A Travellerspoint blog

Winning and Losing

rain 13 °C

Today was a bittersweet day.

We got horrible news this morning, H is likely to be sent somewhere else. Somewhere significantly more dangerous. If it happens it will have an impact on my family that I can't cope with… I don't mean mentally, I mean in every possible way. It will mean that my little boys will be without their Dad for significant things, like learning to walk, and I will effectively be a single mum of 8 month old twins for a MUCH longer time period than two weeks. It will make two weeks look like a walk in the park. I am now seriously considering heading home with the lads, because I don't have it in me to go it alone for that long. Two weeks was exhausting. I might have joked about it, but I knew it was a means to an end, and that the reward would be a staff job which would have my Husband coming home every night. The world has handed me a big fat FAIL for being so cocky.

To make it worse, when we asked, a week ago if we should be thinking about any kind of re-deployment given the current situation, we were told "they are not thinking about it at this stage", so I powered ahead with leaving Lebanon and coming on holiday. Now, there is a possibility H might actually leave Lebanon before I'm due to get back. This would potentially leave our kids alone in a foreign country without a mum OR a dad. Obviously, that won't happen - I'll have to come home early - but it will be a lot of money down the drain. And I'll miss ANZAC day.

Lots of tears today.

Which sucks, because Istanbul is beautiful. Given what I now know, the leisurely day I had planned became a very intense day of trying to cram as much in as possible. I stood in contemplation in Hagia Sofia. I considered life in the Topkapi Palace and Harem. I wondered about the events that get us to where we are in the Museum of Antiquities and reflected on the fragility of life in numerous mausoleums to dead Sultans.

At the end of my day-of-thought, I discovered a very good way to release a bit of stress is to go and lie in a hot stone room and have it pummeled out of you by a large female Turkish masseuse.

Tomorrow, I plan to see the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern, and hopefully the spice market. In the Mosque, I might reconsider my non-belief in God and send a little prayer to Allah that my Husband won't be going anywhere where his family can't follow. Perhaps you might do the same.

Posted by karicketts 11:42 Archived in Turkey Comments (8)

The rain in Turkey

rain 12 °C

It's raining here in Turkey. I'm so surprised by this… I shouldn't be, but I really didn't plan for rain. It's bad enough out there that today I may have to buy an umbrella. Lucky it's Turkey and the umbrella's are cheap. And available everywhere.

My trip here was awesome. I sat in Beirut airport for a bit, wandered around aimlessly for a bit, caught the plane, slept for a bit, went to the loo on board without having to carry a small person with me to change his nappy, ate my meal at my leisure, without tiny hands trying to grab the shiny stuff on my tray, arrived in Istanbul, strolled off the plane carrying only my macbook, wandered about there for a bit 'til I found the toilet where I discovered I could fit into a stall by myself again, found baggage claim, claimed my ONE bag, put it on my back and found the metro, paid 4 TL and caught a train and a tram to Sultanahmet, wandered about in the rain towards Hagia Sofia without having to maneuver a doublewide stroller along narrow streets, found my Hostel, could fit through the door without help and was greeted by name.

I have remembered that I LOVE traveling alone. This is something I haven't done properly since I met my husband… I don't think it makes me a bad mother that I feel like doing a little dance to be having a holiday from my children either.

My day today looks like I'll be spending most of it inside exploring mosque and museums. I had a win with this hostel, which was hit and miss from the internet - but is cheap, clean and comfortable and really handy to the stuff I want to see…

I'm on holiday. A little rain can't dampen this intrepid traveller's parade.

Posted by karicketts 21:51 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Gobble Gobble

sunny 34 °C

I'm on my way to Turkey. Finally.

I'm exhausted after everything that's happened in the lead up to this point. Getting a visa to exit Lebanon in the passport replacing the lost one, is just about as much of a drama as getting the lost passport report. It involved two trips to Beirut, about six hours waiting in bleak concrete corridors and many, many men in LAF uniforms. But it's done. I'm sitting here in Beirut airport, using the free wi-fi, watching Game of Thrones and writing a blog. My children are with their Dad on the way back to Tyr. And I have a week to myself.

A whole week. Traveling. Alone. It is surreal.

I've been so caught up in getting to this point, looking after my kids, dealing with the lemon car and getting a visa, that I haven't even had time to be the travel geek I usually am and research Istanbul properly. I know where I'm staying tonight, but that's about it.

I have a list though. Of things to do. And a travel guide with lots of pictures.

And a lot of excitement. More to follow on this part of the adventure....

In the mean time, I've been thinking about a Lebanese 'hot' and 'not' list.

Everything, from MacDonalds to embers for your shisha can be delivered here to your door.
Uncapped wi-fi. Free almost everywhere.
The Lebanese attitude to children
The Lebanese attitude to driving (I've yet to see an accident, despite the fact there are no road rules)

No one has an address so explaining where you want something delivered is very difficult… its the yellow building by the big round about next to the school…
Internet has good days - and bad days where you'd swear everyone in the country was downloading at the same time.
Lebanese Bureaucracy
Lebanese Driving

Posted by karicketts 12:25 Comments (1)

Groundhog Day

sunny 27 °C

I'm on day 12 of a 15 day straight run without a husband. Thats 12 days worth of baby routine alone. 11 nights. I am talking to myself - and fooling myself I'm talking to my kids. Yesterday I found myself crawling in circles around their bouncers squealing because it made them turn around and follow me and laugh. I will do just about anything to make them laugh it turns out.

