Travel blog

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

By on October 16, 2012
Our neighborhood rocks. It rolls. It’s a constant surprise, as are our new neighbors in Istanbul. I’ve mentioned how we found the perfect parking spot, thanks to Nina.

After an email today, I realize that maybe it’s a bit foggy on how we live and what we do, which ties neatly into this theme.

Our marvelous caravan, Mork, is a newer VW mini-bus. You’ve seen the photos. What you can’t see clearly is our daily existence, as in how we live.

A short description: we have two front chairs that swivel around to face the ‘couch.’ Under the couch, the kitchen table hides away until we need it.

Which means we can use it as a kitchen/living room for 4-5 people. We have a sink with running water- the tank’s in the back (which has to be filled almost daily)- and depending on where we are (which country) we use it for cooking, cleaning and sometimes drinking.

The couch folds into a bed, on the ground* floor. There’s a second bed up top, which we get lifting the tent roof. We could sleep 4 people total, but we haven’t yet tried. No takers, ha.

 We’ve got a small stove next to the sink that can hold two pots, and it’s gas powered. We’ve been living on spaghetti and sauce lately, so it’s not too difficult to manage. 
Though I am getting spaghetti-ed out.

The only things we’re missing: a toilet (aargh, for me) and constant electricity. We have a back up battery and the solar panels, but the panels are still unfamiliar territory for us. As in how or when they work, or why they don’t on certain days.

It’s extremely cozy, but it’s also comfortable. I love that if I want to go for a walk I just lock up the car and go. The toilet was a problem for me, up until our second day here.

A film crew arrived and wanted our parking space. They offered to pay for parking around the corner for us and let us know when they were leaving so they could let us get ‘our’ parking space back.
The place they paid for was facing a parking garage, and is also the hang out spot for Turkish police.(Next post will be about Armando’s Turkish police connection, this one is just about our hood).
Armando found out that the parking garage has toilets. You’ve got no idea the immense joy I had.

Not unless you’re a female. The neighborhood is so well-lit, and so busy, that there aren’t any dark corners to find for relief.*

Two nights straight of no sleep and waiting for the hostel to go, my nerves were frayed.

Something so simple as a loo- something you never consider when you’re planning your travel itinerary. So yay! We now have a toilet. Internet from one of the nearby buildings.

One night our battery died, and when the panels weren’t working, and our computers had also gone kaput for the night, we had nothing better to do than play Backgammon (Armando’s an ace, I’m horrifically bad).

A real trip back to basics, in the middle of this sleepless, hectic city. But this is what we wanted, what we chose.

To make do with what we have, make the best of it and try to enjoy all of the moments. Even those dark toilet-less days. Grin.

In between all of these minor van-adjustment revelations we started meeting people. A lot of people. Our new neighbors.

I’ve never had such a warm welcome to a place as we’ve had in the past week.

Granted, it’s a quiet neighborhood and Mork is a bright turquiose blue. We speak English.

We clearly live in our van. Curiosity about us abounded, and people started approaching.

At first we were a little wary, thinking they might ask us to move. Instead they wanted to meet us, hear our story, say hello. We now have a few regulars, but these are the main ones (so far): Karim, the Iranian across the street from our van.

He first offered us water, toilet (too late, we’d already found one, bummer) and the next morning he woke us with a gift of breakfast apples. We chat almost daily.

There’s Hilary, the Londoner who takes care of all of the neighborhood stray cats. We saw her last night, hauling two tripods (cats with just three legs) to a new home across the city.

Then there’s the studentish fella, Abdurrahman, that we can’t pronounce either of his names, who was asking about the van. He asked if we wanted tea, and showed up an hour later with tea in a thermos, sugar and a bowl of popcorn on a tray for us.

Attila Capitan, the local homeless wino who keeps trying to convince me to sleep in his corner of the park with him (harmless) and that’s just naming a few.

Oops, sorry. Have to run- they’re going to ‘poison the hostel in ten minutes for bugs.’ Sounds serious. Ha. I’ll complete this later. Just know we are happy in our little neck of our new neighborhood. 

A quick P.S. We would like to thank Karim (I really hope I’m spelling your name right) for the delicious dinner (pictured), the fruit and the conversations.

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