Leaving home is always hard when you feel like you never really got the chance to settle in. I had enough time at home to unpack the car, run around Atlanta picking up somethings here and there and pack up again for my next journey in this thing called life. Next stop Tarsus, Turkey! Traveling is suppose to be one of the easiest things about this job. Well it proved me wrong, I show up to Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson airport sad and just wanting more time to exhale and enjoy my home but excited about what could happen this year overseas. While waiting for the plane I do lots of eating my last meals! I kid you not I ate something from every restaurant in the terminal, savoring every moment of being on US soil. Then over the loud speaker they say that my flight is delayed... Im thinking no biggie, I have more time to eat and venture to the next terminal and eat something there. An hour and a half passes and I realize that Im going to miss my connecting flight out of Chicago to Istanbul. I proceed to the counter and have the Delta agent look at my flight and the status of the other one and he assures me that Ill make that flight! So I continue to wait, we finally board the plane headed to Chicago. When we get up in the air and are maybe 25 minutes into the flight the pilot comes on and says theres a storm headed our way and we are going to go around it. We made it around it and made it to Chicago, just 3hrs later than we were suppose to. Im frustrated angry and tired at this point because its 11pm EST, Im in Chicago's empty airport trying to figure out my next move. Someone says go to the International Terminal and go to the Turkish Airlines counter and see when the next flight is. I take the train from the domestic terminal to the international terminal and when I get there all counters are closed. Im like thanks my day couldn't get any worse. So I make a few phone calls one of them being to my agent and the other to Turkish Airlines, they tell me to come back to the ticket counter tomorrow they open at 9! Im like great now my next mission is to find a room for the night, I first head to the airport hotel. Standing in line waiting to get me a room the guy behind the counter says they have no rooms. Well just freaking great, next stop the courtesy phones, while there I have to wait behind about 10 other people trying to do the same thing that I needed to do. Finally its my turn, I swear I spent 15 minutes at those phones calling about 20 hotels tothe night. By this time its approaching 1am CST and as you can imagine Im pretty irritated, finally I find a room but its gonna cost me $300 for the night (actually for 7 hours). At this point, I cant complain I pay the money and go to bed thinking that tomorrow will be different. I wake up at 7:30 CST, get ready to head to the airport so that maybe I could be on the first flight headed to Istanbul. I check out and hop on the shuttle get to the international terminal and the Turkish Airlines counter is still closed. No worries, maybe Im just a little early. Needless to say I sat in the airport all day until I called Turkish Airlines and they informed me that there was only one flight to Istanbul every day and that flight left at 10:20pm and to add insult to injury no one shows up to the ticket counter until 6pm. I was heated... I get to the counter and they make me pay $400 because they have a no show policy.. I argued that my flight got in late and thats why I missed it but they didnt care. By this time I just wanted to get on the plane and sleep.. I owed it to myself at this point to upgrade to first class because I really wasnt in the mood to be all crowded in coach.
After that whole ordeal I made it to Tarsus Turkey safe and sound.. My first month here was a trying one and there were many of times I asked myself why am I putting my self through this torture! Being considered a veteran at this overseas thing, I came to Tarsus expecting a few amenities that I thought were standard. I have a 3 bedroom apartment with one small tv(which I have yet to turn on) with no channels in English, a kitchen with no range or stove to cook on! I had to go up to the team apartment where there was a lady that cooked 3 meals for us. I must say I was really excited that I didnt have to cook and clean but that excitement disappeared shortly after I got here and the cook failed to cook any meat for like 3 days straight! Now lets be real an American eating meals without meat = bad attitude! Its kind of hard to practice and play with no meat in your system. Not only was there no meat in any meals the woman cooked portions for a family of 5 but there were 11 athletes attempting to get full. So as we say we had to resort in fighting for portions of food. I once asked why wasnt there ample food prepared for us and I was told that international portions are much smaller than those that Americans are accustom to. WOW! Its a good thing that Im able to cook and make myself a meal because thats what I have to do at least 3 nights a week because either there isnt enough food to get full on or there wasnt any meat! Preseason is over and now we starting to play games!
