Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who's your friend now?

Turkey really rocks.

I've naturally had to adjust my pilgrim routine for the culture I'm now in. There're no churches or priests to seek for accommodation and no women in the village shops to bond with in consolation. I stumbled on a new and effective method - the Jandarma (internal army) or Polis (federal polıce force) have become my new best friends, and they're terrific. When I first started down from the mountain border with 'Bulgaristan', the Jandarma asked politely if I'd check in when I pass one of their offices or with the Polis when I enter a town of size (>500 pop.). They're clearly a little uneasy about a foreign woman traveling solo by foot, but of course they're not inclined to discourage me. So if I just stop by and say 'selam', they take note and serve me tea and a light snack, and if I ask, find accommodation for me. I think if I were a guy, they'd allow me to sleep in one of their bunkrooms, but as I'm not, they make a call to a local 'pansyon' and I get treated very nicely as a guest of the town. Nice, clean, and safe. Who'd a-thunk it? If I weren't asked from the beginning to check in like this, I would never have thought to ask the officers for assistance in where I can sleep, but it's worked out great for me.

Twice now, frustrated and hindered by my language limitations, I've sought help from women. Huge kudos to Meral in Karaburun on the Black Sea for her assistance... I stepped into Hanimeli Restaurant hoping someone might speak English or German, and there she was able to call the Jandarma and help me find a place to sleep. She gave me a light supper at the restaurant, too, which was excellent, so if anyone happens by that restful little resort town, go to that restaurant for a great meal. The other experience was a woman named Leman, a lawyer as it turns out, I met while trapped in endless kilometers of suburbia - way out of my pilgrim element. She took the time to sit with the police officers and find a place for me to sleep in a teachers' housing complex. Kindess quite happily prevails.

I've cruised through Istanbul and know for sure it's a place I must return to for a proper visit - in winter to avoid the cruise ships and heat, of course. I waylaid there for a few days and saw many sights, though few museums because of the time commitment. I love how each stretch of winding street is home to specific merchandise - one area just for tools, another for hardware, this one for fabric, that one for plasticware, over here carpets, over there shoes... and that's not even in the Grand Bazaar, which is really 'grand'. Wow, lots to see.

In general, what I find interesting in Turkey is how modern everything is; what I find uninteresting is how modern everything is. This is my first visit - as it is my first visit to every country on this trip - and I couldn't help but have some expectations. Without giving it a whole lot of thought, I had the idea that the towns and villages would be full of oldness. What I see is the opposite, save maybe a small stone outbuilding or stretch of wall tucked behind a large ultra-modern house. Curious. How do they do that? Italy, Spain, France... these places have adorable old buildings modernized and still in use giving an air of steadfastness. I'm just surprised, that's all. How can history be so hard to find here in Turkey??

I just passed through a town called Marmara Ereğlisi, another in a series of haphazardly collected compounds of unattractive cookie-cutter holiday homes. In the midst of the residences and kabap houses is a small park strewn with Greek columns and engraved lintels. A sign explains in Turkish and English that this is the ancient town of Heraklia founded in 600 BC. Cool. The sign explained the town's role in many historical events - wars with Philip of Macedon, dominance over Byzantium... huge stuff a similar town in western Europe would fully capitalize on, but here, it's passed into history. On the way, I walked along an old stretch of road parallel to the modern highway and crossed a restored bridge from the 16th century. It struck me as being quite like the bridge at Hospital de Orbigo on the Camino de Santiago except that that one, built for pilgrims, is several centuries older. Anyway, I made a painting in the rain and hope to post it soon (along with the others =)).


Anonymous said...

And we are in this adventure with you by osmosis. It almost seems unreal and there you are safe & happy in Turkey.

I see it took a while to pass thru paint beautiful pictures with words, can't wait to see the art!

Phew! You are getting there! Salaam,Nadja

Ukiefriend said...

You say you want to return to Turkey--can't blame you...sounds exotic and exciting! Maybe we should organize a group trip--wouldn't that be fun! Our meetup for the near future.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear that it's going so well in Turkey! I would have to admit this one would have given me a twinge of concern. Now you've fueled my interest in going there, and fortunately..such an opportunity may present itself in the not too distant future.

Eagerly awaiting your next posting..Pax, Karin

harika said...

hallo ann ı can see sılıvrı(cat gırl)how are you
love you