46 Ha 811 trip 2-2008

For the last 9 years Semih Çağlar and I have been corresponding via internet email. He and his wife Gülat are both Professors of Agriculture at the Sütçü Imam University in Kahramanmaraş.

We began to write to each other as forum members of Noteworthy Composer users. He had posted a number of compositions of living Azerbaijani composers and I wondered why he, as a Turk, had done this.

Then I found a mistake in one of his transcriptions and that's when our relationship took off.

2 years ago (2006) I visited him and he took me on a trip along the southern coast of Turkey, then up to Kap­padokya, ending in Kahramanmaraş.

His oldest daughter Gül got married this year and I was invited to the 2 ceremonies. What follows is the record of my experiences this year.

Semih and Gülat 2006 in Eastern Europe

Day one; Trip to London (June 22nd Sunday lose a day arrive 24th Monday)

Make a list, pack bag(s) check it again, anything I forget is great.

Eat, nap, unplug everything, turnout lights, shower, shave dress.

Impatiently watch clock, grab last minute things like a toothbrush, sudden urge to play “somewhere over the rainbow” on ukulele for 10 minutes, rush to bus stop.

Talk bus talk with the driver, go to favorite restaurant, eat, drink, find out that the lovely hostess, Gretchen, has treated me to dinner, take the bus to airport, it's full of tourists I'm on my way to become one.

Find check in and stand 1½ hours in line~ pleasant check in woman sends my bag through to Turkey so I don't have to carry it around in London and gets me an aisle seat from London to Istanbul but nothing certain for the Long trip Seattle to London ~ get through Security lickety split ~ at the ramp I get a center cen­ter seat assignment-sigh. I stand around, walk and browse people for 45 minutes then it's time to board. The plane is full, really full. It is full of groups (at least 3) and the noise is deafening (nerves? greetings?). The lit­tle boy next to me is playing a Nintendo game with bloops and peeps, I promptly put in my earplugs. The plane noise is incredibly loud even with earplugs. I fall asleep with a huge man to the other side of me and wake later with a modestly sized women there. The man's wife- they are a family group of 17 going to Italy. The center luggage rack overhead wiggles as we land, I later find out that it is supposed to do that as a shock absorber but I think it's very odd to see- like the plane is possibly falling apart.


Mary, my sushi fan friend, would be horrified as the sushi is 2.50 pounds per piece in the airport (someone had told me that the airport sushi was really good but that's steep!).

On the tube from Heathrow I sat across from 2 beauties who'd been to the USA for 10 days. When the train stopped 'due to signal problems' I asked if this wasn't usual and they agreed we chatted abit. It took an hour to get to Earls Court and I sat on the wrong side of the train so I saw nothing except Tube wiring- resolve to plan better for tomorrow.

Earls Court is a diverse place/neighborhood, there are embassies and a French Lycee here, on the sidewalk the variety of languages of the people who do not seem to be tourists is huge; French, Italian, Polish, Rumanian, Hindi, Persian, occasionally Spanish/Portuguese and some American.

Checked into "My Place Hotel", the staff sounds and looks Polish and fairly new. The room is large and in the back so the view is mildly interesting as I'm on the top floor. Water tastes ok, the hot water in the sink must be heated in the basement (i.e. cold for a really long time), I wash up and unload my clothes (left the socks in the stowed bag oops) took meds got dressed grabbed my bag and went out. Promptly took the wrong turn (a beginning and ending pattern see last day in Istanbul) and even with a wildly detailed map (thank you Kiri) took 20 minutes to understand that I was going away from that which I wanted to see. Ar­rived at closing for the Natural Museum *and* the Victoria and Albert [there are dogs (I think) as gargoyles all along the V&A rooftop]- so I wandered back in the direction of the hotel. There are 'gardens' little bits of blocks surrounded by road and 4-6 story apartments- but the gardens/parks are *mostly* private and locked. I pass St. Augustine Cathedral, a faded sign in front says they are taking a collection for the restoration of a WWI memorial that needed 4000 pounds to finish by 2007. Looks like they didn't make it as the Christ statue on the cross is missing. The cathedral looked cool, possibly grand glass windows and the masonry was layers of red and yellow stone/brick with broad whitish bands and a modest steeple but was locked/closed so I did­n't get to see what the windows really looked like.

I had nothing to eat on the plane and was feeling peaked so passing a French Bakery I bought a baquette, ate half as I wandered and kept the other half for breakfast on the way to the airport.

I had seen a pub featuring a venison pie so on my way back to the hotel I stopped in- great ale, the pie was really good, had that wild aroma, the gravy was great the puff crust grand the pastry shell not worth dealing with except it had adsorbed some of the gravy- so I fought with it- I'm really full. There was an Ameri­can waitress who'd been in the country only 5 weeks and 2 Southeast Asian bartenders and a seemingly new/clueless Englishwoman.

11 PM- not a big surprise, I can't sleep, it's a bit too hot (it's just plain too hot) and my body clock is too messed up. Watched news on TV then fell asleep for a couple of hours, more news (same bits) dozed- 2 bad US movies- no thanks- earplugs, air conditioner doesn't seem to work, I'm sweating, I could get dressed and go outside see if it's cooler there but my feet cramped up after being still for 9+ hours on the plane and another hour in the Tube and I know once I drift off It'll be time to get up so I read and try to doze, it's only 3pm in Seattle.

Tuesday June 24

Sleep under towels, too warm for whatever the bedding was also afraid/cautious about allergies. Got about 4-5 hours of sleep, another 3 days I'll be adjusted- I hope.

Read until the book dropped out of my hands. The only light in the room was in the middle of the ceiling so I laid head to foot with all the pillows under me to read. Woke up before my requested wake-up call but I don't think it came anyway.

After a shower, packed, checked out and on the street by 7:30 am, the underground tube took only ½ an hour so now I have too much time in the airport, which, architecturally, is pretty interesting. This is the new terminal- the one where some model or actress got arrested for assault(?) when it opened because they lost her bags- Terminal 5 and seems to be working ok now. There are cupped disks above all the seating areas. They catch the sounds/conversation and direct it back down to it's source so instead of a very raucous arena it's merely noisy.

I look for something to use my last pounds on- buy coffee with soy and finally spot a kiosk with The Independent to read on the plane. I read the online version daily and found out that the experience is better online for me as it cuts out the 'silly' bits and I can ignore the sizeable sports section.

I sat next to a woman from NY city who works in marketing and was going on a 10 day tour of Turkey. We talked about her dog, Central Park, Olmstead, my house, recycling, composting, and that the mob controls waste management in New York. We exchange business cards.

Arrived in Istanbul Atatürk1 Airport.

Gülan (Semih's youngest daughter getting her masters in IT) met me at the airport, which took me 1 hour to get out of. The last time I misremembered the method of how to negotiate visa and passport control. I don't remember very many people in the airport. I think it was because the day before I left (last time) there was a terrorist threat to British planes so people cancelled their trips. This time hordes of people and long lines, first to get a visa then another to get it stamped then out.

But I stood in the stamped line 1st because I didn't notice the Visa line until a Brit working for an Illi­nois company, coming to Turkey to install used machines from China for a brewery, asked me if we had to get a Visa 1st.

Then the woman from the plane, pulls out her travel instruction and we're off to the correct line. Af­ter that we all 3 parted ways in an ocean current of lines as if for a moment we'd been in cars stopped at a light and as the light changed moved on but at different speeds and destinations.

Once outside the passport control and into the lobby- another mass of people waiting for those inside. Many with signs, families, I had a moment of doubt that I would find Gülan but she hopped and waved and we were off and away.

“My father would kill me if I let you pay” so the rules seem to be the same as before in Istanbul- I must not pay for things. We take a big bus (otobus) to Takşim and it is 5 pm rush hour so it takes a very long time. Except in a very general way I don't recognize anything, but then we through a Roman(?) portal/wall/gate­way and the architecture and reds and yellows of roofs and stucco walls of a sea of 4-6 story apartments are familiar.

The bus stops in a different part of Takşim square than last time and we walk to the place where yel­low dolmuş' (little van-like buses) are waiting. Gülan tells me that the neighborhood where they live is not Kadaköy but something that starts with a “B” but until we get close, all the big street signs say “K” so I know why I made my mistake. (thank goodness she met me at the airport).

