Coming to Antalya, Turkey is the first time I have wandered off the path of least resistance. Did I want to go in the military in the Vietnam era – are you kidding me – Nixon made that decision for me. Did I want to get married? Of course not but did I want an open marriage, of course not. Did I want to be a goat farmer and live in the countryside? I hadn’t thought about it but at the time it seemed like a good idea, so why not. Did I want to be a widower? No way Jose. Did I want to go to China, well it was either that or sleep on my sister’s couch. Did I want to move lock, stock & barrel to Turkey? Never had it on my expat bucket list but when Jane Marie came back from Seoul with the suggestion, I was all for it.
First time ever for an unforced decision. I didn’t have to send out 500 CV/Resumes to get one offer to go to Egypt. The personnel office didn’t call me up and ask me to move to Sao Paulo. I didn’t haft to go to Cleveland for six miserable winters to atone for my fiscal sins in Brazil. What a scary thought, a no back-against-the-wall critical choice to make on which way to go. Scarier still, no employer or place to live at the end of the path but Antalya here we come with our 40 boxes of stuff.
We left Yantai, China, February 13th, on Azerbaijani Air leaving our friends to oversee loading our household effects aboard the good ship, Hansa Augsburg. April 16th it docked in Istanbul and after we paid the $2,000 ransom our 40 boxes decorated our hallway for Mother’s Day. Our conscious decision journey from China to Turkey was complete, now what do we do?
I know, let’s do ESL and Toastmasters. That worked well in China, where 0.73% speak English, there are almost 400 Toastmasters clubs and every Tiger mom wants her single child in an English as a Second Language training school. Wikipedia says that 17% of the Turks speak English; there are two Toastmasters clubs in Ankara, four in Istanbul and praise Allah, a Turkish Toastmasters club in Antalya.
The secret ingredient, in our new Secret Ingredient Soup, is Antalya is a super-affordable, international Scottsdale, Arizona - that is after you get your stuff off the boat and out of customs. Our new ex-Navy neighbors from Ft. Worth, sold their 20 year career collection of goods in Albuquerque, packed their bags and moved to Antalya with three daughters because, "It is the nicest best place to retire on a military pension.” Therefore the secret ingredient this time around the ESL-Toastmasters barn, is expats want to retire here, unlike Cleveland or China.
The soup seasonings are Facebook and You Tube. The Turks, Syrians, Kurds et al love Facebook. Now, I scroll down my home page to look only at the pictures, the Ethiopians post in Amharic (left to right), the Syrians in Arabic (right to left) and the Turks jam all 29 letters of their Latinized alphabet together in cartoons, pithy quotations and You Tube videos. However, after seven years of not reading any Chinese, I am comfortable being non-literate. The difference between the two ends of Asia, is now I am in a state of visual nirvana, making my ESL students, actors in Cheerleading, Joke telling, Singing You Are MY Sunshine, Dr. Seuss rhyming One Fish, Two Fish and Family Album USA performances. I want to be the Stephen Spielberg (after all he was born in my hometown Cincinnati and raised in Scottsdale) of ESL Dramas, while managing Jane Marie’s Toastmasters Officer career.