Okay, this is really fun finding all these blog posts from The Lost Series. Here I am on Maui living/working. I think I was just getting ready to move to Tunisia so this is a few years back...

I obviously got sidetracked while writing this post. I like how mid-sentence I just stopped. I'd like to think I become preoccupied with something really delicious so dropped everything else immediately...

ok what seems to be 
So, still more in the reserve banks of The Lost Series of blogs...

This one never had commentary.  I'll post it anyway. Remember readers, I have nothing to do here at work today as I have already cleaned out my drawers, threw away papers...Here I was in Bulgaria with Fezzy & Hilly Billy. That's all... Oh, it was about 5 years ago. We're on the Black Sea resort of Pomoire slumming around. We were all a bit dismayed when viewing the beach as we all lived in Hawaii at one time or another...

Pomoire, Bulgaria

tunis 3-D

...And 3rd time is a charm. Yet again, another post I excavate from my (newly found) "Lost Series" of blog posts that never made it into print...

Scene: I am living in Tunis. David had just moved into his apartment I believe, and this was our home-cooked dinner for four. The centerpiece came with the flat...Bonus. As I recall there were some velvet wall hangings of chicks scantily clothed that corresponded to the signs of the zodiac as well...That was a funny apartment. Incidentally, this is the same apartment in which a group of us teachers were holed up in during the Jasmine Revolution on the fateful day that then president/dictator Ben Ali fled the country en route to Saudi Arabia- where he continues to rot...

Okay that's it. Enjoy:


Here's what I've been up to in my absence of prose...
dinner at David's complete w/Tunisian Red and appropriate centerpiece

Another lost blog entry I never got around to posting...

So, to set the scene for this seriously late post, I had just moved to Istanbul after returning to Hawaii for 5 months to recover from the Tunisia experience. When I left Tunis, I had little money, the school I was working at had closed down temporarily during the Jasmine Revolution events and still hadn't re-opened, so my old boss at the archaeology firm I worked at on Maui told me to, "get the f*ck out of that country and come back here and work." Because it was February, it certainly wasn't a great time to be looking for teaching gigs, and I had little money, so off I went back to Hawaii's loving arms. But not without first stopping back briefly in Istanbul to drop off all my luggage because I knew instinctively that I would be returning to Turkey next to live and teach.

I fortunately have an excellent network of loving friends residing in Istanbul that helped me out, and continue to help me out, with my various travels and moves and storage facilities... (Sorry Ebam, I swear that I will get rid of that last suitcase this next visit)... And, Ebam, thank you so very much for letting me store my luggage at your lovely flat! You too Fezzy! And Murat. And Wicki. And Karen...

But I digress... here it is, this little snippet:

I guess you could say I've been selfish with my ponderings lately, or that I don't have any ponderings lately or that I'm just too lazy to post my ponderings lately but truth be told I'm just too busy being scatterbrained. To bring you all back up to speed, I'm living in Turkey, presently in Istanbul the past 6 weeks but will soon be heading down to the southeast/ Anatolian region to teach at a university. Of course you all know how my Tunisian odyssey resulted...

Speaking of Tunisia, I have just returned from a whirlwind trip. Tunis still has me in it's grasp, I can say that. As well as another grip that has recently emerged. Perhaps more on that later on...all I know is that I definitely signed up for this adventure and I don't want my money back. To end the convoluted words here, Tunisia continues to be on my radar. I just hope my residency status there comes to and end soon as it is infuriating to have to pay $60TD every time I leave the country... Honestly, I have never been so broke living and working somewhere!

Some post Jasmine Revolution (as it is so inappropriately named) observations of mine: Ramadan during the heat of sizzling summer temperatures continues to fascinate me. This year seemed 'different' than last year. First there were no restaurants open downtown or in Lafayette that were serving food so I missed out on dining at all my fvorite haunts- Bombay Chawarma in my old hood being the most sorely missed indeed. As well the crepe place on Bourghiba. This also meant there wasn't much alcohol to be found during the fasting hours, but we did manage to find a few dissidents that allowed us to indulge in drinking adult libations behind closed curtains or doors. Next, taxis are still dirt cheap, don't have air conditioning (or drivers are still too cheap to use it), drivers absolutely abhor it when you 'gently' slam their door shut- which I instinctively do being from Hawaii, the land of "Maui Cruisers" as they are so affectionately called.