The driver of this small yellow van/bus was aggressive and tried to go many variations to avoid the traffic jams.

There is a constant game of chicken and slide here. Merging where there is no room to merge, one way alleys with cars parked on both sides and a car or another bus or a Taksi coming head on. Our driver is honking and yelling at the traffic, at people. Then a burning smell (actually just before we got in he opened the hood and looked at it and there was a burning smell). I'm guessing that the engine is air cooled, but maybe not, but it was burning up and he stops in traffic, gets out opens the hood, looks at it closes the hood and we go onward. I'm wondering if we'll make it but we do.

I found that I knew/recognized some words from before and some new ones I had learned just before this trip- but Turkish is a wash of sound, snippets are clear then it's just sound, just music.

I'd forgotten that the apartment 'home' had pinkish walls but otherwise the place is the same except there is a Kına2 (no dot on the i-that's important to notice a totally different sound between about and butter there will be more about language throughout) dress hanging from the living room door in a bag with Cat­walk and a cat logo.

Gülan makes dinner- enough for Gül, myself and herself saying that since the dress was custom Gül can't gain weight or the dress won't fit. Dinner was piliç (young chicken).

Even though there is kına and the wedding Gül only gets time off from work after the wedding and then only a week for the honeymoon.

Gül comes home late. She and Batuhan (the groom- they have been engaged to be married for it seems like 5 years(?))have been fixing up the apartment where they will live. A member of Batu's family owns a place (so apartments are more like condos here, you own the apartment and pay for upkeep etc...)fur­ther East in Istanbul and Gül's job at Volkswagen (last visit she worked for Ford) is moving close to there plus they will live there rent free -a huge gift for them as homes are hard to find in Istanbul and rent free will ease their life considerably (he will be working part-time and on his doctorate).

So many details to absorb I can't remember them all.

Gülan is on summer break, I think she will soon be done with school. She needs time to write a thesis for her masters but on the 1st bus from the Airpost she got a call from a company for a job and she thinks that she may work part-time while in school.

Her field is computer software design engineering (I think). She tells me that so many companies need help that if hired she would do everything involving computers, because companies need computers to do their work but don't exactly know what they want.

Wednesday June 25

5:30 am- slept 4+ hours then no more. Istanbul is quiet, not much light yet but it's warm and by now a variety of birds are about and singing. Something like crows and chickadees, then a moment ago a maniacal laughing sound, I think it was a bird but for a moment my ears were tricked into wondering if some madman was out there.

Earlier 2 men walked below (the apartment is on the 3rd [our 3rd their 2nd ] floor so I'm on the balcony looking down) on the street. There isn't even much traffic yet but there is a sort of static motion/life unseen barely heard but always there.

6:15 am The sky is blue and it's warm.

8+am for a while the sky was more of a marine blue but as the day really begins and the noise of traffic and the small toot toots of the dolmuş's3 can be heard near and far, the sky has paled. It is more of a light blue. The moon is already ½ which seems odd as in Seattle on Friday it was full- can the moon be in a different phase in different parts of the world? I don't think so.

Daylight is much shorter here than in Seattle, Istanbul is sufficiently closer to the equator so day length changes less.

Men and women walk along the narrow street below the apartment going to work. Men, often in knit shirts, some t-shirts and sometimes cloth pants but often denim. I think it's too hot for denim but it's what I brought this time to fit in better and Semih says that in the North, where the 'wedding' and much of our trip will be, will be cold.

There is a walnut tree between this building and the next, filled with walnuts round green, hard to be­lieve in the midst of buildings in a huge city they have all these plants and here a ripening nut tree.

Fly to GaziAntep4 with Gülan, took a taksi to an otobus to the airport (Sabiha Gökçen the main domes­tic airport and the name of the 1st woman pilot who was Atatürk's adopted daughter). The flight was only 15 minutes late but we had gotten there pretty early.

In the airport one thing that strikes me over and over again is how different all these people look from one another. Noses (of which I feel to be a connoisseur) are so many different shapes and sizes though their body shapes and sizes do not vary so much. Many people have shocking pale blue eyes a slate or whitish blue as though the sun had bleached them from the iris out, so the rim of their pupils is darkest.

The plane was a packed 737 and we were not seated together. The seat I had was the window seat and there was a woman sitting there in a headscarf. Her son/husband was sitting on the outside. The stewardess had her move as she had the center seat, however, I think, a conservative (religious) woman would never sit next to a strange man and so the man took the middle seat.

2nd version of plane trip

[there are too many things happening it has been hard to keep them all in mind~ Gülan and I are not seated together and I have a window seat and almost immediately fall asleep but in getting the correct seat a woman with headscarf and a flat greyish brown over dress (very traditional- the style is similar everywhere but some are very dark nearly but not black, and then many are a milk chocolate brown and then this kind, sort of nearly grey or gray.) She is with husband/son(?) and must move and since I, a man/stranger she moved to the outside so the man sits between us]

I was surprised/apprehensive as we entered the airport because they screened my bags immediately. I had brought knives as wedding presents and a camping knife for Semih and was sure they wouldn't let me through but they did- weird. Still I stowed that bag.

Arrived at Gaziantep met by Semih who looks a little thinner but good and we're off to the market for an orthopedic pillow for Gülat (Semih's wife) and groceries. On to Kahramanmaraş, mostly on well paved highway. Gaziantep is part of the Anatolian plain, the soil is a cocoa color and has soft hills bordered by a lowish range of mountains. Kahramanmaraş is part of the Mediterranean climate and the valley(?) is flat and the soil is a darker chocolate color. Wheat in burlap bags recently harvested, stacked to overflowing on small trucks passed us going south. The fields had me singing in my head either “corny as Kansas” or “and the corn is as high as an elephant's eye” as we passed corn fields with leaves the darkest green I've ever seen on stalks. I asked and most of the corn is grown for cattle feed. However there are carts on the streets of cities, mobile grills grilling boiled ears of corn for sale, this early in the trip I only saw children eating them.

I recognized a spot on the road from 2 years ago when we went and returned to Dagi Nemrud, so knew that we were in Maraş. It has grown up so much in 2 years. The view from my bedroom looks East and was clear to the city. Now it is completely blocked by new 7 story apartments. More Surprising the trees have grown much more than I expected. The fields to the south seem practically wooded (except that they are not random they are all in rows.).

We are met at the door by Gülat still lovely and speaking much more English than I remember from before. We sit, drink then beer, I meet their Ankara cat (a breed) called Pamuk (cotton- it's white), and other than being a white cat the only thing I notice is that it's tail seems very long.

Semih tells me more about Kına.

It is no longer such a small affair. Now more people are coming more than 100 as faraway as Ankara and then he surprises me. He has arranged and already bought a ticket.... Next Thursday(?) I will fly to Ankara and be met by his friends (who I will meet here for Kına) who live there and they will take me to the museums and then to Safranbolu for the wedding (düğün).

Then after the wedding on to Çorum and then the Black Sea5.

This was unexpected and so kind and helps because there will not be room in the car to take us all from Maraş to Safranbolu. Plus no one seems to like Ankara (except the people who live there) very much, perhaps I'll find out why. (Other than it's flat and big and hot like a desert- those reasons I've already been told [and find out that it's not so])

Semih has early stage diabetes and has been exercising with Gülat. In my room there is a treadmill – all chrome and complicated looking. I teased him when he told me that we could go hiking now in the Black Sea yayla6 he was not sure of that, it made him pause ~ he said maybe we go for a walk.

Gülan told me that sometimes if it was in Turkish that what I say would be considered rude, that she knew I did not mean it to be rude. I asked her to let me know when this happens it may be something that once I understand it culturally I can avoid it. (I toned down my teasing, and my 'jokes' as I suspected that was the area most likely to be misunderstood- however she never did tell me when/if it happened again)

While explaining about the kına and guests he tells me that he has only 3 close friends and that I am one of them- I live so far away from him and am surprised and honored.

I had offered to help before coming and he is taking me up on that offer. We laughed as with so little Turkish I think all I will be able to do is point.

