The Hans         Seven Ponds       Belly Dancing                                                   The Blob,  Vol. 2, Issue 5, May 2007
Tuesday May 9th, 2007
The Hans
So last semester I was busy with work and this semester I'm busy with my social life.  Quite a nice turn of events! :-)  I'm actually still tired from the week-end!
The lady pictured below, Edda, gave us a tour of the Hans.  Originally, they were created as hotels for travelling salesman, with locked gates at night and places to store their animals and goods.  They often had an open courtyard surrounded by two stories of rooms as seen next to Edda.  Over time, as modes of transport changed, the rooms were converted to shops and workshops.  The

boy on the left is working in a gold shop in a han.  The machine is stretching out a piece of gold and decreasing the diameter with each pull.
Below is a bird house built into the building.  The story goes that the people used to believe that birds will 
eventually fly up to heaven so they wanted the birds to pass on a good word for them (that they'd been well taken care of in a bird house on the side of a building). 
The stone columns are remnants of the Roman empire in the 5th century.  Amazingly, they are sitting in the middle of the city and traffic.  The wall with the brick is constructed that way for earthquakes.  The bricks are softer than the rock so they decrease the amount of damage done to the building by absorbing some of the shock.
Yes, after nine months I finally made it to the Grand Bazaar(left).  Most people go there within their first week in the city, but being the great shopper that I am, it took me nine months! ;)
Speaking of shopping, I finally bought a motorbike!!!  Yeah!!! :)))  I haven't had time to take pics yet, but it's greatly improved my life here on campus.  I started hanging out in town on weeknights this semester and I kept having to leave around 8:30pm to catch the last blue bus to the school.  Now I can stay out as late as I want as well as go in whenever I want! Happy Days! :-)
On the left and above are pics from our afternoon of playing backgammon and cards at a cafe.  Randy and Terri you would love this country!  Everybody plays backgammon and there are cafes everywhere with the game!  They almost play as fast as you two! ;-)
The next day we had our second outing of Settler's of Catan at another cafe. 
I'm really liking the cafe and restaurant thing here in Istanbul.  My favourite past time is to go from one to the other all day.  Also on this day, I ran into some friends at a seaside cafe where we had breakfast (really nice view) and I listened to them argue over the point of whether marrying a Turkish guy is like marrying the whole
family.  It sounded a bit like 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'.  I've run into a few friends now in random places around the city and it feels really cool because I'm living in a city of like ten million people!
Plans for Ararat are moving ahead.  I've sent in my application to the Canadian Embassy who then needs to forward it onto the Turkish Ministry who will then send it back to the Embassy and then back to me.  Hopefully it'll all work out.  I'm very excited about making this happen.  We also have another school camping trip next week-end which I'm excited about as we're also going to a new location.
Oh yeah, I can't forget about Spiderman 3.  I wore my Spider-man costume shirt to school on the premiere day (sorry I didn't get any pics - I've been kind of lazy about that lately).  My students loved it!  I also wore it to the movie theatre.  Great fun!  I really, really liked the story line of the movie but I thought it got a bit too cartoonish with some of the lines and humour.  Hoping to go and see it at the IMAX tomorrow night!!!


Wednesday May 24th, 2007

Seven Ponds

So I was told that we were going camping at a place called 'Seven Lakes'.  It turned out to be quite a beautiful spot, but as you can see in the video, it should be called 'Seven Ponds' in English.  Apparently they only have one word for a small body of water in Turkish and so the Turks generally translate that one word to 'lake' in English.  I don't think I've seen a real lake in Turkey yet, so maybe that's why they don't have a lot of words for different sized bodies of water.
Weather wise it turned out to be a great week-end to go camping.  We saw rain on
Friday night and then beautiful sunshine for the rest of the week-end :) , where as it rained here in Istanbul for a lot of the week-end.
Three of my students were along on the trip and a couple of students I may end up teaching next year.  It really is fun to hang out with students and to get to know them away from school.  It also really improves
their learning in class and just creates an overall more healthy environment which helps to get away from the scientific cold style of learning we've adopted by packing 20-30 students in a classroom as if they were cattle to be herded around all day.
There's a good clip in the video with Superman (on the left) demonstrating the Turkish no. 


Friday May 26th, 2007

Belly Dancing

So the three year Comenius project had their final wrap-up meeting here the other week-end.  This is the group I visited in Italy back in October.  As part of the week-end, we took the Portuguese and Italian groups to see MiniaTurk (name speaks for itself - see above).  Below is our group pic and another Italian boy wearing a shirt with that great saying:  'Hugs and Kisses, Friends Forever'
For our last supper together, we went to a tourist restaurant where they put on a show of Turkish cultural dances afterwards, including a lot of belly dancing.  Check out the video on the right.  The MC put on a little singing show afterwards where he sang songs in Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Croatian, English and some other languages
I've forgotten.  I missed recording most of the singing part, but the dances are good - even the music! (I can't say I'm all that crazy about most Turkish music that I hear, though some of it has grown on me).
On the Sunday, we moved our Settler's game to a hilltop on one of the islands.  Check out the view from our table on the right!  Gulcin is modelling the Turkish beer Efes above.  Many people seem to get a tummy ache after drinking it for the first time and then later develop an immunity towards it.
Next week is our last full week of classes and then exams - Yeah!!!  This has been quite a year for me.  I'm going to have to sit down and seriously think about writing a book about my life.  The soap opera that I lived through at this school here in Turkey this past year is unbelievable.