A yoga teacher says her time living in Turkey was “a truly great experience, but there is no place like home”.
Clonmel’s Finola O’Sullivan moved to Turkey in September 2013 to be with her husband Brian who was working for Project Management in Kayseri.
However, she decided to return home after just two years because she not only missed her family and friends, but also simple things like going for a walk along the banks of the River Suir and climbing Slievenamon.
Finola, who set up the Clonmel Yoga Centre for Hatha yoga classes in 2009, is starting back instructing at Croan House Studio on September 7th and will utilise her added experience of teaching yoga abroad in her upcoming classes.
“A number of years ago I took up yoga and was immediately smitten. I trained to become a yoga teacher and a yoga therapist. Once qualified, I gave classes to various groups and associations in Clonmel and surrounding areas including Cancer Care, the National Learning Centre and retirement groups,” she tells South Tipp Today.
While in Kayseri, Finola discovered Cappadocia, a Unesco World Heritage Site that was about an hour’s drive away. “It was there that I gave my first yoga class to a group of ladies from Turkey, Australia, Spain and England, who were married to Turkish men and settled in the area. I travelled by coach to Cappadocia twice a month to give classes. Back in Kayseri I got to know some teachers in the university and started yoga classes in my apartment. I learned that yoga has a universal language,” she exaplains.
However, it wasn’t just her yoga skills that Finola developed. The transition of moving from a town in South Tipperary to Turkey meant that she was faced with many challenges, none more so than conserving in a langauge other than her native tongue.
“Going from living in a house with a garden to living in an apartment on the 12th floor in a city of over a million people was a big change. Our first destination was Kayseri in central Antolia, under the shadow of Mount Ercyies, the second highest mountain in Turkey. Not speaking Turkish was difficult, but with the few words that I picked up shopping, a smile and hand gestures I got along fine. Kayseri has only one pub which was a bit of a culture shock for us Irish.
“Turkish people are very friendly and hospitable and many a rice dessert was delivered to my door by people who did not speak a word of English.
“In Kayseri, we lived next door to a Mosque (Cami), and waking at 4am listening to the call to prayer was a unique experience. As was wakening in the early hours before daylight by a drummer as he marched and drummed the people to wake and eat before daylight during Ramadan.
“My husband’s next project was in Giresun on the Black sea. We drove from Kayseri in the centre of Turkey over the mountains to the Black Sea coast – 500km – from sunshine, through snow to a storm on the Black sea coast. I have to say Turkish drivers are a little scary, especially the truck drivers, but we soon got the hang of things.
“Giresun is the largest growing area in the world for hazelnuts and cherries. Brian’s job was as team leader on an EU project for the storage and grading of hazelnuts. I now know how hazelnuts grow on a tree with about 12 branches coming from the centre and all the nuts are handpicked.
“While in Giresun I came across a young Irishman, Ian Horan, who was travelling on his Suzuki motorcycle from Ireland through 25 countries, clocking up 35,000km, raising funds for the Irish Cancer Society.
“Brian and I travelled as much as possible to experience the different sites, food and cultures in Turkey. We visited Istanbul, Ankara, Bodrum, Kas (on the Mediterranean coast) and Ephesus (where the house of the Virgin Mary is located),” she says.
And although an Irish breakfast was out of the question, the former chairperson for both the Loreto and High School fundraising committees also said that the food was “excellent” in Turkey.
“The weekly markets were full of fresh food spices and all types of goods.
“Pork is not readily available in Turkey, so instead we got the traditional Turkish breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheese, cucumber and a small omelette with lots of black tea – most delicious,” she adds.