Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summertime and the Living is Easy...Kind Of

First off - a little "hey, hey, hey" to my dad -- Happy, Happy Father's Day, Big Dave! We love and miss you so! Only 4.5 more months to go - then I'm counting on you to be my go-to Waffle House buddy!

KJ & Big Dave -- Thanks to Jennifer for all the Pictures...
Summer is officially is crazy hot, and things are busy. Summer camps are kind of a PCV's bread and butter in the summer time. We've got two under our belts so far - Balaken (a region on the northern border) Art Camp and Girls' Soccer Camp. This week, my Run the World club starts a girls' hip-hop dance camp. So - only a few weeks into summertime, and we're already exhausted. We're hoping to use July to unplug for a bit and do our last tour of Azerbaijan. Crazy...
Here are a few shots from our first two camps. Hope you enjoy them. See you soon!

An Azerbaijani Bank funded a soccer camp in the regions this past week for girls ages 11-15. It is very rare to see girls participating in any athletic events here. So, it was great to see these girls getting excited and physical - very cool. A few of the girls that came to camp live at a local shelter for children - families who can't take care of them due to death in the family, financial problems, abuse, etc. - The first day of camp, we were walking to the field, and two of the girls were walking with me, holding my hands. They were trying to get to know me and trying to make simple conversation in Azeri that I could understand. One pulled on my hand and said -- "Do you have any sisters?"so I said, "Yes,I have sisters." A few seconds later, a tug on my other arm - "Do you have any brothers?" ... "Yes, I have a brother." Silence...more walking. A tug from the other side, "Do you have a mom?"..."Yes, I have a mom." Right away from the other side - "Do you have a dad too?"... "Yes, I have a dad too."
At that point, both girls stopped in their tracks. Still clinging to my hands, they looked at me with shock in their expressions. "You are so lucky," they said, "you have everything."
Broke me in often I forget that I do have everything as long as I have the people I love...hoping I never lose sight of that truth.

A Few Shots From Balaken Arts Camp - Dustin brought his Environmental Club students to lead a session at the camp. At the end of the week, his My Mic crew came to lead a start-up in Balaken. Thanks to the Balaken PCVs for a great time!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"I Know, I Know For Sure...

...That Life Is Beautiful Around the World" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

We just got back from a two week trip around the west coast of Turkey - Istanbul to Channakale (Troy / Gallipoli) to Selchuk (Ephesus) to Patara Beach. It's an amazing feeling to know the history that's lived just beneath your feet - Xerxes, Constantine, Alexander the Great...really incredible. We had a great time - it was a wonderful opportunity to sit back and re-evaluate where we are and where we want to be in the next few years. With five months to go in Azerbaijan, we're getting very excited about what's to come. Starting over will be a little daunting, I'm sure - but we're ready.
Here are a few shots from our trip - hope you enjoy them.
Love y'all!

Famous Iznik (Nicean) Tiles - Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
The Sultan's Library - Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

An Exterior Wall of the Topkapi Palace - From the Palace Gardens

The Hagia Sophia - Istanbul

A Mosaic Uncovered in the Hagia Sophia

View of the Blue Mosque from a Window of the Hagia Sophia - Istanbul

Inside the Hagia Sophia - The Church of Holy Wisdom -- First A Church, Later Converted Into a Mosque, Now a Museum...

Inside the Blue Mosque - Istanbul

The New Mosque, Near the Egyptian Bazaar, Istanbul

Stone Wall Outside of St. George Monastery, Prince's Islands - Istanbul -- The Wax Drippings Run the Length of the Entire Wall  - They Are All That Remains of Years Worth of Pilgrims' Prayers

Trojan Horse Replica - Troy

Ruins @ Troy
Ruins @ Troy

Poppies in the Ruins - Ephesus

Ruins @ Ephesus
KJ&D - Library Ruins - Ephesus

KJ&D - Ephesus
Amphitheater - Ephesus
Ruins of the Church of Mary - Ephesus

Ruins of the Church of Mary - Ephesus
Ruins of the Basilica of St. John - Ephesus
Ruins of the Basilica of St. John - Ephesus

Patara Beach - Exploring...
Patara Beach - The View From My Towel...Doesn't Get Much Better Than This...
Patara Beach - From the Cliffs

The View From Our Hotel - To Get to the Beach, You Walk Through an Active Dig Site - You Can See The Theater Ruins in the Background Here...

KJ&D - Patara Beach