Monday, February 21, 2011


So, you may be asking. Where have all the blog posts gone? Where has Wendi gone?

Wendi, went to Cyprus!

Cyprus is an island off the south-central coast of Turkey. The northern half of the island belongs to Turkey. The southern part of the island belongs to Greece. If you are a fan of My Big Fat Greek Wedding you may recall the Grandmother being paranoid about the “Turks.” We came to an education (via our cab driver on the ride into our resort) that this is for good reason. A war in 1974 separated the two sections of the island and Greeks are no longer allowed north; Turks are no longer allowed south. In fact, when we made it through customs, they encouraged us to get a stamp on a piece of paper that we could slide into our passport when we so desired. If we had a stamp permanently in our passport, the Greeks would not let us visit their side. We must fly into their airport to be welcome there! And the Turks are not welcome there at all unless they fly in through their airport.

Aaaaah … Customs. Let me begin our trip there.

We decided many months ago to get away, just us gals. Linda, Stebbs, Angelica and myself. We found a cheap flight to Cyprus (under $100) and a resort that included breakfast and dinner for a very reasonable fare. We were so excited for an opportunity to just rest and relax us girls.

So needless to say, we became quite flustered when it appeared our trip may not happen before it even began. Thirty minutes before our flight was to depart the Adana airport on Friday afternoon, the Customs officials informed us that while Linda could go through (she is military and had orders) and Angelica could go through (she had brought her “residency permit” papers), Stebbs and I could not go. We had only brought our passport.

I won’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say, I will now travel with my regular passport, my no-fee passport, and my residency pass AT ALL TIMES! All the confusion stemmed from the fact that when Stebbs and I moved to Turkey back in July, we came in on a military plane. The Customs officials in the airport in Adana stamped our no-fee passport but not our regular passport. (I am still not sure why we have two of these.) This meant that when I showed my regular passport to the Customs officials to leave on Friday, I did not have proof that I actually belonged in Turkey in the first place. And I guess you can't leave if you shouldn't be there in the first place.

Angelica and Linda, already through the gate, began feverishly calling our husbands to fax over paperwork, only to be told that the fax machine at the airport was broken. In the end, moments before the plane was to take off, the Customs officials decided to manually look us up in the computer. They discovered we were in fact residents of Turkey and permitted us to pass. But not without much sweating on the part of Stebbs and myself. Travel “snafus” are not my strong point. My well-learned Turkish went out the window when I attempted to communicate with the guards in the heat of the moment. I can get very stressed when things don't go according to plan (although I was pleased to see that anxiety which would normally overrun me, stayed at a very comfortable level.) Alas, they were very kind and very helpful and ultimately figured out a little “loop hole” to get us on our way to Cyprus.

The flight was only about 40 minutes. Here is a quick photo of our group before all of our Customs problem began:

Angelica, me, Linda, and Stebbs (aka Sarah)

And here is a photo of us once at our resort; we are casually enjoying dinner and trying to forget about the fact that two of us almost didn't make it there!

We got two rooms. I roomed with Stebbs and Linda and Angelica roomed with each other. We booked rooms in the cottages outside because they were cheaper, but when they got there, they informed us that due to plenty of space in the resort off-season, we had bumped for free to the main part of the hotel and had rooms next to each other. How wonderful!

On Saturday morning, we woke up leisurely (8am!) and had a Turkish breakfast. Once again, not my favorite fare, but the food was very good and we were able to all find something to our liking.

After breakfast we headed to the spa! Since I am with child, I could not get a real massage, but I did opt for a pedicure and a head and neck massage. To save money, Stebbs and Linda opted for a "couples" massage! They allowed Angelica to get one for the same price but she got to go solo. The rates were amazing and those three got a whole package of treatments including a massage, wraps, exfoliation, and time in the hot tub.

Here's one of the beautiful spa rooms!)

Here we are before our spa day began.

And here we are relaxing before the relaxation really began!

What a great group of friends.

My head and neck massage was great. So was the pedicure although I have now officially come to understand that Turkish pedicures include no massage at all. Bummer! I was especially excited to get my non-alcoholic cocktail while I got my pedicure and also excited that the nail technician and myself communicated in Turkish the entire time.

After our time in the spa, we went back to our room, changed our clothes, and a had a light a-la-carte lunch before going up to our room, resting, and then having dinner downstairs again. As is often the case, Turkish dinners are quite yummy. I still miss American food, but they had a few items (like steamed vegetables and fettucini) that really tasted familiar.

