Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Malatya Apartment

August 28
After an anxious 20 minutes waiting at the curb for my ride from the airport, calling the number I'd been given, only to find out that my cell phone no longer worked, fighting back tears, and waiting some more, I was finally greeted by Ishmael, a friendly, polite young Turk. He, in turn, introduced meduced to Mr. Mahmet, our driver and the school accountant. It quickly became apparent that Mr. Mahmet spoke no English. Thankfully, Ishmael speaks pretty good English and is the high school grammar teacher. I learned that I will actually be teaching "speaking" in the high school and he eagerly told me how excited he is to welcome me and have a "native" speaker with whom he can learn and perfect his English. He was excited to show me my new "home"... emphasis on the word "home" and he hopes I will enjoy it. So far so good...

We drove thirty minutes to the apartment. We, and about five other cars, were actually pulled over for a random alcohol breath test of our driver. (Here's the kicker...I was actually thinking "cool", perhaps people do drink here. I had been under the impression that this is a fairly dry county..so to speak..) Upon arrival, we schlepped my 49 pound bags up to the 5th (top) floor of the building. I took their lead and removed my shoes before we crossed the threshold. Although the stairwell was very dingy and dirty, everything looked ok inside the apartment, new carpets, new tile floors, recently cleaned. I was starting to feel a little more relaxed until Ishmael proudly showed me the bathroom....a hole in the floor...a real Turkish toilet....My heart dropped, the tears welled up in my eyes, and I tried my best to keep the flood gates closed. I felt both disappointed and ungrateful. I had anticipated a lot, but I obviously had not anticipated this...Istanbul has quite modern plumbing so I hadn't given bathrooms a second thought. We came to one more door only to be disappointed again. This room included hose with a shower nozzles (no shower) and bidet. At this point I could hardly see anything as the tears welled up in my eyes. This is going to be harder than I had thought. And here's what I still, as an American, don't understand..a bidet?...I would take a real toilet and stand up shower any day over a bidet...
Now for more realities, the appliances are new but the stove is not hooked up. There is no hot water. There is no internet. And, tomorrow begins a five day holiday for Ramadan so nothing will happen until next weekend.
On the plus side, Ishmael bought me some fruit and a 2 liter bottle of water so I can have breakfast. And, there is an internet cafe two blocks away where, after only five minutes I was able to find the pound key so I could actually enter a password.
Hopefully, things will look brighter in the morning....
PS If I can't use my own keyboard for the next few weeks, do NOT judge my spelling, punctuation, etc. because the Turkish keyboard is just very different for ours and I'm not going to even bother with caps.

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