Expect the Unexpected

Today was a fine day – really one of those days that just turns out great because you just don’t know what to expect. Maybe I am just easily pleased – but I think I have much to be grateful for.

Last night while finishing my homework Azusa (Japanese exchange student staying at the same homestay as me – in case you are just tuning in) asked if I would be willing to practice English tomorrow with her friend. I was more than willing and thus had lunch plans – yay!

Expecting lunch with Azusa and her friend Yakuso (also Japanese) I knew it would be fun. However, Yakuso crossed paths with a few Turkish men this morning who invited her and her friends for lunch on them. So instead of us grabbing lunch at a Kebap place or what have you we ended up going to I guess what you would consider the cafeteria where government officials can eat. Crazy – I know. The lunch was delicious – soup, bread, rice and a meat dish finished with a nice ice cream (dondurma) and all for free just because these men wanted to get to know about foreign students reasons for coming to Turkey. While my Turkish is still weak and their English pretty much non-existent there was some translating between Yakuso and a third girl (Haruka). All and all an enjoyable time that really shows the hospitality of the Turkish people. Complete with tea in their office.

Afterwards we went to a Ezgi Cafe and had drinks and practiced English. I enjoyed myself a mocha chocolate for less than $3 – can’t complain about that. Possibly the funniest part was that when we walked up to the Cafe one of the workers used a combination of English and Turkish thinking that the Japanese girls did not know Turkish – however two of them are quite fluent, but when we sat down, the waiter asked if I was Turkish because he didn’t know English to speak with the others – and when I said I was American he was shocked. I guess I can pass as the 25% or so of Turks that have light hair and blue eyes (not really sure on the percentage but I’ll say that for now – don’t take my word for it though). I guess this helps with being stealth and undercover when walking the streets. It gave us all a good laugh.

Yakuso then had us over at her apartment (near Kocatepe Mosque) where I met one of her roommates – Fırat – super nice and I was able to practice my Turkish a little with him discussing American music, films, etc. His girlfriend then came by and brought sushi with her so there we were, 3 Turks, 3 Japanese and an American eating sushi in the living room of an apartment in Ankara – definitely not what I expected. The sushi doesn’t compare to that of California – but it was still an experience (:

Finally calling it a day, Azusa and I were homeward bound – but not without a little bump in the road metro. Azusa’s metro card was a bit bent and the machine wasn’t a fan – it spit her card back out with the printed message of verify card error and the police waved her over – I went over to help her and the police after asking if I was with her explained to me what we had to do – thus we proceeded to a booth where the man could transfer her money that was left on her card to another card – didn’t really have the vocabulary to work through it but somehow I was able to explain to the man behin

d the counter who was more interested in figuring out where I was from but then disappointed that I was from Chicago (Illinois) and not Washington – haha ohhh well. The whole while the lady in the booth was laughing as I was half acting out half speaking in Turkish what the problem was. We were on our way – the nice police man got a good laugh and then Azusa and I laughed because not even a week ago she was coming to my rescue and now I am able to repay her by coming to her rescue.

After a great impromptu Skype with the family I went and ate. Dinner was great tonight! Börek, a cooked spinach dish, salad and dolmas – heaven! My host mother is quite the chef.

The other night ago I shared pictures of my family with her and tonight she shared pictures of herself when she was younger – she was beautiful. Tonight I shared more pictures with both my host mom and Azusa – trying to describe a photo is definitely a test of your vocabulary – haha a mini quiz if you will.

So I leave you with some photos I took with my phone throughout the day and the reminder to expect the unexpected and good things will come your way (:

Last night I mentioned how my host mom explained the boiling of cherry stems with water to use as a way to detoxify your body – she made it this morning

Kocatepe Mosque – the largest in Ankara (so big I couldn’t fit all of it in my phone frame)- expect a future post of my visit to explore it closer – this was just a picture I took in passing with my phone

Fountain in Güvenpark – where the dinosaurs are taking over

An interesting camel outside a store – gave me a good chuckle

From my friend’s apartment – the sky darkened really quickly but it never rained – thankfully

Cheers from a foreigner abroad