Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Holidays

 Iyi Bayramlar!  That’s the Turkish translation of “Happy Holidays.”  This past week we had off school because of Kuran Bayram, a religious holiday in which lambs are sacrificed.  Because people aren’t as ok now with the sacrificing of lambs, most donate money that is equal to the price of a lamb. 

During the vacation my family went to their summer house in Cesme. When I asked how many days we’d be there my host mom said “probably 3 or 4” and we ended up staying from Sunday to Friday.  Much needless to say I was terribly packed.

During our time in Cesme I had many opportunities to relax in a lawn chair outside and read.  I first read “13 Little Blue Envelopes” by Maureen Johnson, which I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys YA novels.  Next I read “Let it Snow” by Maureen Johnson, John Green (whom I have officially read all the books of, and did I ever mention that I met him back in Waupaca, and told him he had ranch on his face?), and Lauren Myracle, I didn’t like this book as much as the previous, it was made of 3 separate stories, which were each enjoyable on their own, but the way they came together in the end seemed a bit awkward and forced.  I then started the beloved “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, even having already seen the movie twice by this point and having watched “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” with Marisa, I don’t think there’s any way to ruin such a classic.  Lizzie’s father is probably one of the best written characters in a book ever and her writing is simply so classic and creative.  But that’s enough on book reviews, now I’ll tell you what I did (besides relaxing).  (And as an explaining of the picture, the actual picture isn't at that angle, but for some reason that's the angle my computer insists on pasting it)

Heloisa and Mavi are two other exchange students (and yes, both from Brazil) who came to Cesme as well during Bayram.  We got together three times during the week, first on Monday we went to a little town area and got Waffles.   When I talk about waffles, I don’t mean your regular breakfast waffles with syrup, I’m talking waffles with nutella and bananas and strawberries and chocolate drizzled on top and basically anything else you can think of.  Each place makes it in their own unique way and they’re simply so good.  The people there really enjoyed talking to us and asked to take pictures with us and use them for their new website.  Being an exchange student tends to draw attention like that more often than you’d think.

Heloisa's on the left Mavi's on the right

The next day we went swimming at the sea, which is absolutely lovely.  Heloisa and Mavi thought it was cold, but I can’t even describe how beautiful and calming it is.  The water is so clear, you can go out infinitely deep and still see your feet clearly through the water.  There’s also not near as much salt in the sea as there was in the water in Cancun or Florida which I tend to get really bothered by.  And the fact that I could go swimming and then lay in the sun and almost get burned in the middle of October, that is something you simply could never say in Wisconsin.
Every stray dog I see I want to take home and keep forever, meaning there's a lot of dogs I'm currently in wanting of

Mavi was having a bit of fun with the camera

The next day my family invited Heloisa and Mavi out on their boat, which was simply a blast.  We went out at about 1 p.m. and were on the boat for about 6 hours, but it didn’t feel like nearly that long.  We played backgammon and everyone was so surprised I knew how to play, because apparently it’s a Turkish game.  I just remember my dad saying he played it in college and had no idea how it came into the U.S.  I know that almost none of my friends back home know how to play it either, but while reading pride and prejudice, the characters played backgammon.  I should probably look up the history of backgammon so I have a bit more of a right to babble as much about it as I have been.  Anyway, I enjoyed it.  They also taught me this game similar to checkers, but instead of moving the pieces diagonal, you move them side to side.  The workers on the boat would help me make the right move any time Kemal looked away, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  We had Calamari and Shrimp for dinner which was absolutely amazing.  At one point it started raining heavily on the boat and we were all rushed inside, there was this boat calling for Mayday nearby and for the rest of the day Atilla kept saying how we were on an “adventure,” which resulted in many eye rolls from Banu.  The view from the boat was absolutely beautiful, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get over how amazing it is to constantly be by the sea.  Pictures can never truly capture the beauty of it.

The rainbow painted stairs started during the protests last year

There's apparently a matching statue in Copenhagen

My host family

Kemal kind of refused to stay still for any of the pictures

The next day I wasn’t able to talk much because we mostly met with relatives and had long chats that were completely in Turkish.  I honestly am getting better, but I still can’t have conversations.  I only understand simple questions and whatnot, but it’s hard not to feel a bit like an outsider when everyone’s having conversations and you just have no idea what’s going on.

We came back after the sunset on Friday and today I went to Alsancak with Zoe and finally got a new pair of sunglasses.  Also, if I haven’t mentioned my mom bought me a watch the other day.  I mentioned how I hoped to get one in one of my first days here and I thought it was so sweet of her to buy me one!

I’ve been starting to miss random things about back home, things like being cold and the stars.  Living in a city full of lights makes it hard to see the stars at night time.  I miss being allowed to be a bit of a slob sometimes and not having to work as hard to keep up my appearances, and I miss potato chips.