I may have mentioned this before, but living on a Turkish airbase really is a great scenario to living in another country. We are surrounded by English-speaking people and have American amenities (excluding our severe lack of groceries as of late). Directly off base, the pace of life changes and we step into Turkish culture.
I have the world's cutest nieces and nephews and am ashamed to say that I have been late getting two of them their birthday gifts. I knew exactly what I wanted to get them but they are deep in Old Adana and the truth is, I have been to this shop once but have not been confident that I would ever be able to find it again. Michael, Arion and I decided to give it a shot this past Saturday since we were feeling adventurous and the weather was in the upper 70's to 80's.
Right off base is a dalmus stop. We prefer to take the dalmus into Adana, because driving there is terrible, and parking is impossible. This day seemed particularly busy; as a good three dalmus buses passed that were packed so tight the Turkish people inside looked like very warm standing sardines. Finally, we found a bus that we (sort of) fit in. Not that it mattered, as the driver picked up a good 7 more people before it seemed travelers began to get off on various stops. After the passengers thinned out and the three of us were able to sit together, another Turkish man came and sat with us. He introduced himself and told us that he used to work in "The Alley" (the small community right off base that focuses sales on the American's on base). He spoke great English and was very friendly and explained that he had just gotten back from visiting his sister in the States, who was a Turkish National who had met and married an American Airman and PCS'd back to the States with him.
It was particularly busy out and about this day; more so than we had seen in quite a while so we asked him what was going on. He explained that it was a Turkish holiday, for children. He added that there is a great "flea market" nearby. We explained to him what we were looking for; puzzle-boxes for my beloved niece and nephew. He said that he knew EXACLTY where we should go and said that he would take us, because it was at the same stop he was getting off. Fabulous! So we winded through the streets and alleys lined with vendors and shops and ended up at the same shop I had been before. I was thrilled we had a guide, as I was pretty sure we would not have made it again without his help.
I knew exactly how much I wanted to pay; when I had gone before with a friend we were told that they should cost 25 lira a piece. When they said "fifty" I agreed immediately. Did I have a sign on my forehead that said "stupid American"? I must have... because when I handed him 50 lira, he was unhappy. It turns out, he wanted 50 DOLLARS. Let me explain the difference. The exchange rate is about 1.57 Lira for every dollar. This means that 50 lira equals $31.84 USD. I was pretty irritated that our tour guide was trying to convince me that this was such a great deal when he knew I was getting "turked".
I talked our friend down to 55 lira for the two puzzle boxes and felt very accomplished. After all, 5 lira IS only a few bucks. I was, however, ready to lose our little volunteer tour guide. Our plan was to get the puzzle boxes, eat and go home. He wanted to take us to the flea market next so I kindly explained that we were hungry and were going grab a bite to eat, thank you. He grew excited and said he knew the BEST restaurant just down the street. We decided to join him to this restaurant and had delicious doners. At 3 lira a piece (which makes them $1.90 USD) one can NOT complain.
This picture is how the meat of a tavuk (chicken) is prepared. The cook slices the meat off, collects it, and then puts it into a wrap of flat bread along with other grilled vegitables. It is seasoned very deliciously; and I am not ashamed to say that Turkish bread is amazing!
Tavuk Donor, at its finest.
We dined, and had hopes of returning home. Our new friend wanted to take us to his uncles shop before we left, however. Reluctantly, we decided that we could take the time to go to his uncle’s shop only after reminding him that we had to get home soon. So, on we walked to a shop and met his family. This family sold rugs for a living and it just so happens that Michael and I are in the market for a rug.
After getting the run-down on rugs and what makes them great (or not great, depending on the quality) we did find a rug that we both actually really liked. Our new friend of course did try to make a sale, but after the puzzle box experience I was not trusting enough to buy one on the spot. I still need to compare costs compared to other rugs of similar quality and size.
One thing is for sure, the cost is significantly less than what a rug would cost in the USA. Now, if we decide we do want this rug, we get to try and find out how to get back to his store. Sounds like a never-ending story, right?
Until next time,