they changed the rules again….

new rules… and a new food delivery app too!

last march, with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, turkey shut down swiftly and strongly. schools, restaurants, bars, shopping malls; even outdoor spaces were closed almost overnight.  banks and other essential businesses were allowed to operate on very limited schedules and most people remained at home.  as the pandemic picked up speed in turkey more stringent rules were put into place- including limits on travel international and domestic travel; complete curfews on the weekends; and rules requiring children under the age of 20 and seniors over the age of 65 to remain at home- with the exception of a three hour “outside time” window once a week.  

it was a very quiet time for families in turkey; trying for the thousands of families who did not have an economic backup plan and extremely stressful for the millions of people who live in crowded small apartments. the overall uncertainty that was felt across the board didn’t help.

but the silver lining of the hardship was that these measures seemed to work. at no point did the turkish hospitals get completely overwhelmed. ppe was available to anyone who needed or wanted it- and with people sheltering at home, a surplus of protective material soon existed. not once did i hear of a shortage of ventilators.  demographics probably helped.  the median age in turkey is 31.5 years old.  this virus preys on the weak and the elderly. 

by the middle of may turkey was opening up again. new rules (again!) shopping malls were open. restaurants and bars too; with limited seating and outdoors spaces open only; but open, nonetheless. schools remained closed but people were able to travel and many did. turkey is a beautiful country and there is so much to see. we took advantage of canceled international trips to see parts of the coast that we had never visited before. it was almost, almost, possible to forget that a deadly virus had kept us shut up in our homes just a couple of months ago.

but, as expected, the second wave is here. en force. and in their effort to keep tourism alive, th current regime did not disclose the numbers of daily infections in a transparent and thorough manner. only the number of daily patients admitted to the hospital was reported to the public. reasons for death that could conceivable be reported as anything other than covid 19 were recorded and conveyed as such.  the result has been harsh. with a lack of information upon which to base their decisions people have continued to move about, congregate and socialize. 

for a variety of reasons, the government has finally started to disclose the actual numbers of infected citizens.  some say that the who has put pressure on the government to issue proper statements. some say that the vaccines will be distributed based on per capita infections and that is the real reason behind the recent disclosures. and some just say that the time has come; tourism season is behind us and the general population has not yet been able to grasp the reality of the situation. 

regardless, the rules have changed- frequently in fact- in the month of november.  halfway through the month schools were shut down again, as were restaurants and bars. unfortunately, the overall effect was not quite enough.  with no curfew in place people have stopped going to restaurants- but started going to friends’ houses. restaurants and bars are open for take-out and delivery, which has resulted in continued person to person contact. 

as hospitals have filled up and the number of exposures has multiplied the government instituted new rules; yet again, last night.  hopefully this will help. but it basically means that we are back at home- locked down.  it’s ok. and if it helps, then it is really ok. 

what is strange though is that every time the rules change our world changes too.  once we become accustomed to a certain system is just seems to flow. and then, when the flow is interrupted it is almost as if we start from ground zero  and let me tell you- readjustment is a real pain. inevitably there is a small blow up at home (usually on my part) and it takes us all at least a couple of days to fall into a familiar and comfortable pattern. 

and that is where we are. again, adapting to a new reality. figuring out how the new rules work and creating yet another new existence within these confines. it’s ok. we’ll get there. 

i am eternally, and possibly frustratingly, optimistic- so- in light of all of this constant change all i can say is this– thank goodness for the distraction of december and the festive season!!! here’s to the season of light… 

a salve for my soul…

an aegean sunrise in november…winter in the air

summer was a time of sweet respite and great repose for us this year.  with the pandemic in full swing, we were unable to maintain our usual crazy travel schedule that often had us bouncing from one continent to another: an invigorating yet rather exhausting tradition. 

instead, we spent a lot of time at home, quietly, and the trips that we did take were much quieter and lowkey than previous years.  although most things were open here in turkey over the summer we still thought twice about going out to restaurants or visiting friends in their homes.  rather than take risks we chose to go out for dinner at off hours; made an effort to meet up in gardens or on balconies; and often made plans to take walks with friends or play in the park rather than getting together for drinks or an at-home playdate. 

we took long walks in nature; spent hours swimming, snorkeling and paddle boarding; and took advantage of the warm weather to hold a number of scaled down celebrations outdoors rather than needing to cancel them altogether.

the end of school vacation doesn’t necessarily mean the end of warm weather in turkey, so we took full advantage of online school, continuing to travel to the aegean coast at every opportunity.  whenever possible we would pack up the schoolbooks and laptops and escape the city… setting us a “mini-school” for each of the girls wherever we happened to land that week. although we knew that the coronavirus was still a force to be reckoned with the combination of being in the open air and having less people around us was a constant source of comfort.

it’s hard to believe that today is the last day of november and that turkey has been dealing with covid-19 on a full-time basis for just about 9 months.  the much anticipated second wave is here-full force-and istanbul, in particular, has become a true hotbed of virus transmission.  with numbers rising (and the government finally acknowledging the true extent of infection); new measures are being put into place and life is inevitably going to start slowing down again.

writing this blog and sharing snippets of our daily life was a salve for my soul during the first months of 2020 and i can’t think of a better way to end this difficult year than to return to it. our summer hiatus has been restful and inspiring, and i have much to share; stay tuned for more musings, new recipes, at home activity ideas, book recommendations and more…

ps. here are a bunch of our favorite 2020 summer moments. as strange as it was, this summer is sure to be unforgettable in its own way! 

so many celebrations this summer!

alara and alegra’s birthday- and mine and tunc dede’s too….

there was A LOT of outdoor time… hiking, biking, riding horses and seaside time too…

we learned a bunch of new games and new skills too…

school started…online…which meant exploring could continue 🙂

and with the blessing of good weather we were able to celebrate halloween outdoors in full costume!!!

