The Learning Curve

It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in Turkey for more than a year now – the time really has flown. We’ve survived the relentless heat, the pounding rain and everything in between; there is so much we love and, naturally, some things we find less than endearing.

That will be a separate post; for now, let’s focus on a few of the important lessons we have learned…..

1. You can’t beat the dust. I’ll be honest, if you have OCD tendencies when it comes to cleaning, you’ll find it hard to live here. You can go through the house like a dose of salts with a soft cloth and a can of Pronto (our version of Pledge) but, come the end of the day, there’ll be a fine layer of dust on your previously-gleaming surfaces and they’ll look like they haven’t been touched for a month. In winter, when it’s wet, you can exchange the dust for muddy footprints across the balcony if you like. Fortunately I’ve never been that house-proud; it just means I get to clean less and not feel guilty.

2. Plastic tubs are our saviour. I find ants fascinating. Watching them dismantle a decent-sized lizard that had the misfortune to expire on our balcony and remove it bit by bit over the course of a couple of days was really interesting. However, I’m not so keen on opening a box of sugar cubes and finding the little blighters merrily munching away inside, preventing me from ingesting my morning caffeine fix. Whether it’s cereal, cat food, flour, spices…..everything needs to be packed away in plastic tubs to keep the critters out. My family finds my obsession with airtight containers hilarious. They’ll thank me when they realise it’s the only thing standing between the army of ants and their tubes of Pringles.

3. The only plan you can make is to be spontaneous. I don’t care how organised you’ve been in the past. If you want to live here, learning to go with the flow is the name of the game. Decided on a quiet family night in with a DVD? Forget it. Chances are, someone will drop round unexpectedly for drinks and meze. Enjoying a civilised barbecue and a couple of drinks around the pool with friends? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself hustled into the shower and some borrowed clothes so you can meet another group of people elsewhere. Embrace the unpredictability. It’s the only way.

4. Baby, it’s cold inside. While it’s true that outside air temperatures tend to remain considerably higher than the UK in winter, it’s a different story inside. Houses are built to fight the heat of summer and it really is warmer out than in much of the time. With no central heating, getting up in the morning is something to delay as long as possible – certainly until you’ve wiggled an arm out to grab the air-con controls and switched it on for 20 minutes to heat the room up. Layers of clothing become your best friends. On the plus side, I bet none of you were walking around on Christmas Day wearing a t-shirt and paddling in the sea…..

5. What’s mine is yours. As Brits, we’re used to the idea of personal possessions and privacy. If we want to borrow something, we ask. We accept it if the answer is no and, if it’s a yes, we give whatever it is back afterwards. And vice versa. Here, it’s more about giving than lending, and the thinking is thus: “If I need something and you have it, you should give it to me. If my cousin needs it, I’ll pass it on to him. If his neighbour wants it, she can have it. You can have it back if you ever need it again, assuming we can track it down.” The reasoning is pretty much the same whether we’re talking about garden tools, bottles of alcohol or even cold, hard cash!

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