Well, it’s been awhile since we visited.  In the meantime, a lot has taken place.  Good and not so good.

We left Turkey with a great deal of memories that will never subside, but the preparations to leave took a toll on both of us.  Transferring from one past to another is never easy, not just saying goodbyes, but the actual logistics of it all.  It started months before sorting and determining what to keep, what to discard and what to put in storage.  After the day when we saw a third of our belongings roll away, then came the scheduling and paperwork.  We had our final wingfest and several lunches and gatherings with Embassy personnel, and cleaned out our desks.

The last work day, before leaving the Embassy in a taxi (because our vehicle had already shipped out), I went through all the gates and shook hands with any guard I could find.  Some of the guards think more of me than they should and had tears in their eyes.  I would be lying if I told you it had no effect on me.  By the time I made it back to the main gate to leave, my hand and arm was sore from the handshaking.  The Turks have firm handshakes when they like you.

The next day, Saturday, I went back to the office to finish items left undone.  This included paperwork and archiving files off my computer.  But it also dealt with concealing ping pong balls in several places in the office.  One location was in an overhead shelf above my desk.  The Office Manager/Logistician is stickler for everything super clean.  I know the week after I leave, she will go to my desk and start cleaning it out.  She will open the top shelf and the 144 ping pong balls will flow out onto the desk.  And just to be sure it happens to her twice, I hid another 144 in a shelf above her desk that she doesn’t use often.  Someday, she will encounter those as well, if she hasn’t already.

Then leaving the Embassy compound for the last time, I spent a few minutes with more guards including the Most Handsomest Man in the Universe.  According to him, I am the second Most Handsomest Man in the Universe.

There are so many things to say about Turkey that it would take a blog spanning three years, but I can tell you, that it has made me an aggressive driver.  It has made me enjoy sour cream and yogurt more than before.  I developed a special friendship with Serkan who married our friend from Stinnett Texas.

… and a friendship with Burak, the guard supervisor who took us to Mogla.

We will miss our friend Stacy who has two masters degrees, but you would never know it from her bubbly love of life.  Her vibrant eyes constantly smile. And the little Taiwan friend, Ann who is working on her third degree.

We will miss Gozde with her Phd.  What little time I spent with her, she nurtured my passion for the creative spark of literature and the arts.

I will miss my friend Ozlem who speaks five languages, three fluently.  Her English vocabulary rivals mine, and it is her third language.  I will miss our short discussions during coffee breaks in my office.  She would tell me things about her life that few others knew.  She once told me I was the girlfriend she never had.  I don’t know how to take that, but I think it was supposed to be good.

I will miss the vibrant Selin who uses any obstacle in Life to jump as high as she can.  I wish I could look into the future to see where all she lands!

And I will truly miss the smile on Nadjia’s face when she came to the office twice a week to clean.  Aside from the crazy Turks, Serkan and Burak, I think she made me laugh the most, just by being herself.  When she left each time she would say, See you later alligator.  And I would reply Afterwhile Crocodile, and she would reply Oinky doinky. (okey dokey)

On Sunday the 11th, we were picked up at our apartment at 4am for a 6am flight.  I had to leave a few things undone like cleaning up the apartment before leaving.  This is one of the issues that make changing posts stressful.  No matter how hard you try, things will still be left undone.  I fear my life will be the same.

We arrived in Virginia for medical checkups, passport issues and getting our visas for Brazil.  I also had to apply and obtain a tax number from the Brazilian Embassy.  Once I finally found the place at 1:15pm, I saw that they close at 1pm every day.  No matter how hard you try, things never fall into place appropriately.  If that should ever happen, I will quickly go out and purchase a lottery ticket.  But all got done by jumping through the required hoops, and I headed to Texas while Terese went to New York to see her sister.  The two of them jumped in the car and made a trip to Nova Scotia.  A trip they had been planning for over a decade.  In the meantime, after getting to Texas, I took the little Miata out of storage (what MotherDear calls the Barbie car) and took a trip into the mountains of New Mexico which ended with a fishing trip with all my brothers, and then some.

After the fishing trip and Terese’s trip with her sister, we headed to Pampa to see several close friends, one on which who has cancer.  It was sad to see how far he had regressed since we last saw him.  I fear we may lose him too soon in the future.

At this point, we will stop the discussion until I am ready to discuss it further.  Instead I will tell you about Brazil next.