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My Turkey TOP TEN Most Memorable Moments


As unfiltered honesty has been a request from me this summer, I must say that, at first, I dug reeeeeeeeal deep to write this post. Furthermore, I have actually been digging deep since my last post 2 months ago to write about anything I've experienced during the eternity (uh, I mean the 3 1/2 months), that I've lived here in Belek, Turkey. This job has had its difficulties. Yet, I did not want this space, where Polka Dotted Unicorns and all other fantastical creatures roam free, to become a place of frustration, complaints and judgement.

Working and living in Turkey, with the threat of ISIS and U.S. Air strikes in my backyard and the sickening reality of countless Israeli-Palestinian deaths in my front yard, made me long for the oblivious serenity of my California Palm trees. But, come on! Reading the above news as I am being paid to enjoy all the amenities of a 5 star resort while doing only 1 show a night ! I couldn't dare bring myself to complain. That is to anyone besides my sister Tovah and BFF Makeda...and sometimes Mom and Dad....okay, and a little to 'MiVida' Silvia...and well, always to my roommate India. Well I didn't want to keep all bottled in!....you get ulcers that way ;-) As my mother Sharon "Shay-Shay" Collins would say: "if you don't have anything good to say then don't say anything at all." So heeding this advice my Blog has been dry the past months.

Yet, now my job at Maxx Royal is (FINALLY) coming to an end, and the feeling that I SHOULD write something whispered to me. So I began looking back, taking stock of the memories I've made, the adventures I've embarked on and the incredible souls who have come across my path. The memories were plenty and it was clear that I had much more good to say about my time here than bad. So one night, while waiting in between dance sets, I began writing and the flood gates rushed opened. There were so many memories to choose from! So many moments of joy and laughter. As always in my life, hind sight is 20/20 and now, I can see clearly what an amazing Summer Turkey blessed me with. The list grew so long that for your sake I edited it to include only the top ten of my favorite and most memorable moments since arriving in Turkey on June 19th. They are in no particular order as all were as enjoyable as the next:


10. Sharing Bunkbeds in a Tree House in Olympus
Felt like summer camp circa 1995 but so good to be a kid again! Picture 5 giggling girls in one room, all the contents of our hotel mini bar, 2 bunk beds, one extra mattress on the floor and a tree trunk at the Turkey hippie haven Kadir's Tree House. http://m.kadirstreehouses.com/

9. Hiking a mountain to the Eternal Flames aka Chimeras


After dinner at the tree house, the girls and I hiked about 2 miles uphill on a rocky stone path to the most fascinating natural phenomenon: about a dozen flames burning from the side of the mountain with no apparent fuel to sustain them. The flames are burning a sort of methane gas that has been venting from the earth for thousands of years. FUN FACT: According to Homer's Iliad, the hero Bellerophon did battle with the mythical Chimera, an immortal monstrosity usually depicted as a fire-breathing hybrid of snake, goat and lion that laid waste to large parts of the region. Some claim that the flames erupting from the mountain today are proof that the creature still lives within!

Again we were just 5 giggling girls roasting marshmallows over the Eternal Flames, while overlooking the shimmer of a full moon on the Mediterranean. A magical moment. Then came the reality of hiking down the mountain, at night, in my sandals (didn't think that one through) and having to stop and pee at a tree. I'm thinking my roomie India was being a friend by shining a light for me when in fact it was just the flash from her snapping this embarrassing pic!
Indiaaaaaaaa!!!!! Wtf!! You little wanker!

Indiaaaaaaaa!!!!! Wtf!! You little wanker!

8. Our Villa Pool Parties!

Every morning, like children on Christmas Day, the girls and I would wake up and go to our balconies to see if that huge hole in the ground in the shape of a pool was finally filled with water. After 2 months of waiting the day finally came! From that day on, we made the most of that hole in the ground with birthday pool parties, daytime sunbathing, late night skinny dipping, backyard BBQs, etc.

7. Stage Rehearsals

For the first 2 months, at 6pm, we had rehearsal on stage with the ocean in view, the sun beginning its decent and fruity (virgin) smoothies served to us by our friends behind the bar. After which I would jump in the sea (not the ocean, I've been corrected, but the sea) for a salty swim.

