IMG_3154Photo taken in Istanbul.

Nicole recently sent her “No BS club” a end-of-the-month template. The template allows readers to quickly reflect on the past month and commit to future goals or projects. Here’s my review of the past month.

 
The three things I’m most proud of from this past month are:
When I first read this question I thought, “Erm …” I’ve spent a great chunk of this month travelling: Istanbul, Fethiye, Durban and California. This doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment. Accomplishments aren’t FUN. Accomplishments are BIG. They take months of training, hard work, require strict schedules and end with a medal to prove your worth. But after giving this some more thought, I’ve decided that there are a number of little things that I am proud of.
– I am a proud of entering my first photo competition. Believing that you actually stand a chance, that I am good enough, THAT takes courage.
– Asking strangers if I could take their photograph. There have been many moments where I’ve met interesting individuals and wanted to capture their adorable faces on film. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the chutzpah to ask. This year I spoke up. 
– Being a little braver each day. There are many moments during my Turkey trip where I was a little nervous. But glad that I didn’t allow fear and nerves to get the better of me. 
 
The three things I’m most grateful for from this past month are:
– I am immensely grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been granted. (I’m currently in the California for 5 weeks on a partial scholarship).
– I am grateful for parents who placed a huge emphasis on education, and that they had the funds available to send me to university.
– I am glad that money isn’t a concern. I’m not rich, but I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about where I am going to find the cash to fix my car.
 
The most impactful lesson I learned this past month is: 
Ask. Ask. Ask. If you’re unsure of something, ask, even if you think it’s a silly question. If you’re curious about something or someone, ask. Do not bottle up your questions and curiosity. It could lead to something beautiful.  
 
Nicole’s template had a number of additional questions related to our goals and aspirations for July. I didn’t answer those questions. I plan to spend this month exploring California and taking it all it. I plan to eat as many interesting dishes as possible (as long it’s vegetarian or halaal), meet strangers I befriended on the internet, AND capture it all on film.       

I spent a few days in Goreme, Turkey – visiting the Open Air Museum, hot air ballooning, going to a hamam (a Turkish bath), taking photos of so many pretty flowers, getting lost, worrying about dehydration and screaming like a little girl at the approach of a dog … I now wish that I hadn’t been so impatient to leave and see the rest of Turkey. It would have been nice to ride a horse through Rose Valley.

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Horse ranch, Goreme

Turkish tea on a yacht

Photo taken in Kaş, Turkey. 

Mosque, Cirali

Photo taken in Cirali, Turkey.

While I was in Turkey I managed to ride a hot air balloon, drink Turkish tea on a yacht, marveled at several beautiful mosques  and read two books: “Snow” by Orphan Pamuk and “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith.
I really loved Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” and have recently purchased “On beauty”. (I did NOT love “Snow” and upon completion ended up discarding the novel at the airport). I’ll try to transcribe a larger paragraph or section from “White Teeth” before I leave for Durban. Key word in that sentence is “try”.
Anyway, I’m currently reading “Kinshu” by Teru Miyamoto, who is apparently a prize-winning author in Japan. “Kinshu” consists entirely of an exchange of letters between a divorced couple.
Here’s an extract from the novel:

““She said her four sons had died in battle, but this was not entirely true. My father said that there was at least one untruth in Grandmother’s story. Three of her sons did in fact perish in battle, but the second-eldest, Kensuke, seeing his comrades die one after the other from starvation and malarial fever in Burma, walked deep into the forest and hanged himself. His death in battle had been fabricated by the military, and Grandmother learned the truth from a soldier who had been repatriated from Burma. He came to visit, carrying a small square paper box containing Kensuke’s ashes, as well as his glasses and his tattered notebook. When Grandmother heard that Kensuke had not died by an enemy bullet but by his own hand, her face turned deathly pale. Only one thing was written in his notebook: ‘I was not happy.’””

On the road to GoremePhoto taken while driving from the Kayseri Airport to Goreme. I managed to get a fairly cheap flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia via Turkish Airlines (60TL approximately R273.95).

Horses - GoremeHorse ranch close to Goreme Open Air Museum. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to ride any horses while I was in Turkey. Sad face. I guess I’m just going to have to go back.  

Dandelion, clouds, GoremeTaken while I was bundu bashing through the valleys of Goreme.

Hot air ballooning - bucket list itemHot air ballooning. Definitely a highlight.

Goreme - setting sunPhoto taken while sipping apple tea from the balcony of a Korean Restaurant in Goreme. 

And I’m back home in cold, cold Cape Town. After spending 21 glorious days in Turkey. And it was glorious.

