Thursday, July 29, 2010

"It's plain to see you're just curious"

Oh my. I just realized my last update was about a week ago. Sorry about that, dear readers!

So, I'll try to keep this relatively brief. I arrived in Marmaris around 7 pm on Friday after waiting at comstruction for two hours (the only road into Marmaris was closed), and then spent a stressful hour seeking a hotel. Finally I found a decent one, which was not quite as clean as I had originally thought after closer inspection. Marmaris was extremely busy with tourists and was very loud into the wee hours of the night. I quickly decided I didn't want to stay another night there.

On Saturday morning, I contacted a friend, Tina, in the neighbouring city of Içmeler asking her for a recommendation of where to stay. She, very kindly, had me go to her husband's restaurant where he called some contacts and got me a very nice room, or rather, apartment like room, to stay in for the next four nights. I was invited to join Tina and her daughter for dinner once I was settled. We had a great meal, with great conversation, and afterwards we went back to Tina's where we were joined later by Katya and Charlotta, all three of them being women I had met in Turkey back in 2007. The conversation was excellent and very interesting and completed the fantastic evening.

Sunday, I was very sick. Diarehha, horrible stomach pains and I threw up once (sorry for the details if you didn't want to hear them). It made for a very quiet Sunday. I slept most of the day, though with constant runs to the bathroom. There was definitely a few times where I wondered whether I was in enough pain to have to go the hospital. Praise God though, I was feeling much better by around 10 when I went to bed.

Monday, I took it easy. I was still weak from the night before. I went swimming at the busy beach, wandered around town but generally found I was already bored with Içmeler, Mostly because the town is very tourist centred this time of year, and mostly catered to English tourists. Everything was English. It was like England except In a hot place. And one thing I have to say about Europeans in general: they are not ashamed of their bodies, which is a good thing. But there's a difference between not being ashamed, and letting it all hang out. Sometimes literally. At one point, I averted my eyes from the topless, older and rather large woman on the beach only to be disturbed by the topless, older and rather large man on my other side who's bosom was nearly as big. Yes, disturbing.

Tuesday morning I met the same three ladies again for breakfast at a neat restaurant that overlooked Marmaris, and showed it's beauty, as well as it's ugliness. Again, we had a great visit and I was sad to say goodbye, but said I'd return soon. The rest of the day was rather uneventful until the evening when my hotel had some entertainment lined up in the form of break dancers, a belly dancer and traditional Turkish folk dancers. I was able to enjoy the entertainment from my balcony since I was already in my pajamas. As a side note, although the staff at the hotel were really friendly to me at first, I think in the end they didn't really like me. I ate out instead of eating at the hotel and buying drinks there. I think they were hoping to get more money out of me while I stayed there. Too bad for them.

Wednesday morning I left early, caught a bus to Marmaris, then bought a bus ticket to go out along one of the peninsulas to Datça. I was hoping for some quiet here, and to get away from the huge amount of tourists. And it worked. This town is small and relatively untouched when it comes to big fancy hotels. The past two days I've stayed at a lovely hotel in a room that overlooks the Aegean. I've gone swimming twice, spent some time wandering along the harbour and on Thursday I ventured by bus out to Eski (old) Datça and took many photos of the old town with ots small and winding cobbled streets.

I had been planning to stay here in Datça another day, but yesterday it started growing on me that I should go to Bodrum and there I'd get to visit the amazing underwater archaeology museum. So, plans have changed, and I'm heading to Bodrum tomorrow by ferry before I head to Izmir on Saturday. I'm quite excited about going there, and taking the ferry. We know a woman working at the museum so hopefully I'll get a chance to see her.

Also of interest to note is I was hit on by another waiter. The waiter asked if I had a boyfriend, and when I said no, he said that was too bad. He then said "I know how we can fix this. You come back later and I'll take you out. We'll go to a disco bar." I politely declined. At least he was closer to my age this time. There was a waiter at Tina and her husband's restaurant however that I would have had a lot more trouble declining if he had asked.