6. Turkey Moons

This post describes perfectly how I feel about attempting to take pictures of the moons in Turkey! They are magnificent yet none of my photos could do them justice

This post describes perfectly how I feel about attempting to take pictures of the moons in Turkey! They are magnificent yet none of my photos could do them justice

Have you ever watched a moon set into the horizon and truly understood the movement of Earth and its place in the solar system?
Turkey granted me that gift. The moons were absolutely stunning.
Sometimes orange as a tangerine.
Sometimes a bright white light.
Sometimes the perfect crescent.
Sometimes so big you really believe you might be able to reach out and touch it.
Their shimmer over the Mediterranean is soothing to the most troubled souls. I was captivated every night.
Here is my best shot:

5. White Water Rafting with my partner in crime Alejandro!

I am NOT featured in the above photo because my rafting partner, Alejandro and I, were about a 1/2 mile behind everyone else struggling to catch up for the entire 2 hour rafting tour. We thought we would be a great team and high fived each other as we jumped into the raft. But that was not the case. Alejandro and I were probably the most awful rafting couple in the history of this river! He was rowing upstream and I was rowing downstream. For some reason we just couldn't synch up with each other. And what was so strange is that NO ONE else seemed to be having ANY trouble. I looked ahead and watched India and Yessi chillin in their boats taking in the scenery, pointing at birds, the clouds and other interesting wildlife. Who had time for that?! Courtney even looked a bit bored and Yessi was barely even rowing, although to be fair she did choose one of the guides as her partner.
Things got so bad for Alejandro and I that the guide actually roped our raft to his! Definitely an embarrassing moment for team IvorieAlejandro but I could care less cause my arms were dying. He then told Alejandro to get into his raft while I sat behind them in the raft alone...finally a moment to chill. But not for long, because as soon as I got comfortable, a rapid capsized my raft and threw me into the freezing river! There I was on the Super Spin Cycle, watching boulders pass inches away from me, wondering if you lose consciousness before feeling the pain of one knocking into your skull. Not to worry Mom and Dad, within seconds, I felt a strong grip on my life jacket and as if I weighed as much as a puppy, my guide scooped me right out mid cycle! Once back in the raft I looked up at Alejandro and I burst out laughing. And as if he had been waiting to make sure it was appropriate to laugh, so did he! We continued on, of course the last ones to make it to the end, but laughing the entire way. From then on we vowed to always be adventure partners. For better for worse.

4. Banana boat with girls

Five girls in bikinis convinced the water sport guys to give us a free ride on the Banana Boat! I'm assuming 5 girls falling on and off their phallic shaped Banana Boat was worth giving it to us for free. Nonetheless, I've never laughed so hard! Slippery when wet so every time we fell off it would take us no less than 10 minutes to get back on!

3. Getting my Nipples Pierced with my roommate India!

Gasp! Mom I know! Wtf?! But to be fair, It's been on my to-pierce list for some time and for some reason when you're in another country the phrase YOLO is always there to make all your bad ideas seem absolutely fantastic! So one Saturday afternoon, India, Kaela and I took the bus into town. We did some sightseeing in the markets of Old Town Antalya, then to a harbor with some pirate ships, then to some observatory with a nice view of the harbor...basically all we could to distract us from the fact that we pinky swore that today was the day. So after lunch and 2 tequila shots we walked the plank. Kaela stood behind us the entire way to make sure we did not chicken out and she also asked all the necessary questions regarding price, sanitation and healing that India and I were too dazed to ask.
Did it hurt? Emphatically YES! Am I happy I did it? YOLO! Best part: Kaela and India being there to hold my hand, giggle, cry, and scream with.

2. Paragliding in Oludeniz

This entire day was incredible! Two rental cars filled with new friends, a boat ride to a cave, jumping off a cliff into the sea, a sunset dinner with the most hospitable Turkish man I've met thus far...but all of that came second to what you see in the pictures below. I was literally on top of the world this day.

1. 7 o'clock Dinner with my Turkish Delights!

I know I said they were not in order but I did save the best for last. Almost every evening for the past 3 1/2 months I sat down to dinner with the Turkish Delights (as we liked to call ourselves): Courtney from Texas, India (my beloved roommate) from South Hampton, England, Kaela from Ohio, and Laura from Argentina (Messi!!)...and for the first 6 weeks with Yessi from Cuba.

At 7ish, we would sit, eat, talk, laugh, gossip, complain, check out every guy in the restaurant and check our Instagram. Then after the plates were cleared, and the tea and/or hot chocolate arrived, we would do it all over again! This was our ritual. Rituals are becoming more and more important to my life, and so even on days when I thought the time would be better spent FaceTiming, I had the sense to know this was a special moment. A moment that could never be recreated and would be gone in an instant.