When I change my son's nappies, I often give them another nappy to play with. It makes a good rustley sound, clearly tastes good (from the way they get so excited about gumming it) and most importantly it stops them twisting over on the change mat to grab at the stuff at their heads - like the squirmy streaks of energy that they are. The unfortunate consequence of that is that they now identify nappies as something fun to try to eat. As I type this, number one son has discovered the window beside his play-mat and is trying to exit the room through it using his head. Repeatedly. Number two son has squirmed over and is trying to eat the nappy on his brothers ass… I suppose at least they are both occupied.

I'm enjoying (loosely used adjective, the wine here is quaff quality at best) a small glass of Rose and now understand why it's sometimes o.k to drink alone. Mind you, I have my kids here. Technically I'm not alone. The question, if this makes me an unfit mother, probably a little more tricky to answer… Motherhood is the one thing I've discovered where I'd contemplate drinking on the job. Not sure if this makes me insane or just normal.

My Husband bought me a model as an early birthday present. Not a toy-boy (sadly). A battleship. And before you get all judgey, it was a sweet gift. I'm a little geeky when it comes to making stuff like that, and this one is of a ship that has a lot of resonance for us - amongst other things it was sunk on my husband's birthday just outside Montevideo, which we visited on the holiday during which we got engaged. I just wish it was a bit less fiddly. It turns out you can't really get engrossed in anything when you are looking after your children alone. Having said that, at present, I almost feel like a soduku would involve too much brain power, so it might be a symptom of being without adult company for the greater part of two weeks than the fault of my kids.

Having said all that, I've been invited to dinner with the lovely Chilean's in the building next door this evening. They have children too, so mine are coming in their stroller where they will hopefully sleep for a couple of hours to give me a chance to try to reengage the grown-up part of my brain. After this long, I'm not even sure if it's salvageable.

Posted by karicketts 06:46 Comments (1)


sunny 22 °C

Have you ever noticed how familiarisation with a place changes your perspective on it?

I've been here a month now, and the daily sights and smells no longer seem quite so foreign. Nothing seems as dirty as it did when I first arrived and the things that were infuriating, like the circuit breaker in the apartment, now just seem vaguely annoying. Most of the time.

We have visitors soon. Both Hayden's parents and mine are touristing their way around, and coming to see us… making the most of the fantastic opportunity to explore a part of the world that has A LOT to see. Having their visit so imminent has re-opened my eyes a little to how our adopted hometown might seem to a stranger. Not that any of them are naive, but there are some things here that are a bit of a shock, especially after a 24 hour flight. The coast road, with its potholes, Lebanese drivers and Lebanese driving was a first impression I don't think I'll ever forget. As was the entrance to Tyr. Where now I see the ocean and the palms along the corniche, when I first got here all I noticed was the condition of the road, the incomplete buildings and the fact that everyone likes to use their horn here. A lot. Especially the taxi's who use it to beep at potential customers (and by that I mean every single pedestrian) to tout for trade. To be honest I still haven't quite got used to that and still get a fright when they come up behind me when I'm pushing the stroller. I'm just so used to people using a horn in anger.

Speaking of the taxi's, in Tyr, they are all late1980's model Mercedes Benz. While there are a handful that look like they should have been RETIRED from service in the '80's (difficult to do when there isn't any apparent Warrant of Fitness schedule) most of them seem to be fairly well taken care of. They just look cool, and add a certain je' ne sais quoi to the town that the bright green eco friendly prius at home will never get close to. Beware though, taking a taxi in this country isn't like at home either. Expect to have the driver stop to pick up other fares on the way. He won't care if everyone has a seatbelt. And he'll probably smoke in the car.

Oh yeah. People still smoke inside here. You have to have a shower after a night out unless you want to wake up hungover and gagging on the smell of your own hair. Remember that?

You want to know something else weird about Lebanon? Those reflective triangles that you get in the back of a car to slow people down if you have an accident or a flat? Here, you use them if your car is for sale. Just prop it up in the window. Even car yards hang them on the fence to attract attention. My husband, for the first few weeks he was here, thought there were an awful lot of accidents until he had it explained. Funnily enough, despite all evidence to the contrary, and all expectation, there aren't many accidents at all.

Which is a nice segue back to where we started, because, if you think about it, perspective has quite a lot to do with expectation as well. I suppose people that visit New Zealand expect it to be 'clean and green' so they have their eyes open to things that are clean and green - the mountians, the braided rivers, the glaciers, the pacific gently lapping at golden beaches and the sheep. If they ventured into parts of South Auckland they would find things appeared not dissimilar to certain areas here - except for the fact that HERE the people won't steal your shoes. Here, you expect things to be dirty and show evidence of a war or two, and in a way, thats what you get. Having the situation explained to you changes your perspective. Little by little you understand why things are a certain way and you just become blind to the dust and the smells. Immunity, from experience. Your memory for comparison fades and you just accept things for what they are. Classic human adaptability.

Posted by karicketts 09:52 Archived in Lebanon Comments (3)

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