The games roll around and my team is feeling pretty confident about our chances to win some games and make some noise in the Turkish league. We start the season playing against Botas who has Americans Whitney Boddie, Jolene Anderson, and Megan Frazee. We played terrible as a team, our defensive scheme was non existent and there wasnt enough points being put on the board. Needless to say we go back to the drawing board, the next game is in a week! Fenerbache is the next team on the schedule, they have Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor. We are clearly the underdog in this match,but what's hard for me to understand even though Im a vet at this overseas thing, is that coaches verbalize and act as if they know we are going to get beat and they dont really prepare us to go to war. Do they not realize that the underdog has a fighting chance to win against the top dog because the underdog is able to make mistakes and play free because they arent suppose to win. O well, we lose and management are going nuts! The turkish players are nervous about things being said to them! After starting the season 0-2 we go on this amazing 4 game winning streak beating teams like Istanbul University, Ceyhan, Kayseri and Samsun! We are feeling good about ourselves and playing with a lot of confidence going into play Galatasaray which host Doneeka Hodges, Seimone Augustus, and Sylvia Fowles. Coach has this great game plan of playing 3 post players and having me play the 5 but bring Syl out to the 3 point line. At this point Im like ok lets see how this works. We start the game great, Im taking 3's and making 3's, the team is just playing with such confidence that we go into halftime down 2. For some reason things change after halftime, could it be that the other team made adjustments and we didnt.. O yea that could be it. To make a long story short, Gala came out ready and hammered us, at the end of 4 quarters we ended up losing by 10 points.. You can say that us Americans were pretty upset because that couldve been a big bonus if we couldve pulled out the victory! O well whats done is done.. I tell you I have been though some things since being over here.
First off I wanna start by saying to PETA if you looking for someone to arrest after this story just look for Dominique Canty or Shanna Crossley. After finally renting a car so that we can escape the city on our day off, we ran into a stinky situation. Well overseas there is usually an infestation of stray cats and dogs, nothing new to us. Well by our house there were tons of cats because my teammates would take scraps to them. Well we had friends in Turkey and we were trying to show them a good time so we were driving back and forth to the mall and the beach for a week straight. So after they leave we start to smell a strange odor in the car, of course me joking I say it smells like a cat!! We let it go on for a couple of days before Shanna and Dominique decide to pop the hood and see where the smell is coming from. What do you know we have a cat stuck in our car burnt to a crisp. We all agree that one day we are gonna try to get it out ourselves before we tell anyone. Despite our efforts nothing works, Nique and I take the car to the gas station(where no one speaks English) and attempt to play charades with them to let them know that there was a cat stuck in our car. Well once they look in it and see the car everyone begins laughing at us and they procceed to try to get it out. They tried spraying water in it to get it out, poking at it with sticks but nothing worked. Finally one guy went and got a plastic grocery bag turned it inside out and reached up in the car and snatched the cats remains out. I lost it, tears falling and the feeling that I was gonna vomit was all over me. After that we asked the guy how much for getting the cat out, shockingly he said nothing, but of course he deserved something. Nique and I give them a couple lira and head home! Christmas break is upon us!
In all my years of playing overseas and all the cities Ive been to, I have never been so ready to go home for Christmas break than I am now. It really didnt feel like Christmas here until a few weeks ago when I purchased a small tree and some decorations. Then the president of the team bought me some Christmas lights and Ive been singing Christmas songs since. The only bad thing about Christmas break is that its 2 short. What can you do in 7 days? Im sure Ill find a way to do a months worth or work in 7 days. Thank God for online shopping because Ive been done Christmas shopping since the 1st of December!
Well until next time people, Im wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Puhleeze be safe out there!