I have always thought the pictures of Greece were incredibly beautiful, and I will say what I saw of Greece was picture perfect. The island of Santorini is postcard perfect, but let me warn you there are hills, and then more hills, and steep cliffs. Yes, the buildings hanging over those high cliffs will take your breath away, or perhaps it is the steep climb that leaves you breathless.
Our apartment was located a good 10 minute walk up a hill to the village of Thira, and then the millions of shops were layered up more stairs. My favorite spot was a small restaurant at the beginning of the first hill. Every time we walked by the owner would stop us and laugh, “You look like you could use a cold glass of wine, come join me,” and so we would. He treated us to many a cold glass, and also the best lamb I ate in Greece. Across the street from this sweet little restaurant was a shop where you could stick your feet in a tank, and little fish would nibble away the old skin. Believe me, my feet kept those fish busy eating the calluses from miles of climbing the hills of Greece. Those fish were a tickling memory, I won’t soon forget. Also up the street was the cutest old man, in the cutest old grocery store, he had everything anyone wanting local food or snacks. His cheese was all in large hunks, and he would cut a generous piece for us to try, and we left with a lot of delicious cheese. I think he fell in love with my daughter, and she with him, as he showed us all his cherished treats. When she asked about olives, he told us to wait a minute while he started unloading stuff off some wooden barrels. Oh my, in the barrels were his home grown brined olives. We snacked, we bought, and we oohed and awed, much to his delight. On this one little street, I found what I believe to be the real beauty of Greece, not the fancy tourist shops, but so much more.
When you have finished your tour of the wine museum plus tasting room, and you are miles from nowhere, and the bus doesn’t even slow down as it passes you. What do you do? We did know that there was only one bus every hour, and it had just whizzed by us. No other options, but to stick out my thumb, and hope this meant the same in all countries. My daughter thought it was pretty funny, and laughed that no one would stop. She was quite sure that it wasn’t the thing to do in a foreign country. I assured her that it was okay and that I had done this many times in Nicaragua, and Greece was much safer. Yippee, and I’m doing a little smarty-pants dance, the first car stopped. A beautiful, and elegant lady gave us a ride back to Thira. She didn’t seem to think it strange for two foreign women to be hitchhiking. It might not be something I should be teaching my daughter, but it sure proves there are wonderful people all over this world.
I love recipes, and could spend hours reading food magazines, watching cooking shows, or taking cooking classes. Funny thing is I really don’t cook that often, nor do I use any of these new recipes, but I’m addicted to new food ideas. Of course, this means we had to take a cooking class or two while in Turkey. While I was drooling over the thoughts of lamb or goat, and how it would be spiced, our class was preparing hummus and bulgur. Do I even like hummus? Hell no, I’m a meat lover, and you can’t bully me into eating healthier. Our classes didn’t change my mind about hummus, but I did have fun and loved the interaction with the others in the class, and walking through the market tasting special treats for the class. We were offered briny fresh fish, pickled vegetables, wonderful cheese, olives to die for, and of course, Turkish delights, my new most favorite candy.
The most interesting cooking adventure, I witnessed was window peeking on the restaurant kitchen directly across from our apartment. We, (my daughter and I) could sit on our patio and watch the chef in action. Many times, we would be yelling at each other, “What is he doing now, what is that?” The menu at the restaurant featured a huge list of soups using offal of sheep. The list was long with liver, spleen, kidney, and intestines, tripe seemed to be popular as there were several ways to enjoy it. But, what caught my attention was sheep head, and trotter soup on the menu. One evening we watched the chef pulling dozens of strange things from the oven. At that moment, we couldn’t agree on what it was, but later on the street we saw the same thing and agreed our chef had been preparing sheep heads. No, we didn’t get to try any, and that was a huge disappointment as I knew it would be wonderful. The picture below isn’t of my neighbor, but these men on the street were preparing baked sheep’s head, just like our neighborhood chef.
Also across the street was a tea shop, being one of a million in Istanbul. Tea is to the Turkish like coffee is to Americans. I am not a tea drinker but let me tell you, if you were tired and needed a pick-up that tea would do the trick. I became a tea drinker, not only for the burst of energy, but I loved sitting drinking out of the darling little glass tea cups and watching the street action. Also, you know 9am, my tea time, is just to early to be drinking wine or raki, and raki is usually drunk after a meal as a digestive aid ( ha ha, or so it is said in Turkey). I think it is fine any time of the day. Raki is Turkey’s favorite drink while Ouzo is Greece’s favorite. I personally liked them both equally well.
OH TURKEY I MISS YOU, AND WANT TO RETURN.
Native American Indian Traditional Code of Ethics
As I returned from Turkey, once again I had a heart full of joy to have traveled to a country where I was the minority. Many of my previous thoughts of the Middle-East were set aside, and my eyes and heart were opened to a culture I had never experienced. Today the word Muslim is a scary word to some people, so please take the time to walk a very short trek with me.
Before my journey, I thought all Muslim men wore big beards and looked very stern upon a white woman. If that was so, I never saw a Turkish man. All the men I saw were dressed like anyone from around the world and certainly had a smile. Plus, the men I was fortunate enough to spend time with were charming and fun to be with, just like any good man from around the world. I think they all wore tennis shoes, t-shirts, or long sleeve shirts, as it was rather chilly while we were there. I swear I could have walked down any street in the world with these men, and you would not know where they were from. Plus, I would have been proud to be with them. Oh, one night gazing down from our patio, I did see an elderly man who fit my previous thoughts of a Muslim man, but looking closer he was Jewish, and very lovely also.