If I were to draw up a quick list of my top 5 moments in Turkey they would:

1 Hot air ballooning

I loved how completely and utterly safe I felt floating around in a giant wicker basket. Our trip started with a short safety briefly, during which our pilot stated that under no circumstances were we to jump out during mid-flight.

I loved the heat on my back. I loved the smell of helium. I loved sound the gas makes as it rushes out of the tank, like waves crashing on rocks. I loved watching the landscape change to a burnt rust colour with the rising sun. I loved looking at ridiculous shapes of the rock formations. And then there was the people.

While floating above fairy chimneys and admiring the landscape, I met a former South African. She now lives in Geneva and works for the World Health Organisation (WHO). She told me that one of the things I have to try while I’m in Turkey, is go to a hamam. She also told me to email my CV through to her.

2 The generosity of strangers

I met so many individuals, who just treated me so gently. Guys, who bought me cups of tea while I was struggling to stay awake in the bus terminal. Guys, who helped carry my suitcase up a flight of stairs. Strangers, who invited me into their homes for breakfast and dinner.

3) Mud bath in Dalyan

Getting to the mud bath involves taking a boat cruise down a river, from which we could observe Nile River Turtles chilling in the reeds. We also managed to get an awesome glimpse of Lycian tombs from the river.

4 Spending the day on Heybelianda Island

It’s an island off the coast of Istanbul and boy, is it gorgeous. And secluded! Longer post to follow soon.

5 Fresh orange juice every damn day  

Nuff said.

Books

I have finally finished reading the novel, White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Here’s one of my favourite passages from the novel:

“It was odious to be reminder of one’s children when one is calculating the exact shade and rigidity of a nipple that could assert itself through bra and shirt.”

 

Travel

I have also been doing a bit of travelling over the last few weeks.

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Clockwork starting from the top left:

  1. I flew down to Durban to celebrate the union of two very beautiful and generous individuals. I also acted as one of the bridesmaids. Stylist: What do you want me to do with your laps? Me: Make them not look dry?
  2. I had a 13 hour layover at Doha International Airport, which meant I was privy to a free three-hour tour of the city. To qualify for the tour I had to present myself at the Doha City Tour Desk at 06:00, as the tour is offered on a first come first served basis. I did not need to make prior arrangements for a visa.
  3. In Goreme, I was lucky enough to tick one more item off my bucket list – hot air ballooning. It was a frigging awesome experience. I loved the heat of the fire on my back, the sound of hot air entering the balloon like waves crashing on rocks, and the sıght of the landscape as the sun rose. It is definitely something I’d try again.
  4. Graffiti in Istanbul.

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Photo taken in Durban

The following was written a while back …

Books

I’ve just finished reading, “Hyperbole and a half” by Allie Brosh. Allie Brosh is a blogger who talks about her dogs, her childhood and her struggle with depression. Her book (and blog) contains comics (not just words!) and “the secret to eternal happiness.” She is of course lying about the “secret to eternal happiness”.

My favourite quote from the novel is her description of depression and everyone’s optimistic suggestions for combating the disease.

“It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.”

Next up on the reading list is:

  • Snow by Orphan Pamuk (Started reading this a while ago …)
  • Kinshu: Autumn Brocade by Teru Miyamoto
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

Running

On Sunday, I ran my first race since Two Oceans Ultra – UCT Memorial 10km. I knew that no matter how tough the route I would be able to complete it in 55 minutes easily. I managed to do it in 54. I probably would have done better if I didn’t stop at the 9km mark.

Travel

I’ve yet to board my plane to Durban and I’m already plotting my 2016 adventures/bucket list.

The Comrades Marathon in Durban is definitely on my list. I’d also like to do the Oudtshoorn Marathon.

Juan and Dizzy* might be moving to the UK soon. So I’m thinking of visiting them in London and then popping over to either Rome or Paris to run a marathon.

I also need to tick off snowboarding and hiking the Fish River Canyon from my bucket list. *Sigh*

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Books
I’ve once again discarded set aside Orphan Pamuk’s Snow. This time for The Notebook. The Notebook isn’t a particularly great book; it’s soppy and easy to digest. But I needed something light. I found Snow, which is set in Turkey, distressful.
Here are a couple of quotes from the novel:

“Headscarves protect women from harassment, rape and degradation. It’s the headscarf that gives women respect and a comfortable place in society. We’ve heard this from so many women who’ve chosen later in life to cover themselves. Women like the old-belly dancer Melahet Sandra. The veil saves women from the animal instincts of men in the street. It saves them from the ordeal of entering beauty contests to compete with other women. They don’t have to live like sex objects, they don’t have to wear make-up all day. As Professor Marvin Kind has already noted, if the celebrated Elizabeth Taylor had spent the last twenty years covered, she would not have to worry so much about being fat. She would not have ended in a mental hospital. She might have known some happiness.”