Ok more later as I need to catchup on some much needed beauty rest...

It's that day again... So time for another story. Gather around peeps!

 NOTE: Here I am at work for 5 more days until vacation. Since most all of us on the teaching staff have little to do, I am searching for files to clean up, papers to throw away, etc. So I was looking through my blog postings and came across a few that are still in draft form... So I'm posting this one right now. It was written earlier this year in Istanbul on New Year's Eve. I was feeling melancholy due to where I was one year previously- also in Istanbul, yet on my way back to Tunisia, where I was living at the time- as opposed to this past New Year in Istanbul when I was on my way back to Gaziantep!

I believe I've posted of this event before, the Jasmine Revolution, so you can search through my blog archives to find the more in depth information. I was writing this more for myself than posting, I believe, but after re-reading it just now I feel like I want to share. It was, after all, the most intense experience of my life... I continue to write about this experience so I never forget.

So... here it is- better late than never:

Not a New Year's resolution kinda gal, as I strive to develop myself, my strength, my stamina, my compassion all days, all ways. I always want to find time to read more books, to practice more yoga, to let go of judgments, to save more money, to write more, etc. If anything, new moons are more monumental for me than new years...

Last year at this time I found myself returning home to Tunisia after spending the Hollydaze in Istanbul. I walked straight into a Jasmine Revolution and kaos in my neighborhood. I walked the streets of Lafayette with my partner-in-crime Stephen (thicker than thieves us) on January 13th in the early afternoon. Hours later I found myself thrown into the back of an unknown van with Cyrus and Stephen racing to the hospital with Stephen lying nearly unconscious from gunshot wounds in his upper thighs. I found myself in those moments wondering if I was going to die as our drivers headed straight into the shooting arena.

That evening I found myself at various friends flats as our neighborhood was off limits. We were all huddled around Stephen. His morphine was wearing off, and he had no other pain medications as no pharmacies were open. Eventually I found myself at Faeez, Sam and Kirsten's flat eating supper on the carpet in their living room and smoking cigarettes and drinking what little alcohol that could be scavenged up.

The next morning I found myself up early racing uneasily through the streets downtown back to Claire and  Dja's flat, where Stephen was. Dja left early to try to find a pharmacy to get Stephen's prescriptions filled. More uneasiness, more cigarettes. We decided it best to chance getting outta the city to Menzah suburbs at David's flat. Ehsan, her bf, and Liz pulled up in a car later and we painstakingly got Stephen into the car and set about our task.

David's place seemed a refuge in comparison to the war-like scene we had just come from downtown. I felt safe. Stephen had his meds, and Adrienne and Sarah were also taking refuge there. That afternoon my security was shattered when the looting started at the Monoprix Supermarket in front of David's place. For about 15 minutes we were all seized with sheer terror as we saw masked men with broken lead pipes and tire irons shattering the storefront windows below us, not knowing if they would reach the 4th floor of the flat or not. I had visions of the building on fire. I had visions of Stephen lying immobile on the couch helpless to what was going on. I had visions that I needed to stay strong for him and the group, and for myself.

The uneasy day passed into an uncomfortable night as we prepared dinner, all in summer moods with fleeting moments of joy to be alive. Te next few weeks were like a drug-induced haze with Stephen and I returning to Lafayette, and setting up HQ at my flat. It almost felt like a festive atmosphere and nightly gatherings of friends at my place making huge vats of spaghetti, etc. During the daylight, with a few hours of curfew lifted, we would meet up in the hood at various cafes and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and talk about the previous evenings events, before having to scurry off and buy food and alcohol before curfew set in for the day.

I had various house guests as well that would visit. First, there was the doctor that had to make his way to the hood daily to address Stephen's wounds. Avril, Houssem, Claire and Dja, Karim (yum!), the 2 neighborhood kids that would bring Stephen shisha every day, the chicken restaurant owner that took a liking to us, Cyrus, etc. Some of those moments will remain the happiest of times I honestly think.

It is nearly the one year anniversary of these events. I have a lot to be thankful for. Stephen is fine, and moving to G-tep! My wonderful friends in Tunis are all fine and I feel like I always have a home to return to in Tunis as I was able to share such an intense experience with it's denizens there. My friends and family elsewhere are all fine. I have a job. I get to travel. The list goes on.