Well, I'm off now to catch the ferry to Bodrum. Sorry for any spelling errors!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

4 Days in Antalya

There's so much to say about the last four days spent here in Antalya. It's actually felt like I was on vacation here. I was
very comfortable and had very little stress and anxiety here. These days were a break in the labour pains.

Sunday night I started looking online about flying to Istanbul and then homeward. But when I saw the opportunity with the same airline to fly to Antalya, nearly in the opposite direction, I clearly knew God was calling me there and I knew that my journey was about to get longer. The next morning I was at the airport early, purchsed a ticket to Antalya, and was fortunate enough to see the crew from Oklahoma and Texas again since they were flying out to Istanbul. The flight was about an hour and 15 minutes and I arrived in the Kaleiçi (Old Antalya) by around noon. I was soon settled in a pansion owned by a kind Dutch woman. After getting quite naseous from the first room I was in, I was able to switch into a big room with a king-sized bed and my own bathroom (the first room had a shared bathroom).

I didn't waste much time in getting out and seeing some of the old town. It was great to be in a place that I had been before. I joined a lovely British family on a boat tour of the harbour and had a great visit at the front of the boat with the grandmother. I ate supper at a beautiful restaurant that overlooked the harbour.

On Tuesday, I headed to the Antalya Museum which boasts a number of Roman statues from the nearby site of Perge and a lot of artifacts from other sites in the Antalya region. I thought the museum was fantastic, and I ended up taking a lot of photos of statues and the many lithics they had on display. So once I get pictures up, just skip through those ones if you aren't interested. In the the afternoon I headed to Paul's Place, a coffee shop of sorts, also located in the Kaleiçi. I had a great visit there with two of the workers, in particular Missy from New Mexico who was serving there for a few weeks. That evening, after eating at the same restaurant as the day before, I then went for a swim in the Mediterranean at a private beach. So within two days, I had swum in the Black Sea and the Mediterraneam Sea. Now when I swim in the Aegean Sea, I will have swum in every sea Turkey touches. The awkward part of this day was the waiter at that lovely restaurant who took an interest in me, and nervously asked me if we could tale a walk around the harbour together the next evening. The worst bit though was that he was at least double my age. That was the last night I went to that restaurant.

On Wednesday, I decided to head out to the site of Olympos, both to enjoy the ruins and go for another swim in the Med. It was an exciting trip out of Antalya and into the mountains. The highlight was definitely sitting next to a young french woman who was also an archaeologist! We then spent the entire hour and a half journey talking about archaeology, sites to visit and about her master's work. The site itself was packed with a steady stream of people paying the 3 Lyra site entrance fee to utilize the beach for swimming. Once I had explored the site as much as my energy permited, I had trouble finding a spot to leave my stuff on the beach. The most exciting part of the swim was getting entangled in a kids fishing line. Yes, as busy as the beach was, there was a group right smack in the middle fishing. In total, I spent 35 Lyra, rode 6 different buses and spent 6 hours on buses. But it was worth it, just to have run into another archaeologist and have a great archaeology based conversation.

After Wednesday, I decided to extend my stay in Antalya another day. Thursday I stuck close to the Kaleiçi and did a bit of gift shopping. I got a Germany Podolski football jersey and a long sleeve cotton shirt for myself and the rest of the purchases were for family and friends.

Today, I'm sitting on a bus (using their free wifi) on the way to Marmaris. It's been a beautiful drive and it was particularly exciting the few times it's rained during the trip. Also offsets the current 35 degrees.

While I'm on the topic of heat, I would like to point out how very hot it is here (now it's 36 degrees). I've been dressing somewhat conservatively, not showing shoulders or a ton of skin because I don't want to offend any Turks (some care, some not so much). Unfortunately that adds to how hot I get. It's quite regularly 34 degrees, and about 37 degrees with humidity. At temperatures like this (which I'm sure some of you can relate too) you are constantly sweating when you're not in an air conditioned room. Without the air conditioning, if you freshen up your face by washing it, within a minute you are covered with a sheen of sweat again. When you are out in the heat, you are covered with sweat and you can't really do anything about it. Honestly, there hasn't been a whole lot of times where I have actual drips of sweat running down my face, but here, it's very common. But the thing is, you get used to it, and you venture out into the heat anyways. Just have plenty of water.

Okay, I'm sorry if this is full of mistakes, but I can't bear to edit this post on my iPhone.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

A new week

First off, I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted. It's not that I've been busy, more that I've been weary.

On Tuesday I visited the Amasya Museum, which was small but had some interesting artifacts nonetheless. The funny part was being questioned by six, 6 and 7 year olds what my name was, where I was from, etc. They also told me all their names and I struggled to pronounce them without a hope of remembering them. The visit ended with them signing that they wanted me to take their picture and then having one of their moms come over and take a picture of the kids with me.

On the way back, I walked past a store I stumbled upon a few days before that sold guitars and I decided to check it out. The owner showed me the collection, but of course there's no browsing in Turkey so we were shortly joined by four young girls who had been in the midst of a lesson until they saw a strange foreigner come in. I was then pulled in to watch some of their lesson, most of which was spent asking me questions in the little English one of them knew, and the rest was talking to me in Turkish and laughing at me not understanding them. All in all made for a fun day.

On Wednesday, while still in Amasya I visited the archaeological crew that were working at the citadel in Amasya. Unfortunately not much English was spoken so I couldn't really understand what features were exposed. I did understand when someone found a scorpion however. I also made the mistake of trying to walk the several kilometres through the town and up to the top, which was a huge mistake given how hot a day it was, how long a walk and how much of a climb up the mountain it was. Fortunately for me a kind Turkish family stopped and offered me a ride when I had maybe a fifth left of the hike.

On Thursday I checked out of my hotel and waited for several hours at the train station before catching the 3 hour train to Samsun. What a beautiful journey, at least the latter part was once we were into the mountains and their heavily forested vegetation. While I was still at the train station in Amasya, I had a call from Zeliha, the sister in law of Pastor Orhan who is my contact here. They very kindly told me I could stay at the church here in Samsun and that is where I've been since Thursday. They also picked me up at the airport which was so great to have friendly faces to pick you up as you enter a new cityın a country who's language you don't speak.

It's been excellent staying here. I've been very comfortable and I currently have a whole living space to myself. It may be hot but it's excellent. I've been sharing the living space with the church's care taker Ukzul (that's probably spelt wrong, sorry!) who has been very kind. We don't talk much because he has only a little English and I have even less Turkish though when we do it`s largely im signs. Today I drunk coke for the first time in many months because he so kindly offered it to me and I had refused so many other times.

On Friday night I was invited to join Orhan and his family for a visit to the beach. They had a lovely table booked that looked out over the Black Sea, and there I smoked a nargile (Turkish smoking pipe) for the first time. It tasted like chocolate. Orhan and Zeliha were smoking it and offered me a try and Orhan's son took a picture so I'll have to try to get that photographic proof at some point.

Most of Friday had been pretty rotten, I was pretty anxious and unhappy and was very close to booking a flight home. But Saturday turned things around. I had a long walk along the beach around noon, and when I came back to the church, much to my surprise and delight, there were westerners!! I joined them for a bible study and then I asked them if they could pray for me since the last couple of days had been pretty rotten. They did pray for me and I felt so much better for it. I am so thankful for God's timing in putting Brittany, Lisa, Katie, Emily, John and Chad from Oklahoma and Texas in my path when I so badly needed an interaction like that. After church today I was able to spend more time with them as well as some other English speaking members of the church and it was so lovely. Chad and I both had iPhones so we tried to exchange contact information through the application "Bump" but unfortunately were unable to. The Turkish people at the table were very confused what we were trying to do.

So I'm thinking I will leave Samsun tomorrow, but at the moment I'm not sure where I'll be heading. There was a contact between here and Istanbul to make but unfortunately as of yet we haven't heard from them. I may be flying into Istanbul tomorrow if nothing comes up. I'll just have to wait and see for now.

Also of importance to note, the music of Mumford and Sons has been very important to me the last couple of days, with so many of their lyrics reflecting my current state. If you haven't heard of them, check them out. Though don't check out Little Lion Man if you are adverse to the f-bomb.

"Oh these are my desires and I will give them up to you this time around
And oh I'll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly and fashioned soul!"


Monday, July 12, 2010

Keep calm and carry on

Well, maybe I was a little naive when I thought everything would turn out as planned.

On Sunday morning, my friend Ilkay picked me up outside the musem in Amasya and took me out to the dig house. The drive out there was beautiful and I was feeling excited and nervous. Upon arriving at the dig house, I soon was introduced to the director of the project. The problem arose when he asked me if I had a work permit. I didn't have one. I had thought since I was volunteering, I wouldn't need one. So, long story short, it's looking like I won't be joining the team at Oluz Hoyuk and unless we can get a research visa for work at Ulucak Hoyuk (which is pretty unlikely), I won't be joining that team either. The upside is that if I come back next summer I will know better what I need to join an excavation.

So at this point, it seems my adventure over here will not last the three months that was originally planned, but that I'll spend the rest of this month (possibly longer, possibly shorter) travelling around Turkey on my own, but having the oppurtunity to visit with some friends who I met on my trip here in 2007 and visiting with friends of my parents.

Apart from the occassional panic attacks, I am generally optimistic about this change of plans. Things may be rough, but with my trust in God, he'll take care of me. Prayer would be good though as I try to understand where I'm going next, and as I struggle against my anxiety.

"Hello hurricane, you can't silence my love"


Saturday, July 10, 2010

The past two days...or is it three?

I always get so messed up with regard to time when I have a sleepless night. I didn't sleep on the flight to London, and I didn't sleep much on the flight from London to Istanbul by way of Cologne, Germany. We had to make an emergency stop there since someone on the plane was "doing poorly" as the British flight attends and pilot kept telling us. Then the overnight bus ride last night, I did sleep some, but only fitfully. So it means that the past however many days since I left seem to run into one another.

When I got into Amasya this morning my first objective was to find a hotel, grab some breakfast and catch a quick forty winks. That plan was delayed slightly by my getting lost multiple times. So what I thought would be a lovely 2 km hike into the centre of town turned into two hours of asking for help, hauling around my huge and heavy pack and getting chaffed (chaffed? chaft? ???) and bruised hips from my pack. Anyways eventually I settled, and was out cold for three hours. After the nap, I went out to by some food (mmm fresh bread, honey and cherries!). It was so nice to finally find a suitable hotel, a decent price for an excellent room and to change out of the clothes I'd been wearing since I left.

Amasya is beautiful, as is the surrounding countryside! I'm staying in an old Ottoman house near the citadel and beneath the tombs of the Pontic kings. I've got a balcony that hangs over the river that runs through the town. The call to prayer rang out about an hour ago, and hearing the two singers at two different minerats coupled with the echoing off the mountains was quite cool.

I had a few panicked times over the past few days as I suddenly realized I was on my own and why the heck I was doing it by myself. Fortunately the panic passed and I'm feeling pleased to be in Amasya and excited to (hopefully) start digging on Monday. Have I mentioned I'm tired? I just feel sleep in the middle of writing.

Well, I think I'll keep this one short and I may wander up to look at the tombs before having supper. But before I finish, here's so random comments about Turkey, the people and my travelling.

