Merhaba! I spent just over 3 months in Turkey and dammit I’ve been meaning to tell you all about it! I’m not much of a sightseer so I won’t have many pictures of the beautiful scenery, but I will tell you about what I did and where I went.
I landed on Incirlik Air Base. I was there for work even though I admittedly didn’t do too much of it. See, in Turkey they have a very consistent rainy season. And since the platform I was working on at the time doesn’t fair well in the rain we went on call… for the majority of the time I was there. It was fucking awesome! Because of this, I was enabled to participate in some recreational activities.
We were meant to be confined to the base for the entirety of this deployment, but seeing as I how I thought that was bullshit, I didn’t do it.
Even though, there was plenty of fun to be had on Incirlik AB. I mean… it was an Air Force base. So, number one it was clean. It was fully-equipped with everything one would need. Commissary, post office, exchange, bazaar, gym, nightclub, gas stations, shopette, and plenty of places to eat out. One of my favorite places to go was IZA. It was a Mediterranean eatery joint where one could go to get rice bowls or kebap. Believe me when I say from the lamb meat to the spinach and beef kofte, it was a real treat. I ate there every day… real shit.
Just outside of the base was my apartment. The one I wasn’t supposed to have because I was expected to live in a beautiful 3 bedroom house on base… with 8 other guys. Screw that noise. I got my own 3 bedroom apartment right outside of the base the second day I was there. For three hundred dollars a month!
This came about by me wandering off base with my legal gate pass and natural curiosity of my surroundings. I was approached by a Turkish… Kurdish rather, man who ran a barber shop. His name was Selat. Don’t let his name fool you, he wasn’t as a devout Muslim so much as he was a swindler who liked to poach unsuspecting Americans. I’m a good-hearted person. Did I need a haircut at 1 a.m.? No… Did I need him to make me two fantastically thick Peacoats? No… no I did not. But I knew since they closed the gates to the Airmen due to security risks, the local shops were all going under. I was doing my part. But, no good deed goes unpunished and it wouldn’t be the first time my generosity and admittedly, my naivete were taken advantage of in this historically illustrious country. It wasn’t all bad out there, my boy Ahmed was a Godsend. He would try his best to be the translator for me when he could. Also, he’d pop by my apartment with any messages from Selat, or just to say hi and bring me food. I love that guy. Ever looked in someone’s eyes and just knew they were a good person? Ahmet is one of those people. We still talk now.
Also while I was there in Incirlik, I had the honor of finally having two of my novels placed into circulation by the United States Air Force. So, The Guidon Bearer: A Basic Training Story and Invasion of the Most Sacred are now available to anyone who has access to APO A.E. Libraries overseas in Germany, Turkey, Spain etc. That was a big day. HUGE honor.
Incirlik Air Base is situated just outside of Adana, a province and city that’s in the southern part of Turkey. It couples with a neighboring large city called Mersin to form a large metropolitan area. There are over 3 million people in this area and it’s the most agriculturally productive area in Turkey.
This is also the city that I chose to write about in my book Invasion of the Most Sacred even before I ever knew I’d make it to the country in the first place!
I got out there to the Sabanci Merkez Mosque on more than one occasion. Invasion was still new to me at the time, so I went out there to take pictures of it where ever I could and to just… hold it, and have it with me. I love that book. And my readers feel that’s my best piece of work, even up til now. It’s a huge Mosque, and it has a large Turkish flag pole outside of it. It acts as the largest landmark in the city as far as I’m concerned. On my late-night escapades I indeed used it to find my way back to my apartment lol. Speaking of escapades.
I really did find myself out there quite often. I tried to enjoy myself. I know it may not seem like it, and I could never explain it fully… part of the way I coped with working abroad and being away from my kids was immersing myself in other shit. Whether it was working out, eating, women (probably should’ve organized this list better) I tried my best to keep my mind off how much I missed my kids and being home. OK… before I turn this into a depressing story, let’s move on!
To the northwest, just further inland, were a group of Dag (mountains in Turkish) called Taurus/Toros, part of the Bolkar mountain range. Myself and a gal I was seeing at the time decided we should go there before I left the country. You know… that sight seeing I said I don’t do much of.
Not much to say about this place, really. It was of course beautiful, I mean you can’t go wrong with snow-covered mountains can you? The elevation was simply implied by how we drove up hill the entire hour and a half. And of course the uncanny temperature drop! It was stupid could up there, and it was January. I recall while being there the streets were extremely narrow off the main roads and people still didn’t drive any better than they did in the city. Oh, I’m sorry… people don’t drive too well in Turkey. It’s not by far the worst I’ve seen, but they’re bad. I had some of the best rice I ever had in my life, and when all the signs there on the restaurants read “Adana Kebap” I realize that day just how far the region of Adana spanned.
After just taking in some sights and realizing we had braved the cold long enough , we decided to head back. But not before I took this picture.
There was absolutely no way I was going to leave Turkey (possibly for the last time) and not visit Istanbul. The most populated part of Turkey, and the country’s economic, cultural, and historic center. It’s also a great place to get robbed by taxi drivers. It’s fantastic.
The hotel we stayed at was pretty bad ass. It was kinda like a town home type situation. Bedroom was up stairs. Blinds were switch-operated. It was supposed to be a 4-star situation. Turkey is probably one of the only countries I can afford a four star hotel. Like… a real four star anyway. This hotel was one of those places that you can vacation to, and not really need to leave. I almost didn’t because it was so damn cold outside.
There’s absolutely no way you can go to Turkey and not enjoy a Hamaam/Hamam (Turkish shower). This practice dates all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. And if I could afford to have my entire body washed/massaged/scrubbed by ladies every day I would. It’s an experience. It really is.
This was just one of my trips where I wanted to aimlessly explore the city. Istanbul is one of the biggest cities I’ve ever been to in my life. I’m certain I didn’t cover 2% of it. And we made our way to a few places! Of course I went to the Hard Rock Cafe. That’s a must foe me, everywhere I go. We went to the Blue Mosque. As seen in the movie Argo. One of my favorite movies. Every time I watched it, before my trip, I always said I wanted to visit that Mosque Ben Affleck was in, in that movie. Check that one off the list!
And then there’s the bowling… The very reason I chose to go bowling of all things during my short trip to Istanbul was to make sure there was authenticity in this blogs name that my kids so cleverly came up with. I couldn’t do it. I bowled several doubles, but no turkey. I had the turkey sandwich from Subway, I was literally in Turkey.. but I didn’t bowl the turkey. And I’m STILL pissed about it.
YOU KNOW ME! I am going to get my grub on, BIG TIME wherever I go. So instead of doing a bunch of yapping, I’m going to just show you like I do in my year end blogs. Enjoy!
I was of course newly single, with a divorce that was in the works, to be culminated within the month of me leaving Istanbul. Something a long time coming. In true form while I was away, I spent some time with some ladies while I was there.
I tried to stay to myself for the most part while I was there but it’s kinda hard when you’re somewhere, where people look at you as if you’re a science project. If I were in an Arab country I would just look like an original dark-skinned Arab, but in Turkey, people
are normally a lot more light-skinned and I might as well had been in Northern Maine or something lol. But when my number gets tossed around after going to a few parties and I start getting pictures like this (—->)I’m left with no choice but to go have a little fun. So, thanks, Turkey! I had a great time… even when you were not too nice to me. I know DAMN WELL I gave that taxi driver 100 TL. but he claimed it was 20… omg, I’ll never forget that, ANYWAY!
I learned a little bit of the language, saw some sights, sampled the food, and sampled some women and I can’t really ask for too much more than that!
Scream at me,