 So, its not about a new year, but rather a continuous timeline of experiences and achievements that make me thirst to continue to develop myself and make connections.


One Night in Anatolia: Jam Session/BBQ 2012

Another blazing hot morning here on the Anatolian Plains...

I've my morning coffee and lounging on my lanai (deck in Hawaiian) overlooking the Yeni Cami (New Mosque in Turkish) and the small rise that is Karataş neighborhood. Admittedly, the view looks much better at night... All I see now, in the searing sunlight, is a sea of rectangular apartment buildings separated only by some shrubbery strewn about here and there... So, this is the setting for this morning's blog.

Today's title is a tribute to Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" film that I watched this past week. The plot: a group of men (suspects, police, ditch diggers w/shovels,etc) set out one dark evening in search of a body somewhere on the Anatolian steppes. It is one long night that evolves from a simple crime viewers don't yet know about to intense character development through little language, but with excellent cinematography. Village people are called up to prepare a late feast for the weary crime solvers, etc.

There are but a few females in the movie, yet the movie is most definitely about females as the few scenes they appear in are full of moody, uncomfortable, perhaps unassuming intensity. The ending is outrageous in its silence- the last 5 minutes anyway. Unexpected and it blew me away. The abrupt ending adds to its intrigue. Ceylan leaves viewers wanting more. I will say it is an intellectual movie and the moviegoer that is looking for fast-paced action will become disenchanted quite rapidly. Too bad for them that they couldn't see the layers of depth of this slowly evolving film...

I digress, back to my moving picture show- One Night in Anatolia: Jam Session 2012. Now this show evolved rather quickly in contrast. To set the scene, last weekend I bought a small BBQ as I have a large lanai (remember, "deck" in Hawaiian). At our lovely Tuesday Farmer's Market I purchased a shit ton (Urban Dictionary defines as, "a lot of a certain thing, can be used as an estimated numerical reference") of vegetables in anticipation of grilling them on the BBQ. I got this brainstorm the previous weekend at Elizabeth's flat in Ortaköy (a lovely Bosphrous neighborhood in Istanbul) when she hosted a BBQ on her deck for Miss Vicki's birthday.

So Solo_ojo & Wardo were over at my flat playing music, and it just evolved from there. Grilled veggies and hamburgers were soon at our fingertips- along with the requisite Efes Unfiltered beers- which only us yabancı partook in... Some other co-stars soon appeared and a good time was had by all. It was one of those rare Anatolian evenings where I suddenly really felt at home here in the Cradle of Civilization.

This place is, after all, off the beaten track. Not many 'yabancı' (foreigner in Turkish) visit this area let alone settle here and work... Yet it is this very reason that I do enjoy this place. An oxymoron I suppose. It's all here, the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful...

Of course, it is Ramazan (the Muslim holy lunar month of fasting), so all the denizens here are extra animated in the evenings, after polishing off a scrumptious Iftar (the meal for breaking of the daily fasting at sundown). Everybody stays up extra late and eats/drinks into the night because once sunrise occurs, the fasting begins again. As well, these past few years Iftar has occurred during the hot summers so this is extra difficult with no drinking even water during daylight.

Now, I will say one thing about charcoal briquets here in the Fertile Crescent... It is most important to buy ONLY the expensive ones. I bought the cheaper ones and suffered from my shopper indiscretion immensely... Must have spent 20 minutes glued to the BBQ simply trying to keep the flame alive with lighter fluid as the coals did not want to comply with their job description. At any rate, I prevailed, yet I was unable to indulge in the Jam Session 2012 with my ukulele (a Hawaiian stringed instrument).

End result: a good time was had by all. I had my first successful BBQ here in Gaziantep! All attendants were happy and full. Now, I do like to have a cozy flat filled with memories from all my flats I have lived in around the globe. Davido noticed this immediately and commented as such. This, of course, always makes the hostess smile. On this note, it seems most EFL teachers like to live rather frugally- as well with furnishings. Of course I do not understand this concept. no matter where I live, I like to feel 'comfy'. If not, you never really feel part of the community as I understand things.

