Sweet Home Kusadasi

Charlie sings and chants throughout the day, many phrases or expressions we use reminding him of a song which he then parodies.  Coming home from one of our tours a couple weeks ago, he was singing, “Sweet Home Kusadasi” which Tugrul then sang with him.  Tugrul is more familiar with American music, politics, and history than I am.  I find that’s true with many foreigners we’ve met.  America is very good at exporting its culture and even better at not picking up anyone else’s.  🙂  Today the kids and I went out to dinner and then to a cafe for coffee afterward.  (Some of the restaurants don’t have good coffee – usually just Nescafe.)  We sat near a few people from the Netherlands, including a man in his 50’s, Jan, who immediately started talking to us.  It’s the kind of experience I hoped and expected we would have in our travels but never did until this evening.  Jan and two women are volunteer tour guides for 16 mentally-disabled adults; they’re all staying in Kusadasi for a week at the hotel next to the coffee shop.  It was funny because as soon as we sat down, Jan asked if we’re Americans.  Every other place we’ve been in Turkey, people ask where we’re from and seem surprised when we say “America.”  Jan knew it from the few words we said before we sat down.  There were three cruise ships docked nearby, and one pulled away while we were there.  For the second time this week, we heard a ship play the tune from The Love Boat just before departing. (The Come aboard. We’re expecting you! part.)  I think it’s a riot and was laughing again this evening.  I explained why I was laughing, but Jan needed no explanation.  He sang along with the foghorn.
We’ll be leaving Kusadasi on Wednesday to fly to Istanbul where we’ll stay for a month. I expect Istanbul will be a bit intimidating; with 14 million people, it’s the world’s sixth-largest city. We’ll miss Kusadasi, but I’m hoping that ancient Istanbul, with centuries of building, is a better-planned city than Kusadasi. Kusadasi has grown so fast in the last couple decades that there is little in the way of urban planning and public safety measures. Many sections of sidewalk near newer apartment buildings and stores are slick tile which are really slick when it rains. There are two streets near our apartment that we can take to get to the sea/deniz. One of them has a section that’s a very steep hill – paved, of course, with slick tile. Walking on the asphalt street instead of the sidewalk is not an option because cars are parked all along there, and walking beyond the cars would put us in the way of traffic. On the other side of the sidewalk is a rusty railing you can grab if you’re about to fall and are current on your tetanus shot. There’s a thin, barely-hanging-on, chain-link fence coming down from the railing which is attached only well enough to really scrape someone up who falls off the sidewalk to the ground ten feet below. Surprisingly, there are no spikes on the ground in front of those apartment buildings, undoubtedly an oversight soon to be remedied. Drivers are impatient with everyone here. There are striped, pedestrian-crossing areas; but drivers pay no attention to them. Many streets have medians, so you can just concentrate on one direction of traffic at a time; but you have to cross where there’s a cut in the median, otherwise you’ll have to jump down about 18″ from the median when you need to cross the next lane.
Jan, and others we’ve talked to in our journeys, asked how the children are schooled. When I tell people we homeschool, they’re incredulous that we’re so free to travel as we like, doing whatever kind of educating I choose. Jan said it’s illegal in the Netherlands, and Mel told me when we arrived that it’s illegal in Turkey. I read an article on NPR.org today about the fairly recent legalization of American homeschooling which came about mostly in the 1980’s because of Christian conservatives and anti-authoritarian unschoolers working together. To all those people who made Laurel’s, Charlie’s, and my life and travel possible: Thank you.

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