We have pide7 (no cheese on mine) and salad for dinner. The salad (salata) is a mix of chopped mint, onion, peppers, tomatoes and cucumber (traditionally there would be parsley maydanoz but Semih can't stand it)- I haven't been eating proper salads at home lately- travelling on planes and eating in restaurants there just weren't any, so this is very satisfying, in fact in nearly every lunch and dinner the salata is what I look forward to throughout the trip.

I have arrived in Kahramanmaraş on the day that Turkey is in the semi-finals of the World Cup, which is a trip in itself.

Turkish flags ~ there was an elderly man in the Istanbul airport walking around with a hat- it had cards and flags and orange and green teddy bears attached to it. He was carrying small Turkish flags ~ Gülan explained that he was a sort of walking souvenir kiosk but the flags were more for celebrating the upcoming soccer match.-.-

The soccer match;

After dinner is the soccer futbal match against the German team. Semih bets Gülat that Turkey will lose 2-0, I forget what the payment is because it is a joke.

We go out to the park next to the swimming pool and people from all around (there are at least six buildings- I think maybe only 2) come to sit and watch a big screen projection of the match. There is tea at some point and I find out later that the whole production is put on by the café which I didn't recognize was part of this park.

There are flags, big flags, little flags, there are flags on t-shirts, the sound gets louder Turkey plays very well, offensively but their goalie makes some misjudgements and in the end they lose 3-2 but every shot towards the German goal brings a roar, the crowd stands, claps, if the shot scores they sing and shout wave their arms, chant, dance, it is impressive it is overwhelming.

When it is over, and it takes the entire game for it to be over, we go in and soon I go to bed.

Thursday June 26

I rose early the sun is hot and coming through the window, a flock of birds settle on the ledge outside, I shower and come to sit on the balcony (we spend a lot of morning and evening time on this balcony it faces South so mid day it is in the sun and perfect for drying clothes but not for sitting).

Today the women (mother/daughter) friends arrive from Ankara. They help make dolmas- 3 kinds- the ones we know grape leaves and pilav (rice and spice mixture) another is eggplant patlıcan also stuffed with pilav, the third is green peppers biber also stuffed with a rice and maybe meat mixture - so an early in the day project is to go pick them up. The mother- Ruhan- grew up in Germany but is Turkish and the daugh­ter- Bilge- is in her twenties (I think). They do not speak much English (or is it to be like Gülat who spoke more the more she was around me) and so I'm wondering how/what we will do in Ankara together.

Before we (Semih and I) go to the airport (havaalanı) we go to his campus- 1st to the new campus which is not complete but where his fruit trees- 2 years old now- are growing. The cherries are over, so I just see trees but the pears are nearly ready (he says 2 more weeks) and his red delicious are abundant (bolu) and not close at all (green).

The sun is just pounding down and much of this research orchard is covered with a white dust that at first I fear is some copper sulfate or chemical- but it is white clay- dust that reflects the sun so the trees and especially the fruit do not get sunburned, it still lets in the light for good photosynthesis.

His orchardist is a tall man burned from the sun dressed in brown work clothes, he speaks in an inter­esting way, I do not know if it is an accent or perhaps the kind of hesitation that I have experienced with farmers in the US. They say what they need to and not much more.

6 or 7 of Semih's students were there waiting for a bus as it was midday and they found it too hot to continue to work. Semih sat and discussed something with them ... The campus bus came, the students leave, and then Semih and his 'gardener' walked a couple of sections that weren't planted yet.

Then we went to the building where the Kına will take place- a banquet room in the cultural center building of the new campus but before that he arranges with the rector (who we meet while walking around the new campus) to have a car blocking and directing traffic for the event (I never did see this car). Then he talks with an Art teacher (painter) about setting up an easel to put a sign in the building directing them up to the 3rd floor celebration. We then go to his office in the old campus which is in the center of Kahramanmaraş. There we do internet chores and make a sign for the easel (which I think Durmuş8 is going to change).


Breakfast was secuk (sausage) and an egg for the three of us- we/Semih forgot to buy eggs the day be­fore. Bread (etmek) and fresh tomatos, Nescafé or çay9 (tea). The tomatos are often peeled- there is no way to help in the kitchen (last visit I was told to go away when I hung around there trying to help)and being served by the women (Gülan and Gülat) for this 1st breakfast, and later when the Ankara women arrive by all 4 of them at different times, it is the one thing that I am having the most difficulty adjusting to. Bilge brings Semih, Durmuş and me food or çay and her eyes are down and it is like having a servant- I am not comfortable (yet?) with this, then Gülan starts to act the same way! It is as though after a day of working in the kitchen with all the women (an extra woman comes to help, plus Aynur = 6 women in a very small kitchen making dolmas and probably other things for the Kına) she has lost that strong independence that she had before.

We are done at his office and now before going to the airport we must have lunch. I am going to go on some kind of diet when I get home, for now I will just eat but it's hard not to feel like I'm always eating and not just a little- a lot.10

Semih takes us to “the best döner” place in Kahramanmaraş. The place is “not so nice” he thinks ~ it's surrounded by auto repair places, open buildings, 55 gallon drums, rusting machine parts, and on an alley. Then somewhat hidden by a fence is a small open field with park benches- these are for the restaurant and we have coke and çay and a big plate of salata and döner (it's like the meat from a spit like gyros but the bread is different and it's not a sandwich thing- well not always), with a plate of bread...again too much.

Behind us is a warehouse yard filled with blue and black coils of tubing- all I can think of is musical in­strument uses...

Then we go and sit to wait for the Ankara people and after that we swimming!11

After we pick up Ruhan and Bilge, Semih is talking to them and doing Turkish driving12, and is stopped for speeding. That was new- 14 kph over the speed limit I asked him if such a ticket was expensive and he made a face and said “yes”.13

Glorious swimming; a few more people seem to swim more efficiently with better form than I remem­ber from before. The norm was practically no kicking and great splashing arms, it seems like in the last two years kicking and smoother arms have entered the swimmers' minds.

While at the pool Semih's good friend (the mountain climbing, photo taking, copper things collector- who I met last time- He was a student of Georgetown and then at Pine Bluff, Arkansas- his English is good and what I remember most of him from last time was the he over and over again would take great running leaping dives into the pool. This year the dives do not seem so tidal wave producing so perhaps my memories have changed what really happened) Durmuş was at poolside and even without my glasses on I recognized him.

Gülan joined us, and we swam and sat and talked then went inside, showered and Semih, Durmuş and I sat on the balcony and talked, had a beer, ate the 3 kinds of dolmas (that the women had been making all day long since before Ruhan and Bilge arrived) biber, patlıcan (eggplant emptied, the flesh cooked14 with other stuffing then stuffed back into the skin and roasted/cooked) and grape leaves like we are familiar with. After we are 'served' the women sat in the living room talking and laughing and we men stayed on the balcony.

And then a plan is made for me in the afternoon....

27 June Friday

While Semih goes to the Airport for Gül and Batuhan (bride and groom) I am turned over to Durmuş. It turns out that he is the Director (Head) of a Technical College (15 years old) 2 year programs like our com­munity colleges, that is one of the highest rated in the country (out of 3000(?)). He takes me on a tour of the school, which because it is summer there are fewer students and then a slide show pictures- some he took, some come from members of a foto club he is part of – of Kahramanmaraş and the surrounding area.

There are electrical, textile, computer, and machine shops, with space to add more 'divisions'. As in­dustry develops and has different needs his school can fairly quickly add training to meet those needs. Plumbing, natural gas......

It is warm and even in some of the air conditioned places at this school I am sweating. Later I find out that it is a record 41° C and will be hot like this for maybe 5 more days- which is like the last time I was here with 5 days of 43°C also a record and 'unusual' as I was told.

After the tour and slide show Durmuş shows me a foto book and there were many many submissions throughout the country and he came in 6th so his photo is in the book and he got a prize (certificate and $). We listen to music that he has on his computer (he likes Zamfir) and look at more pictures and talk more about his old copper utensil collection.

Before all of this Semih and I go into the center of Maraş and into the covered Bazaar (like last time) and I begin to understand that these greyish green objects are not just old pots but they are copper and these men in this bazaar are bringing them back to usefulness by tinning them. Then they look as though made from silver and the copper pot or bowl is safe to use for cooking or heating water in.

