Friday, December 9, 2011

Turkey's Different, Go Figure!

I have been meaning to write this post for a long time; however, life as gotten in the way. But I'm here now and that's what counts right?! 

I just wanted to share a few of the things that I have noticed since living here in Turkey that are different, besides the obvious, whole foreign country thing...

For one, the toilets are different. Now, when your out and about, you kinda have to search sometimes for a "European" toilet (sometimes called a "modern" toilet), which is the ones that we red-blooded Americans are used to. Thankfully, most places have at least one...sometimes...if it's working. Sadly, I don't have a picture of it, but the traditional Turkish toilet is what we over here fondly (and sometimes not so fondly) call the "squatty potty." Imagine if you will walking into the bathroom to find, not what you want to see as an American needing to use the facilities, but rather a porcelain hole, if you will. Now, in order to use this particular facility, one must do exactly as our nickname suggests, squat. If you know me, and most of you do, you know that I've never been one to be able (or want to) pee in the woods. It has to do with the fear of turning my socks yellow and having to walk around explaining that one all day. Especially being pregnant and in my last trimester I was worried that should I ever need to utilize one of the "traditional Turkish toilets" that it would not go well. However, sometimes, I surprise even myself! On a trip to a sorta nearby town, Gaziantep, we ate at a restaurant that had two stalls, one with the "squatty potty" and one with the door locked, so I really can't say what was behind Door Number 2. For those of you who have been pregnant, you know that when you gotta go, you gotta go. None of this, "Oh, well, I can hold it" mess. It's now or never baby. So I stepped out of my comfort zone, or should I say, squatted into it, and tried the infamous "squatty potty." And what do you know? I came out sans yellow socks! I was so proud. I made sure to tell everyone I was with so they could congratulate me too. Yes, I really did. I was proud, what can I say? Now, you may ask, "Are you going to use the 'squatty potty' from now on, since you know you can?" My answer would be a resounding, NO. If they have a European toilet, this prego will be utilizing it, thank you very much!

Moving along in my story, even the European toilets are slightly different that what most of us are used to. Now, the most important thing is that, yes there is a place to rest your weary bum. The difference comes to play in how to flush when your done. To date, I've seen three different kinds of 'flushing apparatus.' The one I have most easy access to show you is the one in my house, because lets face it, when I'm using the bathroom in public, I don't generally take my camera with me. Shown here is the most common type I've seen. Do you see the little silver knob on top of the tank? Yes? Well, when done doing your duty (or doody, haha) lift and hold that little gem and away we go! The second most popular is basically the same, except for lifting the knob, you press and hold a button. Same result. The third type I've seen, and seen really only off base is two buttons on the wall behind the toilet, one being quite a bit larger than the other. Now, when I saw this the first time it caused me a tish bit of trepidation. I was wondering, "If I push the wrong one is it going to send what I just did right back at me?" Ugh, imagine trying to explain why you had wet hair to a tour group after a routine pit stop. Thankfully, though, you can push either one with relative safety. The big button is for a 'full' flush and the small one is for a 'half' flush. I guess Turkey is trying to "go green."

The second thing I wanted to show you is the differences in outlets. For those of you that have traveled outside the good 'ol US of A may have seen these before. For me, despite having been to Mexico, these are a novelty...and an occasional nuisance. Obviously I can't just plug my flat iron straight into one of these babies. First, I'd have to get a transformer/converter that has a regular 110 (what we use in the states) on the front and a 220 plug coming out the back...However, thank the good Lord, there is an American plug in our bathroom. Granted, there's only one, so Blair and I have to go back and forth as to who's stuff is plugged in, but there is one. So, yay!

Pretty much the first thing I learned about Turkish culture when we got here is that they love them some tea (they call it cay, pronounced ch-I). Now, being a good Southern girl, I figured I'd give it a go, even though it's hot tea, not iced like I prefer. Much to my surprise, it's not bad. When your out in town, almost every shop you stop at asks you if you want some tea. (Really, we need to introduce that kind of service at home!) You'll be walking down the street and you'll see a man run by with platter of maybe 6-8 tea cups filled to the brim; don't worry, he's on a delivery run. I'm not kidding you when I say, they LOVE tea!


Ok, so something happened with my blogger and I can't write where I want to about the above picture. So we'll do it here. This is what you think it is. A plastic cup of water. No biggie right? WRONG! Here in Turkey, they don't routinely filter their water (yuck!) like the base does. So when you go off base and need a little something to wet you whistle, sometimes this is what you get. I've gotten this size at a dessert place and on a tour I took. I'm assuming it's because they're cheap. When you go to a full fledged restaurant and ask for water, they give you a tepid bottle and glass, whoopie. But at least it's parasite free!

Now we'll talk about the picture below. It's not really anything too exciting; I just thought they were cute. The top one is honey (see you didn't know that did you because it's in TURKISH!!) and the bottom one is butter. I got both of these when we went with some friends to a town about an hour away called Kizkalsei and had brunch by the Mediterranean Sea. And yes, it was as wonderful as it sounds.

The picture below may be slightly misleading. From what I can glean from the picture and the itsy, bitsy amount of Turkish that I know and recognize, this is advertising corn and sunflower oil. But neither one of those are in that deceiving little package. What is it you ask? It's a wet nap to clean your hands! A lot of restaurants will provide these for your cleaning pleasure. I have noticed though that they don't all do it at the same time. Some hand them out before your meal, some after. I guess when I've gotten them before the meal I had grubby hands and didn't know it!

 The last thing I wanted to share with you is the differences in the sinks over here. Below is my kitchen sink. Notice anything "off?" Yeah, you got it, there's only one side. I haven't been into a native Turkish persons home so I don't know if this is something the base did to save money, or if they all have sinks like this. I will tell you that when I went to the mall's version of Home Depot, the sink display had about 10 sinks that look like mine and about 3 that were similar to American sinks. As in they had two sides, but one side was half the width and depth of the other side. All I have to say about this sink is, thank you Jesus, I have a dishwasher! Can you imagine washing a full load of dishes in this?!

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings of the things I have found to be different here in Turkey. I'm sure the longer I live here the more I'll notice. I will attempt to capture everything and share with you. However, I may be to busy picking my chin up off the floor to be able to react appropriately! But if something stays still long enough for me to snap a candid, be sure I will!

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