July 6, 2014

We're here in Izmir!

Alan and I made it to our rented apartment in Izmir. I'd call this one of my most challenging travel days, but also one that motivated me to always keep the attitude that things will work out eventually.

The bus ride from hell got slightly worse around 5AM when the travel tummy bag caught up with me in the final rest area. Brutal on a squat pot. Sorry if that's TMI.

We did, however, make another friend, Burak the solider. He was nice, helpful and funny. 

Although it felt like that bus ride would never end, 15 hours after we left Kayseri, we stepped off the bus in Izmir. Our friend helped us find the shuttle bus service that would take us closer to our apartment. That bus was fine, and I got to try out some new Turkish, which made everyone around us giggle. Oh well, it got the job done: Does this go to Alsancak?

The driver dropped us off in a swanky downtown area, near the Hilton and Renaissance hotels. I had a phone number for Emre, the apartment renter. I was he supposed to call him when I was in the neighborhood so we could meet up. The only problem was that I has no phone.

Our boss had said that if we asked anyone to borrow their phone, it would be no problem in Turkey. So I left Alan (still pretty sick) with our bags and walked several hundred feet down the posh sidewalk to two  Turkish guys. Despite my Turkish and their English, I was soon on both guys' cell phones, using phone and internet browsing to check the number. They were so helpful. When I did get ahold of Emre, he told me that I was pretty far from the place and should take a taxi too meet his friend who would let us into the apartment. 

So, we found a taxi driver and set off for the strange address. The driver had very limited English, so I asked him what his name was. First he thought I was speaking English, but when he understood my. Turkish, he laughed, which broke the ice. He asked me if I was German. I replied in German that I could speak German, and asked him. He replied in German that he was too tired. Laughs all around.

15 minutes and a few phone calls later, we met Ismet, the renter's friend, outside a döner shop. A strange old women asked me if I were German (I see a pattern) and informed me that she was Italian and that Izmir was the best place.

Ok, on to the apartment. Ismet took us up to the place, showed us the wifi password and was about to leave when I asked about whether we could drink the tap water. He took a quick look in the fridge, and gestured that he would be back. He returned with his arms full of bottled water and refused my offer to pay for it. Again, the hospitality here is something to be reckoned with!

Alan took a shower and I tucked him into bed, my brave burrito. After showering the bus, sweat, and rest area off, I laid down too. We woke up about six hours later.

We decided that we really needed to get some light food in our stomachs, so somehow we mustered the strength to walk through the new neighborhood to a grocery store. A little groggy, we selected some basics: bread, lavaş, cheese, olive oil, eggs, juice, peppers, onions, soap, shampoo, and Turkish tea. I also really wanted laundry detergent. My roommate Özge from Flagstaff had taught me çamaşır, the word for laundry. Looking at the cleaning product selection, I used my understanding of Turkish derivations (su = water, maden suyu = mineral water, portakal suyu = orange juice) to deduce that çamaşır suyu would be some kind of laundry liquid. 

Turns out that it's bleach. I looked it up at home, and I'm glad I didn't wash anything in it, though I hope the smell would have clued me in. I'll know what to get next time! Çamaşır deterjen. That name totally makes sense, doesn't it. I think my inner linguist got in the way this time.

After another brief nap, I whipped up a little cheese lavaş as our only meal of the day. Traveling is hard, but rewarding. My number one goal is to get on a regular sleep schedule ASAP.

Made it to Izmir, check. Got some food, check. Have a bed and air conditioning, CHECK!