I adore each of these girls and our time here will forever hold a special place in my heart. I think they would all agree that if we didn't like each other as much as we do, the past months would have been impossible and we would never have made it to see the end. Most of the memories flooding my mind were of our shenanigans. The day at the Water park. The Bubble bath in the Kemer Jacuzzi after I attempted to a dive into the pool and dived so hard that I hit my head on the bottom only to resurface with my bikini bottoms missing! Playing King's Cup at 3a.m. in the living room but spending an hour on the the bit where you pass the card from mouth to mouth. The Midnight jump off the pier with most of our clothes@ India. Almost getting fired and having no regrets. Playing Egyptian Rat Screw or SLAP as I know it, between sets. Movie marathons. The time they got me to watch Frozen- an animated film (don't know why but don't like em'). Kemrrrrr. Damnit Janet! Kindaaaa. "Oh....ok cool.""You got this." "Mmmmmm"@Courtney. "Can I have an essspresssso...a double?" Hola chica! "Do I look like I care? Cause I doooon't."
Okay, the list goes on but now I'm just speaking in code to my TDs so I'll spare you.

Thank you beauties for the Summer of 2014. It was unforgettable and so are each of you. Wherever I am you are forever welcome.


And so the end is here. We have 2 more shows and a most anticipated departure on Wednesday October 1st. From there, I have plans to travel Turkey for a couple weeks. See some more sights. Get back on the Unicorn. Although I really do feel full and I am intensely missing home and the goodness that awaits me there so still contemplating an early return. Therefore, my next post will either be me in Ephesus at Apostle Paul's old stomping grounds or back in LaLaLand.

Until then....

Posted by Ivoriejenkins 06:41 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkish delights Comments (3)



sunny 90 °F

Happy to write that I am traveling again. Not quite Soul Travel since I'm being paid to be here and Turkey was not even on my bucket list. Yet, by the end of this, I have a feeling I will recommend that it be on yours.


See the red dot called Belek? This is the place I have called home for the past month, and the immediate conclusion I've come to is that, my theme of 2014 must be extremes. Extremes as in one or the other with not much in between. Allow me to explain: I went from the austerity of Ashram living in Rishikesh and toilets without running water in Darjeeling to extravagant Turkish resorts and 3 ply toilet paper. I went from from carrying my my own bedding in case of dodgy hotel sheets to a villa apartment with a maid I've never seen who changes my sheets and towels every 3rd day and leaves Godiva chocolate on my bed; from befriending poor Indian families who sleep either on the streets or 5 to one room to performing for uber rich Russians paying $1000 a week, per person to be a guest at the resort with separate accommodations for the British tutor who teaches their children English during the summer holiday; from roach infested Sleeper Trains to a luxury Mercedes Van complete with leather seats and glass water bottles that picks me up and drops me off everyday. I went from not dancing in three months to performing 6 nights a week; from meditating 8 hours a day in silence to rehearsing 8 hours a day to all the annoying summer electronic dance music hits that will be the bain of my existence come the end of September when this contract ends.


THE GIG: I perform 6 nights a week from 10pm - 1:30am at the hotel's newly constructed Beach Club known as Quis. Think Nikki Beach, Miami. Villas, cabanas, lots of white, waiters in linen button downs, fruity cocktails, men in crisp, bright colored khaki shorts and Bally calfskin boat shoes, and women in the newest resort wear collections, all overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We are 5 girls total - 2 LA girls (not including myself), 1 Brit and 1 Vegas girl with a thick Cuban accent. We perform (4) 15 minute, choreographed shows a night scheduled in between singers, a saxophone player, Euro DJ sets and live bands. If I reduce this job to its lowest terms, even though it puts knots in my stomach, it is basically hotel entertainment. We parade in cool, crazy costumes and headpieces and dance meaningless choreography to encourage Mommy and Daddy to leave the kids in the suite with the Grandma or the Nanny and come out to play. We are there to do 3 things: (1) get them dancing, (2) remind them that youth is still within reach, and (3) encourage them to have as good a time as we are pretending to have.


I hate that my years of training. sweat, blisters, pulled muscles, broken egos, and love for the art of movement can be reduced to mere entertainment for the wealthy but, the saying "do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do" brings me some ease. I love performing, no matter the venue, and if hotel entertainment is the means for me to travel to all of the far off lands on my dream list then, I suppose, I surrender.