So later, when Durmuş is showing me pictures of his collection – which fills a room at the college- I begin to understand (a little) what I am looking at, these dull, fairly ugly grey things are from the (recent) past and he is fascinated with them as to how they changed and that they exist. He is a guy, a guy who col­lects stuff ~ his stuff is mostly photographs (that he has taken) and copper things that people made 50-100 years ago.

Everywhere we go (Durmuş and I) the staff people stood immediately greeting him shook hands and we would then drink çay. Which on one hand was good, because I was sweating so much, but I think we drank 4 çays in 30 minutes from different offices. He was treated as someone with great power and with respect. It was very interesting.

Finally the photos and tour are over and I meet another Semih= an English teacher- I am to talk to his class perhaps teach maybe 20 minutes (he says 10 students and over the course of an hour they dribble in un­til there are maybe 20+) . They not only dribbled in, they dribbled out- usually to answer cellphone calls.

Durmuş tells me maybe all they will get out of this is an idea that learning English is a good idea.

I think about what I will do, make a few notes and wait for Semih to return to take me to this class­room.

But......they are only on page 8 of their textbook (xerox copies) and know little English beyond count­ing to 20 and the alphabet (well there are 2-3 sentences that everyone seems to be taught in Elementary school but that comes later in this trip).

I had planned to talk about Seattle musicians (that had worked before) but no one had heard of Seat­tle bands and no one was a musician themselves, or even ever played an instrument- my sweating became physical and mental, I was looking at a sea of expectant but blank faces. Eventually I opened their textbook and asked one of the men/boys to read “I am here” which he pronounced 'her'. This was my opening- anoth­er idea I had had but didn't know if I would get to it. Also it was really too advanced for where they were but at least I had a starting point (whew!) I got a dry marker and wrote here and then we all said the word, then I wrote hear and we all said the word while I pantomimed the meaning (pulled on my ear for the one and pointed to the ground for the other).

Homonyms, a few more, then I asked people their names “My name is____” there were at least 6 Mehmets but no one could explain why so many people had the same name.15 Then “I come from ____” the majority were from Maraş but 2 were from Antep and 1 from Malataya. And lastly I asked them to tell me how old they were “I am ___ years old” and that was interesting because some wanted to just give me a num­ber (and not the phrase) and many thought the question meant when were you born and they would answer with a year and I tried to explain how that was different.

FINALLY the teacher comes back, 45-50 minutes later (not 20) just me and those students. I'm ex­hausted. Durmuş has sent a car for me. Semih the teacher asks me how they did- if they did well he would pass them all- asked if he meant for the day or the year he said year and I couldn't do it. I said they did medi­um.

As he is walking me to the car he says that they are not good students and that is why they are in summer classes. (I had asked the students how long the class was and got the answer that it was over the mo­ment I asked (like I was even more naïve than just foreign) - but of course that was not true as more students were coming in 'late' all the time).

Durmuş said they were lazy.

Back in Durmuş' office I report on the class, more tea, then we go to his 'other office' as a member of the faculty at the Agricultural Dept. of Semih and Gülat's University. There – more pictures- more Zamfir mu­sic and a very cold beer and he gives me a t-shirt from the university and a white cap with the university sym­bol on the front and the Initials of the technical school on the back. He shows me some pictures of the park in the hill/on the mountains above Maraş that we may camp at on Monday or Tuesday [Semih also says we will do this ~ so perhaps it will happen] [Semih after a massage from Gülan earlier in the day, says when he learns that we did not go to a hamam 2 years ago that he will take me to one this time- again “perhaps” as there are so many things to do and time is both short and very long.]

During the day with Durmuş there were moments of high activity and many times where I sat and waited or looked at pictures or just waited. This reminds me that there was a lot of time just sitting or laying down, last time in Turkey ~ waiting for the next event, or waiting for the heat to subside or just waiting and being.

While in the office another teacher colleague of Durmuş, a Mister Efe (Ercan pronounced Arjen) comes in and speaks English and knew of me from Semih (turns out he is the Dean(?) and “Where have we been?” and he asks me questions and one is “May I play some Turkish music for you? “ “Of course”.

So we go to his office which is lined with old copper too!, Old radios, a 50's broken bent up bellows missing harmonium, some animal skins hanging on the wall, and a Victrola/RCA 78 wind up, (shiny new) horn record player and he has needles but not the old cactus/horn kind but metal ones.

He complains, or perhaps it is only explains, that parts of it are newer and not original.

He pulls out a bağlama16 and plays a tune but he cannot tell me the name of the tune. He tells me how he played mandolin in school but gave that up and in college got a harmonica but now is learning bağlama. It is always fun to watch people play instruments, I do not know, up close. I found out later from Semih that he only knows one tune ~ still I think it's odd that he doesn't know the name of it but maybe it's a mode and not a song/tune with a name.

Even in his office he offers me something to drink- but I am full of liquid.

We return to Durmuş' office and it is about 7pm- from 3pm I have 'been taken care of' by Durmuş and it is time to go home.

Photos of Kahramanmaraş are found here


With waiting comes looking and maybe seeing. After going through the bazaar Semih and I climb up to the Kale (Castle)on a hill above the old part of the city. Originally Kahramanmaraş was a Hitite city Gürgüm and small bits of the walls are from that time (all the artifacts have been moved to museums) and then torn down and rebuilt as a Roman castle then torn down and rebuilt by the Ottomans. The Roman and Ottoman walls you can see. It is now a park with cafes in it and fences keep you away from the walls.

This is an example of looking but not seeing, I had looked at the walls of the Kale before ~ last visit ~ but I thought it was not important, it was recent, that it looked like an amusement park was up there, because there were flags up there it was another nationalistic site (which it kind of is soldiers fought the French from this old fortress during the war of Independence) but that it was ancient and Hitite was not a question or idea .... so now I look to see.

The day before when Semih and his orchardist walked up and down a field a short ways, Semih re­turned out of breath- so when he offered/suggested that we climb the hill to the Kale I was concerned about our pace. So we walked very leisurely.

The stones in the roadway to the Kale are old and maybe Roman and black (basalt?)and they are in a pattern like an, Andalusian mosaic. Each element a square a meter on each side which flows to the next, but it repeats and it's like a shower head or tamarind seed head so the stones are in arcs that meet at the 'stem'. This is dones so when it's wet or snow you would not be so likely to slip.

Along the stone road in the old walls are growing weeds, that Semih begins to tell me about, how the flowers are picked just before they bloom and then they pickle them but he doesn't know their name in En­glish- I say oh they're Capers! He says “Jay you are killing me! How can you know this from so little informa­tion?” I explain that it was a good guess but from this day forward it seemed like I was always “killing him”. After I return I discover a poem by Yunus Emre that has the phrase 'you are killing me' so perhaps it is a common saying in Turkish.

Gül has arrived but is asleep.

Semih has gone to pick up a farmer who he worked with/for a long time ago in Mersin.

He (the farmer) and I get are served something to eat- more çorba (soup) (this, Semih and I had at lunchtime- my dairy allergy is a problem as most çorba is made with milk- this was a broth with orzo pasta and a red pepper oil on top then stuffed zucchini, eggplant and more dolmas. His farm is 5 hectares and he has a cow, pistachio and olive trees – with so little land he can make a living but I think it is difficult - I am told that if a farmer has 10 or more hectares he lives well and can go on good vacations but with 5 you are on the edge and the majority of farms are smaller.

The EU declared that Turkey has too many farmers 15% and that they need to be only 5%. That seemed outrageous but Durmuş explained that most farms are so small that they are not an efficient way to produce food.

But if Turkey was/as it is almost now/agriculturally self sufficient – wasn't that precisely because there were so many farmers and farms? Plus what are those 10% people supposed to do in life? The educa­tion of the rural people in Turkey is on a need to know basis. In urban areas with industry needing skills and bodies or advanced knowledge, education is more necessary. There is a mildly(?) corrupt welfare system in place here where the poor are supplied with the basics in food and shelter. Semih complains that the people who are closest to the beliefs of the parties in power are the most likely to receive the subsidies and that there are millions of people (many young) who do not work and do not want to – perhaps because the government provides enough to survive. (yes this opinion of Semih's sounds very 'Republican' and I do not know the facts but there are nearly everywhere I have been in Turkey men of all ages sitting around in plastic chairs all day long, drinking çay, in the shade).

