Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last Days of Turkey

Hi peoples!

Sooooo good news and bad news.
Bad news: my days in Turkey are coming to a close :(
Good news: I'm going to Belgium!

Ya, ya Im skippıng the majorıty of europe, but at thıs poınt ı'm so ready to be ın a country where I speak the language. And yes all the 'i's are goıng to be mıssıng dots ın thıs post because ıts a turkısh keyboard.
So, on monday ı'm goıng to be flyıng to Bruxelles and couchsurfıng there for a few days and then headıng to Bruges for a few days. Im pretty much only goıng to Bruges becaue of the movıe In Bruges ıts a very amusıng movıe, Warning: it is a very dark movie and there is a LOT of cussing. Then from Bruges to Parıs the Parıs to the Alpes.
Thats my tentatıve plan of whıch has a tendancy to change frequently.

Im not sure how often I'll have tıme to blog or whether I'll be able to put up pıctures. I'll do my best to keep ıt up though.

Left Jade farm on the 27th....for the second tıme :P The past week/days at Jade Farm passed quıte quıckly and they were very calm and relaxıng. One nıght I was happıly able to get some close up shots of a hedgehog

Oh, and Julie, we had a visiter at the farm right before I left

I've spent thıs weekend wıth my frıend Marıe, of fılıpıno decent but grew up ın germany, we met ın san francısco through my french buddy, Robın, and 7 months later ended up ın turkey completely unaware that the other was goıng to be here. Small world huh? and talk about globalızatıon.

Sunday we went out to one of the Prınce's Islands, ıslands sıtuated just an hour boat-rıde away from Istanbul. We went to the second ısland whıch presented a spectacular vıew of Istanbul from afar and was far enough away from the cıty to provıde wonderful tranquıl sılence. We ımmedıatly got dıstracted by a bunch of kıttens and ended up cuddlıng wıth them for quıte a long tıme. The ısland has a healthy populatıon of stray cats and dogs, but don't feel sorry for these pampered anımals, they seem well taken care of by eıther the ınhabıtants or the tourısts tossıng them food. So much so that some of the dogs were obese.

One of the kittens got stuck in a tree and so Marie tried to get him down

We walked around and found a spectacular beach where Alessıa, Marıe's ıtalıan frıend, and I went swımmıng.

It was a wonderful day of lazyıng about, eatıng, drınkıng çaı, and hangıng out wıth wonderful people

Thanks Turkey! Its been a blast, and I'll defınıtely be returnıng someday, hopefully soon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Well...that was quick

 Leaving Jade Farm was a very sad event. On saturday we had an end of the harvest/going away barbeque, and then monday morning I said my teary goodbyes to everyone. They gave me small gifts. Zubeta gave me some beautiful, traditional socks, as a joke because I was constantly barefoot even during the cold mornings. I love them immensely though and they'll be great to have during the cold winter.

 I wrote them a letter, with the help of Berin, saying that I wanted to come back to see everyone soon. Then Berin and I set off to Adapazari where I took a bus to Istanbul and then another bus to the second farm.

I would look out the window and describe the new farm to you....except the view outside looks suspiciously like Jade Farm....because it is. I was at the dairy farm for less than three days. The owners and the german milkmaid were all very nice people, and were very kind and accommodating to me. It was the atmosphere of the working crew, the complete absence of warmth and happiness, that I found rather unpleasant. Their lack of compassion for the animals they worked with was also rather disturbing. The farm is also industrialized.

When you work with cows it's necessary to be a little rambunctious, raise your voice, clap your hands, give some rump slaps. They're slow creatures and not in the hurry, nor have the real desire, to do anything. They meander, then stop, you give a loud "Allez Filles!", they continue, then stop, a thigh or rump tap "Allez!", they meander forward, then stop. This is how it is working with cows. Yet, the workers take their aggression with the cows too far. Last morning, I reached my breaking point.
I wasn't very happy at the farm to begin with, but i though that maybe I could just tough it out for the 11 days I would be there. Yet, one morning when I went out to feed milk to the calves with one of the other workers, two of the little guys had escaped from their pen. They came up to us though, hungry for milk, and with the excitement one of them knocked over the bucket with the milk bottles in it. A mere two drops of milk were spilled but the worker turned in anger and hit the calf, who was probably barely two months old, on the face and then kicked it. I was furious at the guy and voiced my anger but he didn't understand my english cussing. He pointed to the overturned bucket as if to justify his brutality. The calf didn't know what she did, and beating her wouldn't help her understand, it would just lead to a traumatized animal.
 Yet that was it, I refuse to work in a place where animal abuse is taking place. I told the female owner of the occurrence and she seemed shocked and unaware of such things were going on. She is in charge of finance so she is never on the milking floor, and she loves the cows dearly, so I very much hope that she will see the abuse stopped.
Even so, I could not be persuaded to stay any longer. Within a couple of hours I was on a bus back to Istanbul.
I make no mention of names or places to leave them with their privacy.

