It was cold during those first few weeks in Istanbul. We stayed in doors most of the time, and focused on getting into a new routine of daily living in our new environment.
We agreed to house-sit for a month, until the host family returns from their home country. We had to start looking for our own apartment soon. I was talking regularly with the director of the group of doctors I had to work with in doing the feasibility study for Carewell. They were all in Ankara, the capitol city of Turkey. It became very clear from the discussions that they would like us to settle in Ankara. This was discussed with the Carewell directors in South Africa and they agreed that we should find an apartment in Ankara.
Dr Arseven and the other partners I worked with started the search for a home for us. Within two weeks they had found an apartment they thought to be suitable in the Batikent neighborhood outside Ankara. The area was linked to the city center via a metro rail service and the rent was within our budget. It was agreed that we would pay the deposit and first month of rent before the end of February 1999.
I immediately requested the deposit and first month rent from Carewell. A friend alerted us that an expatriate-family were moving back to their home country and were selling there furniture and house-hold appliances. We went and after looking through the available furniture and appliances and made them an offer to buy it all. They accepted our offer, but this was not included in our budget. After communicating with our support group in Halfway House, the business man who introduced us to Carewell paid for it.
We were excited. We were on our way to move into our own home, with our own furniture. We just need to find a way to get the furniture in Ankara! Another friend had put us into touch with a moving company and help us made the necessary arrangements. It was almost the last day of February 1999 and the next day the movers will come and load our furniture and luggage to take it by road to our new home in Ankara.
That evening the phone rang. It was dr Arseven. He was in touch with the owner of the apartment in Ankara and they had not received payment for the deposit or rent yet. I suddenly realized that I had no feedback on my request for payment of the deposit and rent from Carewell. I promised him that I would set the record straight the next day.
It was a hectic day with the movers coming to load our furniture and luggage. They could not speak any English and our Turkish was still very limited. We communicated by signs and gestures and in the end they were done. They were going to travel over night and will meet us at the address in Batikent the next morning, We were booked on the over-night train to Ankara.
During the day I made several calls to try and arrange for the deposit and rent to be paid to the owner to secure the apartment. I could not make any contact. If it wasn’t ringing it was giving an engaged signal. I was getting desperate. The truck with our furniture was on its way to Batikent and I had no way of contacting them. It was almost time to board the over-night train and we still had no way of paying the deposit and rent.
When my phone rang and I saw it was dr Areseven, my heart sank. I had to tell him that we could not secure the funds to pay the deposit and rent. He told me that the apartment was unfortunately no longer available. What a disaster!
We were on our way to an address that we could not access in a city we did not know.