We arrived at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul early the morning of the 11th September 2001. For the first time we could present our passports with valid residence permits at the Customs desk and it made us feel as if we belong in Turkey for the first time.
Our Lebanese-borne Turkish friend fetched us from the airport and took us to the residence of the World Relief Director and his family. We were shown our rooms and as we walked into the living room we saw how the first of the Twin Towers in New York collapse! It was a horrific site and we were spellbound as we watched the ensuing events unfold in front of our eyes. We knew that the world changed forever in that moment! We were very grateful that we made it safely to Turkey!
The next morning we woke up to the news that the water has been turned off for the neighborhood due to burst pipes. With four adults and four children in the house we had to be very creative in using the water we had available over the next eight days in mid summer temperatures!
After getting over the initial shock of the 9/11 attacks we started our search for a new home in all earnest. We used all available networks to our disposal and our new friend and translator helped a lot. We found an apartment to rent within two weeks. It was on the Asian side of the city close to the parent cooperative school for missionary children. It was a newly build apartment building. The landlord was living in a duplex on the 3rd and fourth floors. We moved in on the second floor and the ground floor was used as storage space by the landlord. It was a beautiful three bedroomed apartment with a western bathroom and toilet, a Muslim guest toilet and modern furnishings and fittings. We used the Muslim guest toilet as our storage space for the vacuum cleaner and the broom and buckets! Is this instance we were following the example of other foreigners living in Turkey….
The landlord and his wife were very hospitable and kind. They had a black and white Spaniel named Korsan and a safe space outside where the children could play. Turkish apartments do not come with light fittings. You have to fit your own and you take them with you when you move. As this was our 4th move in Turkey in 3 years we had enough light fittings and curtains for the new home.
Winter was fast approaching. The floors were beautiful oak colored wooden blocks and like most buildings, the apartment was fitted with underfloor heating. Our friends advised us to test the system before winter really sets in because we were the first occupants of this apartment. We did and left the system on for a few days to make sure all is in working order. Around the third day, we noticed that the floors were lifting in one of the bedrooms. The pipes laid under the floor the carry fluid for the heating were leaking and the wooden floor got wet! It was a mess but we were glad that we discovered it before deep winter. This happened again the next winter in another bedroom and the landlord was not amused, but it was bad workmanship that he had to fix!