Charades is my new way of communicating through the barrier. It really turns grocery shopping into an adventure! I've been keeping very busy. We've begun practicing twice a day Monday through Friday, once in the morning and an additional team practice at night. I also hang around the gym for my own personal workouts. Between training I've got no time or energy for anything other than a shower, meal, and maybe a quick call on Skype or a glance on Facebook. (I've become quite the addict being so far away from my friends and family).
I have been working extremely hard since I've been here and the rest of the team is following suit. I feel like in my short time here I've been a good example for the younger and less experienced players and have shown my work ethic to the more experienced players. I have a great respect for every member of the team and they have shown me the same respect. I am eager to start the season! Unfortunately, it has been postponed for a couple weeks. So my enthusiasm is being put directly into my training.
The way our club works is that there is a pro soccer team, men's basketball team, women's basketball team and wheelchair basketball team all under the same organization. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go check out the able-bodied men's team play. They were outstanding. There are American players on their team as well, so it's nice to sit and talk with them and exchange stories about our careers and what it's like being so far from home. The game was intense, but not as intense as the fans! They sing, dance and cheer the entire game - no matter what is going on. The fans were so into the game that a fight broke out in the stands. Thankfully, no one was hurt and it actually wasn't a very physical altercation, mostly a lot of shouting. But, you don't see that very often at a basketball game, unless you're at a Pistons game!
My weekends have been a really good opportunity for me to see what this city has to offer. I've visited several famous mosques (including Hagia Sophia, or Red Mosque, you see in this picture) with incredible history behind them and have toured around old Istanbul to check out some of its historical beauty. One of the highlights in my sightseeing adventure was a visit to the legendary Theodosian Walls. There is such history in this city and it is amazing to be surrounded by such fascinating architecture. I try not to be too much of a tourist, but it's hard not to be.
I've enjoyed everything Istanbul has to offer, except the traffic! There are times when the roads are clear and you can get from point A to point B very quick and efficiently, but after about 4 p.m. Istanbul's traffic makes Chicago rush hour seem like a joy ride. Sometimes I'm not sure if I am on a freeway or in a parking lot because the cars don't move for what seems like forever. I am not the only one using charades around this time. Everyone on the road has a few well known gestures that let you know how much they greatly appreciate your driving ;-). I still love it here. I can't remember an October that I could where shorts and a t-shirt outside comfortably. I'll keep you posted on my experience as it progresses. Goodbye for now.