So, I'll leave you with some documentation of the evening. Not much character development in my moving picture show mind you. That is insider information for this post I suppose. :

the stage

shadow play: hostess


evening slowly evolving

bright lights, big city

reflections upon bright lights, big city...

my foot as an accompaniment



Yeni Cami

my perspective


Turkey Trotting: And back to Antakya I go…

Antakya vista from Mosaic Hotel

A few weeks back myself and Solo_ojo headed to Antakya. My first round there last year proved to not be enough time spent in the city and its exterior environs. Antakya is located in the Hatay Province in southern Turkey near the Syrian border.

Antakya's sweet Pedestrian walkway that is lined with some cool buildings. Solo_ojo is on a mission for coffee...

peek-a-boo renovations in disrepair giving us a glimpse into the past

typical alley

rooftop circuitry

pretty wrought iron abounds

the city's abundant foliage tumbles over their doors

You (history buffs) might be more familiar with its name in ancient times: Antioch. Early Christians gathered here and it’s actually said that this is the place where the term ‘Christian’ was first coined as being followers of da man himself- Jesus of Nazareth. Several Christian communities still remain here from their modest beginnings when St. Paul and St. Peter were hanging out in these parts.

I always find street art interesting in  every Turkish city...

inside of the Orthodox church

for Dad and Davido and Dr. Kolohe K Kitty Kat

window decorations...

another architecturally incredible minaret

Of course, Antioch goes back much further than the Christian era… Archaeological excavations have given dates going back as far as the 6th Millennium BC. More recent, Alexander the Great was here as the Roman Empire extended down into the region, as well as Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Oh yea, it’s also an important Crusader site…

the dizzy-inducing wallpaper at the Mosaic Hotel, described as an "almost boutique hotel"

Front and center the "almost boutique" Mosaic Hotel...

I visited all types of religious structures on this trip: mosques, churches (both Catholic and Orthodox), a synagogue (looking very ordinary and unassuming I might add), as well as a Korean church- which I originally mistook for being the Catholic church… heh heh.

The archaeology museum is not to be missed. It could possibly rival the Zeugma in Gaziantep in terms of mosaics, but where the Zeugma dominates is in the layout of the museum with many of the mosaics laid out on the floor and you can walk over them on foot bridges. This is remarkable and it was a shame to not be able to do that with the ones on display on the floor in Antakya. Some of them cover so much area that it is hard to see the individual details from side angles. The museum did have a high viewing area though that you could walk up to (precarious, short winding steps). I bought some books- of course. This seems to be a no-brainer for me; museums and books…

Zeus doing his thang...

"The Evil Eye" mosaic from the 2nd century AD

It's interesting to note that a dog, a scorpion and a bird are all attacking The Evil Eye... Gruesome

This mosaic is entitled "Negro Fisherman" from the 2nd century AD.  Notice he is depicted as being, shall we say, well endowed

My foot as seen from atop the viewing deck. It's as if I'm taken back to the 2nd century AD walking on this mosaic...Yea, that's right everybody has a fantasy they want to live out and this just happens to be 1 of my many...

guarding the entrance to something important

more guard creatures

spillage canals of sorts- otherwise known as a sacrificial alter...

The old part of the city is charming. The bazaar is, like every other bazaar in Turkey, a treasure chest. I never really know what I’m looking for when I first arrive, but I usually manage to find something. I found a bolt of silk fabric here and bougtt 2.25 yards to replicate an awesome dress that a friend designed back on Maui last year. The dress is going to be AWESOME!!!  I recall the  last time I wore it (unfortunately way too long ago) was when entertaining a gentleman friend in Istanbul last summer. It is a real winner of a dress for sure and I’m excited to have a twin made… Yes, I definitely need more exposure in this frock!

Solo_ojo and I met Feridae, a lovely Kurdish chick originally from Bingöl, at the pension we were staying at, ‘Belkis Ev Pansyion’ or something like that.  We convinced her that we were cool and to travel with us ‘local American with little money’ style… She got it, and we had a ball. We headed south one day towards the border to a village- Samandağ. From there we headed to a beach community, Cevlik, where the famous “Titus Tunnel” is located. So Vespasianus/Titus were like a dynamic duo father/son team (both became ((Roman)) emperors).  The tunnel was built (by Jewish slaves mostly) to divert the Orontes River. So they cut a channel along and through solid rock. The tunnel is massive and pretty cool. I suggest to anyone in the area to give it a go! Don’t forget to bring a flashlight. Try not to lose your phone as you might see it’s demise. Solo_ojo had an unfortunate accident with his prized camera. Beer was needed at this point in the story…

in Cevlik: beach or Titus Tunnel... decisions decisions

view from the trail to the tunnel


another vista from the trail. Here we are looking towards Syria

360 degree views were amazing

it's hot with the sun high up in the sky beating down upon us

Solo_ojo and Feridae on da trail

the bridge leading down some stairs to... the tunnel!

