It all started one fine Saturday morning, when Mike and I went on a drive and a walk. As we drove up into the hills of old Talas, Mike remarked that one of his colleagues was renting a house nearby and a minute later we happened to drive by her house just as her husband was walking into the gate. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, and Mike was quite taken with the idea of living up on a hill, above the smog and the traffic noise, away from the neighbors. (in our current apartment we can hear not only our upstairs neighbors, but also the neighbors above them and above our next door neighbors. Not that they are particularly loud, I just think the apartments have been very poorly sound-proofed and also we are pretty sensitive to the noise). At the moment we live in the middle of this cluster of high-rise buildings:
The colleague and her husband mentioned that they might know someone who is looking to rent out a house. A month later, and thanks to their vigilance when they spotted the owner who lives in Holland and only came to Kayseri for a week, we were driving up a snowy hill, getting lost in a maze of winding uphill streets, and finally, being shown around a big house.
These types of houses are actually called villas here. Situated up in the hills, villas are used as summer homes by Kayseri residents. As soon as kids are done with the school, whole families leave their city apartments and spend the summer there. So, no neighbors for up to 8 months! The downside is that the house is completely bare. Indeed, as we were walking around the empty echoing and freezing house, down into the basement, up the two floors, I had a shopping list running through my had: Fridge.. hair dryer… ironing board… A BED!!! I mean, even the forks in our apartment were bought by Mike’s university and as such will have to stay there! Mike, however, was extremely excited and not at all daunted, unlike me. But two things changed my mind – a look at the house during the day, when I saw the fruit garden in all its glory, as well as quiet (for now) cobblestone streets and the spacious rooms with a view of the canyon on one side, and mount Ali in the other, and a jaunt around a discount furniture store and a second-hand appliance store.
Even though we had a key, we couldn’t figure out how to open the gate, so we had to climb the fence. None of us pierced our butts with the curved spikes so I’d say it was a success and even a bit of fun.
The man in the photo is Murat, the husband of Mike`s colleague and one of the kindest people we`ve ever met. Both he and his wife have been a great help to us in renting this house. In fact, it was in their kitchen that we met up with the landlord and his cousin who will be our contact in Kayseri. We were a bit taken aback by their casual attitude to the deal:
– So, would we be signing a contract?
– Nah, no need
– But we are handing over the rent for 6 months and we don’t even know your phone number!
– My house is right there. Don’t worry, we trust you!
In the end, we signed a hand-written contract, handed the money over, took the key and went home. Although we don’t move in until the end of March since the owner wants to connect the house to the gas supply so that we can use heating, we are allowed to come and clean the house and bring some of our things over. So last weekend we took advantage of this and actually had a barbecue in the garden with our good friends Leyla and Aslan and their son. We`ve been to so many barbecues in their house, it was nice to invite them over, and even if the house was bare, the weather was sunny and warm and the food was delicious.
Actually, the house wasn’t completely bare. During our visit to the furniture store, I had my eye on some bean bag armchairs, which were inexpensive, but very comfortable. I decided they would be perfect for both indoors and outdoors so we went to get a few the day before the barbecue. I was envisioning the 5 of us, sitting in the garden, cosy in the squishy chairs, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. In my enthusiasm I forgot we had a teeny tiny car, and we were able to buy only one armchair which now proudly sits in the middle of the empty living room.
We did put it to good use during the barbecue. I marinated some meet in Russian vinegar, Leyla made her famous Azeri grilled vegetable salad, Aslan was in charge of the grill as per usual, Marat was adorable and all in all it was a lovely day.
Before we started grilling, we went for a walk to the nearby canyon. Less than a 5-minute drive from the new house, there’s a huge canyon. Every time we go there, we discover something new – a beautiful stream, huge square boulders, spectacular views. Although last Sunday I discovered something less pleasant – the importance of wearing long pants in a canyon full of thorny bushes. My legs look like they lost a fight with a particularly vicious cat!
My family was pretty surprised by the fact that we’d be leaving a fully furnished rent-free apartment in favor of an empty house we’d have to pay for ourselves, but after seeing the photos of the house they seemed to come around. I can’t wait to move now!