kemal's house instead of dropping us off at the hotel first and we would take the Metro over there. That would have taken so much longer, maybe two hours round trip, and this way we get to visit with the family longer. We are staying in a nice hotel in town and Tara and Cihan will stay with his parents.}

I suggest that maybe we can talk with the guy, and see what he'd charge to take us to the airport when we leave on Monday morning. Again, we wouldn't need two taxis, but only this one van. Cihan talks with him. He's charging 40 YTL to take us from the bus station to Kemal's (Cihan's dad). And he quotes us 80 YTL to take us to the airport. Cihan makes arrangements for him to pick us up at 2 am Monday morning. {YIKES, 2 in the morning? As you can tell from this statement, I never know what the travel plans are until the last. Our plane leaves Ankara so early and we have to get there 2 hours before for the security and such.}

They exchange phone numbers. This is a great thing we've bumped into. Our transporation problems are solved. The method we WERE going to use was to have Cihan's dad drive one car and Metin, Cihan's brother-in-law drive another to drop all of us and our luggage off, then they would each drive back to Kemal's, where Metin, Canan and Burcu will spend the night. This is WAY better all the way around.

We get to Kemal's place, get the front gate buzzed open, go in and load several pieces of luggage into the back of Kemal's car (that we won't need tonight), taking the rest upstairs to the 7th floor, where Kemal and Aysel's apartment is. The good news is that there are two elevators. Woohoo. We give a big Ahhhhhhhhh, for arriving safely. We relax, have some soup, I think, to eat. Or maybe dessert. Or maybe both. There is a Turkish version of Deal or No Deal on, but there are some key differences, which in my opinon, make this a much more entertaining show.

MIKTAR YADA YOK MIKTAR (I think you can figure this one out)

There are about 26 contestants on, each manning one suitcase, rather than 26 hot girls manning the briefcases. Each evening one contestant is selected at random from the 26, to try for the big bucks. They call the remaining 25 contestants his (or her) "friends." They are all very supportive. A show doesn't last just 30 or 60 minutes. It's on all evening. I guess it's on 3 or 4 hours. I get hooked on it. They screen potential contestants very carefully. Each contestants has some talent or special thing about them. By the end of the evening, the "playing" contestant wins something, big or little, then is gone. That night they then select a new contestant, who will play the next night. There is much weeping and nashing of teeth, as the players realize that this "friend" will only have one more night with them, then be gone. A new contestant, whose application was approved and who was chosen by the producers, is then added to the show, to replace the one who just had his "day in the sun."

They tell us that there is a jigsaw puzzle being worked on, and it is stored above the cabinets in the dining room. I reach up and get it down. It's a good one. I work on it for a bit, then put it back. "Canan and Burcu will be delighted that you can work on the puzzle," I'm told, and I look forward to it tomorrow.

We visit for a few hours, then Cihan drives us to our hotel for the night, the Ickale, pronounced itch-CALL-ee. We must take our luggage over there, and there isn't room in Metin's car.

It's a very nice hotel. The price list on the wall next to checkin says that our size room costs 220 euros, or about $290, per night. Cihan got it for us for $89, including breakfast. {Way to go, Cihan! He has taken such good care of us all the way. I can't imagine travelling here without his and Tara's help. We feel so special and taken care of. Love those kids.}

Our room is small, but it's nice. TV, bath with shower, big bed, refrigerator stocked with overpriced drinks and candy. Hey, just like in the US. Not wireless, but cable high speed internet. Excellent. I hook up my computer and after getting settled, work on a report.

And that's about it. We have a relaxing evening, enjoying the big bed and the TV.

BIRDS: Great Egret.

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