Titus/Vespasian Tunnel entrance

the other side of the rainbow of sorts...

we're going in deep

pausing to relish in the history

We are nearing the other end here and brilliant sunlight is beaming down upon us

looking up to the heavens: literally a slice of heaven illuminated

in through the out door. There is a decrepit set of stairs on the left-hand side that you can see. The bottom portion has eroded away. So many amazing sights to soak in here.

canal uphill of the tunnel

break time with water and fresh fruit

backside entrance pathway

Roman script with Vespasian's name engraved near the back entrance to the tunnel

some cave tombs a bit further along

inside the burial chamber

Feridae looking inquisitive

letting a little light through

the innards full of empty tombs cutout from the rock

Feridae relaxing

my foot relaxing

Afterwards we rewarded ourselves with cold drinks (ahem... beer mostly) and mezes. We then proceeded to the beach below to get our tans on.  While this part of the Mediterranean is not pristine, it was nice to jump in after a long hike on a very hot day.  Granted, there was some plastic bags floating close to me. Lodging onto me actually. It was strange. But what made it tolerable was trying to teach Feridae how to not be afraid of the waves. This was delightful as noticed by not only both of us with our laughs (Feridae got mouthfuls of water while laughing), but by the rest of the peeps enjoying their day at the beach. My bikini might have been a little over-the-top for the peeps to deal with, but I didn’t really care…

The beach at Cevlik

Solo_ojo getting his sleep on

We hitched a ride all the way back into Antakya with a soldier.  I wanted to ask so many questions, but tried to just keep my mouth shut… Feridae was our translator as he didn’t speak any English.

Some of my favorite places from my first trip here were revisited. For example, the handicraft place next to the mosque and Catholic church that sells the sour cherry liquor… Yea I definitely hit up that shop. Also the cool coffee café. The café is pretty much the only place in SE Turkey that resembles the kind of coffeehouses I’m used to in America and Europe, etc. I think we hit up that place a few times daily. 

I can’t blog and exclude comments on Hatay cuisine. First of all, the region is known for hummus (ground-up chickpeas and tahini), which is difficult to find in the rest of the SE region. I find this strange because of the close proximity to Syria- just a stone’s throw across. The feel of the city is definitely a fusion of Arab-Turco customs/traditions/cuisine, etc. Künefe (a popular hot cheese Turkish sweet) is also considered to hail from Antakya.  I’ve been hip to the Pomegranate syrup/salad dressing for a while now so that was not a new discovery there.  The usual Turkish kebap varieties abound there as well.

Belkis’ Ev Pansyion (ev= house in Turkish) is a very sweet bed and breakfast located in the central historic part of downtown. It is near everything that I like about Antakya. A divine restaurant, Leblon, is right across the cobble pathway from her place, as well as the coffeeshop less than a block away. 

Belkis' Ev some some of her flock of animals

favorite coffeeshop in SE Turkey for sure

Belkis’ courtyard is full of vibrant life. It’s like a sort of animal kingdom with cats, dogs, birds, turtles, etc all roaming around freely. Her trellis was covered with vines choke full of fruit. There was enough shade everywhere to keep out the sun beating down on the pavement during the heat of the day. Everybody (only 5 rooms) gathers in the courtyard and talks story. This I always find delightful. The house is her husband’s childhood  house and it is filled with so much character. I met her daughter, Rana, too as well as other family members and friends of hers. She is a charming woman and I highly suggest for anybody going there to book your accommodations with her.

Leblon Restaurant across from Belkis' bed n breakfast. Food is solid, and rooftop seating to book looking over a large mountain with a cool castle in disrepair. Cold Efes too...

The bus ride back was tolerable. A 4-hour ride put us back into Gaziantep at 11pm, and I was back home by midnight. Just in time to crash for a few hours and wake up at 7am to return to work. All in all a fantastic mini-vacation weekend Turkey Trotting.