The next day it rained, so I spent the drawn out breakfast convincing Alan and Chevrel that we should hatch some chicks. Needless to say my first rainy-day-job was to clean the chick house. Then Alan set up the homemade incubator consisting of a box, a lightbulb and a thermometer.
The eggs would have to be turned a little bit several times a day (that was to be my job, with Alan’s help when I overslept basically every morning) and we’d have to hope there wouldn’t be any power cuts, otherwise the eggs would get cold. In the past they’d keep them inside their T-shirt during a power cut. Why not use a chicken? Well, the last one took it so seriously, she didn’t get up to eat or drink at all and died! In 21 days the little chicks will hatch! 🙂
Another rainy-day-job was weeding the polytunnel. It had been sort of forgotten last summer and now it was a jungle in there! Chevrel had turned the sprinklers on in the morning, so the soil would be nice and soft and manageable. But when the sun came out later, it turned the place into a steam bath. Aidan and one of the chickens decided to keep working in there anyways. But I decided to enjoy the sunshine after tea break which included lots of Jack’s yummie, freshly baked Anzac biscuits.
The next task was to dig up a giant plant and then to use water to wash away the dirt and separate it at the roots for replanting. I turned the tap on and seconds later a freshly soaked Aidan and a pissed off chicken shot out of the polytunnel. Whoops! The water had still been connected to the sprinkler system, rather than the yellow hose pipe 🙂
When Hennessy and Emanuella disappeared into the kitchen to cook dinner, we gave up working and curled up in the living room. The backgammon game came out and we all drank beer and talked about different beer making traditions around the world until Alan and Chevrel (sat at their computers in the little office space at the back of the giant living room) just had to have one too 🙂
I had a chance to finally write-up my diary about yesterday’s sunny walk through the village with the dogs. With Jasper and Bruno on a leash, old Troy just slowly follows in her own time. As we left the gate of Forest Gardens, a woman walked by with a big basket full of clover strapped to her back, dragging some branches tied to her little axe behind her. I offered to drag the branches and so we set off into the village, Aidan taking the dogs. In the village the children came running up and a little girl on a bicycle introduced herself in perfect school English and said the lady was her grandmother.
Meanwhile Aidan was busy stopping the dogs from charging at the big silver bin. When we walked on, a tiny kitten dashed out and disappeared down the road. Jasper and Bruno are really hard to hold and are set on charging at every dog in the village. They’d seen another one and weren’t interested in the tiny boy, much smaller than the dogs, standing in the street, splashing about with a hose pipe. His mum was yelling at him from the balcony, but he wasn’t scared.
Around the corner and safely past the other dog I turned around to see another woman call to the kid, but she didn’t dare go close. She kept calling to the boy telling him to stop and come over. Then it dawned on me: Troy! I ran back to find her stepping from one foot onto the other, refusing to go past the wet water while the little boy waved the hose pipe at her splishing and splashing about. I had to take her by the collar and encourage her right past!
The villagers are scared of the big dogs and give us odd looks for actually taking them walkies. In Turkey most dogs are semi-wild or even dangerous street dogs and rabies is common. Some people have dogs for shepherding or as watchdogs. But they are not cute cuddly pets. Troy, Jasper and Bruno couldn’t be further from that norm. All they want is attention, cuddles and to be scratched on their tummy. But at night they are still fierce watchdogs, chasing anything off the grounds (there are jackals around).
On the edge of the village we explored a little track that ended in front of a few cows herded across the field by two women, and then we just did a big loop around back to Forest Gardens, enjoying the views.
Monday morning Chevrel wanted to get their car fixed. I went with her to the big complex of car mechanics, exhaust fitters, window tinters, car painters and oil shops just outside Yalova, to find some oil and coolant for our bikes. Being BMWs, they needed a special kind of coolant and oil of course! The car left in the safe hands of the mechanic, we went from oil man to oil man and Chevrel (who can speak perfect Turkish) patiently relayed our requirements. But we just met shrugs and helpful faces that couldn’t help in this case.
One guy called his mate from a bike shop in town and he came over on his scooter. Turns out that guy had seen us arrive on the bikes a few days ago and had thought “Dear Allah, they will be in trouble!” He’d owned the same 2004 F650 GS before and had sold it because it’s so difficult to get parts and consumables for it here in Turkey! He suggested a coolant, but I wasnt sure. So we went into town to the little oil shop on the corner.