I realize that was a rather heavy and photo-free segment. So, here's a picture of Mr. Mallo:

  I was so mad this picture was out of focus.

I'm now blissfully back on Jade Farm. Berin is on vacation by the sea but will be back soon, so I ate at Caramille's (aka caramel's) place with the family.

I would also like to thank the shuttle drivers for coming to my aid in figuring out what shuttle to take. I asked one for help and all seven of them circled around to read the address to Berin's farm to try and help me. Thank you four random strangers who let the odd american person borrow their phone to call Berin for directions. Also a huge thank you to the bus driver who, during his break, hopped into his bus to drive me directly to my bus stop, and then drove back. Never have I met people so willing to step up to try and help someone. Thank you absurdly nice turkish people!

Anyways, that's the thing about traveling, you put yourself out there to have new experiences, and those experiences might not always be good ones. That shouldn't stop you from traveling though, for every one bad experience there is a world of great and amazing experiences.

Friday, October 12, 2012

GDO'ya hayır!

So, I left off with my last post saying that Berin and I would be attending a GMOs meeting in Bursa, and I must say it was quite spectacular to see. The first day I went to the center of Bursa to explore while Berin went to the large meeting. Bursa in general isn't all that notable. It had a large bazaar but it's filled with generic household items, clothing, food, and even pets. Highlight of that excursion was definitely the börek that I ate. I have no idea what was in it but it was amazing.
The second day was much more fun. It was in a smaller house-community center-esk, wooden building and it involved only a core group of about 30 people working to create a list of requests/demands about limiting and restricting GMO's in Turkey. I understood about 5 or 6 words total of the entire meeting, but during the breaks I got to talk to some of the people about their backgrounds. Some of the people had absolutely flawless english and used words that I never do...
not many pics but here's some from the first day:
 when everyone was on on a lunch break
here's Berin introducing one of the speakers

Another note on GMO's, if you guys haven't heard, a recent study was released showing results that GMO's cause tumors/cancer and shorten lifespans in rats.
"In September, French scientists from the University of Caen released a study claiming that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a corn seed variety made tolerant to amounts of Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer – or given water mixed with the product at levels permitted in the United States died earlier than those on a standard diet." article

What's even more horrifying is that the The European Food Safety Authority claims that the science wasn't 'sound', that they didn't have enough test subjects....the test was conducted with over 200 rats. Not to mention the minimum adequate sample size (the minimum test subjects you need to get a significant result) would have be calculated before the test was even started. The European Food Safety Authority was paid off by Monsanto.
If there was a company that defined an evil corporation it would be Monsanto.

GDO'ya Hayır!!! No to GMOs!!!

Off the subject off GMOs, I reached a milestone while on the bus to Bursa; I wrote my first sentence! and soon after that a whole conversation ^_^  a small feat but a feat none the less
Bursaya gidiyorum. Translation: I am going to Bursa. Direct translation: Bursato goingI'm
...ya, turkish kind of has different sentence structure.

I've also set the date for when I'm going to the other farm, in three days to be precise, the 15th. I'm really hoping it ends up being as awesome as Jade Farm has been. I'm really sad to leave, but at the same time I'm ready to get back on the road. Pictures!!!
 Here is the tomato harvest. My Papap would be proud ^_^
 the yellow tomatoes are divine
I really liked this picture. Berin giving directions from the kitchen window, Caramille walking by, and the girls working in the back

Here's the shop full of organic goodness
Me hard at work, as usual, as Yetkin and Berin look at the quinces

 Yetkin, to the upper left, is doing his doctorate on corn production in Turkey at a university in Pennsylvania, and came to the farm to get interviews of corn producers. We've since adopted him, and only reluctantly allowed him to return to his parents house in Istanbul today. He's been wonderful to have around, extremely jovial and happy, and even Caramille has given his stamp of approval by biting him on the shoulder...don't ask.

 Do you remember me kneading the dough in my last post? well it was rolled into these little patties today and left out to dry. It'll dry and then be crumbled into powder then used for the tarhana soup which is delicious!!! We're having it tonight, yum :)

I'm going to miss so much from this farm: the warm people, the absurdly delicious food, the agreeable work, the peaceful nature, the comradery, the fuzzy animals. It's been great fun. 