Semih thinks that Middle East peoples are too easily satisfied with a small amount “it is enough” ~ so his job of increasing productivity so “they will get more money” is met with “we don't need more”.

The Mersin farmer offers me a cigarette, he is surprised that I do not smoke ~ He speaks no English, we communicate with context and gestures. He talks to me through Semih but when Semih leaves we sit (on the balcony) and he'll say something – it is short and with gestures we get by.

It is time for Semih to take him to the Faculty Guest Hotel where all the Guests will stay and Batuhan's family is already staying, (the rest will arrive tomorrow on the day of the Kına). Semih says “come”- so Gülat and I come along. I don't know that we are going to drop him (the farmer) at the Hotel and then meet all 17 of Batu's family at the Kahramanmaraş famous Ice cream17 Parlour to meet and eat. But that's where we go. Handshakes all around and I finally get to meet the groom. Batuhan's father is a contractor and Batu(han) now has a job with a computer electronics company and he will work while writing his PHD thesis (for the school of Philosophy- I couldn't get a sense of how computer and philosophy were connected but they are if you are involved in computing in Turkey- but I tried. Batu's English is good, he is a large man and the only other man I met, in Turkey with long hair/pony tail (other than myself and who was not gay or a transvestite). His father is a slender, tall (for Turkey) man with a long face, a slight hook to his nose, sandy hair, his mother is also tall, a handsome woman, they are both in their 50's.) Batu sits near/next to me at the table with all of his family and we talk a bit. He has a good sense of very dry humor and admits that during the 'wedding' in Safranbolu there might be '10 people who speak English' so I will have another challenge in a week.

serçe= sparrow, there are flocks of sparrows all around the apartment and they look very much like sparrows, though I also thought that they might be swallows but Semih said 'no they have long tails' except that I did see some swallows and their tails were shorter than the ones near my home.

28 June day of Kına

Come back from swimming, Gülan is playing the piano Bilge is singing (a high clear lovely soprano) Ruhan and Gülat sometimes joining in, all practising to sing the traditional songs for Kına. (I thought that they would be sung at the ceremony but if they were I didn't recognize them)

Last night during the chaos of cooking and planing and sewing, Semih shows me a photo album with pictures of kına for Gülat and his wedding. There were pictures of him when he was young and a slim dark haired handsome man.

While swimming Semih tells me that the reason there was such an abrupt transition in the photo al­bum of the kına for Gülat and him, was that about 26 years ago he lost his brother, mother, and father in a very short time and that losing his entire family in such a short time transformed him from the dark haired slender handsome mustachioed man in the earlier photos into the appearance that he has today (as he actual­ly looks very much like he did 20 years ago- I had just thought there was a gap of many years in the album).

We swam and while hanging on the edge of the pool he tells me this. Then we talk a bit about religion and about Hitite symbols to think about while we travel later to Hitite sites. Maybe we can find someone to ask about our ideas (we don't).

After swimming, due to nearby roadwork there is no electricity so, no shower. We take Ruhan and Gülat to hairdresser (Kuaför), arrange for transportation for the folkloric group (8+ dancers and 2 musicians) and make sure at another hotel that there are rooms available in case a family feud/argument occurs and one part of the family will not want to be in the same hotel as the other. Then to a restaurant above the Universi­ty's new campus for food. The slow cooked tandır (the word means oven in a hole in the ground- so pit roast­ing) lamb, coke, salata, and şalğam (this is a nasty [to me] beverage- purple carrot juice, a hot spice, vinegar, some sugar, salt, orchid root, and maybe fermented and maybe turnip- two years ago I took one sip and in­stantly said “I can't drink this”) ok this time this visit I am able to at least swallow it. Maybe it's a digestive, it's supposed to help hangovers (I don't have one) so if I think of it as medicine? I actually finish a 6 ounce bottle of the stuff. All this accompanied with etmek bread, this time very fresh/warm with nigella seeds that really taste like a sort of onion, not like the flat taste I get from the ones purchased in Seattle.

Kahramanmaraş 5:30 am roosters, doves, some traffic/ it's already %^*&^% hot. Didn't sleep that much but my body clock is very sun directed so I'm very awake, I heard the call to prayer, dozed a bit but couldn't sleep anyway so a shower and now at a desk/table, nude, writing and pretending I'm Hemingway in Spain except he wrote fiction and I'm trying to report details, which is only somewhat like fiction.

2 salads, a mint, parsley, tomato with a dark oil and ? Dressing (probably vinegar or really just lemon juice), and an eggplant parsley tomato (both had banana green peppers) with the same dressing, and, of course tea.

Then we take the 'girls' Gül, Gülan, and Bilge to kuaför or – no we pickup Gülat and Ruhan or – no we went to the banquet hall and he (Semih) made sure of plans and we put up a small sign with an arrow that Semih had sort of designed and Durmuş finished with a color photograph of Batu and Gül. Then back home (does the order really matter?) oh and on the visit to the banquet hall we brought 2 boxes of mixed nuts (in little individual plastic bags- enough for 100 people) that Batu's family brought with them.18

When we return, much of Gülat's family have arrived from Kayseri and the area around Ürgüp (I think) most of the women have headscarves, and the men are in crisp short sleeved dress shirts. Gülat's fa­ther spent time in Germany, vaguely remembered me from my last visit and wanted to speak German- at that moment the memory of our last meeting came flooding back to me and I knew I should just say no, because 1. I don't really speak German, 2. I could/can barely understand his German, except in context.- However he is the only person outside of Semih's family that says my name clearly and correctly.

I need a shower (Semih warned me while we were swimming and still I got burned this morning) and pack my smaller bag with necessities because Durmuş' son Çağrı ....and Gülan are taking me to the Student Guest Hotel for the night because Semih expects that family to return to his home after Kına, I will be crowd­ed out, and that way Gülat's parents can sleep in my room.

In some ways this is like the funeral I experienced last visit. People from all over the country come on the day of the celebrations/event and leave the next.

Semih keeps thanking me for helping him with this but I am mostly keeping him company. I can see that having a person (even if you have to speak a foreign language to him) with you all day, is better than hav­ing to run around doing all these things alone.

In the Guest Hotel, I hang up my nice clothes and sweat.- it is 40°C+ again (and I think it will be this way for another couple of days). Throughout the day there were patches of clouds and sometimes a breeze and relief but now it's just hot. I lay down with earplugs for a nap, someone is to come for me at 6:45pm, I doze with a light towel over my eyes. I do not want to be late so I am roused every 15 minutes- at 6:15 I show­er/rinse and dress up. Semih said to bring a sportcoat but I can't bear the idea of putting more clothes on and in fact he will not be wearing one either. Only a few men have suit coats on, one is Batu and the other is his father a slender man with a little belly who dances well.

[dove music]

But I bring the coat and at 6:45 I am down on the stairs in front of the hotel, while standing there many members of Batu's family come and go, we merhaba 19(Hello) and bow/nod our heads slightly and I smile that I am able to even recognize them after only seeing most of them once, the night before – at 7:05 a young man approaches (while I'm waiting a valet asks me questions in Turkish and we cope, he offers me tea while I'm waiting, it is a kind custom and pleasant and gives me something to do while I wait) and asks me if I am me. Semih has sent 4 students to get me and take me to the banquet hall. I think I understand that one of them works under a different professor (that turns out to be wrong) and they are all master students not un­dergrads. 2 speak a fair amount of English but I am not sure how the others do (turns out one of them, who I met during the orchard visit does pretty well, but does not want to speak sentences to me).

The driver is the man who came to get me and asked me my name- his name is Atilla Yüksek (yes like Atilla the hun, I also met a couple of Çengis' as in Genghis Khan) and I regret I cannot remember/did not un­derstand the other students' names.

We arrive a full hour before the kına begins and we are the only ones there and there is nothing for us to do. Also it is stifling now and the air conditioning was off, so we ask them to turn it on, Please and they do but it stays hot until it is totally dark and then the staff opens the windows (well into the festivities).

On top of the apartment buildings are barrels and solar panels-- it is how they heat the water until November- then they use gas to heat the water (I think). Also the stove was gas from a propane tank not from a line in the ground. In central Turkey there is a move by the government to gasify the cities but that has not reached this area.

