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Barbara Bryan and Donna Chamara's 2005 trip to Turkey

April  25, 2005  Monday -  The dream starts.. The two great teachers, Donna Chmara and Barbara Bryan have landed to Istanbul Airport on April, 25.   Dear Cemil, a  former student of theirs, now the General Manager of the  ground handling services company in Istanbul's  Atatürk Airport  met  them with flowers, at the gate of the aircraft, and while welcoming them them in his office, his crew took care of all the luggage and  boarding procedures. They had the first contact with their students  with Cemil, where we not present, but later on when they told us about their first experience in Turkey, we could easily guess what they felt, by seeing their eyes get wet, even when telling us about it.  Cemil had seen them off to Ankara after spending two hours with them in Istanbul Airport.

 

When they landed to Ankara, Nevin and I were waiting at the apron, our hearts pounding with excitement of seeing them after 37 long years.  We observed carefully every passenger stepping out of the bus, and there they were!!  I remember running to them and hugging both with love and joy, as they did the same with screams!  All other passengers were looking at us as they waited for their luggage, trying to figure out what sort of reunion this was.  Well, Donna and Barbara had explained to the people who flew with them and some already knew the story.  That was really something; people watched us with appreciation. On our way to their hotel, we bought them real Turkish "simits" which was a big nostalgia to them and took them to their hotel around our neighborhood, in a quiet region of Ankara, knowing that they had  jet-lag and they needed a good rest to recover partially.  However, after two hours, it was dinner time in Turkey and we took them to a famous "İskender Kebab" restaurant, across from their hotel.. To make it a short dinner, as they were too tired, we called just a few friends, who lived near their hotel, to join us and warned them about an early evening to give our guests the opportunity to rest. However, when Barbara and Donna saw their students, they absolutely forgot about their jet-lag and burst into tears, hugging them.  Inevitably, the planned short evening turned into a night of joy and emotions.  Other than us (Nevin and Metin) were Suat Özgür, his wife Figen, their daughter and son, Gülsen Özer, and Sezai Çakmak were there.  We ordered a lot of things but we don't remember if we ate anything, due to our excitement and all that talk after 37 years.   Donna and Barbara then showed us their album named "Once Upon A Time, In A Country Far Away," that they had prepared with care for us.  It touched us deeply and Suat told that this masterpiece should be shown to everybody at the same time at our great reunion in Eskişehir, and offered to put it on a CD as a slide show before the MOAR ( Mother of All Reunions) in 3 days.  We all agreed that was a great idea and the evening (night) ended with the teachers being taken to their hotel for rest. We just could not believe they really were here.!!

 

..

April 26, 2005 Tuesday    Bound to the Black Sea
   About 10 a.m. Nevin and I came to the hotel and  we took Donna and Barbara in our car and started on our way to the Black Sea, which they were eager to see. We had a lot to talk about on the road and we started to realize that fun and a dream was about to start for us as well.  After about two hours, we stopped at Safranbolu, a small, old, central Anatolian town with beautiful old Ottoman houses.  Donna and Barbara were fascinated about the history and atmosphere they found in this small town and enjoyed their time by paying a visit to the historical mosque, wearing their scarves on their heads, and to the Ottoman Governor's house which now is a museum.



  

Donna started her very first Turkish speaking experience with the Turkish Delight Shopkeeper.   He was so interested about Donna speaking Turkish, he asked her questions and Donna told her about our story.  He and his brother were so affected by our story that they invited us to sit at their corner and offered us drinks as they posed with us. They were so fascinated about  our story of meeting after 37 years, that they insisted on our visiting their Ottoman lounge upstairs for their special guests.   
   
              

                    

 
                      

                    

After driving about an hour and a half,  through a lovely green area and small villages, we arrived at Amasra late in the afternoon. The  view of the hill overlooking Amasra by the Black Sea was beautiful.  We just stopped by to to take a photo. Barbara and Donna looked very fascinated and happy though they still were tired due to jet-lag.


 
We settled in our hotel by the sea and they have enjoyed the sea view from their balcony until the dinner time, when we had our fresh fish and huge salads as we chatted with joy of being together after so many years.  There, Nevin presented them her special hand-made gifts which caused a lot of  "Oh my Goodness!"  noise in the restaurant!

April 27, 2005  Wednesday     Exploring around Amasra
After breakfast, we drove around the coastal area of the Black Sea, throughout the greenery and small villages. In Filyos, Nevin discovered her first  "sulu yemek"-- Turkish homemade cuisine-- at  a simple but lovely village restaurant, where we had "Kuru -Az Pilav" and "Tas kebabı."  Donna and  Barbara loved the meal as they had never forgotten those  tastes all those years.  Upon leaving the restaurant,  we found out that there was a "pazar" -market place- in town and we dived in to let Barbara and Donna  cherish their memories of the Saturday "Pazar" in  Eskişehir in 1967.  Then, we drove around and enjoyed the wonderful scenery of the green meeting the blue of the sea..

 

     


We then returned  to Amasra, and went out for a walk in the lovely bazaar of Amasra, under rain.  There, many shopkeepers, especially the one from Eskişehir, learned our story from Donna, who spoke in Turkish with them, made "pazarlık" with them for joy, ending with very good bargains, due to her lovely Turkish in American Accent!  That evening ended up in another fresh fish restaurant, where we  witnessed  a town-style wedding nearby with a band convoy on the streets.  It was a lovely evening with lots of talking, laughing and emotions.

End of PART 1 - (to be continued)