Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our Bodrum Life

Relaxing and letting go can be difficult.  I feel guilty, I should be doing more.
I find myself constantly apologizing for a variety of things: running late, not having the right change or not wanting to buy what's being offered from one of the many restaurants and shops struggling to survive the winter.  Luckily we have some friends in here in Bodrum who keep reminding me to, "relax, stop being so American, you're in Turkey now."

What I think I am really apologizing for, is this gift of time.  It is an American ideal to be doing and producing, cherishing your weekends off, or more likely than not, using them to accomplish yet more work on the home front. This becomes the definition of a full life, hard work with short breaks for relaxing or catching up.  One becomes used to a bit of struggle. For me it has always been a part of my life. A dash of strife made me appreciate my brief vacations from "real" life.  But what if your life has no struggle, and you have plenty of time to do whatever you want, for as long as you want?  This is not a vacation; it is your life, for now.

I enjoyed the hell out of it for the first few weeks, then I began to panic.  Mathias is writing everyday. What am I doing?  Am I squandering this precious time; spending hours reading books, finishing off the ENTIRE New York Times, exploring Internet worm holes like Pintrest and Flipbook and staring at the walls and ceilings (literally). Or staring at myself! I have hours to agonize about the fact that I am getting older ... by the minute. I have time to create the worst lighting conditions possible, just to see what I might look like in twenty years, in candlelight.  I have even started a diligent exercise regimen and continue to practice yoga nearly every day.  Not to worry I AM NOT COMPLAINING, lest you working stiffs start spitting at your computer screens.  I am realizing how hard it is to just be, zen-like, in the moment, when you have enough time in your life to become tired of the distractions you used to love in your more "productive" life.   Or maybe I am just trying to infuse my easy, relaxed life with the familiar struggle and angst?

But I haven't actually answered the often asked question - "What do you do all day?"
The afore mentioned really only takes up a small part of my day and only on some days.  The rest of our time is spent in the midst of our wonderful routines.  We have spent nearly 24 hours a day together, every day since July 5, 2011.  How have we not killed one another?  We do "parallel play" really well. And we both love our daily routines.  And we are adaptable: we can spend just a few days in a place and start making routines that suit that particular place. They usually surround things like food and coffee and walks and naps. The essentials.  Here in Bodrum we have fine tuned our routines to the rhythms and weather of daily life.

1.  Coffee. Each days starts with a super strong cup of coffee made in this crazy stove-top espresso maker with a steamer and a pressure gage.  Not to brag, but I have gotten this down to Italian or French standards.  I can state with confidence that I am THE best barista in Bodrum, possibly Mula province, not to slag off the Turks, but they are really a tea (chai) culture.

The tools of the trade- espresso maker and juicer

Turkish coffee...yum! Note the many bags and backpack by Mathias' feet from our weekly shopping at the market.

2. Food.  We are eating better than ever, and it's all local and probably organic, not that either is an option or a choice, but just what is available. The winters are warm enough to support most vegetables and those that need a warmer climate are grown in greenhouses, like tomatoes, which are supposedly pollinated with bees, so they still taste pretty good for a greenhouse tomato.

Mathias awaits breakfast.

The pasha awaits dinner (fish stew)

Thursday and Fridays are market days. All farmers, big and small, pile into a huge parking lot and offer every manner of vegetable, spices, nuts, beans, teas, cheeses, olives, and everything to cook them in from traditional wooden hewn spoons to the cheapest, BPH laden plastic bowls.  It was all very overwhelming at first, but now I am getting to know some specific vendors, preferring the smaller old village ladies.  Now I can count to 5 and I know 10 (for some reason I can't remember 6-9) and I can say "please" and "thank you." Failing that, there is finger counting.  I have even gone into some fairly sophisticated pantomime routines, where I pretend cooking and chopping and eating in an attempt to sort out which greens I can eat raw and which need to be cooked.

