“So, how do you feel being in Turkey for two weeks now?”
“Tired, but good” I say with a smile.
“Tired, but good”, it seems, has been my response to most everything lately. Adjusting to an entirely different culture, new people, an 8-hour-ahead time zone, and a completely new schedule has left me “tired, but good”. It’s becoming a mantra that has been pulsing around my brain. Learning to live in a Muslim culture has been interesting. I still don’t know all the unspoken gender rules, and the 5am Call to Prayer floating through my window still wakes me up. But I’m watching and learning. I finally mustered up enough confidence to go the market by myself the other day. I was able to say the two Turkish words I know, and left with a plastic bag full of 75 cent bread and a new found confidence. It’s crazy how being in a new culture can revert you back to infancy. Even the smallest things feel like giant milestones.
So, a typical day for me starts out as a trek from the southwestern side of town to the northeastern side, with a disorganized mess of sand, gravel, cobblestone, and cement beneath my feet. I pop in some ear buds (blasting 1989 unashamedly) and take one last sip of coffee before I head out the door. It’s around 1.5 miles one way, which I’d like to say will help in achieving a beach bod, but all it really means is that I get to eat more bread. Commuting at the same time every day allows me to start noticing the same people and sights each morning. Like, the little boy with the oversized backpack waiting in his family’s front lawn vineyard for his bus to pick him up. Or the man who sells bulk onions and bulk potatoes out of his truck, setting up for a new day of business. Or the limping mutt-of-a-dog who trots alongside me for a block or two. Or the groups of Germans waiting by the river for their tour guide to emerge. Or the breathtaking, surreal hot air balloons suspending in the eastern morning sky.
Thirty minutes later, I reach a beautiful green home built into the hills of Cappadocia, and a day of homeschooling begins. Balancing four amazing, high-energy kids has its challenges, but seeing their little minds work, and stretch, and connect new ideas together is an experience all its own. Rewarding, yes, but they also teach me new things every day. Kids they are, but they are capable of so much, it blows my mind. In the middle of a science lesson they can spurt out (often unrelated) statements that are wise and beyond their years or maturity. Or when they talk about Jesus, and in their simple child-like recounting, can leave me spiritually challenged and moved.
Going to the other side of the world takes a toll on your body and your mind. After a full day of homeschooling I usually crash at my apartment and spend time with God or drown myself in Gilmore Girls: The Complete Series. Bless my introvert flatmate who understands my introverted tendencies (also, shout out the nice craigslist girl who sold the GG discs to me, like, 3 hours before my flight departed).
It’s too bad words on a screen and crappy iPhone pictures fail at fully capturing the sights and sounds of Central Turkey. I wish you all could experience it not through this little blog but in person.
Just know that my short couple weeks here have left me tired, but good. So, so good.