The Muslim women were of all description as I have pictured below. But, these pictures do not describe their lovely souls. I cooked, visited, and attended a class, with a few of these ladies, and loved each of them. It isn’t in what we wear, or don’t wear, it is who we are, and their beauty shown through if they wore a Hijab, a Chador, or western street clothes.
Many years ago, most women around the world covered their heads, whether it was to protect from the sun or religious reasons it was normal. Today the Mennonite, Amish, Brethren and Hutterite women still cover their head and wear clothes to conceal their bodies. Even into the early 1900 women in Europe and the United States wore bonnets to cover their heads and dresses to cover their legs. So perhaps when you see a woman with a Chador or Hijab you will not give it another thought. It is her choice and her religious right to wear her covering. She is just like your mother, your sister, or your wife, she is a grand lady to be cherished and respected.
Love and good wishes to all the wonderful people I meet on my short journey.
I am still overwhelmed by the real Turkey and my previous perceptions. I’m even a little ashamed of what I had expected the country, and the people to be like. I had people warn me before departing, “You know that Turkey hates Americans.” No, I didn’t know that, and they were so very wrong. Much more to follow: on the charm of Turkey.
Directly upon arriving at our rented flat in Istanbul, a man yelled for me to come across the street and have a spot of tea with him. Okay, he was a Brit, but then he called over all the local business owner who were standing outside their shops and introduced me to them. He told me,”You never have to worry about your safety here, as all these nice men will be looking after you. These men are all in a Turkish mafia, but the very good mafia. They patrol this entire neighborhood and keep the streets safe and the prices of everything fair.” He then asked, “Why are you so nervous?” So I explained to the group that I was waiting for my daughter to arrive from the United States, and she was three hours late. They all seemed a little concerned but assured me that with the directions to our flat she couldn’t have gotten lost. By the time another hour had passed, one of the men thought it was a good idea to check his computer for the flight she was to arrive on, and so we all went inside for another spot of tea. At that moment, into the local coffee shop she walked with the entire group of Turkish men. I’m not sure who was more excited she had arrived safe and sound, me or the group of men. One of the men had spotted a blonde carrying a big backpack and yelled Donna at her, so she knew she had found a group of her mom’s new friends. Yes, we had a grand celebration.
To prepare for her arrival in Istanbul, I had gone to a little corner store and bought what I thought we should have to celebrate our adventure. I found great olives, pistachio nuts, cheese, and two bottles of wine. I studied their large assortment of wines and chose a red for her, and a white for me. The red being 50TL and the white 30TL. Now, please note I’m accustom to Mexican peso and thought a bottle of wine for three or five bucks was great, and according to the store owner very good local wine. Once back in the room with time to kill, I figured out the Turkish Lira to the dollar, not the peso and had to laugh at my spending spree. I had just bought her a twenty dollar bottle of wine, and everyone that knows me, knows I drink cheap wine. I will confess, our daily consumption of wine ruined our travel budget but made some wonderful and fun memories. Serefe-Cheers!
A picture says a thousand word.
This is the beach I pass every day on the way to my favorite spot. This artist creates his sand art on many of the Zihua beaches simply for our joy.
Then there is the beauty of birds in the trees in front of my house. Love those colibir (hummingbirds) that feed in my little feeder hourly, along with many other birds.
The beauty of Christmas in Zihua, filled with poinsettias and pinatas.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas from my country to your.
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor torrential downpour can stop a birthday beach party. Especially when you have two demanding waiters waiting for you to blow out some candles, slam a shot of tequila, and may even expect you to dance on the table. To say nothing about the mention of a man jumping out of my cake.
If you know Mexico, you know it is unusual for it to have days of rain in November. Okay, even if it rains, it will be clear and sunny in an hour, and you won’t even notice it rained. Not so on November 11th, it rained buckets, and more buckets, even the streets were flowing clean water about ankle deep, and dark clouds enclosing the entire area. I still had hopes it would clear and a 1 o’clock party seemed possible. Around noon, I got a message from an invited friend and she told me, “I guess you know the cake has been delivered, and you have to come.” I messaged back, “I know, but I might have to swim.” At about 12:30, the rain and wind really kicked in, and I thought no one is that crazy to brave this weather for a party. I might not need a boat, but I will have to hike up my pants.
Not only did I make it there on time, but was amazed that all these wonderful people would come out for my birthday. I must have the best friends anyone could ask for, or at least the craziest friends. I do know the truth was; they couldn’t let Chuy and Jorge ( our fablous friends and waiters at Madera) down, as it was really their party. We laughed, drank, ate delicious cake, drank a bit more, and I received some wonderful gifts.
The best gift of all are these wonderful friends. So if you ever find yourself in a foreign country, and it’s your birthday, be prepared for the best birthday you may ever have.
Oh, the big cake with the man jumping out—He sent his apology that he had an accident along the way, cake crashed, and he was in the hospital with a beautiful nurse, and was so sorry he couldn’t make it.
Viva Mexico !