Friday, November 5, 2010

The Adventures of Sam and Abigail! … and Miss America (aka Lena)

Since I have been in Turkey, I have had some crazy/interesting experiences with Sam, Lena, and Lucas, but the weirdest ones are always with Sam, and many times with Lena.
At first Sam and I were joking about writing a book titled “The Adventures of Abigail and Sam,” and this book would include many activites; our trip to finding a public library in Samsun that holds the tourism center, which turned out to be much farther away from TÖMER than we thought; making and forcing ourselves to drink instant coffee because Sam’s host mom thought that we liked it while at her house; sitting in a park next to a school eating an entire pack of cookies because we were homesick and eating our frustrations (really not as bad at is sounds), then having to rescue a soccerball for the boys who were at recess at the time; uniform shopping and going out to lunch; trying to think of and put together Lena’s birthday present and celebration with only a little Turkish under our belts and no idea what to find in stores; and many other activities that were really wild and hilarious that unfortunately I don’t remember right now.
Now however, I think the book’s title needs to be changed to “The adventures of Sam, Abigail, and Lena aka Miss America.” Something that you hear about from friends of friends or in the movies happened while we were at MADO, a high-end ice cream parlor and café, on Thursday after a half-day of school. It was Cumhuriet Bayrami, which means Republic Holiday as it is the holiday where Turkey became a republic.
I know there was some celebration on the seaside where some classes walked down carrying the country's flag, but I stayed home with my family and rested. Anyway, we were chatting as our hot chocolates, coffee, and cake came. We weren't really paying attention to the other tables, except for noticing the fact that many people were looking at us since we were speaking English, but this is not out of the ordinary for us because people love to stare at us and we are used to it by now. I'm not really sure how, but the man at the table next to us started talking to us, asking us where we were from since we didn't speak Turkish. When we said we were from the US he suddenly switched to English, and for an man in his 80's he spoke very well. When we asked him why he spoke English so well he pointed to a poster on the street and said that he owned the "Miss Civilization" pageant that is being held in Samsun in two weeks. He started to take an interest in Lena an had her stand up to see how tall she was. Another younger man at his table took pictures. The old man told Lena that she should come to the pageant next week to check it out. Then he sat gave Lena his card with his name, Suha Özgermi, and sat down at our table since there was an empty seat. Suha told us he used to own Galataseray (one of the best and most popular soccer teams in Turkey), and we really started to doubt who he was. I mean for all we knew he could have been a random old guy trying to get Lena. He asked for her telephone number, and thinking on my feet I switched a few numbers when I read it from my phone so that she didn't give her real phone number. Even if he was who he said he was she wasn't going to be in a beauty pageant and there is no way that her host family would let her anyway. He kept telling her to come to the fitting next week and he would buy her the appropriate clothing needed for the pageant including a ball-gown, a bikini, high heels, and a wedding dress. We decided to get going so we asked for the check. When it came, the man paid for us, and let me tell you we were really excited since our drinks were expensive. We got out of the cafe and burst out laughing. We couldn't believe what just happened. Lena has just been recruited for a beauty pageant, while Sam and I decided that we were too short anyway. When we got to Lena's house, our final destination, we looked up the man on the Internet from his business card and it turns out that the man had been the real deal, and he was pretty much the playboy equivilent in Turkey. This caused even more clamor because he had kept telling her to be the next Miss America! This story seemed to outrageous to be true, but it actually happened! I am so glad that I got pictures because we are still trying to get over it! :)

Lena standing up for the men
The men taking pictures of Lena and Sam laughing :)
Getting Suha's card
The weekend was low-key and relaxing, but Sunday was Halloween. Halloween is not celebrated in Turkey, at all! My Halloween in Turkey = a true adventure an experience, but was a lot of fun. So I had planned that the Americans were going to come to my house to dress up, eat candy and desserts, hang out, and celebrate Halloween in our own way. Melis, my 10-year-old host sister was very excited because it was going to be her first Halloween. She had a difficult time deciding whether to be a princess, a cowgirl, a dancer, or anything else she came up with at the time. We spent a while on Saturday afternoon preparing our costumes and making lots of paper pumpkins and signs that said Halloween to put all around the house.
Our Halloween candy!! 