I'm also greatly saddened that I won't be able to see my Mr. Cheese again...I really wish I could take him on the road with me, but I'm sure he's quite happy where he is.
 Mr. Cheese
me and my buds, helping me shell beans

my next post will be from the other farm. Working with cows and milk again. Berin says the place is pretty high tech though. The cows have microchips in their legs which tell how much milk they give a'll be interesting to see

I also came upon a sad realization the other day...I'm turning 23 in a little over a month, which is beyond bizarre because I was 20 yesterday. My elders always said that time flew by when you got older, but in my youth I never really believed them. Yet, its happening, life is passing far too quickly, and I'm not sure how to slow time down. Maybe I should stop having so much fun...

Anyhoo, I leave you all with this song which was blasting in the bus on the way to the GMO conference. HUGS!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dancing, Traditionally Clad, Turkish Man Candy

Ya, ya I know it has been a while, but I don't have a lot of time at the moment so I'll try to get something out. Berin and I will be leaving soon for a conference in Bursa on GMO's. Really wishing my turkish was more advanced so I could actually understand what will be said, but sadly it is not. 

So, the big event of last weekend was a festival in one of the villages celebrating the Ayaarya culture. It was an amazing experience. There were horse races earlier in the day, great food, and traditional dances and singing at night. We went with Berin's photography group. I'll tell the story through pictures, it'll be quicker and everyone likes pictures.
 Hoş Geldiniz means welcome in Turkish. The native Ayaaryan language can't be spelled with latin letters so instead they use cyrillic but even then it doesn't quite capture the language.
 These were some dancers. The dancing particular culture is unique to the region because it has men and women dancing together. The surrounding cultures have the genders dancing separately. The partners also change often, when one person is tired another person hops in to replace them. It's like tag team dancing. Sometimes girls will use this tag team to teasingly force a guy to continue dancing until he's exhausted.
 This is a form of Manta, they're like dumplings with meat inside. SO GOOD. and the drink is a type of salty yogurt that's very common here.
 Bean pure, spinach thing, and chicken eaten with a corn based bread-thingy (its ok if you guys don't understand my technical terminology, it takes time). Like all turkish food, it was disgustingly delicious.
 Horse races...not much to say about it, there were horses and riders and they went around a track a couple of times and the person who crossed the finish line first won.

 I tried to get some photos of the traditional costumes. The women's costumes were lovely, but the guy's were by far the coolest, like Assassin's Creed badass. I really wanted one but they order them specially :/
 I really wish that they would implement this as normal male attire.

I tried my damnedest to upload a video of the dancing but blogger was having trouble with my file and youtube was going to take 311minutes to upload it...I didn't feel like waiting that long so sadly no videos. 

The dancing was amazing though, the guys jump and spin while the women do small movements and walk softly on their toes as if floating. The singer, Gülcan Altan, was also astoundingly captivating, her voice was so melodic and she had a great presence on stage. This recording doesn't do her any justice 

 Out of everything though, the best part was the dancing, traditionally clad, turkish man candy...or are they called turkish delights? Anyways, man candy is always appreciated ^_^

We're also in the process of making a traditional turkish soup called tarhana. It's typically eaten during winter and it is in powder form. You made a dough, kind of like sour dough, knead and add flour every day for 7 days, not sure what comes after that because we're not there yet, but it eventually becomes a powder.
Watching it grow!

Berin and I have also been hard at work building a cat army. Word apparently got out that we feed furry creatures. It all started with Mr. Cheese, then came Mr. Mallow, Little Mama came next. She's a miniscule little cat, probably not even one, and has a litter of kittens (another sad case of teen pregnancy) hence the name 'Little Mama'. Golden eyes is another new comer but he's still very shy. There's another tabby but we haven't named him yet. Our army's greatest skill: synchronized cleaning. I'm not sure yet how this will be useful in my goal of world domination, suggestions are welcomed.
We also get dogs occasionally but they aren't very frequent visitors. They'll be the calvary. I'm also looking into recruiting the hedgehogs. They'll be 'the diggers'.

I was also thinking of something my friend Cathe told me, be weary of what you name things because they often take that name to heart. She once named a horse Tempest and it tried its damnedest to live up to that name. Mr. Cheese has become another example of this. Now that he's gained some weight, with us feeding him, he's turned into the Tom cat of the neighborhood, the Big Cheese if you will. I need to be cautious of this naming thing in the future. 

Other interesting things: One morning we woke up to find muddy hedgehog footprints all over the deck and even on the table. We have yet to figure out how the little guy got onto the table since they can't jump. My theory is that he hopped onto a crate, then the chair, then the table. One of the hedgehogs here is also the size of a small cat, hedgehogzilla, so I'm thinking it was him.

There are also Jakals here (Çakal) running around at night. You know when they are around because they howl their respond to the prayers when they are announced over the land from the mosques. It's bone chilling and exciting when you hear it.

anyways have to go

more stories when i have time