Barbara Bryan and Donna Chamara's 2005 trip to Turkey
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
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
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
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
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
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
noise in the restaurant!
April 27, 2005 Wednesday Exploring
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
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.
of PART 1 - (to be continued)