Taken hostage in Turkey

So we were taken hostage in Turkey.

But before I get into that, I should clarify that I’m not pregnant. Best news ever–almost. I have to admit that due to strange hormonal influences I’ve been thinking that I might, in fact, not mind having another child. This is incredibly stupid since I’m pretty sure the last one almost killed me and I’ve had my tubes tied. But I look around at the mess and the fighting and the kisses and my quickly growing baby girl and all I can think is, “I could do this one more time…”

Let the record show that I couldn’t and I won’t. Most days I’m thrilled with that decision. Most days.

My folks are here from home and it’s the most wonderful early Christmas present I could have asked for. Seeing my dad this relaxed and happy (albeit in excruciating pain due to a soon-to-be replaced worn out hip), playing with my kids and playing the piano and taking time to write is wonderful. And my sweet mother, what an incredible woman. I hope and pray that I can grow up and be something like her, she really gets that whole “Trying to be like Jesus” business.

Back to Turkey, we thought we were hiring a taxi to take us to Ephasus then back to Izmir to shop, but apparently we got hooked up with a ring of Taxi gangsters who kidnap tourists then herd them into specific shops.

Things started out fine, we were four families and three taxi’s. Our driver was nice enough but very irritated at my girlfriends who were firm and bossy as all get-out. Love those girls, I hate to think of where we would be if they wouldn’t have interfered and insisted the drivers didn’t have their way with us.


We hired a great guide in Ephasus. Personally, I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing or what the point of Ephasus even was. It was all old stones to me. But once we got there I was totally amazed at the magnificent ruined city. It’s a super old ruin with a massive amphitheater and early plumbing system, some of which they still use to this day. Without going into too much detail, they were incredibly advanced for their time (I can’t remember when that time was, but it was super long ago).

Holly, Rebecca and Megan, three of my dearest friends who were so fun to travel with.



Junie and I with the goddess of...victory? Whatever. She's super old.

Harrison and Kiyah were glued to their guidebooks. Best 2 euro ever.

Watching a master pottery thrower at our first forced shopping stop.

So when the taxi’s insisted on stopping at this first shop we thought, “Cool, our kids can watch them make real pottery!” And it was cool. The shop was interesting (and expensive), and all in all it was a pretty great stop.

Until we realized they had an agenda. This was the first of our forced shops, followed by a leather factory and a rug factory (we made then skip the rug place). What we really wanted them to do was take us to Izmir to the big bazar and let us roam free. Instead they took us from specialty shop to specialty shop and herded us in and out like cattle. Even when we finally got to the bazar they took us in one, and only one shop to buy oursouvenirs. Then they took us to one and only one restaurant to eat. It was obvious everyone involved had the system down to an oily shine.

It irritated me. I wanted to shop for hair bows in bulk and crap from China but instead I felt like a preschooler on a field trip.

One thing I found interesting was how different I was treated when my children were with me. Men in particular were quite respectful with the kids in tow, but the moment I was away from my family on my own they were lewd and suggestive. Having kids actually made me feel safer; my girlfriend Rebecca noticed the same thing.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! The food was good, but super overpriced. I prefer less ambiance and fewer euros. But since it was a holiday, I can't complain.

Rex walked by and this lady reached out and grabbed him and kissed him. He laughed, said "Aww!" and hugged her back. I had to take a picture, it was such a great universal gesture.


IĀ I had to get a picture with this girl. I was having an international female crisis that day and couldn’t seem to get across to our taxi driver that I needed a pharmacy desperately. This amazing girl overheard my conversation, figured out what I needed, and took me by the arm a few blocks away to a pharmacy, found me Turkish feminine products (which are just like any other feminine products), helped me purchase them and returned me to my party. She hardly spoke any English and I don’t know her name but it was definitely a memorable event. It doesn’t matter what country you’re from, there are some things that cross all international boundaries. Being a girl is one of them.

I’m looking forward to getting back to Turkey for some serious shopping. I did manage to procure a wooden rolling pin for myself (4 euros) and a few Turkish pottery bowls. I liked them way more than the Polish pottery which really does nothing for me. All told, it was a fabulous Thanksgiving.













  1. Annie I am LOVING all the pictures and stories. Glad you’re not pregnant…I think four is the perfect number.
    Love the story about the feminine needs. Thank goodness she understood you!
    Your family is adorable. I know I don’t comment very often, but I am still reading and loving it!

  2. Next time you need to take my cousin Jessica with you. She lived in Turkey for at least 2 years; maybe longer. As for Ephesus, wow! That’s where it is believed that Mary, the mother of Christ, lived out her days under the protection of John the Beloved. There’s actually an apocryphal report of a sighting of John roughly 110 a.d. because, of course, he never died. Paul also left his wife in Ephesus when he went to Rome for the last time. Paul loved and trusted the Ephesian saints, even though he knew that some of their leaders were getting attitudey. So, yes, it’s a very old city and I would LOVE to visit it sometime. And one day I’ll tell the story of a member of our humanitarian group who really DID get kidnapped by taxi drivers in Peru, robbed at gunpoint, and then miraculously driven back to the airport instead of being killed like usually happens. Gulp!

  3. yvonne stewart says:

    I don’t think there is any thing nicer then having parents come to visit, somehow it always seemed to leave me with spirits higher and order restored. Love reading your blog, you guys are wonderful!!

  4. Happy Turkey Day. Har-har-har.
    I’m glad you made it out. Enjoy your family – as if you needed encouragement to do that. Love your funny self.

  5. Once again, a magical trip.
    How funny that , that girl was ableo to help you. That’s a cute story.
    and I am sorry your dad is in pain right now…………but GOOD THINGS ARE AHEAD.
    My hubby had a hip replacement last year, and it has been the best thing he has ever done. He feels great, is able to do all the things that the Bad hip prevented him from doing.
    Thumbs up.
    Just got to “obey” the rules for recovery, important.
    Have fun with them visiting you.

  6. I love your stories…especially the one about girl code across nations. šŸ˜‰

  7. How odd with the taxi thing, I have never heard of anything like that before. I wonder how you can avoid that?? Loved that last picture, what a wonderful woman to help you out like that!!

    • annie valentine says:

      My girlfriend who lived in Turkey told me after the fact that you never want to hire a taxi for a day, only from place to place. She forgot to leave that little fact out in her predeparture lecture. šŸ™‚