Adana, Turkey was my first stop as a professional basketball player in 2008. The food was delicious, the roads chaotic, the men hot headed (which might have something to do with the chaotic roads), and the women beautiful and undervalued. Hot headed, undervalued, or not, everyone was friendly and welcoming. From managers and physical therapists going above and beyond to make our life as easy as possible to teammates inviting us to home cooked meals with their families, there were a lot of good people I will always remember fondly. I also fondly remember the freshly squeezed orange juice and banana milkshakes from a little fruit stand that my American teammate and I visited after almost every practice. When we walked the streets together you could see the heads turn in amazement, unsure of who to look at first, the black woman or the tall blonde.
Before my time in Adana, I visited Turkey a few times with the German National Team for various games and tournaments, the most memorable one being the 2005 Summer Universiade (Olympic Games for University students) in Izmir. There was an opening ceremony in a huge stadium and an Olympic village with athletes from 171 nations, and free Coca Cola for everyone around the clock. Our tournament ended when we got steam-rolled by Chinese Taipei, a team that seemed more like a well-oiled machine than a group of women. There was no German precision that day, just a coach laughing because she didn’t want to cry. It was her birthday.
Other memories in Turkey include a visit to the ruins in Ephesus, and a vacation in Alanya with one of my best and oldest friends and her boyfriend. Highlights of the trip included paragliding of a mountain with a pilot half my size, a trip on a party boat, and bikini sharks (don’t ask…). Let’s just say we kept it classy.