After work last Wednesday, I went into Tunali, the neighborhood home to Niza Park Hotel. I sat in Kuglu Park for a bit and watched the swans, geese, and ducks swim around. I hit up Very Cupcake, ate the cookie dough treat outside, and then walked through the shopping streets back towards Kizilay.
Later, I met with Keanna and Alexis of Lightening Girl fame and Phebe, the English Language Fellow at another university. We went to a restaurant named Roka. Once we sat down, the waiters put paper placemats over the table, and then beds of greens and fresh squeezed lemon juice were set on top of the mats. Next came little side dishes to share like cig kofte and eggplant salad, and lentil soup for everyone. For the main course, we got plates with grilled chicken or kofte and thin bread wraps to put everything together into little sandwiches. For dessert we were brought the Turkish version of tres leches, which Alexis aptly said she used to call milky bread before learning its name.
On Saturday morning, I finally got back to Harikalar Diyari, the large park two metro stops from home. I took my book and walked around to different spots, sitting by the artificial lake for a stretch and in a flower garden for another. From one angle, I discovered I could actually see the buildings around my apartment from inside the park.
As I was walking into my building’s entrance later, Karlene was walking out. My phone was dead so I didn’t bother bringing it with me (and I wasn’t expecting any contact on a Saturday morning) and I of course didn’t have wifi in the park. We had been invited to make dinner with our coworker Ebru and her husband. Karlene was going to catch the bus right then, so I turned around to join her.
To buy our ingredients for the evening, we went to Metro, a German version of BJs. Back at their apartment, Karlene and I started making chocolate chip cookies while Ebru got to work on the side dishes and her husband started grilling. Turkish grills are low to the ground and are about half of the size of an American grill. They use coal, and someone has the job of constantly fanning the flames to get it hotter. When the cooking was almost complete, our other coworker Sibel and her husband, who live in our neighborhood, arrived. We ate on the rooftop terrace, which Ebru has exclusive access to. We moved inside for dessert, where our American cookies received high praise. It was just before midnight when we got in Sibel’s car and headed home.
Today was my last day of teaching. Ramadan started yesterday so I knew these last two days would be lost since everyone was tired and hungry. I stayed away from book activities to spare myself the torture. Today went pretty well, ending with one of my trouble students very earnestly telling me “We will forget you,” before another student said he meant ‘not forget’ and that got a pretty good laugh. No one signed up for tutoring so I got to leave early.
I think leaving would have been more difficult if I stayed with my original classes the whole way through, and I’m both glad to be able to exit with ease and a little sad not to feel that connection.
This next and final week has both adventure and logistics (canceling utilities etc) on the docket. You haven’t quite heard the last from the blog, dear readers–stay tuned for the exciting conclusion next week!