We are safely here in Antalya enjoying amazing weather averaging
105-108 Fahrenheit! The trip here was great, with a couple of delays and a temporarily lost guitar that should be shipped to us via cargo tomorrow. I'll just give you a few of the highlights from our trip so
Because of the delays on our way to Istanbul and the two hours spent filing a claim for the lost guitar, the driver who was SUPPOSED to pick us up and take us to an overnight hotel had left! So we found ourselves without transportation at 2:30 in the morning. THAT was fun!
A Turkish tour guide whose client hadn't showed up decided to help us out. He arranged to have his bus pick us up and even gave us a discounted price from what a taxi would have cost us! It ended up being the most fun I think possible for four exhausted travelers at 2:30am. He gave us a mini-tour of the city, taught us some Turkish, drove us by the Blue Mosque, and gave a short history lesson. We arrived safely at our hotel and slept like little lambs.
Sunday we traveled to Antalya without any problems and were met by Ben and Verna King at the airport. Upon walking off the plane onto the runway, I think all of us would agree that we felt like we were walking into the firey pits of Hell. It was 108 degrees and the wind was blowing really hard, yet had NO cooling effect whatsoever. Verna says its wind from the Sahara because it's not humid. Whatevs.
Perhaps the most amazing part of arriving in Antalya was discovering what our living arrangements would be like. It worked out that we could stay in the same apartment building as Verna's daughter, Karn, who would take good care of us. Karn's friend, Marco, lives upstairs from us, and took it upon himself to set up a flat worthy of Real World Antalya. He painted the walls, made us enormous curtains, found us linens, and even got us OUR OWN BATHROBES. We realize this sort of treatment is not typical of deputation, but we have no problem with it. ☺ Marco is getting a party this Friday with brownies and pasta but he doesn't know it yet.
Monday was spent getting a basic orientation of Turkish culture, buying groceries, and meeting some of the important people we'll be spending time with. Not before we spent five hours on a private beach comparable to "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants"! As to be expected, Lindsey Van Zanten managed to acquire a SECOND foot injury (of COURSE). This time she kicked her foot into an urchin while exploring caves along the coast. It was truly unforgettable because she spent the next hour getting spines dug out of her foot by one of the employees of the beach. I held her hand, Lindsey Morton was her backrest, and Dayna took lots of pictures and gave feedback. When it was all done we were practically celebrities because every new visitor would approach us, look at her foot, and murmur "oof", then watch the surgery in process for a few minutes. She is doing just fine now and is Our Little Soldier. We're very proud.
Today, (Tuesday?) we got a tour of the two facilities where we will be doing our volunteer work. First we went to the Kids Klub, where we will be teaching classes in English and helping with younger children as well. It was like a little kid's wonderland and we met a lot of the students who looked at us like we were freaky mutant people. We were introduced to our three "translators": Ozge (girl), Jamai, and Ahmed. They are 14 year-olds from a nearby school and are honestly CUTE AS PIE. Needless to say there is still an enormous language barrier. They will be helping us learn Turkish and communicate with our students, but we have yet to say one thing without a huge misunderstanding. It will just take some time.
After this we went to the Gorem Center and were introduced to the teachers and staff, then the students who are there for rehabilitation. They were incredibly nice to us and told us "while you are here the school is yours". It sounds like we will have a lot of autonomy in our schedules and be able to choose what sorts of classes and therapy we do. We're all very excited!
Right now we are trying to remain as motionless as possible because of the heat, but soon we will go on a hunt for ice cream. Tomorrow we start planning our curriculum and then the real work begins on Thursday. We want to thank everyone who is praying for us. This has truly been the best trip we could ask for, and it's hardly begun.
-Sara, on behalf of TEAM TURKEY!