One of the questions we get asked a lot is: “Why Turkey?!”
Many people who live on their boats in hurricane prone areas, choose to leave the area during hurricane season. We are no exception. So, we left our boat in a safe place in Mexico and came to our house in Turkey. Many people ask us how we landed on Turkey as our “hurricane hole”? So, here’s the story:
It all started at Portland State University – Jodi’s alma mater – in 1987. I joined an organization called AIESEC – a global organization, established in 1948, after WWII, where seven young people in seven countries had a dream of building a cross-cultural understanding across nations. They hoped to change the world, one person and one international internship at a time. Today, they operate in more than 125 countries and territories, linking business students with temporary exchange jobs.
For me, it was a chance to work abroad for a summer, and when I graduated in 1988, I had an internship lined up in Istanbul. Days after graduation, I got on a very long one-way plane trip to a place I had never been, not knowing the language or anyone in the country. The job was a complete and utter disaster (a long story that might be novel-worthy…), but I loved Turkey and ended up finding a different job at Istanbul Technical University that enabled me to stay in the country. During this time, I met some incredible people, people I am still friends with today, and my connection to the country, and its people, strengthened.
I introduced Kirby to Turkey shortly after we started dating, and over the years, Kirby and I have spent several vacations here; we always dreamed of spending time here when we retired, too. So, when our good friend, Cassandra (who I met back in 1988 in Istanbul and with whom I also lived for a brief period of time) found this remote new development on the Aegean coast, we thought of it as kismet and jumped at the chance to own a small piece of one of our favorite places on earth.
Today, as has been over my past 30 years of knowing this place, the economy and government are volatile, but no matter. In Turkey, you just have to roll with it and trust the people and its government will work itself out. As an example for the longevity of this volatility, my first day in June 1988 in Istanbul there was an attempted assignation on then Prime Minister Turgot Ozal, and ever since, Turkey has had its ups and downs politically and economically.
However, it’s a place where you can see two friends walking down the street, linking arms, one wearing a burka and one wearing a bikini. Modesty in dress and actions is a sign of respect as much as it is a part of the religious undertones of the country. It’s a nation of paradox and incongruity, and it fights for its democracy everyday as it has since Ataturk (known as the father of Turkey) led its revolution in the early 1920s, effectively ending the ruling of the Ottomans – emancipating women and introducing ideas of Western culture and lifestyles.
Turkey is not part of the EU, but it is a friend to the US and a key NATO ally. Unfortunately, relations are strained in these days, but we hope to return to friendlier times, and no matter our current politics or administration, the people of Turkey are extremely kind and warm and have welcomed us with open arms. Today, the Lira is volatile, and there was a recent shooting at the US Embassy, but for us, on our tiny peninsula, sitting between two seas, located on ancient archeological ground where civilizations have lived for thousands of years (since ~500 BC), we are relatively immune from all of that.