3 Cities in 3 Countries on 3 Continents in 3 Weeks

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Turkey  , Ankara,
Sunday, June 20, 2010

During my morning jog I found myself pondering on the craziness of the lifestyle that my family and I are living.  It is one filled with innumerable changes, unforeseen challenges, interactions with intriguing people from fascinating cultures, unexpected emotional highs and lows... with one of the highlights being a forging of lifelong friendships... sometimes with the people who you would least expect.  

I have been living a fairly transient lifestyle for most of my existence... but am finding this particular transition to be a bit more arduous than I expected. I don't feel stressed, nervous or too scattered... but do find myself wondering how my family and I are going to pull this one off.  Sooooo I decided that because I am going to be living in a world of massive changes for the next month, I would create some consistency by spending at least a few moments each day writing, snapping pics and most importantly reflecting on the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful as I spend the next 3 weeks leaving, entering, crossing into and landing in 3 cities, in three countries on 3 continents.   Actually 4 continents as my flight from Ankara  will bring me from Asia to the European side of Istanbul for a quick layover before I board my approximately 12 hour flight across the Atlantic to Minneapolis in North America...   where I will spend a few weeks visiting family and friends before leaving for our next teaching position at Nido de Aguilas International School in Santiago, Chile in South America.  

Let me begin by saying that this morning I woke up peaceful... after spending the past week finalizing my class grades and uploading them to our school's gradequick program, which by the the way is far from quick, vigorously packing up my classroom, which was my cluttered home away from home for the past few years, organizing my files to pass on to the next teacher taking over my Economics classes, sending him an email to let him know that the 11th grade class I am leaving behind is the best class I have ever had in my entire teaching career, pulling together all of my Head of Department minutes to give to the next HOD stepping into leading the International Social Studies Department, emailing the final documents for the School Re-Accreditation requirements... wishing I hadn't volunteered to Chair this committee, meeting with the next lead teacher for the Theory of Knowledge department that I both taught within and headed for the past year, sending my remaining Model United Nations documents to my good friend and colleague Anthony... after help clean up a massive drama that took 6 hours of discussion to bring to closure... as MUN kids are highly skilled debaters or damn good arguers depending on how you look at it... I will really miss these kids as well as I have spent the past 3 years traveling with them to various locations throughout the Middle East and Europe as they honed their skills at various conferences, in between all of this I was consistently, yet randomly being whisked off by our school's driver to various embassies, government offices and banks, car dealerships, warehouses and a plethora of offices to receive a multitude of letters, documents, stamps and signatures so I could sell our van, cancel a visa, renew a passport, file for an short term extension on a residency permit, close a dollar and euro account at our bank... yet leave our Turkish Lira account open... requiring an additional letter, 3 stamps and signatures, meet with the Ambassador at the Chilean Embassy, sign documents in front of an official at the US embassy... as well as engage in the most difficult tasks of saying goodbye to the many students that have become my kids, colleagues that have become my family and various acquaintances that I am either sad to have not further enriched or extremely happy as my patience with some of them is on the rim of overflowing...   

The storm before this newfound peace was a wild one that hit as I was finishing tucking trinkets and underwear into one of the 20 bags we are shipping to Chile... with a flurry of bodies our movers emerged into our apartment, following massive rolls of bubble wrap which they used to briskly cocoon our belongings into, sealing them with screeching tape guns... within a half an hour they left as quickly as they had entered, leaving me in an empty apartment... without my family... as I had bid them an early farewell at 5:00 am... due to my requirement to stay behind to finish up my department duties... which are thankfully already completed.... I think... I hope! After they left I crashed for an hour, did a few tasks, took a jaunt upstairs to have a brisk cup of coffee with my director and his wife... and headed off with my friend Anthony to have a final Turkish hamam bath and massage.  

Heading into the old part of Ankara to enjoy a hamam that has been cleaning locals and travelers alike since the 1400's was bitter sweet.  I love Turkey and find that I am not ready to leave it... but at the same time wrestle with the convoluted feelings of wanting yet another cultural change.  After being warmed, steamed, doused in pails of hot water, exfoliated of dead skin, scrubbed with mounds of soap bubbles, massaged out of the knots tying up my muscles, and the plying of my vertebrae back into alignment, ending with a quick slap at the end of a shiatsu massage, I stumbled over to another marble domed room and spent the next spell dousing with ice cold water... followed by the final rinsing of the cracks and crevices of my aging body before changing into a dry hamam towel... leaving my quiet coffin for a relaxation room where I was led to a seat on a couch while two more attendants wrapped me in blazing white towels... and brought me a warm glass of chai...  Anthony and I spent some time talking and recuperating... as we waited for our limbs to realign with the commands of our brains to get up and head off to a kebab restaurant for my last traditional Turkish meal.  Hours later I found myself fast asleep... waking to the sound of prayers interspersed with the hooooop's and ooo's of the local hoopoe birds singing in the nearby pine trees.  

Today I am heading across the field to the local barber for a haircut, a shave and maybe even an ear burning...  

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