Started off the day at 7:40, meeting a driver at school who took me to the British Embassy School Ankara (BESA). After passing muster with the security guard (and leaving my passport at the gate), I was welcomed into the school by the librarian whom I’d met last month . We planned the visit around her scheduled parent’s coffee meeting where she showed parents how to look up their student’s account in the library system, how to reserve books, and where the student is able to write and publish book reviews. There was time for checking out the library collection and an opportunity to browse books available for sale (2 Turkish lira each or about 68 cents, regardless of size of book, paperback or hard cover). The sale books had been donated by students and parents. BESA is K-8 and has only around 200 students so the library is considerably smaller than any I have worked in but well stocked and it has a warm, welcoming feeling. There is even a small section of books for adults, all of which have been donated and are available for either borrowing or keeping. Seems like a lovely place to work.
Several hours of work at school later, I left for yet another gated institution: Ankara Support Element, which is located on a portion of the old Ankara Air Station where I worked 1987-1988. The air station closed in 1994 and over 80% of the land was returned to the Turkish government. The BLIS boys and girls volleyball teams played matches against the base teams in the early evening so I rode the bus with our teams and coaches across town to the base. I wondered if I would recognize anything, if buildings I remembered were still in use, and other such questions that I hoped would be answered once I arrived at the base. Unfortunately, I recognized very little from my past. The main gate area looked wrong compared to my memories but that could be due to the increase in population citywide (from three million in the late 80s to five million now) and also could be due to the threat of terrorism. More people and more caution means delays getting onto the base so a larger auto holding area was needed. After a check of all passports or Turkish ID cards, we passed onto the base and found the gym. The gym looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t be certain it was the gym in which I played volleyball during my air station days. I was on the base team way back then
There is a very small base exchange/BX building very close to the gym so I took a walk over to check out prices. Because I no longer have a military ID card, I am not eligible to shop in the BX, but the snack bar right outside the BX was happy to take our money. As a friend and I were waiting to order, a man walked from a back room to the counter carrying two fistfuls of fried bacon. Two handfuls, people! Do you know how enticing that is to see after seven weeks in a Muslim country? Pork products can be found in a few markets in Turkey but they don’t taste like what Americans are used to, or so I’ve been told. Plus bacon is very expensive. My friend and I settled on half cheese, half bacon pizza to satisfy our tummies. The pizza was a perfect food for sitting on the bleachers watching the games. BTW–the boys lost all three games, the girls won all three. Well done, Lady Bulldogs!