01.03.2013 - 01.03.2013 20 °C
As the red orb gradually sinks into the Mediterranean, I find myself grateful for yet another relaxing, enjoyable, slow-paced day in Turkey. Somehow, even though slower-paced, we still find these days go just as fast as the busier ones. We start our day with some stretching and the obligatory cup of coffee for Ben and sometimes Abby. We have been spoiled here as this place comes with unusual conveniences, such as a blender and a juicer. Abby uses the blender every morning to make yoghurt and fruit smoothies while I treat myself to freshly squeezed orange juice once in a while. It is such a treat and with the portakal (orange) so inexpensive here, I can indulge. Ben and I have been going for more walks of late, trying to get his back stronger and get in travel shape as we contemplate becoming nomadic once again. The circuit of the peninsula on which our villa stands takes about an hour to walk and, after the construction zone is over, we benefit from the views of the coast and neighbouring islands. It is just the right temperature when we walk, about 18 degrees. We don’t meet too many people either, the odd goat herder and even odder tourist.
We once again made it to the Friday morning market. Like the locals, we see it as a big event in our week and wouldn’t miss it. It differs from week to week, the size seemingly dependent on the weather. Once we finish collecting our produce, we turn our attention to the sweetened nuts to which we have become addicted. Actually, some of them aren’t even nuts – I identified the candy roasted chickpeas that Abby and I love by searching online. Hannah prefers the sesame coated peanuts and Ben likes the roasted chickpeas covered in a hard, salty-sweet, orange-coloured coating. They’ve got to be better for us than potato chips, right? (Don’t answer; let us happily live with our delusions.) The final stop in the market is the pastry cart, where we buy our baklava. The vendor seems friendly so I try out my Turkish. It’s a success as I only have to string together the words ‘four,’ ‘baklava’ and ‘please.’ He actually gives us five pieces, but not because I have misspoken – this happens often here as they weigh everything and, if the cost does not come out to an even lire or half lire, they add in an extra potato, cucumber, chicken breast or what have you till it is ‘close enough.’ For us, it just means extra negotiating at the supper table to see who’s going to get that extra piece. Having learned the Turkish numbers one through ten, I discover from the vendor that I inadvertently know 11 through 19 as well since the second ten numbers are just the digits 1 through 9 appended to the number for ‘ten’, e.g., five is ‘bes’ and ten is ‘on’ so 15 is ‘on bes’. So sensible! Why don’t we all do it that way? I feel way ahead now and eager to meet the next language challenge.
I knew had to get a blood test done soon so I approached a doctor in Kas that was recommended to me by the villa’s agent. Even though she has been on vacation for the last two weeks, we have been in touch a few times by email, agreeing to meet this week when she was back. Her card says she is available 24 hours a day, which I believe as she publishes her private email and cell phone number to all. I stop in at the doctor’s office today for the results, having seen her yesterday for the test. She used to work for the government earning a salary but for the past eight years, has been in private practice, promoting herself to tourists because she can speak English. I’m curious to be able to see the Turkish medical establishment from the ‘inside,’ so to speak.
Her office is up a flight of stairs and is comprised of two rooms, the small examining room/administrative area and an even smaller reception area, home to a low Turkish sofa, two stools and the secretary’s desk. Because of my work interests, I scan the office for use of an Electronic Medical Record (computer software physicians use to administrate their practice and client care). I see a laptop but it only appears to be there for research and email. The examining room is crammed with a table, three chairs, the doctor’s desk and a cart of supplies. There is paper everywhere, notes lining the wall, books on the desk, filing cabinets spewing their contents. I quickly note the tourist books being offered for 20 lire off the corner of her desk. In the reception area, I count four variations of the ‘evil eye;’ in the examining room, I see another. I’m hoping they are all on display because of their merit as Turkish art or cultural objects and not because she feels they ward off medical issues. She takes notes in a haphazard way in her physician register, writing at an angle, ignoring all lines. The doctor is efficient, very pleasant, competent and, unlike my Canadian experience, she does the blood test and uses the centrifuge herself.
Behind her on the wall is a larger-than-life portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first president of Turkey. It`s hard to miss and deserves some comment. So I oblige, noting to her that Ataturk appears still much revered in her country. She says Turkish people have a permanent place for him in their hearts for all he did for the Turkish people in such a short time; he radically modernized Turkey during his rule from 1923 till his death in 1938. She goes on to say that she doesn`t appreciate the current Islamic government and claims they show one face to the West and another, harsher one to the Turkish people. We certainly sense the love many have for Ataturk and their strong nationalistic spirit, as evidenced by the many pictures of him and the Turkish flags we see. On my way out, after I pay the 245 lire charge, she hands me a picture book of Kas and bids me well. The whole experience provides yet another view for my Turkish chapter.