It was our first summer in Turkey. The schools and other academic institutions closed for approximately three months from the middle of June to the end of August. Many businesses and government offices also close to take a summer break.
This was very evident in Ankara. Ankara is located approximately in the middle of Turkey. It was chosen as the capitol city of Turkey by the first president of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk in the beginning of the twentieth century. It is the political center of the Republic of Turkey and as such it hosts many government departments, Istanbul is the business capitol of Turkey and the city is never asleep. In contrast Ankara has a rhythm that corresponds strongly with the office hours and routines of the government. Ankara is a more orderly city than Istanbul with long wide boulevards and many parks. Ataturk was cautious to choose Ottoman Islamic symbols for his new Turkish republic. In Ankara he chose Hittite symbols that relates with the strong pagan history of the Ankara region.
The long summer holiday gave us as a family the perfect opportunity to explore the city. We could travel by bus to most parts of the city and during this time we visited many parks. Some parks had amusement sections with battery operated cars that children could drive on in a designated area. The children loved this and we spend many hours in these parks with them. One hot summers day Magda was on the bus with Thea-Marie when Thea-Marie’s nose started bleeding. The Turkish women made quite a noise when they saw it and the bus driver made an unscheduled stop on their demand. One of the ladies got a jug of cold water from the small roadside shop and poured it over Thea-Marie. Her nose stopped bleeding. It was probably of shock, and they were able to continue their journey!
It was also a good opportunity to host new friends. The roof patio of our new home was a good space to visit with friends. We bought a small kettle-braai (Weber) and invited friends at different times for a barbeque. (Braai). One Sunday we invited a Texan-borne American elder from our church and his Korean-American wife for a Sunday lunch. I bought a packet of minute steaks at a large department store in the city at a ridiculous price. Our guest was after all a Texan and I wanted to impress him with the way South Africans barbecue steaks. It was only the first time I used the kettle-braai. I misjudged the heat and the meat were ready before Magda could prepare the salad and other side dishes. I decided to go down and see how I can help Magda. I made my second bad judgement when I decided to close the lid of the Kettle-braai when I left the roof. I wasn’t away long, but when I returned and lift the lid , the meat were dried out and almost charcoal-color. There was no replacement meat. We had to eat the burnt steak or go vegetarian! Until this day our Texan friend would remind me of the great steak I prepared for him, the South African way!
Our apartment building was at least four levels high with six units below us. We did not know our neighbors well and our Turkish language competency were still to limited to engage meaningfully with them. One night in August we were woken up by a very urgent knock on our front door. It was in the early hours of the morning and Magda got up to open the door. We were not prepared for what happened next!