The shop was closed. The shops next door reliably informed us it couldn’t be closed, he’s always there! A glass of çay later a helpful guy took us to various other parts shops, but none had what we needed. Then shouting and waving arms alerted us to the return of the oil man. He had Chevrel’s carburetor spray and lots of odd consumables no one else had. A call to Aidan and he asked Google. The oil man’s fancy coolant was unsuitable, but the stuff I’d been recommended by the ex-GS-owner was ok. So Chevrel would bring some when she went to fetch the car that evening. A quick visit to the ex-GS-owner’s bike shop and we came away with some dusty bottles of distilled water to mix the coolant with (they all us the clean Yalova water!), a phone number to call if we are in trouble near a town on the north coast and an offer to order us the knobbly tires we will soon need 🙂
Then Chevrel had to go to her office and I went to the market for a few bananas, strawberries and veg. The two o’clock bus was already waiting and I was greeted by a huge grin from the driver. Back at the house I had missed the yummie chicken soup lunch Aidan had cooked for everyone so salad would have to do me. I tried calling my dad, but just like the day before, he didn’t pick up. He’s quite sick, but I try not to worry and tell myself he’s probably gone out food shopping or something.
That night it was Aidan’s and my turn to cook and we made sticky boar ribs with oven chips and flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
After dinner Alan got the laptop out and him and Chevrel showed us lots of pictures of past volunteers, Chevrel’s proudest garden projects and how Forest Gardens slowly started looking like it does now. There were pictures of the dogs as puppies, the cats as playful little kittens and the entire place in deep snow.
Tuesday was another rainy day. So glad we’re not living in the tent at the moment! We decided to compensate by weeding the long, tent-like polytunnel some more. Beats the other jobs on offer like cleaning windows, floors and the chimney…. basically all the annoying housy things that come with living in a house.
We dug up some field mice, who gave us a pretty pissed off look for the disturbance before scurrying off to find a new home. They should be grateful for the lucky escape! Later the cat came in for a good nosy around before settling in to watch over us from a seeding tray stack. We found a wickid looking horn beetle too. Another lucky escape. He was so drowsy, he would never have escaped the chickens that joined us soon after.
That evening I finally got hold of my dad. He looked absolutely awfully sick and weak. I won’t go into details. It was so bad, I couldn’t stop the tears welling up. But he said not to come home, he was going to hospital the next day anyways. Afterwards I called his cousin, who promised she’d make sure he gets there. They would probably keep him there too. I couldn’t sleep all night and tried to distract my mind by reading till the sun came up.
The next day all of us got up rather late. Alan greeted us at the breakfast table with a gleeful grin on his face showing us a picture on his old little phone. There was another van in the hole. Apparently it belonged to a guy that always drives recklessly too fast. He must’ve seen the hole too late, braked and skidded straight into it. This morning Hole-man had left his tools in Alan’s shed: “Its going to rain, and anyways, there is a van in the hole!”
We continued with the weeding in the poly tunnel, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was busy worrying about my dad. Loud shouting at the gate “Hello! Hello!” pulled me back into the present moment. Hole-man and the van owner wanted help dragging the red van out. They were hoping to use PG and Ema’s van, but they had taken it to town. So we rounded up the troops again.
Of course the problem was solved in a typically Turkish manner: everyone shouting the best solution at the same time – some were pushing forwards, some backwards – the wheels spinning freely, mud flying. Even sitting in the back so the rear-wheel-drive could get some grip didn’t help.
Shovels came out and a pickaxe was swung at rocks worryingly close to the tires.
Alan calmly brought out the jack and lifted the van somewhat, so we could pave stones under the submerged front wheel.
A lot more pushing and revving, with Hennessy and me holding on for dear life in the back, trying to make ourselves as heavy as possible over the rear wheels, and vroom! it was out, bouncing down the road.
Hole-man looked at our two shovels, picked the better one, and claimed it as his. Alan tried to calm our protest “Oh well, we know who’s got it…” Then hole-man disappeared behind some brambles and turned up shortly after holding a third shovel – his own – with a sheepish grin on his face.
They hadn’t kept my dad in hospital since the health insurance refuses to pay for waiting time till the test results from the last visit are back. He was to come back on Friday. But he sounded a tiny bit better today and we agreed to Skype every day. If things got too bad, I would fly home. From Kurtkoy its super easy to get to the airport and on a two and a half hour flight to Berlin.
Aidan and I decided to go into Istanbul the next day. More mail was hopefully waiting for us a the post office there. On the way down to the village, a woman in headscarf and floor-length coat herding a cow along the main street said the bus had already left. When asked if she was sure, she got out her iPhone to double-check. Hm…., maybe not, if you’re lucky….
