This was taken on lai lai’s 2nd birthday and our second summer in Mersin. Quite a landmark as so much had changed since I started this blog in 2009 and the disastrous return to Ankara.
I had thought about taking up the blog again after leaving Ankara, but somehow never found the time, perhaps it was because I was pregnant for the fourth time and setting up life in Blighty all over again, followed by giving birth, school runs, finding a job, and creating the compromise that led to the total change in all our lives. Or may be, just may be, it was because I was happy again, I’d moved out from under the dark clouds that surrounded me with isolation and mild PND while in Ankara.
Whatever it was the compromise saw us on a mad adventure to sell our land in Ankara, which had always hung over us — the unfulfilled dream to build a house in Incek which we could never really afford to do. We stayed in our sister-in-laws house for a summer, while she went to her yayla in Gozne, and began to search for a new place in Mersin. I had one main demand; it had to have a pool, if I was committing myself to being in Turkey every summer it had to feel a bit like a holiday at least. Trouble is house hunting in a hurry, and with family acting as your agents, it never really turns out well. In the end we were persuaded to live in the same site (complex) as his niece and her in-laws.
In reality we are so very lucky, we have a flat with a sea/beach view, a pool, orange groves still close by enough to smell the blossom, and a lovely garden in the site. We live on the top floor (14th), I think I always have the urge to live high up in this country to try and be above the line of apartment blocks, seeing more than concrete, though it’s never really a conscious decision.
The flat wasn’t perfect, liveable but needing some work. So weeks were spent designing a new kitchen layout, changing the balcony and window bars to stop little monkeys from trying to scale them–smelly had shocked us all earlier in Emine’s 13th storey flat by trying to climb so maximum prevention measures were no.1 in my mind before moving in. We even changed the corner bath (what is the Turkish obsession with corner baths?) for one that could hold 3 wiggly worms who would need regular scrubbing. Our first big mistake was to buy a new trendy glass shower door which was meant to be easier to open and less prone to mildew than those horrid closed shower cabinets. Why a mistake? well no one knew how to fit it for a start, always a bad sign. But one year later we woke at 2am to what we thought was an explosion, it was, a spontaneous explosion of the glass door-leaving glass all over the bathroom and deep gouges out of the new expensive acrylic bath. After some searching on the web, I found this was not uncommon and often down to imperfections in the glass making process, but impossible to prove unless every last piece of glass was gathered and sent for analysis. We have decided to leave things as they are. I have given up trying to create a perfect home here.
It was during the renovations that we began to realise that this lovely site might not be everything we had hoped it would be. We had be told it was a started as a holiday home co-op for ex military and judiciary, but not thought much of it because now Mersin had spread in all directions, even the apartments built as holiday homes were now pretty much year round residences. The first issue arose over the delivery of our new kitchen window. Men came up to the flat to inspect the work we were having done and to tell us off. They told we were forbidden from changing the facade of the building, despite the original design being crap and impractical in my view, as so many flats over here, which I put down to being designed by men. It turns out this is the case legally that once a building’s design has been agreed the facade can’t be changed, but in Ankara people do it all the time by adding cam balcon and changing balconies into additional rooms. Turns out that we had found the one complex ever to sue residents for trying to do the same. The men very nearly put my whole kitchen renovation in the bin, but fortunately one man on the committee had lived in London and spoke good English. So I argued that from the ground to the 14th floor who could really see that we had replaced a sliding patio door with a sliding window and a sink unit overlooking the sea. Eventually, he said he would talk to the other men. We were allowed to go ahead but tell no one, a victory of sorts but only the beginning.
When we viewed the flat and the grounds we hadn’t paid full attention to the 17 pool rules proudly listed as you enter the pool area. A shame, a real shame. We had come from Emine’s flat where they barely had 5 rules, and the pool guy was a young 18 year old who loved and played with the boys every day. We discovered pool guy at our flat was not friendly, was really the gardener, was not a life guard but a guard with a whistle, a rule enforcer and one who seemed to add unofficial rules to the 17 listed. He seemed to be telling us off for just about everything. There was no welcome, no hosgeldiniz is almost unheard of over here and even I found it shocking. Maybe it was because we had offended the all powerful kapici and word had spread. God forbid you should have building work done and the kapici (doorman/rubbish man) should have to take some of it away. Word had clearly spread. It took us 2 years to get him to replace the bulb in the light outside.
Then there was the fight. Only a few days after we moved in, we went down to the pool. Yet again we were told more unofficial rules, no children under 8 in the big pool. Apparently they might wee in it, erm your kids might, mine are potty trained thanks. No inflatables of toys in the big pool. It was then we started to understand that they were really anti child, Emine’s pool had none of this. So off M went to try and ‘understand’ these rules and why they were so anti children. Voices were being raised a bit, but then this enormously fat man came along and started screaming like a banshee at M. Next thing we know the nutter has grabbed hold of a parasol and is trying to stab M in the heart with the pointed bit that goes into the ground. Things got a bit mental after that and I had to pull M away by holding a year old lai lai in my arms and forcing M to look at him and the ridiculous situation he was getting deeper into.
And so began our adventures in Anatolia Sitesi, Mersin.