Tag Archives: Manisa

Tarzan of Manisa

Extraordinary Vagobond – Tarzan of Manisa

One of the things I never expected to find out was that Tarzan was real…and that he was an Iraqi who lived in the Turkish town of Manisa.

One of the things that made me decide this was a great place to live was that when I got here, I looked around and everywhere I saw Tarzan.
Tarzan of Manisa
I grew up reading the Edgar Rice Burroughs books of my grandfather and most of them were Tarzan (though a few were about John Carter on Mars). As such, I have a lifelong connection with the fictional Lord of the Apes.

Seriously, the last thing I expected to find in Turkey were statues, restaurants, stores, and memorials to Tarzan! But to my surprise, they are here in plenty.
Tarzan and Cheetah
The Manisa Football Club celebrates their goals with the Tarzan cry. Seriously, the Johnny Weismuller jungle scream can be heard from my apartment when they make a goal.
Tarzan of Manisa Fountain
So, what the fuck is Tarzan doing in Manisa? I did a little bit of research to find out why there are so many Tarzan businesses and why the statues of Tarzan all look like some bearded hippie.

Tarzan of Manisa

Tarzan of Manisa was actually named Ahmeddin Carlak. He was born in Samarra, Iraq in 1899 and he fought in the Turkish War of Independence and then moved to Manisa during the Republic period.

He was a different kind of guy and saw planting and growing plants as something holy. He became the assistant gardener for Manisa and spent his life keeping the city green.

Whether from shell shock or holy devotion, he never wore anything but rubber slippers and black shorts just like some Hawaiian surfer.In fact, the old pictures of Tarzan remind of Duke Kahanamoku.

Duke Kahanamoku, Tarzan

I'm certain Tarzan would have surfed if he lived in Hawaii

I’m told that winters in Manisa are damn cold but that he never wore more than shorts and rubbah slippahs. Every day at noon he would fire the Manisa municipal cannon.

He took it as his duty to offer flowers to any young woman visiting Manisa and it is said that he wandered the beautiful Sypil Mountain and lived in a tent there. He would spend his salary on candy to give to children and then give the rest to the poor of Manisa. He was treated as a prince of the city and would attend cinema for free since he never had any money as a result of giving all his salary to the poor.
Tarzan of Manisa
He was the first environmentalist in Turkey and was a key figure in the reforestation of Sypil and the Manisa National Forest. Some people say that Manisa National Forest was made the first national park because of the efforts of Tarzan.

Tarzan of Manisa

Is it just me or is that a head Tarzan is holding?

He died May 31, 1963 and since then the city has erected numerous monuments, statues, and kebap shops in his honor.
Tarzan of Manisa
Sadly, the statue in Fatih park, seems to have had it’s arm broken off by vandals. I hope that it will be repaired soon.

Turkish Sausages and Campfire

Snow Hiking in Turkey – Izmir – Bornova – Manisa

Adventures in foreign countries can be complex or they can be simple. One of the reasons I loved living in Manisa was because of the Manisa Tennis and Hiking Club. They made hiking adventures simple.

Snow in Manisa MountainsDon’t worry Manisa, we still love you. I met up with the club at the usual location in Tarzan square on a Sunday morning. As usual, everyone there was healthy, happy, and ready to get hiking and eating. Part of the fun of this club (and probably all Turkish clubs) is how much emphasis is put on the food. The packs were loaded and this wasn’t just going to be a normal outing in the snow. This was going to be a good old fashioned snow hike/sausage roast over an open fire in the mountains.

Turksih cattle in the snowThe club had arranged a bus to take us to the highest point in the mountains between Izmir and Manisa. It was going to take us higher but since there was quite a bit of snow and ice, the road was closed down. The driver let us out at the bottom and we began carefully working our way up the mountain road. More than one hiker slipped and fell but no one was seriously hurt.

Along the way we stopped to drink tea and have breakfast. The location was pretty but not very good for those of us who hadn’t brought something to sit on! It was a cool ass place! Ha ha.