On our last full day in Cyprus we decided to venture into the nearest town for a day out. Our experience with Customs left us not desiring to try and get into and out of the Greek side of the Island. I think this was a wise choice. So we instead just took a local bus 15 miles to the town of Girne.

Since the other three gals on our trip speak, well, no Turkish, I was the official communicator for the weekend. I am pleased to say that I have now gotten to a point with the language that I can really communicate on the basic level pretty well! I can't venture out of normal points of conversation but I can get directions, ask questions, that sort of thing really well. I am really happy about this. I have worked really hard to learn this language, and it's always encouraging when you get into a real world situation and can use it.

Two things about the Turkish culture make this easy to do. One is that the people are so friendly and so helpful. If you ask them where something is, they will actually walk you to the location! I always feel that I am not alone even if I am lost and confused. The second thing is that the Turks appreciate your effort to learn their language. They help you and work with you as you muddle through. I wonder if we, as Americans, can say either of the things about foreigners in our country who are trying to acclimate to life there. Something to keep in mind.

Anyways, here are some pictures of this delightful town on the water.

Turkish delight (Narnia!)

The flag for the Turkish side of Cyprus: a slight derivation from the flag of Turkey.

I'm not sure I an explain accurately what is occurring in this photo, but it is proof of the kindness of these people. I was walking up ahead of the other gals when these people started making jokes with each other in Turkish. They looked at me to see if I understood what was occurring and I told them that I did indeed speak Turkish. They were ecstatic and started talking at me a mile a minute which I was unable to take in accurately! They were so happy to talk to me in Turkish, and even pulled their van over on their way out of the parking lot to share some Turkish cakes with Angelica and myself.

A rare site indeed: a Turkish church!

I have no idea what this is or why we felt compelled to pose by it.

Finding a clean bathroom is always a challenge so when we saw this nice hotel with a cafe at the top, we jumped on the chance to sit down, have some "dondurma" (ice cream) and use the restroom. We left in plenty of time to catch our bus back to the resort only to see him leave us five minutes early. However, I was able to find a nice man to help us and we got a cab for a bit more money to take us back.

We finished off our Sunday with a nap and dinner.

On Monday it was breakfast and a bit of down-time before it was time to check-out and get a cab the thirty minutes back to the airport. Here are a few pictures of us outside our resort before we left:

We did end up making it home fairly successfully although the Customs officials back on the mainland gave me a lecture about the fact that we only had copies of our "Residency Permits" (JB emailed them to me) instead of the real one. I told him repeatedly that "Yes, I understand and am sorry" in Turkish and was relieved when we got onto the other side and onto our Base shuttle to take us back to Incirlik.

This island was GORGEOUS, and I do hope to take JB back for a weekend at some point. Thank you to our dear husbands who took care of our kiddos (and our dog -- Linda) for the long weekend so that we could spend some much needed R & R together. What a wonderful time!!!!

I feel so incredibly blessed, each time we move, to make life-long friends. What a gift from the Lord. Angelica is one of those sweet souls. Her Spanish accent and passionate zest for life keep us all at peace and comfortable in her presence. Stebbs is just our funny friend. She makes us laugh and never takes life to seriously. She was a great "roomie." And Linda is proof to all of us that we don't have to be in exactly the same "place" in life to be at the same "place" in the Lord. She may be a working woman and newly married, but her peaceful spirit and calm demeanor were such a great addition.

Thank you gals for a weekend I will not soon forget.


Rachel and Hans said...

Looks like a great trip!

Anonymous said...

Looks like you guys had a great trip!
Thats where Jake and I went for our honeymoon:) wonderful place, we did risk it and walk through the border to the Greek side, all the Turks told me that they wouldnt let me in, but we just walked ! nobody asked anything and had an amazing time except when I offered to pay an icecram guy in Turkish Lira! He was very upset and told me that he doesnt like Turks!


Anonymous said...

Also the big greek fat wedding movie you mentioned one of my favorite movies ever! My family is just like that crazy family, seriously!

Jenny said...

How fun that you got the opportunity to get away for a little R&R with great friends.

I have learned to just travel with my blue and red passports at all times. Sometimes the blue is fine, sometimes they want the red. I think it all depends on the customs agent. I never have been able to figure out their system.