THE RESORT: Maxx Royal is beyond anything I've ever seen. It's steroidal. There's a number of boutique clothing shops, a water park, arcade, cinema, bowling alley, 2 gyms, a chocolate shop that I spend way too much time in, 4-5 restaurants, a Macaroon sweet shop, an Olympic sized outdoor pool, a golf course, a performance hall, spa, and a dinosaur park.

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The BUFFET: grossly gratuitous , decadent, overindulgent, abundant, outrageously extravagant...shall I go on??


Russians make up the majority of the hotel guests sprinkled in with a few Brits. Spaniards and Italians are hired to work the restaurants for the summer. The owners, managers and DJs of the hotel are European jet setters who travel from Milan to Istanbul like we travel from New York to Miami. They are the ones whose lives I think are so cool when reading W magazine about people who hop from one foreign, white, sandy beach to the next. They open this new, fancy hotel or that hip, fusion restaurant. It seems like a life of luxury and decadence and in many ways it is, but up close, off the glossy magazine pages, they are all stressed, lacking sleep, and addicted to caffeine and cigarettes. Most of the Beach Club staff, including myself, are here to make some summer cash and then return to their lives in the US, Italy, Spain, Ukraine with the means to pursue whatever or whomever was left behind when agreeing to come to Turkey.

The Gig is pretty easy and I often harbor guilty feelings Skyping and Snapchating friends and family with the view of the Beach Club, pictured below, as my background. I am working hard some days and other days, hardly working. It is not very challenging work or life changing or even artistic. The hardest thing I have to do is deal with is the Turkish lackadaisical manner of doing business which has delayed small issues like paychecks and work visas (sarcasm) and staging dance numbers in the 95 degree heat and humidity on the outdoor stage. But, even then, the Mediterranean Sea is in clear view the entire time so how can I even begin to open my mouth to complain?


Yessi, the Cuban dancer with the thick accent, says she feels similar knowing that her family in Cuba has never seen wealth like this. Just as the feelings of guilt begin to water down our Mojitos, my roommate India, the Brit, makes us both feel better when she reminds us that we don't tell our friends back home the whole story. "We don't Instagram pics in our cramped dressing room which doubles as the wait staffs' bathroom! To be fair," she says, "there's five of us in a dressing room and they only give us four chairs!" And there it is...truth. Instantly my Mojito tastes better.

I have only been here one month but, so far, nothing about Turkey has touched me the way India has. The excessiveness of the resort is just a constant reminder of how uneven life's playing field can be. Every time I circle the buffet trying to choose what to eat, I think of how little the people in India, or any poor place in the world, need to sustain a life. And unfortunately for those reading, there are very little embarrassingly, funny stories that I can relate back to you in such a squeaky clean, 5 star setting. Sometimes, I cringe sitting in the airy lobby of Maxx Royal, reading the International New York Times about the latest Gaza Strip-Israeli and Ukraine-Russia catastrophes, knowing the hardest decision that the guests surrounding me have to make during their day is by which pool to lay or in which restaurant to dine. And that is not a judgement on those who live that life. Perhaps worse than living life oblivious to the world's problems, is being me, the voyeur in the middle wondering which side to choose; wondering whether to start a non-profit benefiting the Left or take a joy ride with the rich man in the Aston Martin on the Right.

As this travel is a learning experience about myself, I can safely say that I am leaning Left. Even with the grandiosity surrounding my day to day, the most beautiful thing I've seen so far are these women.

It was a photo I took while at the newly constructed Maxx Royal in the sister resort city of Kemer. Kemer stands about an hour and a half West of Belek on the Turkish Riviera. The resort just opened last week and is as decadent and massive as the one I've described in this post. We will begin shows at both locations once the hotel is up and running. We came here last week to perform for VIP guests invited to celebrate the hotel's pending Grand Opening.

When we arrived, the hotel looked as if it was no where near being ready! A total construction site...as in we should have been given hard hats walking in some areas. Our rooms, while beautiful, had no electricity and dust everywhere. But for the first time, I felt like I was in Turkey (from the construction worker B.O., it smelled like I was in Turkey too)! There were locals everywhere, carrying bricks, sod, rocks, towels, granite to and from. From my 3 story balcony, the scene looked like a colony of ants creating a masterpiece. I snapped this picture while walking to the Beach Club where I was to perform. The women were so beautiful; too beautiful to be lugging rocks in a wheel barrow. They were kind spirits and they were intrigued by me as well and so they were more than happy to stop their labor and pose for me. Looking at their faces, I wanted to know everything about each of them. Their stories, hopes, dreams, fears and all that lead them to end up in front of my camera phone while holding a pickaxe.