I try to buy something each week that I have never seen or eaten before.  A few weeks ago, one of these charming village ladies begged me to try her yogurt.  I am now hip to the market vendors' technique of luring me over with free samples: It's not that they like me, it's that they know if I start to talk to them I will likely buy from them.  This was no different.  Normally I would have been all too happy to try her yogurt but I had already eaten 1/2 kilo of cheese samples and this was one of my last stops on my way out, but she was fairly insistent so I agreed.  I expected her to give me a spoon, but she gestured for me to drag my dirty finger in the container. I did and she beamed back at me and she closed the plastic container up and put it back down with the rest of the containers for sale.  Why, did I then proceed to buy raw milk from a used 1 liter Coke bottle? Because I was dizzy with the idea of finding raw milk and for some reason I wanted to please this sweet village lady.  Mathias was dubious. I insisted we try it, so I boiled it and we had it with coffee the next morning.  It had a barnyard essence that lingered a little too long on the palate.

Last week was a mix of strange wild greens, which included stinging nettles. Ouch! Even though I was careful, I got stung several times between the transport and the cooking pot. Never mind that the lady who sold them to me kept reaching her hand into the mix willy-nilly without so much as a flinch.  I was told to boil them for a few seconds first before throwing them into the saute of other strange greens, many of which looked like the weeds you pull out between the rocks and bricks in your patio and around the foundation of your house.  I think these village ladies just go out in the fields and fill their burlap bags with anything green, roots and all.  Not sure if I will do that again, the washing and trimming alone took forever.

Notice the liter bottles of milk
3. Walks.  Nearly every day we get out for a walk. Sometimes it's just to the harbor for a coffee.  Other times we take longer jaunts through new parts of town. Being that we are on a peninsula, we nearly always end up at water.  But even a stroll along the harbor is really pleasant. We are able to enjoy this town when it's inhabited with locals.  In a few months time, these same streets will be brimming with tourists and the slow, breezy atmosphere will evaporate.

Castle of St. Peter 
View of the harbor from the castle
Other bay of Bodrum, "Greek Town"

Some views of downtown Bodrum

One of the many tempting alleyways

Tea, coffee or beer,  what more do you need?

Cafe on the beach

We finally bought fish from these guys at the harbor...
Looking at the local products
4. Cozy Home life.  We are loving our little Turkish cottage.  It is a renovated old Bodrum stone house, and Tina and Hermann, our landlords, tried to keep it as traditional as possible.  There're stones and marble in the walls and floors that are more than a thousand years old and likely come from a nearby Roman arena or the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (one of the former names for Bodrum).  We have holed ourselves up here on all the rainy days.
The living room
We have fires almost every night
We did a 1000-piece puzzle of a Hieronymus Bosch triptych. Excrutiating!
Mathias hard at work, writing, writing, writing....
Bedroom on the second floor
our Avatar Ugly Dolls, Tray and Pinko
The garden is still pretty green and lush all winter. It is apparently totally overgrown by summer.

Our little street

An old cottage we dream about buying and restoring


Barbara Costa said...

Jen, it's so good to hear things from your perspective, though I've loved what Mathias has been writing. The house looks really lovely, cozy and inviting, and it's extra wonderful that it dates back to so long ago. I enjoy hearing how you both are really settling in and learning more and more about food, customs, daily life. Except that the walls are mostly white it completely looks like a place you and Mathias would inhabit. Fires every night sound wonderful. Do you use the bedroom fireplace too? I am unemployed now and also cannot completely account for how I spend my time, so I absolutely understand. Looking forward to the next post.

abbot said...

save for the exercise regime, healthy eating and reading of books, newspapers or interwebs sites of any redeeming value, .... I know of what you speak, and can be your guide towards the complete zen of incompleteness

only when you can snatch this this pebble from my hand, but would rather put off trying until tomorrow and take a nap instead, ......

then young grasshoppa', will you know the way home

judymac said...

it is a wonderful time of life to experience this......and you two are doing it not feel guilty, feel thankful for this opportunity to know yourself, each other, and your environs day by day.....sounds like you've found just the right

Anonymous said...

ever try switching around the d and the r in bodrum?

Mathias and Jen Dubilier said...

Funny, I think?

Tamar said...

Hey guys!!
so great to read this, finally some photos and we can actually picture you there!!! thank you!!! big hug

Larissa Nikola-Lisa said...

So great to catch up on your whereabouts! Jen, you are a fabulous writer (Mathias, you are too, but I'm still trying to get down with the boat-talk...Speaking of that gully? seating a party of 8, are you two accepting any visitors at your upcoming location? Say, in mid-late June?!).

steve said...

In case you need a lesson on how to get through the day like I do: