I’ve been more tired than usual for some months, and it took me awhile to conclude that I was simply doing too much. I’ve been teaching 50% more students than usual while studying Turkish, preparing for hosting visitors, and at that point, preparing for Christmas.
With a limited number of months remaining here, I decided to make a change. I will spend the first half of 2012 not teaching, but reading and writing, poking around Istanbul with wonderful expatriate friends, traveling to several more locations of interest here, and showing dear friends from Minnesota the country I’ve come to love.
It was not an easy decision, as I thoroughly enjoy my work colleagues, but as soon as I made it, I felt relieved.
I hope I can introduce you to some of the interesting Turkish sites I plan to visit.
Among them, in Istanbul, we have the Yarn Bazaar, a colorful wonderland of knitting materials; the artsy Cihangir neighborhood, perched on a hill facing the Bosphorus and home to funky clothing stores and shops that sell items used in movie sets; and the Kucuk (pronounced kuchook) Hagia Sofia, a smaller version of the storied church/mosque, built in the 500s A.D. I have become quite enamored by mosques because the ones I’ve seen are consistently light and airy inside—nothing dark or grim about them.
< Outside Istanbul, we plan to visit a splendid Seljuk mosque and hospital complex in remote Divrigi, northeast of Ankara. The Seljuks were early Moslems who believed in using animal forms in their decorative arts.
In April, we will take a train to Eskisehir, a formerly ordinary town in central Turkey that has been made lovely by an energetic, transformational mayor. Later in the spring we want to take a looping car trip that will take in some Hittite ruins from the 3rd century B.C.; the fabulous Museum of Civilizations in Ankara; Konya, with its Aladdin and Whirling Dervish history; Roman ruins such as Aspendos and Aphrodisias; and finally the lovely Aegean resort town of Assos, which faces the Greek island of Lesbos.
I look forward to sharing all of this with you.