We get bored and go downstairs (the hall is on our 3rd floor their 2nd) to stand outside and for a short while direct people up to the hall, but it is not really necessary. Then Families arrive, the nuts and plates of fruit are on the tables and bottles of coke, sprite and water (su) are on the tables. The waiters will bring alco­holic beverages if you like but because Gülat's parents travelled to Mecca and therefore are hac (hajj) I.e. very religious and no alcohol please in fact while I was packing to go to the Hotel her father comes in to the bed­room and asks me to leave (by gestures) and I hurry and he rolls out a prayer rug as I leave the room.

I sit at a table with Gülan, Bilge, Çağrı, ... Durmuş, Ruhan, and Aynur, Orhan (Durmuş' youngest son) basically runs around all the time.

This is the only picture I can find of Aynur and Orhan-so far

The room becomes nearly full, Semih and Gülat and Batu's father and mother sit together and a place is waiting for the Director of the University, but he does not come, though maybe his representative did, I'm not sure, but we wait for a while before the evening really begins. They have an RSVP from him saying he would come for a bit but had another affair to attend so would not be there for the whole evening.

There is a band (synth, guitar, 2 violins, and male and female singers) in the beginning English pop songs and then occasionally a folk song, sometimes people danced sometimes not.

Batu was in a blue suit and Gül was in a white dress closely fitted in the bodice and sheer but not re­vealing and the skirted part was short, had a gathered layer that was attached at one hip so it draped to her right.

The folkloric group arrives and the women have a burgundy Fez-like hat with gold coins and a scarf that hangs down the back of the their heads and around their necks. Then pants with bloused legs (red- vel­vet(?) and over this is a shift of what looks like white satin and a long sleeved thigh length embroidered red velvet coat on top. The men had bolero type vests, peasant shirts and traditional deep crotched pants and a cummerbund.

They are accompanied by a drummer (2 headed 18” in diameter drum, up side is hit with a heavy wooden mallet and the backside is slapped with a thin stick so heavy beat front and accents\off beats come from the slap and ticking on the back) and a zurna (oboe type instrument).

The 1st set of dances told the story of the bride (reluctant) and the 1st dance was mostly about all the things a wife does, wash, cook, have baby, look beautiful. Then the bride comes in and resists having the kına (henna) put on her hand but it happens and it is bound to her hand by a handkerchief.

[Gül hates the smell of kına and refused to have it put directly on her hand, in fact it seemed like she was pretty much the reluctant 'bride' for this ceremony. The photo album that Semih showed me with Gülat's kına was interesting in contrast as there was little to no costuming involved- a different era and she was a willing participant- her daughter is of a different time]

One additional note- the 'bride' (dancer) comes in with a red veil draped over her head and she is wearing an elaborately embroidered velvet dress. The dress is red and the embroidery is gold and it is called 1000 branches bindallı (bin= thousand dal= branch)- someone (I don't remember if I asked who) has given the family (or was it from Aynur?) an extravagant version of this dress for Gül to wear later in the ceremony.

Then in come the men. One of them plays the drunkard and clown and then the groom (in black!) -he also does not want the kına but relents then they all dance men & women(all of this was quite complicated and long and trading off of who was singing, who was dancing who was coercing whom etc etc....) and then the women go out and bring in Gül who has changed into her bindallı, and then Batu and he is not in anything special. They sit and young women(Gülan, Bilge, and many who I don't know) come in with candles and there is applying the kına to Gül's hand (except that the henna is in a little red glittery bag) and her hand is then wrapped in a scarf and then a platter of candles which 1st Gülan and then Bilge carry and hold over the head of 1st Gül and then Batu. They circle their heads with the candles and it seems like I've left out that Batu gets henna tied onto his hand too but that's vague so maybe I'm wrong. Then there is a line dance20 and the folk­loric group exits and the ceremony is over and the party begins.

So Bilge's sort of bridesmaid (as maybe is also Gülan) and the young women with the candles (some are girls from the families) are the other wedding 'maids'. They leave and then there is more traditional dancing mixed with pop and during the more 'Turkish' music we dance- yes I dance too.

At the end the students are to take me back to the Hotel, but then ask if I know Çorba (soup) and if I would join them and we go to this small place and they have a milk based soup with lamb cheeks and brains (and so I'm sorry I can't try it) and I get a soup that tastes like a bean soup but they don't know what it is in English. (Lentil soup mercimek)

Durmuş took photos.

One of the students used Semih's (it's really Gülat's) movie camera.

Bilge during the dancing looked very sad and I asked her where her boyfriend was and she said in Ankara.

Bilge and Gülan were wearing make up and it was interesting how it changed and didn't change their faces. Bilge has a very sharply defined face square jaw broad forehead and a wide smile that can light up the room. Her makeup accented those qualities and yet flattened the planes of her cheekbones. Gülan has a more rounded face softer lines and her makeup sharpened yet smoothed her face.

Durmuş's wife Aynur (a handsome woman with a very strong upright posture, and a somewhat high/loud slightly nasal voice- I had a difficult time understanding her, more than most of the people who I was with and I think it was because she was from the north and speaking in a slightly different way/accent) was the one who knew the traditions and was sort of the director of the ceremony.

Batu's father is a self taught dancer and he and his wife move well together and the 1st dance that Batu and Gül (she was so happy to dance with him at that moment she glowed) danced. The contrast was extreme the 1st problem was that the music was in 3 (a waltz) so his father and mother are literally waltzing around but Gül and Batu are 2 stepping (Gülan said “he is a bit stiff” and given the situation who wouldn't be) so they cannot glide as the music is fighting them.

The Turkish (not couple) dancing is feet keeping the beat and arms raised to shoulder height and maybe snapping fingers and sometimes a circle with someone in the center and other times you sort of face off with someone and approach and then turn close so your backs nearly touch and continue through so that you have now exchanged places. This I could do. The last dance was a line dance and that I failed to do as Semih expected to his delight. It is a 1 2 3 kick left kick right. I am stronger on my left foot and so I kept on losing the pattern and often hopped/kicked with the wrong foot 1st and ruined the line. Ah well, a few days later in the pool I was trying to figure out if there wasn't a hop between kicks or something or maybe it was in 7 instead of 5, that night I couldn't figure it out, in the pool I did.

29 June Sunday

Language lesson

It is 7am the imam nearby is preaching. His words echo 2 times clearly over the city. He speaks in short phrases so that the echoes end before he says the next thing, and it was a short preach!

[This is the 7th day, I have been on vacation one week!]

iyi = good

tamam = ok, all right (and probably the translation of Semih's “ya sure” from two years ago, which he doesn't say anymore. I don't recall hearing Tamam so much (ever?) last visit but now – especially on the phone I hear it all the time. Tamam is an agreement.)

patlıcan = eggplant (c is pronounced j so if I were to live in Turkey I would probably change the spelling of my name to Cay dangerously close to the word for Tea)

kız= girl

kırmızı = red

All three of these words with i's with no dots and hard to pronounce correctly

Kadın = woman

kızmet = fate but I was pronouncing it kizmet and so in the beginning no one knew what I meant (this was also one of the 'how do you know this word” from Semih. While with Durmuş we talked about it, and used it a great deal, it wasn't actually a joke- rather just a reality check that in life who knows what will hap­pen, especially in Turkey it's all kızmet.

Then there is ö (sort of an er sound like in other languages) and ğ which just sits there in a word silently

öğle = noon öğlende = at noon, but sounds like öğleme

If someone sneezes čok yaşam (long life) but in the beginning really doesn't sound like this at all (chok yahsham)

yok yo is the current 'no' I rarely heard hayır so I'm guessing that it is now the more formal/polite form

And last visit there was, for me, the mystery of when to use sağol and when to use teşekkür- this visit I heard sağol only once, and now teşekkür has become teşekkürler (which must mean 'many' thanks as 'ler' 'lar' are plural endings, and the accent has changed from the 1st syllable to the 2nd- though everyone denied that this had changed at all.)