“Infected by the disease of atheism, he began to put unreasonable pressure on his lovely little pupils: he tried to spend time alone with their mothers; he stole money from another teacher whom he envied.”

Travel
What else can I tell you?

I am heading off to Durban soon to celebrate the nuptials of two people I’ve known for 14 years. Yes, I’ve managed to sustain a friendship for 14 years! I am really looking forward to it. I am flying down with a lovely bunch and we’re planning to eat all the BunnyChows, gawk at the turtles at uShaka and swim in warm ocean water! Warm ocean water guys. In winter!

And soon after that I’ll be jetting off to Istanbul. I’ve yet to sort out my accommodation for my month-long trip. So far I’ve only managed to book hotels for Istanbul, Goreme and Antalya. I still need to book hotels for Kas, Fethiye and Olympos. (Do yourself a favour and Google images of Fethiye. Go on, do it!)

I also need to sort out my flights to California. I’ll be spending Independence Day in USA! So excited.

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A few days ago I celebrated my cousin’s birthday at De Waal Park. At first I was wary of going, De Waal isn’t my favourite urban park, that honour belongs to Green Point. But I had fun. There was lots to eat, the sun was out and their was plenty of opportunities to people watch.

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My favourite moment was watching this man teach these young ‘uns how to tightrope walk. He was so patient. Kid to young man, “Who teached you to do this?”

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A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how it was only March and already 2015 was turning out to be a pretty awesome. I talked about how I’d finally obtained that effing sub-2 and how I’ve set new PBs for a 5, 21, 30 and 42km. I also stated that I was about to participate in my first ever Ultra and that there was a chance I might not complete it. And if this were to happen, there would be tears.

Well, I did it! I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:25. I was hoping for sub-6 and up until the 28km I was on track. That is until Ou Kaapse Weg and then it all went downhill from there. Figuratively speaking, of course. Ou Kaapse Weg is a bitch 7km climb.

What else can I say about the race?

Well, for weeks before the big day my father and I planned to run the race together. We trained together – 5 days a week. We talked strategy. Or more accurately, he talked and I tried to absorb it all. On the day of the race, at the 7km mark, he left me. And I wasn’t surprised. Or angry. Or hurt. He’s done this before; so many times that I expected it. At the 37km mark I caught up to him. And then I proceeded to finish the race ahead of him, by 12 minutes. (It’s funny, at the beginning of the year he told me that I would be able to kick his arse in shorter races but I’d never take him in longer events. This year I’ve beaten the old man in a 10, 15, 21, 30 and 56km race. And now I want to do what he’s never been able to achieve. I want to do a marathon in less than 4 hours.)

At the about the 40km mark, there was a radio announcer slash TV presenter. He asked various runners what was the first thing they wanted to do when they got home. Some said they wanted a cold beer. Others said they wanted a warm shower. And I just thought, “I’d like to take a nice, satisfying shit.” Right now several mothers are wishing their sons would end up with someone as classy as me.

Other than wanting to take a dump, I also wanted to cry, a lot. After 42km, running is no longer fun. It’s just this stupid hobby that requires you to move your legs in quick succession. And yet, the very minute I’d crossed the finish line I was so overcome with euphoria that I vowed to run the Comrades next year.

So that’s one of the reasons that 2015 has gotten a little sweeter. The other is that I’ve been awarded a partial scholarship to go to the United States for a few weeks.

Life is good.

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I did it. I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:26. I was secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to do it in less than 6 hours. Anyway, that’s one more thing to tick off my bucket list. Next year I attempt the Comrades.

Thanks to everyone for their words of support, advice and encouragement. You guys rock.

And now I leave you with an extract from the latest book I just completed:

 “The King’s Preserves had almost been hunted out. In these modern days it was rare to find so much as good-sized deer in them, and no one had seen a dragon since time out of mind. Most men would have laughed if you had suggested there might still be such a mythy creature left in that tame forest. But an hour before sundown on that day, as Roland and his party were about to turn back, that was just what they found … or what found them.

The dragon came crashing and blundering out of the underbrush, its scales glowing a greenish copper colour, its soot-caked nostrils venting smoke. It had not been a small dragon either, but a male just before its first moulting. Most of the party were thunderstruck, unable to draw an arrow or even to move.

It stared at the hunting party, its normal green eyes went yellow, and it fluttered its wings. There was no danger that it could fly away from them – its wings would not be well developed enough to support it in the air for at least another fifty years and two more moultings – but baby-webbing which holds the wings against a dragon’s body until its tenth or twelfth year had fallen away, and a single flutter stirred enough wind to topple the head huntsman backward out of his saddle, his horn flying from his hand.”

The Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King

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