The original plan was that I was going to pick up Sam at one of the few churches after the service and we would both ride the bus to my house together. she had never rode the bus here so it seemed like a good plan, especially since the church is praise of the city, closer to my house. Lena would catch the bus from downtown Samsun with her host sister, who was also invited. In preparation, I looked on Google Maps to see where Sam's church was since I didn't know where to go and I would be picking her up, and I called Lena to explain how to catch the bus. This seemed like a solid plan where not much would go wrong. Little did we know out day would get extremely more complicated and nothing would turn out the way we expected. 
The first mishap was when daylight savings took place in Turkey and we got an extra hour of sleep before or festivities. I called Sam to make sure that she knew so that I would pick her up at the right time. Luckily she knew and that was all solved. I assumed that Lena knew about the change, especially since her host sister would be coming with her to my house, so I wasn't worried. That morning my host mom, Melis, and I went to the bazaar an the supermarket to buy ingredients for food that we would cook and desserts we would make for our little Halloween get-together. I was going to catch the bus at 12:50 to be at the church around 1-1:30 to pick up Sam. I was still helping my host mom bake when around 12:25 Lena called me to say that she was waiting for the bus and it was number 19, right? Her host sister hadn't come because she had sometime else to do. I then told her it wasn't 1:30 when she was supposed tk catch the bus, but an hour earlier because the time had changed. We didn't know what to do, but we figured
That it would be best if she just came to my house and stayed with my host mom and sister while I went to get Sam, since Lena was so early. My bus came late and only after 5 min on my bus I saw Lena's bus go by and I knew she would get to my house only 10 min after I left. It was unfortunate that I wasn't there, but I knew she would be okay especially since there was water, food, a bathroom, heat, and a family. She was fine.
To get to Sam's church I had drawn myself a map and I knew where I was going. My host mom had looked at the map on Google and knew where it was, so we had it all worked out. I got there a little early so I waited outside. Sam said it wasn't a real church, but more like a pink house, and this was where I was. At 1:30 Sam called me and said she was outside. It turns out we were in two completely different places, and after a few minutes of talking I finally figured out where she was, but it was really far from where I was and there was no way I could get to her. I called my host mom in desperation on what to do because I was really stressed and didn't know what to do. Luckily, my host mom was able to jump in her car and come get me and then pick up Sam. She was much closer to the city than I was and I honestly don't know what we would have done if my host mom hadn't come to get us. I was finally able to relax once Sam was in the car because I knew where everyone was an I knew we would finally be able to celebrate Halloween soon. Lucas didn't know if he should come or not since he was busy until the early afternoon, and decided that he would come another time, which turned out to be the best decision for everyone. While we were eating and talking Lena realized that because of the time change, she was going to miss skyping with her family as thy didn't know about the time change. I decided to accompany them back into the city so they wouldn't get lost and knew where to get off in the future. We caught the next bus into Samsun so that Lena would still make here skype date with het family and just be a little late. The bus was really slow, but luckily her mom texted her saying that she knew about the time change and they would go on at the right time for her.
Melis (Cowgirl), Sam (herself), Me (Flower), and Lena (Ninja)
the Flower and the Cowgirl
Before Lena and Sam got off the bus we decided that I should just ride the bus around and see the loop that it does, and just sit until I got back to my house. I mean it had to go back to my house at some point, right? Therefore after they got off I jus sat and rode. As we started to get really out of the city in the opposite direction of my house, the bus started to empty out until it was just the bus driver and me. He didn't say anything to me and he knew I was there so I wasn't as worried as I should have been... until we pulled into the parking lot where the buses stay overnight. I walked to the front of the bus and asked the bus driver if the bus was going back to Pelitköy, the district of the city where I live, and he said no. Then he said that there were no more busses that night going there. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. Thankfully up ahead, pulling out of the parking lot was a bus that said 19 on it (my bus!). The bus driver and I ran to the exit of the parking lot after the bus. It had to turn around on the street and I crossed the street sprinting, screaming DUR! (stop!) and waving my hands in the air. I must have looked crazy, but I didn’t care because I NEEDED to get on that bus. The bus driver slowed down and let me on. If there hadn’t been a bus that left at that exact time I honestly don’t know what I would have done. About 40 min later I made it back to my house safe and sound. (My bus trip is always about an hour into the city and about 40 min back home. It is really long, but I have gotten used to it now and I listen to books on tape or music and watch podcasts of the news so I don’t get bored.)

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