We’re here! We arrived Monday night after a longer than expected trip compliments of a snow storm delay in Istanbul that had our plane grounded on the tarmac for 5 hours. There’s nothing quite like boarding a plane for a short one hour flight, only to sit there…not moving…for 5 hours… with a cranky toddler. But, despite our delay, we arrived safely, as did the pets. The pets were of great concern for us the entire time and added quite a bit of anxiety to our trip. We had never traveled with them before, so we weren’t quite sure how they would behave in transit. And considering they almost didn’t come with us thanks to some silly new rules about forms, and some extremely unhelpful people at a nameless office in Virginia, we were just grateful the ordeal was finally over and they were actually with us.**
B-cat decided to go on a hunger strike for the first two days here, but thankfully he is back to his old food-demanding self. And M-dog has been barking a little too much and pretty much driving the neighbors crazy, but she will soon adjust and chill out. We hope.
E was okay during the flights, although he barely slept and he started to lose it during that 5 hour wait on the tarmac. But we were all pretty much done and losing it at that point, so I give the kid a pass. Plus, he finally passed out just before the plane took off, so at least there’s that. We got to our apartment at midnight, gave him a quick bath, and put him to bed where he proceeded to sleep until 2:30 the next afternoon. For those folks counting at home, that’s less than 5 hours sleep in a 24-hour period, followed by 14 straight hours of uninterrupted snoozing. I love that kid. He has continued to sleep like a champ since then too. Let’s just hope it sticks.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we arrived in Turkey, so barring any preexisting notions about…anything, really, I am quite happy with what we have experienced so far.
First off, our neighbors are fantastic. There are two FS families living upstairs in our building, and they both have young kids, which is great for E. One couple has been our sponsor for the past few weeks, and did a great deal to help prepare our apartment, stock our fridge before our arrival, and even met us at the airport (in the middle of the night) to transport us to our new home. They had us over for a delicious lasagna dinner on our second night, and the generosity continued into the next day when they helped me get around town to run some errands. I have also spent a couple afternoons with our other neighbor, casually chatting and sipping tea while our children played together. There's nothing quite like getting to know a foreign city from a new friend over a hot cup of tea. S and I are really excited to live with (and for him, to work with) such amazing people.
The locals are also extremely nice and very helpful, and as a whole, as far as I can tell, they are genuinely kind. Yesterday I met with the proprietor of a local daycare to see about getting E admitted into her program. Her daycare came highly recommended from others who served at this post, so I went in with high expectations and was not disappointed. Although a language barrier exists, I have no doubt that this will be a caring and educational environment for E. And he will likely learn to speak Turkish better than his mom and dad.
Our apartment here is beautiful and huge. It is quite honestly the biggest and nicest place I have ever lived in, and the views are spectacular. Since we are the first FS family to live here, there were a few kinks that needed to be worked out, like, re-grounding the electricity for our stove. It kept shorting out every time we turned it on, and would shut off the power to the entire apartment. And we had a minor hot water issue that was cleared up in a matter of minutes. But otherwise, now that those issues are cleared up, we can’t complain one bit.
S has been working since we arrived, and he has been very, very busy. He loves what he is doing and he was excited to finally get his hands dirty. The last 5 months of training in D.C. left him aching to get to work, and now that it’s finally here, it’s no joke. He’s loving every minute of it so far.
For now, we are all happy, excited and looking forward to a little family time this weekend so we can continue to explore the city together and familiarize ourselves with our neighborhood. Pictures of the apartment are coming as soon as we get our stuff!
**Basically, our vet included both B-cat and M-dog’s final vet exam information on the same form. Thinking all was good, we personally drove this information to the only [nameless] office in all of VA, DC and MD (a good 2 hours from where we lived in Arlington) to get the final stamp of approval. Upon arrival, we were told “two species, two forms” and were thus told they could not be approved. This was 4 days before we were scheduled to leave, and 3 days before we were scheduled to have our car picked up for shipment to Turkey. Bottom line, we naively took [nameless] office’s advice that they would have our vet “overnight” new documents to them, and in return nameless would “overnight” the approved forms to us in Arlington. But by Friday, the day our car was to be picked up, those forms were still sitting unopened and unstamped in the [nameless] office. So, we were forced to rent a car and drive the 4 hours round trip to Richmond for the final stamps of approval. We got it done, but oh boy, it was frustrating. So, anyone shipping a dog and cat, or cat and rabbit, or bird and dog, or whatever combo of differing species you prefer, their vet exams MUST be on two separate forms, or they will not be traveling with you. Or you will be jumping through hoops at the last minute like we were. Oh, and all this cannot be done more than 15 days prior to your departure for post. That combined with all the unusable/non-working holidays that occurred during our 15 days (Christmas and New Year’s) left us scrambling. Not fun, but it’s done. Thank goodness.