I've arrived! I officially live in Turkey. Me, my dog, four suitcases, and my MacBook.
Chloe was a trooper, and so far my fears that the Turks would think I was a weirdo for having a fluffy white dog are groundless. Thanks to her, I met Mansour (about 3 years old) and his brother Selim (about 5) at JFK as we were waiting to board. They stayed a few feet away from her for awhile but couldn't resist and just had to pet her, and then I thought Mansour was going to climb in the bag with her!
The three Turkish men in my row on the plane were also interested in her, asked a few questions and then we settled in for a quiet flight, except for one gentleman's insistence that I start learning Turkish RIGHT THEN by reading the in-flight magazine which has Turkish on one side and the English translation on the other. I kind of flipped through it to pacify him (he was actually perfectly nice) and then dozed off.
When I arrived at Ataturk Airport I was a little confused about how to get a big cart since the little ones just weren't going to do, but then I found a porter who loaded my bags on the cart and started wheeling me to the taxi stand. After we passed the crush of people I heard someone calling my name and turned to find Adnan rushing toward me. He is the driver from the hotel where I usually-- used to?-- stay and was waiting for some hotel guests to arrive. We said hello and he asked what I was doing, wondering I'm sure why he wasn't meeting me, and I told him I'm moving but will come visit and he rushed back to find his guests.
When I got to my apartment I asked the driver to wait with my bags and ran up to drop off my dog and carry-on. Alexandra was there to meet me, as promised, and we both rushed down to get the luggage across the small cobblestone street. She took the first one up the two flights of the small spiral marble stairs leading to my sublet apartment while I maneuvered the other three bags to the sidewalk. Then the two gentlemen sitting outside the store next to my building jumped up, swung my bags on their backs and ran them up the stairs. They wouldn't take any money so I will buy them baklava.
I was surprisingly awake for awhile so Alex and I chatted and caught each other up. We may run some errands together over the weekend. But now I'm fading. It's 5:30 and I plan to sleep, take a shower, then venture out for food and water. I think that is challenge enough for my first day.