“something spooky this way comes…”

it was a wonderful summer despite it all and we are so grateful to have been able to celebrate at all… these memories will certainly help sustain us in the coming months-

i banged my head…

on the branch of an olive tree…

…and out flowed the tears.

tears that had been building for a week, or maybe a month, or maybe even a year.  a lot of tears.

tears of sadness; for all that the world and humanity is experiencing right now.

tears of disappointment; for all the disappointments we are all facing right now- cancelled plans, uncertain futures.

tears of anger; towards all the people who don’t seem to understand the nearly insurmountable issues facing us- as human beings- all around the world.

tears of shame; for all the comfort and ease that my privilege affords- as people lie dying in hospital beds- or worse, on gurneys- i am able to hike through centuries old olive groves with my healthy family surrounding me.

and tears of just plain old hurt; because banging your head hurts and why, as women of a certain era, have we been taught not to show our pain or our suffering?

why can’t we be strong AND vulnerable at the same time? why can’t we feel DEEPLY; and, as a result of these deep feelings, cause change in our worlds?

by contributing what we is within our reach- money, for some, because it always helps; time, for others, because it is a true gift; conscious parenting, because we raise the next generation; real friendship, always, because what could be more helpful than a shoulder to lean on?

every day we talk about a post- covid world. what will life be like when we return to “normal”- whatever that normal might be?

i don’t want to go back to the old normal- it was too much yet not nearly enough. all at the same time. too much consumption and not nearly enough production. too much taking and not nearly enough giving. too much “me” and not nearly enough “us”.

and so, as we hiked the ancient lycian way- a centuries old trade route used by the lycians to travel up and down the aegean and mediterranean coasts-and i banged my head on the olive tree branch, i decided that it might just be ok to be strong AND vulnerable both at the same time.

strong enough to climb over rocks, to hop over loose stones and to hang on to branches and roots to propel myself forward on the path. but vulnerable enough to say, “this hurts… this all hurts. sometimes so much that it feels unbearable, unsupportable, and just too much.”

and to cry. to let tears flow; because really, if we’re not going to cry now, then when should we?

the view from a peak on the trail- overlooking the bedri rahmi bay and the city of fethiye in the distance

choices must be made…

last night, as part of its plan to slowly reopen metropolitan life and the national economy, the turkish government announced a handful of changes to current co-vid 19 restrictions.

next week, young people get to leave their homes for the first time in nearly two months. so do older citizens; those over the age of 65. each group gets separate days. hairdressers, barber shops and malls can all open their doors again on monday- but must follow strict social distancing and sanitization procedures.

it makes me nervous.

but i can understand that people need to get out of their houses. not just because so many residents of istanbul have been cooped up in small, crowded apartments for the past two months and need the psychological relief of getting out; but also, because people must go back to work and make money. the turkish economy did not enter the global pandemic in a particularly strong position and there are so many people who need to reestablish actual incomes to meet their basic needs.

it is scary to be thinking about all these spaces reopening.  it worries me, the thought of people being out and about again.   i don’t like this path to reopening because it leaves a lot of grey area.  there will be choices to be made now. i liked the clear mandates; the government telling me what i can and cannot do. where and how i can go.

i admit, fully, that my privilege allows me this luxury. 

i have a large, comfortable home; plenty of good fresh food; enough money saved to weather this storm; a private outdoor space that my family can use freely; the girls’ e-learning is just fine, they are busy and engaged; my parents, and erim’s, are all safe and healthy and we can see them- from a safely masked distance- at least once a week; and we have learned how to connect virtually with loved ones who are further away.

having all three girls at home all the time has been, for me, heavenly. i thrive on being a mother and my family all together fills my heart. with no formal school or afterschool activities to rush off to we have had time to eat long meals, cook, do yoga, take walks, watch movies and pop popcorn slowly- the old-fashioned way.

i have been happy to stay at home, to enjoy my people, and to slow down.

but now, with no clear understanding of how it will work, we are being allowed – kind of—to speed up. and with that comes choices…

some decisions seem easy, and probably will be, for many of us.  having gotten the hang of online shopping; i won’t be going into a mall anytime soon.  so many of our favorite restaurants are now offering takeout or delivery options, so no need to risk that. and schools will certainly be closed through may.

but what about socializing? if we can go to a mall can we go sit on a friend’s front porch? our nephew was supposed to graduate from college this weekend; can we raise a glass of champagne to his success? should i bring my own glass? decisions and choices must be made…

and the biggest, probably most difficult of these, involves my children.  on their day of “freedom” (4 hours next friday) can they see their friends? how safe will that be?

i trust my girls.  they are intelligent, worldly, understanding children.  they fully grasp the potential danger of this disease- if not to themselves directly, then to their loved ones.  but they are also human. And i get it. it is amazing that we can connect virtually, but i really want a hug too.  leaning, literally, physically, on a friend is irreplaceable.  we are naturally social creatures. we thrive in close knit communities. we need it. And oh, have we missed it!

so here comes the hard part.

i knew it was coming. i was dreading it. the choices. each of us will have to weather the storm of the coming weeks and months in our own way. in ways that feel “ok” to us.  but i know that saying “no” when other parents say “yes”- staying in while others go out- is going to be hard.  and so, starting next week, we’ll do our best to weigh our options, cross our fingers and continue to take each day as it comes.