The day was full of sitting and saying goodbye to all the guests. I stayed at the Student Guest Hotel last night and was told to wait for Semih to come and get me. No time was given. I got bored sitting in my room reading and I discover when I leave the room to wander that breakfast is available- I had gone looking for a cup of tea and was surprised to see many members (Batu's family) of the Kına party sitting down in a hall, which is the hotel restaurant. I am not an experienced traveller and was not prepared for the fact that everywhere we stayed through this trip (and if I had thought about it last trip) breakfast was included.

So I get tea and a typical Turkish breakfast = bread (etmek), tomato cuts (domates), oil cured black olives, cucumber slices (salatalık), hard boiled egg (yumurta) and there is usually cheese (peynir).

On the way back to my room I see Batu who asks me “What are you doing here?” There's really no answer so I shrug my shoulders and smile. I read some more, get concerned that it's close to checkout time so I pack up and go downstairs and see Batu again who tells me that Semih and Gülat are here.

They had arrived 10 minutes before. So now we sit with all these people from Batu's family until they leave, some early some later, and more tea and talk and good byes, then back to the house, and Ruhan and Bilge must be taken to the bus station for their return to Ankara, and it is decided that Bilge will meet me at the airport on Thursday. Earlier I find out that their father/husband (Musa?) does not speak English at all but the other daughter (I don't yet understand what her name is though Semih tells me it is a mineral) works for Lufthansa and speaks English well.

However it sounds like I will mostly be taken to the museums and let loose on my own (I will see how that turns out, on one hand could be better ~ but how to negotiate in such a large city as Ankara might be problematic ~ it turns out that I just didn't understand how Ankara and my hosts would be.)

Then back home to see all the rest of Gülat's family off. That is intense. Then Semih takes Batu and Gül to the airport-- it is hot and I lay down and around 6pm we go for a swim- after Semih has taken a nap too.

In the pool he asks me if I want 'such a government' I can't figure out why he would ask that and then he gets confused as he is asking me about dinner, which he is going to make.

Saç Kavurmak is both a dish and a dish. Saç = iron sheet, the pan that this dish is made in is like a shallow wok and made of sheet iron. Kavurmak means roasted but in fact the meat etc is fried, though with very little oil so it really is fried. The pan seemed enameled but later when I used it I am unsure about that. The ground lamb that he had gotten a few days ago he low heat dried it out, then medium heat to fry the fat and added garlic sarımsak and I had diced green peppers, tomatoes and 3 smallish onions for him, which he added (1st onions and peppers) at high heat after the meat began to brown, then a bit of salt, and dry thyme near the end. Cooked down to mush and served with bread and a small salad of the rest of the tomatos and some olives.

Then more talk, but I am falling asleep by 10pm so off to bed and 'early' sleep-- so in a way not much happened today.

30 June Monday

Woke at 4, went back to sleep, and then a big wind wakes me around 6- the longest sleep I've gotten so far. My teeth and arm21 still hurt, when I return to Seattle I'll have to do something about this.

Semih is up and we have eggs and bread and çay and then kahve. Read some info concerning our ex­plorations of Hitit (Hitite) culture. (this will be our theme/ my theme and then it turns out all of our theme for the travels after the düğün seeing archaeological sites related to the Hitit(e) empire.)

Semih thinks that the wind (dusty, I'm a little concerned about it due to asthma and we are going to the 'dam lake' [dam lake, an artificial lake created by a dam- this was one of our continuing jokes at dinner- Gülat told me that we were going to look at (and later visit) the 'dam lake' said as if “the damn lake is beauti­ful”) I explained that perhaps a different way of phrasing this would be best in English and we laughed- for 2 days about it.]

When the students took me for çorba after the Kına they asked me about politics, it seems that the news here is all about the U.S. Attacking Iran- I haven't found any news in English that confirms this but that doesn't make it less so.

Then they ask about military service, some of them had already done theirs, 20 months, 3 months, you can even pay 10,000 YTL and basically get out of doing it at all.

Turkey is a land of wait-ers, people sit in 1,2, & 3's at the side of streets, in lobbies, on park benches, just waiting. Anywhere I go it seems there is waiting. I don't think it is that everything is late though that is sometimes true, and anywhere that involves transportation definitely involves standing around and waiting to board, to disembark, to walk, to clear. But the most remarkable is how we head in one direction and at any moment we are interrupted and must wait while this newest event plays itself out. Today we went to Semih's office to arrange for my flight from Trabzon to Istanbul and a hotel there, we also checked email, and of course, it is his office so constant traffic and a former student walks in with a branch and large clusters of grapes, moldy and ugly.

So this is an emergency and Atilla is sent off to help the man, find out what the disease is and how to solve the question of what this is... comes back with half an answer, is sent off, returns with whole answer and now begins search for a solution and I'm sitting waiting for the next thing to happen. Then a big man comes in, he speaks good English, he is a contractor for the green house that Gülat is having built (she got a grant, a big one, to have this research greenhouse built with a great deal of automation and computers and sensors for everything from temperature and humidity, light intensity, and moisture of the soil. I ask him if the green­house is complicated because it is so big and he says in fact it is the opposite. That all the high technology in such a small (for his company) greenhouse is what makes it difficult.

Gülat's greenhouse

One of the odd things I noticed at the Kına was that Çarğrı (Durmuş' son) had two cellphones, which he placed on the table. When I asked Gülan, Bilge and him about that they tell me that many people have more than one- A new company will offer a good deal – free calling or something- so you buy that phone and when that phone is almost used up then you get another or you have a phone for business and a phone for friends or you have two phones and the company you work for gives a phone and now you have 3 phones.

The big man's cellphone rings, Semih's desk phone rings, Gülat's cellphone rings, then Big man's oth­er phone rings, he says 'one moment' to his 1st phone, answers his 2nd phone, Semih is working on the wed­ding guest list, Gülat is calling people to see if those who said they wanted to attend will still attend. One phone call is done and the Big man goes back to his 1st phone.

Eventually everyone is done with phones. Big man has a short conversation with Gülat and leaves. Gülat goes back to her office. We go to lunch (after or before the phone chaos I manage to change my food for the plane trips home, get the plane ticket from Trabzon to Istanbul, pay for the hotel for the overnight stay in Istanbul which I had stayed in last visit, it was rudimentary, sufficient and near Takşim and therefore easy to find.)

Lunch was a mediocre Karne Yarık (which means split belly- an eggplant is split open and stuffed and then roasted [seems melted] into mush and deliciousness- however Gülat's are much much better so this was a disappointment) from the University cafeteria ~ however I am found that a side dish of rice is so good (plain rice- pilav) that I gobble that down in a moment. A plate of cherries, a dish of yogurt and cucumber, more like a soup (which Semih tells me “don't take”) and a basket of bread. It's inescapable – starch is a major part of the Turkish diet.

To eat food with pits- one of the customs that is unavoidable is how to eat olives or cherries- anything with pits. Now that's not a real problem however in Turkey the issue is what to do with the pit once the fruit is eaten and you have it in your mouth... what I observed is that you cover your mouth with one hand and re­move the pit with the other hand behind the first. So someone across from you can't see your open mouth ejecting the pit.

This also is what you do with a toothpick.

Once I noticed it I tried to do this all the time, but I didn't have the habit so I probably offended peo­ple- unwillingly.

We cannot swim because they drain the pool on Mondays, so in the afternoon we go out to a park above an enormous lake behind a hydroelectric dam- the infamous 'dam lake'. There are numerous circular fish pens in the lake. The wind is hard so the lake has whitecaps and from a distance is a deep blue ~ bluer than the clear sky – but the closer we get I can see that the wind has stirred up the muddy bottom near the shore and the middle of an arm of the lake has become more of a turquoise green to slate green.

We frightened a bird kuş a large predator white and brown, too big for an osprey but maybe related.

On weekends many families come here, there are picnic tables and low to the ground grills. Semih say 'smoke like a forest fire' on the weekends, but today only 2 park workmen and ourselves. Windblown wild old stock grape vines, fruitless almond trees, below us nearer the lake are a flock of black colored birds and more of the bird that we saw on the road flying over the lake. It seemed like they were looking for ways to snap fish from the pens.

We sat and talked, ate peanuts, squash seeds and a type of chickpea with salt a sort of soft straglia. Had a beer and then home, and ....