I can't figure out the system of how Turkish people cue. It seems more fend for yourself.
Judging by the large amount of traffic during the overnight journey to Amasya, a lot of Turkish people like to drive all night to spend the weekend somewhere else.
Travelling in a mini bus with some Brits who had never experienced Turkish driving can be very amusing when you're used to the driving.
On both flights and the bus, I was surrounded by kids. Definitely felt bad for the parents who's kid threw up on them in front of me on the first flight. Definitely am very happy the lid didn't throw up on me since he had been peaking over the seat at me moments before.
Hearing a two year old Brit say nighty night to you is pretty darn cute.
Getting a little tired of the stares from people. Yes, I am a white female with short hair travelling by myself. Please
stop staring.
Turkish people are as friendly and willing to help you as I remember. However, fewer people speak English than I remember. Including the woman who stopped to can't with me and I couldn't make out what she was trying to tell me. But, this gives me a chance to use and expand upon the few Turkish words I know.
There seems to have been at least three marriages in Amasya today, which involes driving down the streets of the town honking horns.

Alright, all for now!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Leaving Today

Well, today is the day. My pack is packed, my checklist is nearly all checked off, insurance is set, emails have been sent, last music purchases all put on my ipod...and you know, all those other preparations done. The next 40ish hours will be very exciting, and will conclude with me arriving in Amasya (Saturday morning) where I'll spend the day and night before heading to the first site on Sunday.

An early objective into my arrival in Amasya will be trying to find a guitar or stringed instrument of some sort I can buy. My beautiful guitar here I will miss very much over the next couple of months, and I do believe I would go crazy if I didn't have a stringed instrument to play.

I spent a couple of hours over the weekend putting together a travel playlist. Basically I took all my favourite cds (nearly all my cds), picked a favourite song and put it on the playlist. A very broad range of music it represents. A few examples of songs on the list:

Feeling the Pull - The Swell Season
Dark Come Soon - Tegan and Sara
Miss You Know - Elliot Brood
Flights - Julie Fader
Ocean and a Rock - Lisa Hannigan
Lost in the Valley - Rose Cousins
Burn Out Bright - Switchfoot
Lions of the Kalahari - Sam Roberts
Ghosts - Laura Marling

I'll put it on shuffle on the plane and enjoy where the music takes me.

Only a few more hours 'til I'm at the airport! Better get the little last minute things done!


Monday, July 5, 2010

3 Days Left

Well, my departure for Turkey is quickly approaching and I think I'm just about ready to go. The past two months here in Halifax have flown by, and I must admit I'm a little sad to be leaving it again so soon. Everytime I return to this province I fall in love with it again and it makes it so hard to leave. Work has been great, and I've really enjoyed the crew I've worked with. At this point, I figure I will be returning to Calgary in the fall and I'll look for a job in archaeology when I get there.

Probably most of you reading this blog will be family...okay, maybe just immediate family...fine, it'll just be my dad...anyways, most will already know what I'm doing this summer, but in case someone accidently stumbles upon this blog, I'm spending the next 3ish months in Turkey, 2 months of which will be spent excavating at two different archaeological sites.

The first site is called Oluz Hoyuk and is close to Amasya, which is south of the Black Sea and east of the capital of Ankara. The levels they have currently reached at this site fall into the Hittite Period which just so happens to be my favourite period in Turkey. The second site is Ulucak Hoyuk and is in Izmir which is a fairly large city along the Aegean Coast. At this site they are into the Neolithic levels. I'll be spending about a month at each of these sites which will leave about 15 days for travelling with a friend of mine once excavations have wrapped up.

I'm not sure what kind of internet access I'll have over the next couple of months, but I will try to keep this blog updated so those who are interested can know what I'm up to. And as a warning to those who are not interested in archaeology, this blog will likely be heavy with it. Apologies in advance.

At this point, I have to say I'm really excited, a little nervous, but mostly excited to start this adventure. I leave Halifax on Thursday night, arrive in London (Gatwick) at about 5:00 am local time, fly out at around 6:30 am and arrive in Istanbul at 12:30 pm on Friday. Once there, I will spend a few hours in the city before travelling by bus to Amasya, about a 12 hour bus ride! Hopefully I'll be able to sleep on the bus ride, which may be an overnight trip.

Turkey is a beautiful country with extremely friendly people. I'm very excited to be able to not only visit it again, but to actually live in it, and to be able to get a different prespective of the places and people than I had before.