Turkish Mountain Cabin in the SnowFurther on we came to a small village where the snow had trapped the inhabitants in. They didn’t seem to mind a bit. One problem did seem to be sewage leaking from somewhere though as the smell of urine was incredibly strong throughout the village. I’m not sure why, but I watched where I stepped.

We hiked up into the hills further through virgin snow and past woolly cattle who didn’t seem to mind the snow drifting in the least. They ran in a small herd. I don’t know why, but there aren’t all that many cows in Turkey which makes beef incredibly expensive. In fact, all meat is expensive in Turkey in comparison with North Africa or North America or Europe. I haven’t really figured out why.

Turkish Sausages and CampfireFinally reaching what seemed to be a peak of sorts, we started to gather wood for our weenie roast. Once again, the choice of spots wasn’t the greatest for those of us without pads to sit on, but since my Turkish is minimal I went with it, even though a more comfortable spot was not very far away with places for people to sit.

After a few misguided efforts to start a fire with large or wet wood, finally wiser heads prevailed and we managed to do things the proper way with small dry tinder, small dry twigs, and plenty of room for the fire to breathe. After that, it was sausage time.

Turks love sausages. Obviously not pork, mostly sheep or some of the more expensive ones are cow meat. We roasted, we ate, we drank tea, and then we covered up the fire with snow and set off back down the mountain.

Gokceler Bornova IzmirDown the hill, through the village, down the road, and with only one injury that caused some tears, we made it back to the waiting van. On the way we passed plenty of Turks who had come up from either Manisa or Izmir playing in the snow. Snowmen, plenty of picnicking, and as I smiled at two senior citizen couples enjoying the snow, one old man nailed me with a snowball! I wasn’t the only one laughing. His wife looked scared at first that I would be mad, but how could I be!

Turkish residence permit tea

Getting Foreign Resident Permits in Morocco and Turkey

Traveling around the world in the slowest possible way means that I generally stay longer in a country than a tourist visa allows.

What that means is that I either have to be illegal or get a foreign resident permit. The difference in requirements and bureaucracy can be staggering. I won’t go into what it takes to stay in countries like the USA if you are a non-citizen, but the two countries I’ve most recently called home offer a startling contrast to one another.

Morocco Foreign Resident Permit

Getting my foreign resident permit in Morocco (called a carte de sejour) was a monstrous undertaking. I had to provide the following documents:
-ten passport photos
-six copies of my passport
-proof of residence, i.e. a rental contract
-five copies of my birth certificate
-five copies of my proof of employment (work contract)
-a letter from my employer stating that I was in fact working (attestation de travail)
-a police report from my last country of residence
- a 100 dirham stamp
All of the documents had to be certified as original and stamped at the local city hall. The process took six months during which I had to check in at the local police station every month. Total cost was only about 50 Euro. By the time I got it, the permit was only valid for six months of the one year I had applied for.

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Turkey Foreign Resident Permit
The process in Turkey was far easier but also much more expensive.

- I had to have a Turkish bank account with 500 lira for each month I planned to stay in Turkey (12 months = 6000 Lira). In order to get the bank account, I had to get a Turkish Tax Identification Card which cost about 700 Euro. I was also asked to prove who my parents were since Turkish ID generally states your parent’s names on it. To get the bank account, I needed just my passport and the tax ID card.

- I needed to have a sponsor who vouched to be responsible for me while I was in Turkey. In this case, me and the 24 year old Turkish man who vouched for me laughed about the fact that a 24 year old man was responsible for a 38 year old man. We had to get a notarized statement.
- I needed to be able to provide an address of residence and phone number to be reached at.
- 5 passport photos
- 2 copies of my birth certificate
- An application for residency
- 900 Lira for the residence card

And finally a trip to the regional police headquarters where there were several visits to different offices for stamps and interviews, during one of which I was served tea and baklava! Turkey is one of the most civilized nations on the planet, this proved it. Two weeks later, they called and I went and picked up my residence permit.

The permit is good until November of next year.

So to summarize: Morocco is cheap but slow and involves numerous bureaucratic hurdles while Turkey is much more expensive but runs efficiently and with a minimum of bureaucracy- not to mention the tea and baklava from the Leftenant!