Friday, November 21, 2014

A Visitor's View of Cappadocia: Greeting a New Day with Old Friends

Breakfast is my favorite in Cappadocia. Everyone sleeps well in the deep, dark caves. Then we awake and enjoy a Turkish breakfast together. The weather was gorgeous. Our guests had been up to witness the dozens of hot air balloons overhead, early that morning.

My beautiful girl.

Beautiful breakfast: fresh fruit, honey on the comb, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers, olives, nuts. All locally grown.

After breakfast and some good conversation, we loaded up and drove to our launch point for our second hike.

We brought some fresh grass to a horse, awaiting his riders for his daily tour.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Getting Us All Fed

After a full day of travel and hiking in the hills and caves of Cappadocia, we took them to the spot for dinner we've grown to love. The owner remembered us and welcomed us in. This simple place to eat offers good food at fair prices. And the all-you-can-eat oven baked bread fills up hungry kids! This oven is ancient, leftover from an original cave home from long ago. The new restaurant was built around it. I thought of the many families whose meal it served.

I made my kids order their own food in Turkish. I think I am going to do that from now on.

CC ordered Moussaka, an eggplant dish originally made in the Ottoman times.

Sweet Cheeks got manti. It was good, but not as good as Dostlar's manti back home in Ankara, she said.

S, M, and I all ordered the stew dish contained in a clay pot. The only way to open it is to break the pot.

They bring it hot out of the oven, then light it on fire for you before cracking it open.

After a long day of riding, hiking, and eating... was time to crawl in our caves for a good night's sleep.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Cappadocia

We set off on our first hike to show them the wonders of Cappadocia. I mentioned that I always try to photograph crosses that we find, in hopes to create a photo display of them one day. S asked if he could copy my idea, I said I would be honored.

They were enthralled. Literally.

Going up is by far easier than going down. The ground is almost slippery. This is why people are so easily able to carve homes into the rock. Sometimes the only way to get down is on your rump.
It was really fun to explore with folks who love adventure like we do!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Oasis Fall Carnival and A Little Help from Daddy, the FBI, and a Turkish Uncle

After our fun day in Ulus, we were able to take our guests to our Fall Carnival. It was fun to let them have a glimpse of the place that is home-away-from-home for Here's Big Ben with one of the sets of twins in his class. One twin is always in a princess dress. One is always in her Spidey costume. She's from Jordan.

What I love is that the kids just go! They run, play games, have fun...until they drop. Then it is time to go home.

We got back in after the Carnival and got all 7 kids tucked in. Early (EARLY!) the next morning, CC did something we have never done before, which was to let our two oldest girls ride a public city-to-city bus alone to Cappadocia. We knew we did not have enough room in our van for everyone, and renting a car was pricey, so I suggested letting them try it. Serdar Bey, our Turkish "everything" man who helps us at school, offered to get them to the bus station early the next morning. CC said, "No, I'm going to do it." Dad wanted to be the one, this was a bit monumental for us. As they were walking out the door, S offered them a "killer pen" to keep with them in the event that they got into danger. Sharp-pointed on the tip (he says it could break glass) and with a cap that could even injure, they thought they were hot stuff with an FBI killer pen. I just reminded them not to try it on each other! By the way, this is, by far, one of my favorite stories of all time. Bear with me.

So, CC got them on the bus, front row, where no one could sit by them, armed with a killer pen. He gave them last minute advice and kissed them goodbye. Having a male presence around you in this country carries some weight (which is why he wanted everyone on that bus to know Daddy would be waiting for them to arrive safely).

CC got off the bus. Then, Firstborn said, "Wait for it...5...4....3...2..." and CC got BACK on the bus. Ha ha! He had forgotten to pray for them. He finally left, satisfied that they were in God's hands.

And then, Uncle Serdar Bey was worried, as well. So, he got the bus driver's number and personally called him all along the journey. "Are those white girls ok? Any problems?" He told me the driver finally said,  "Enough already! They are fine! I'll get them to the next bus safely!" Ha!

And so the big girls, taking a bus across country for the first time, alone, had a Daddy making sure everyone knew they were his, a killer pen from FBI agent Uncle S, and a Turkish uncle calling the driver the whole way. Just in case you were wondering, they were ok!

They were taken on a second bus to the little town where we would stay, and just like a boss they carried their luggage and walked right up to the cave hotel we've grown to love so much! And they didn't even get a marriage proposal on the way, whew!

And so we would begin a very quick 30 hours with our friends in this place we love, Cappadocia. The kids curled up on the big Turkish rug pillows and started playing with rainbow looms.

Hot apple tea at the cave is always my favorite. It was surreal to be there with M.

We just let the kids go. I love that.

Soon, we would take them on their first hike in this surreal topography!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Ulus

We really enjoyed our day in Ulus. Most thought the girls were triplets on first glance.

I love to get to this part of town. I get different pictures every time I go. I don't think I've been to Ulus with my new camera until that day.

This little fella actually came running down this rail towards Sweet Cheeks. Something tells me he's gotten a few food scraps before and knew just the little girl who might share with him.

And yes, she had a little borek left. He devoured it.

Beautiful place! Beautiful people! Beautiful friends with which to share our home!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: From Arkansas to Seattle to Puerto Rico to Moscow to Ankara

Back in my college years at Ouachita, I made a friend very early on. M and I were on the same hall, we had classes together, we ran with the same BSU crowd, we pledged the same sorority, and we even took a mission trip together to Taiwan. But even beyond all our common interests, we had a deeper connection, which was God. During those years, she dated a guy, I told her he may not be the one. And she was there for me when my relationship with a guy ended (and well it should have! It was not CC!) We took road trips together, I spent weekends with her.

And then Mr. Right came along for her. S, her Mr. Right,  grew up as a TCK in Ecuador. He was different than most guys we knew. (Now, I can piece it all together about why he was so different...and realize I have 5 "different" kids under my roof.) But when he came along, I said, "Now you've found him." And so right after college, they married, and I was honored to be in her wedding. A couple years later, CC came into the picture, and she flew in from her current home in Seattle, and she stood by me in my wedding.

Life went on, and we stayed in touch. M and S suffered a tragedy in their early married years from which many would never recover. But losing a set of twins born prematurely (after several years of waiting) pressed them even closer to the Lord. And then, He graciously gave them a second set of twins; this time, ones that He intended for them to raise here on Earth. After more years, S, who speaks multiple languages and has a global perspective, was hired by the FBI. They spent some years in Puerto Rico. And then this year, he was offered a job in Moscow. Which is 3 hours from us!

And so, a Fall trip was planned to Ankara. They arrived, and CC covered my classes so I could take them to Ulus.

I also let Sweet Cheeks have a skip day, since the twins are her age.

They enjoyed Ulus so much, every aspect.

We would only have a few days together, but we made the most of it! More on our day tomorrow!

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