It had left, but it was a nice, fresh morning and the scenery is stunning, so we decided to start walking. There are more frequent buses from the next village. We didn’t get very far before a little white van stopped to give us a lift. There were two seats screwed onto the floor in the back and the driver was giving his guest, an IT teacher from Izmir, a lift into town. Where did we want to go? Yalova ferry terminal…. Ok, I’ll take you!
On the way we were told off with a smile for not speaking Turkish yet, and then they asked if we were hungry, pointing to a village. We said no almost automatically, but I immediately regretted it. I was curious what they would have offered us. We stopped in the next village, the driver wanted to go to the shop…. He came back, opened the back door of the van, a huge smile on his face and gave us a white plastic bag, “For you!” It was full of sweeties, biscuits and water 🙂
The driver seemed to know everyone in Yalova, happily waving and honking. He dropped us off outside the ferry terminal, beeped, and was off. The ferry didn’t leave for some time, so we had a snoop around the flea market in the multi storey car park, where the fruit and veg market we usually go to is on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Today was Thursday. I wonder if it’s ever actually used as a car park?
On the ferry we munched the sweeties and wrote our diaries.
Arriving in Istanbul, we decided to walk to the post office, since it wasn’t far. The bumble took us past the old aqueduct into a scruffy wheeler-dealer part of town where the carts used by the rubbish collectors are made by a guy hammering iron pipes on the street and small gates allow a glimpse into dingy workshops.
The letters fetched from the main post office, we missioned around the Bazaar for some Turkish delight to bring home and to buy a few presents.
And we fetched some of that real yum Turkish coffee. The queues for the coffee shop go way down the street. while you wait, you can watch through the windows the coffee being ground and packed.
Finally fed up with the crowds we decided to explore the city some more.
We went across the Galata Bridge and walked towards the Taksim district. The bridge has a lower level with restaurants and bars, while anglers hang their lines all along the edge at the top.
We had to walk along a busy road for a bit and Wham! I got hit by the mirror of a 4×4. Luckily it was one of those folding ones so it didn’t even really hurt. Big 4x4s in crowded cities! ….. and at that cities full of idiots like me, that don’t look where they’re going. In my defense, I was busy walking, talking rubbish and thinking about the awesome little jazz cafe we’d just passed. I can’t do four things at once!
At first glance Taksim seems a bit touristy and Istiklal Caddesi has too many high street shops. But it also has an old, cute little tram. And the little side roads are full of little shops selling alternative clothes and music instruments. We definitely have to come back there and explore the area some more. But for now we had to go to catch the six o’clock ferry.
The sky back in Yalova was laden, but so far it hadn’t rained. The drivers at the minibus station confirmed the last bus to Kurtkoy had left and pointed us to the Kadikoy bus that would go the closest to our village. We hopped on, planning to walk the last bit. The bus crawled along, looking out for any potential paying passengers, then dropping them all off again. Arriving at his turning around point, the driver asked us where we were going. He only spoke Turkish, but when we gestured we’d walk to Kurtkoy he pointed at the sky and gave us his charades impression for an umbrella. Then he realised we didn’t have one, shook his head, told us to sit back down and sped off, foot to the floor, towards Kurtkoy.
Since it was uphill, the screaming old minibus only crawled along anyways. He dropped us off at the top of our road and then honked, flashed his lights and waved before spinning back round and freewheeling down the hill. We got back just as the others rang the dinner bell.
Friday morning Hennessy left for Israel and the Italians drove off to explore the Prince’s Islands and Istanbul some more. It was pissing rain all day so we spent a rather uneventful few hours in the polytunnel (which was starting to look a lot better by now).
Since it was just Jack, Aidan and me left, all three of us went to the market the next day, leaving the cat asleep on our bed.
Aidan and I also bought some oil for the bikes from the little oil shop on the corner in Yalova. We’d done some googeling and it turns out the oil they had is fine for the BMWs. Being used to little scooters, the oil man was a little surprised at our request for five litres, but he recognised me and was happy to sell me my oil after all. We were early and had to wait for the bus back. Somehow I manage to lose my bank card between the bus stop and the café. Bummer! Luckily still had cash though.
This time the grumpy driver drove the bus back and it was a lot emptier and calmer than usual. One of the ladies kidnapped me to speak some German. She told me how she’d lived in Germany for fourty years, raising her children there, and now they were raising their children there. The Turkish are very proud of their families, their many children and how they have studied at university and are now raising lots of grand children. The lady had been a machinist at a metal works company but loved rural life in Kurtkoy so much, she’d come back.
Walking back from where the bus had dropped us off, Alan and Chevrel caught up with us. They had also been in town at the cash ‘n’ carry and had filled the entire car with supplies. Yay, loads more chocolate 🙂 The cat was still in bed when we got back. Some just know how to live!