I immediately finalized my request to the producer to change my return date to a few weeks after our contract ends on September 31st. So from October 1-16th, I will hop back on my Polka Dotted Unicorn and travel! There is no way I can come to this part of the earth and not! I mean, Turkey is like the beginnings of the world! And it's right next door to Jordan, Isreal, Greece, Egypt....I figure more photos like the one of the women above await me in a country so rich in history. The idea of another 3 month Soul Travel adventure dances back and forth through my mind Tempting . So tempting. But I want to return to the states for my 10 year college reunion at Northwestern. Although, I don't think anyone who knows me would be surprised if I pay the airline change fee to extend my return date and hope that the 11th year reunion will be just as good!

Will write more soon...but as a not-so-side note...

This post is dedicated to my Father, Jacob Collins, in celebration of his 70th birthday. His own travels have taught me so much and and all of our kitchen table debates have allowed me to see the world with open eyes.

Posted by Ivoriejenkins 23:37 Archived in Turkey Comments (4)


An Unexpected Continuation of Soul Travel 2014

sunny 91 °F

Namaste Everyone!

So I am back here again; on an international flight, pen in hand, the first page of an empty journal staring up at me and the unexpected awaiting me in a country I have never even thought of visiting. Unlike India, this trip is completely unplanned. Yet, I like to think of it as an unexpected gift from my Travel Gods. At the end of my Final Farewell to India post, http://ivoriejenkins.travellerspoint.com/30/ , I asked for the continued opportunity to nurture my Polka Dotted Unicorn with continued travel and wonder. Well, ask and ye shall receive because as of 3 weeks ago, I have picked up my life, yet again, to spend the next 3 1/2 months in Belek, Turkey.

Of course the immediate gratification I am experiencing is not always the case. There are many times I've asked and the Universe must have confused my order with someone else because what I received was just all wrong! But with time comes wisdom and wisdom tells me that when what you are asking for aligns with "your path" (not easy figure out what that is btw), the Universe tends to get the orders right more often which leads to that wonderful feeling of everything falling into place.

So how did I end up in Turkey?: Well, first, I cried to my Mom during the car ride to take her to LAX airport (she came to visit after I returned home!) about how to construct a world post India in LaLaLand. I was beyond happy to be home and see those 100 foot Palm trees that adorn my neighborhood in Victoria Park but talk about contrast and culture shock! How did these Palm trees fit in with the sacred Banyan trees of India? - a tree with roots that grow so wildly and branches that intertwine high above your head to create a canopy wrapping under and over and around so many times that you are not sure how many trees your eyes are seeing! Was one tree better than the other? Were my neighborhood Palm trees, which I heard from a reputable source were imported from Indonesia, any less sacred than the Indian Banyan tree? Or were they relative to me since both are way bigger, older, and wiser than I will ever become? Could I learn just as much from LA Palms as I could from the Banyan that Hindus use as a sight of holy recognition?

How could I make sense of all I witnessed in India without becoming a recluse who meditates and burns incense all day in between watching Hindi films and reading books on Ghandi and Osho?! How to honor both worlds while giving both proper homage and respect?

Well, before I even got the chance to answer the above, literally, one week after returning from India, and two days after crying to my Mom, I received a message from a director of a production company looking for dancers for a show at the Maxx Royal hotel in Belek, Turkey, a resort town on the Turkish Riviera. I was uncertain at first. The dancers had already completed over two weeks of rehearsal so the contract was to begin ASAP- as in the director sent me the message on a Friday hoping to book my flight for the following Monday!

Inner Dialogue: Should I go? Of course you should! When have you ever passed up a travel opportunity? But I just got back home to my Palm trees, my sis, my roomies! Turkey isn't even on my bucket travel list! What about my new love? My India? Hmmmm.....isn't the best way to get over a lost love to find a new lover. Turkey and I don't have to fall in love but who doesn't fancy a good rebound? And if I don't like it, I can always come home. Turkey??.... Yes! Sure! Why the fuck not?!

So, instead of figuring out how to reintegrate into life in LA, I decided that this opportunity to travel was too fortuitous to pass along. I am a master procrastinator anyway therefore, I had no problems letting the the above reintegration musings wait until I return to LA in October.

The director and I compromised on a Wednesday departure.

Longest flight ever: LAX --- Detroit --- Amsterdam --- Istanbul ---Belek


Turkey here I come!

Posted by Ivoriejenkins 17:20 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey Comments (6)

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