Thursday, March 17, 2011

Turkey and Japan

The U.S. military has begun voluntary evacuations of military families in Japan. This means that my friend Sarah and her two little girls have the option to leave Japan (due to possible threats of radiation leaks.)

People have been asking how things are here. If we are seeing any "issues" related to the unrest in the Middle East or even with the earthquakes/tsunamis.

As far as everything in Japan, we are not effected by that at all. As far as some of the unrest in Lybia and Egypt, that is something we continue to watch very closely. We are the evacuation route for Americans who may need to leave Lybia. And of course, both these countries are within our vicinity and therefore keep our concerns elevated. We, however, have not noticed anything out of the range of normal where we are. Certain parts of Turkey continue to be off limits to us. (We are basically not allowed to go anywhere in the northeast.) In addition, other parts can only be visited with an organized tour and not solo. There have been days when sections of "The Alley" have been deemed unvisitable by people on Base. We continue to watch the CAC (Commander's Access Channel) to see any updates on where we can or cannot go. However, this is not new to us here. We are in the Middle East and are reminded of that continually.

JB continues to try to make sure I remember this. Wednesday, Angelica accompanied me off-Base to Achibadem hospital for my midway ultrasound. I made one wrong turn, and while I was pretty sure I knew where I was, decided to stop and ask three gentlemen drinking chai just to confirm. One of them decided to get in the van and take us there himself!

Now those of you in America may be crawling out of your skin right now with the thought that I allowed this. But Turkey is very different as far as this is concerned. Helping people "find their way" is a very Turkish thing to do and they offer their help very readily. Angelica agreed with me that this was an okay thing to do and we let the guy get in. He spoke no English, but I was able to determine that he planned to have a friend pick him up from the hospital. (I offered to pay for a cab but he was adamant that I not do that.)

JB, however, was not happy with me at all when he found out about this. I have to remember that even though a situation is culturally acceptable and comfortable, it may not be good simply because I am a woman. Angelica and I are the wives of two officers on a Base in a Middle East. And I need to be smarter about this. Again, I know those of you reading this outside of Turkey will find this remarkable that I even considered this. (I would NEVER do something like this in the States.) But like I said, you have to be here to understand and view this from our side. It's different here.

But not different enough according to JB.

So all that to say, we are fine here, while many of our friends are making decisions about whether to stay or leave Japan. However, we do live in the midst of a terrorism "hot spot" and we must remember that, despite how safe it sometimes feels.

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