Sunday was still rainy, but I had it on good authority from the lady in the bus, that summer would definitely start next week. And on Monday it was hot and sunny. The pickaxes came out again and trenches were dug for some drain pipes. The recent rain had caused parts of the garden and front yard to flood, pointing out exactly where some were needed. We finally had a chance to plant some seeds too so they could grow in the freshly prepared polytunnel. PG and Emanuella had come back the evening before so now there were loads of us again 🙂
And after a hard day’s work… 🙂
Summer was here to stay, so I decided to take Tuesday off and finally repair the water pump sealing rings on Seven. It’s a whole-day job and I really took my time, trying not to leak any oil or coolant onto the lawn. But with the sun out like that and PG’s radio playing it was really fun 🙂 And Seven had finally quit smoking!
My dad had been admitted to hospital after his blood results came back scarily bad and I’d been speaking to him every evening. He’d said I needn’t come over though. Awesome of him, he wants my brother and me to live our own lives and doesn’t want to ruin it by having us come home because he’s ill. But this evening he was too weak to speak at all and he had to hang up. Then a text message arrived: “for the first time a visit would be good”. That means its real bad!
I booked a flight straight away and told the others at dinner. Alan and Chevrel were really nice about it and said I could just leave all my stuff till I come back. Aidan would stay and watch out Pippa and Seven don’t cause any trouble.
The next day Alan drove Chevrel to the ferry so they gave me a lift, and I made the boat just in time. On the other side I asked a guy for the bus to the airport. Turns out he was waiting for it too. One of the taxi drivers hadn’t picked up a fare amongst us ferry passengers so he set out to convince four of us to share his cab to the airport. Chevrel had given me her Istanbul card with money for the bus on it. But I thought sods law, as soon as the cab is gone, the bus won’t show, and sharing is cheap.
The others figured out I was German pretty quick and some banter and Turkish jokes in German later, I arrived at the airport far too early. Just as well as the check-in lady couldn’t find my ticket anywhere on the system. As far as she was concerned, it didn’t exist. I showed her a screenshot of my booking confirmation and a phone call to the boss upstairs confirmed she was allowed to print me a boarding pass. Luckily the plane wasn’t fully booked (or other tickets just didn’t show either).
My boarding pass said gate 202B, but the screens said 304B. I went to fetch a coffee, so they could make up their mind, but they didn’t. I chose 304B and found a guy I had seen at check-in. Must be the right gate then, time to curl up in the corner and read some stuff in the Lonely Planet about the country I am busy leaving. The airport staff started opening the gate ad then I heard them say something about Amsterdam. Amsterdam?!? I want Berlin! I asked, but just got a grumpy reply they didn’t know, I should check the screens.
The screens had given in and conceded that my boarding pass was right, it was gate 202B after all. Ten minutes till the gate would close. Shit! I grabbed the other guy and we ran back, down corridors, the wrong way up escalators, flying around corners, frantically looking for 202B. Two minutes to spare….
There it is! All the Berlin passengers were still there with bored faces, but no plane! It was delayed. The Paris passengers, due to use this gate, came, then went to another gate. Still no plane. Then the Arlanda passengers. Finally our plane arrived and after what seemed like an eternity, we were allowed to walk down the corridor to the plane. But we were turned around at the door: the plane is broken.
We ended up waiting for hours, delayed a further ten minutes at a time. The guy from earlier kept complaining, “Why are they lying to us?! Why don’t they say its delayed for hours? I want a cigarette!” When he wasn’t whingeing, him, another guy and I had a really informative conversation about the owner of Pegasus airlines, life in Turkey and life of a Turkish person in Berlin. And of course about their families and many children, of whom they are very proud.
The plane set off two and a half hours late. Just after take-off the pilot did his usual welcome-on-board-I-am-captain-blah speech and told us the delay was due to a warning light coming on. After checking it out, the mechanics had decided it was the actual light, that was malfunctioning. Hm…. if its anything like my fault-finding skills….
I lived to tell the tale (as you’ve probably guessed reading it) and leaving the plane, the young Turkish girl I sat next to, offered I could stay at hers, if I had nowhere to go. I needn’t worry about any strange men, she lives alone with her five-year (or so) old daughter. Real nice of her!
I went straight to the hospital to find my dad looking awfully old and pale. The doctors had managed to claw him back from the edge the night before and had this afternoon FINALLY (after more than one and a half years) found out what is really wrong with him. I was so happy to see him and my brother came over too. I am staying in Berlin, until my dad is well enough to look after himself again. Meanwhile Aidan has promised to have fun for both of us in Turkey 🙂