Veronica with Isaac (in arms) Elijah (left) and William (right)
Today we went to Tarsus. It's my third visit. I went once with Nick during our first (very hot) weeks in Turkey. We returned in October with Joan and my Mom for a much less stifling visit. And today we went for a visit in some of the most beautiful weather we have seen yet.
Tarsus is only about 30-45 minutes from incirlik. (Did you know I don't capitalize that word on purpose. It is supposed to be a dotted i to start the word!) It is also a place that I believe anyone who comes to visit us must see while here. Becky is coming later this month and I definitely want to take her to Tarsus. However, JB will be out of town while she is here (he's going back to the States for a Conference without me!) which means if we want to go, I must be the driver.
I've never driven to Tarsus. Never driven past Adana in fact. Stebbs' Mom wanted to go to Tarsus. So did Stebbs as she hadn't been yet. Our men were working. I also thought it'd be nice to let Veronica visit. (Although I do think she'll get plenty of opportunity.) Stebbs doesn't drive off-Base. (Most of my friends don't.) Which meant, it was Wendi or nobody.
I decided it should be Wendi. (I'm not a fan of nobody.)
The night prior to the trip, JB tried to look it (Tarsus) up for me on Google Earth. The problem is, even Google Earth isn't so hot when it comes to Turkey. Many places are blurred out. In addition, while streets may be named on the Internet and may be named verbally in a town, there are usually next to no street signs when you are actually doing the drivemaking your knowledge of the name of the street relatively useless. Despite this, we made it there with relatively no major drama. A few wrong turns once we were in the town but with Veronica's map reading, my driving, and the Stebbs girls in the back looking for historical signs, we were good to go.
I found our normal parking area where the same guy that is always there (and one who speaks pretty good English) helped me into a spot really too small for my van. We went and saw the ancient road, and St. Paul's well and also just walked some of the quaint city streets. I think my tour members really enjoyed themselves. The weather was beautiful and this town is just such a peaceful place. It was very fun.
I was yet again blessed by the Turkish I do know. While at St. Paul's well, they told me it would cost on iki lira. (This is twelve lira -- three lira each -- the kids are free.) They pointed me toward a box hanging outside the little ticket booth. I dropped our twelve lira in the box. However, a few minutes later I was encouraged to return to the booth to buy my tickets. Hmmmm ... I thought I did that? Apparently, this box was for something else (I have no idea what since I couldn't read what was written on the box.) However, I was able to say in Turkish that I had indeed given on iki lira. I knew the word burada (here) which also helped. I really don't think I'd be comfortable making these trips at all without a bit of the language as I would have had no way to say that I had indeed put my lira in the box. The men informed me that this was the wrong place to put the money but that it was acceptable nonetheless.
We finished our little tour at the Turkish Coffee Shop I have visited all three times I have come. I am amazed how this older couple who run the Shop always seem to recognize me. They come out, greet us. It's wonderful. (Stebbs took some photos of this which I will try to get her to send to me.) I ordered gozlemi (bread stuffed with cheese.) When I asked for patates (french fries) for the boys, our great host informed us they didn't have any. However, he did leave the cafe, go out, buy a bag of chips, and come back and serve us those. This is a very hospitable Turkish thing to do. I will definitely miss the hospitality most of all when Turkey is one day not our home. I also ordered some stuffed grape leaves which I thought were going to be bread stuffed with cheese. Oh well. Live and learn. The menu, as usual, is all verbal, so you just have to kind of roll with it.
Speaking of home, getting home was not quite as easy. We tried to return the way we came but one way streets prevented that from occurring. So instead, we wandered aimlessly before I finally stopped at a convenience store and using my Turkish and my map, asked for help. I am so glad I have learned the words for "go straight", "left", and "right" as these helped tremendously. We ended up stopping three times. One of the times a man on a motorcycle offered to drive us part of the way there! So helpful. We ultimately found out way back toward Adana. It wasn't the highway but it did the trick.
The only other "drama" of the morning included the fact that my boys are now, basically refusing to pee in their diapers (despite the fact that I put them on them for the drive.) When Isaac told me he had to use the bathroom, and I told him he could go in his diaper, he started screaming and crying that he did not want to do this in his diaper. Oh my. Even Elijah, who still has accidents and doesn't seem to care very much, disagreed with my offer.
I cannot tell you how many stops we made on the side of the road so Isaac and Elijah could pee in the bushes. The first time we stopped to pee, Stebbs' mom said, "I think I'll go too." I giggled and said that this may not be where she wants to go since it wasn't a formal bathroom. She agreed and said she could wait! :) Side of the road, Western toilets, Turkey toilets, we did them all today. Lots of bathroom breaks! I'm becoming a professional at "where can a little boy pee." And I'm also becoming very glad that these are little boys and not a little girl. That makes it so much easier.