Semih and Gülat had failed trying to cook with saffron. Saffron grows in Turkey, in fact this becomes important later in my trip, but it is not part of Turkish cuisine. So I am commandeered to make (quite will­ingly by the way) a dish with the saffron that they have. I made a lamb saffron pilav for dinner (which thank­fully turned out the way I expected. Cooking with propane is different from with natural gas my impression is that it is hotter) . Dinner was a success and later Aynur came over with Orhan (the youngest son) and they had baklava (butter so none for me) and I went to bed.

1 July Tuesday

Swimming in the Am then Gülan made pasta for lunch, crushed in a mortar/pestle walnuts, then sauteed them in oil and that was the sauce something simple, a bit laborious, and tasty.

I finished reading the books that I brought so will begin to dig into Semih's collection which is eclectic and probably a mix of the whole family's education, but maybe pleasure too, (or maybe not).

2 July Wednesday

I had the afternoon to myself and used the computer. It took an hour – sheesh- and I never got into my alternative sites only the gmail. That's too much time online. Then I played/composed at Semih's old pi­ano (his father's and therefore a keepsake). It's not in good shape, the action is dieing and there is a honky-tonk ringing to the notes on many keys. So the piece I wrote tried to use only the notes that were 'cleaner'.

On Monday we had gone to the kına hall to pay for it's rental. On the floor below was an Azeri woman giving a piano lesson to a young girl~ the teacher is a friend of the family (Semih's) and was Gülan's teacher. After the lesson was finished Semih introduced us and I played the Belgrade sketch and she whipped out a Csardas. She will be in Safranbolu too ~ we will be the only single people in the Çağlar party (that's not strict­ly true but it is what Semih tells me). Her name is Arzu (wish) she is about 5'4” solid, brown haired, probably in her late 30's early 40's. I'm coming to realize that Azerbaijan and Turkey must speak versions of Altaic (I.e. Turkish). But sometimes I have trouble understanding the variation.


The surprise, to me, was that the piano she was using (baby grand- newish) had that same honky-tonk sound- so maybe this is on purpose? And a cultural preference.

The piece I wrote yesterday by necessity was modal key signature Bflat sort a Dm but no G's because those G's were twangy.

Later everyone came home and at 4:30pm Semih Durmuş and I were off for what I thought was to be an afternoon in the mountains, which to me meant hiking and to them was a picnic.

Başkonuş Park

My misunderstanding became clearer when 1st Durmuş appeared with a hand held grill, and then we stopped at a 'vegetable stand' and bought chicken, 2 kg potatoes, peppers, tomatos and eggplant, then next we stopped for beer (We had stopped there before on the way to the park above the 'dam lake'. Semih an­nounced that he didn't know how or why but this beer place had the coldest beer in the area- it was cold).

Semih brought camping chairs, a bow and arrow (hunish- that he got from Hungary [I think] a 'real bow in the Hun style'), Durmuş brought the grill, and of course his camera.

We drove into the mountains, onto a nature preserve (Başkoniş Parki- I think) the government owns the land but it is privately managed.

There was a young woman (Evrim = evolution) who is the official of the nature conservancy (this is the closest I can come to what the management would be called in English) and she was giving a power point lecture to a group of families about the flora and fauna of the park. Durmuş knows her and after she was fin­ished she joined us at our 'picnic' area. Meanwhile we collected wood and Durmuş started the fire.


The eggplant were put on the grill 1st and roasted until they were soft and the skin was charred in places. Then the tomatoes and peppers were roasted. All three were then peeled! The skin of the eggplant crumbled or peeled off in long strips, the inside soft wet and very mushy AND hot so the closer you were to fin­ishing peeling one the hotter and harder to handle it was.

The tomatoes were easier to peel but because they contain so much liquid they were harder to handle (like peeling a balloon full of boiling hot water).

The peppers sort of stymied me because the skin is so thin and the skin stuck to the flesh so that the act of peeling them often left me with very little pepper meat.

The eggplant was then mashed into mush, (baba ganoush-like without the tahini or other ingredients) I ate a tomato with a chunk of bread, the others just picked up the peppers and ate them like sagging corn­dogs, holding them by the stems. Then beer- actually the beer began in the car, except for Semih who drove. But now more beer.

Evrim had 2 children, from a caretakers' family tagging along with her, they were very hungry and ate with us.

As she and I finished preparing the vegetables, Durmuş had salted the chicken and now put ½ of it into the grill and occasionally checking it, talking, drinking- difficult to pay attention to cooking while a pretty young woman who clearly wants company (she is from Istanbul and been up here in this mountain park for little more than a month- there were hints of loneliness, for more sophisticated conversation, and she and Dur­muş had met other times and they liked each other).

Semih brought out a cardboard box with holes punched in it and his Hungarian Bow & Arrows and at­tracted a crowd of park visitors (men & boys) by shooting it and mostly hitting the box squarely. Everyone had a turn- my right arm is still very sore (6 weeks now) so I shot the required (by Semih) number of arrows (badly) and was done with it.

At the table as the 1st batch of chicken was ready to eat Semih tells how we met to Evrim.

He added something new to the story. He thought that I was, like him, a hobbyist and that is why he was surprised that I could hear the one note that was wrong in his transcription. We have known each other via the internet for 9 years now. That seems remarkable to me.

Semih and Durmuş are drinking all the beer and getting louder, Semih and I get into an argument be­cause he cannot believe that there are places near Seattle where you can see so many stars.

The stars are wonderful, the milky way resembles a line of cloudiness seeming to mask stars behind it. Durmuş points to Ursa Major (big dipper- Turkish it's big bear though he said it was a pot so maybe they have 2 names for the constellation like we do) It is the only constellation I can recognize, in fact I try to figure out which star is the north star and it is difficult because there are so many in that direction/area of the sky.

{Last visit I got fed up for a time with Semih, midway through our journey. This evening I was more and more unhappy- concerned about a drunken man driving on twisty mountain roads in the dark. I didn't like how he and Durmuş were getting louder and louder and showing off to/for the young woman, I was dis­appointed that there had been no hiking. My mood darkened, my thoughts negative, as night fell and the wind came up Evrim said we could spend the night as she had a tent- it was getting cold I did not want to risk my health with no meds or ability to help myself. I was just getting angry.

Then I remembered how last visit at my wits end- I didn't understand what was happening yet it had worked out- so I cooled off, kept in mind that I would insist on going home for the night. When Semih did ask me if I wanted to stay I said no 'because I am cold and I don't have the right clothes”.}

So we put out the fire and said goodbye to Evrim and came home with only one 'incident' on the way.

{Semih is in early stage Diabetes- his mother died of it- he drinks 2-4 beers a night. It's not strong but 1½ is way enough for me. Made me think of how I don't always take care of myself- I.e. the cat, eating the tomatos & peppers (risky but it is working out and I don't know why) etc anyway my concern for him grows as I recognize behaviors of mine in him.}

The time we came back from the 'dam lake' there was a tortoise crossing the road. It stopped, we stopped, it looked at us, we looked at it, then continued on. On the trip back this night I missed it but Durmuş called out that a mink had crossed the road, We did see a hare in the headlights.

Arriving home Gülat is finishing her dress for the wedding düğün, with beadwork, a mauve multi-lay­ered long gown, strapless, it looks like, and Gülan's is wine colored and similar with beadwork down the split in the outer layer- diaphanous.

Today I see online NYTimes an explanation of something that has been on TV- in the last few days, some generals (retired) and a few other people are arrested for planning to assassinate Orhan Pamuk (and others).

And on the news today 22 people – businessmen, politicians etc were arrested but no charges are an­nounced- so the news thinks that the government has decided to forestall being closed with this act but Semih says that the government may fall/be closed before I leave the country (they in fact survived the trial, however the conspiracy trials and arrested continue to this day)

It is hotter again, too hot to sleep this morning, and now too hot to nap this afternoon. The forecast for the places we will be visiting for the rest of the week are cooler (even Ankara) but maybe not enough.

I did my laundry this morning, the scent of the detergent stayed in my clothes and is very strong. So I left the shirts out in the slight wind and blistering sun and that helped but my jeans are still odoriferous. So I'm wearing them both to acclimate myself to the scent and in hopes of ridding them of it- or at least lessen­ing it.

Tentative Itinerary-

Durmuş takes me at 9am on the 3rd for the day until my plane leaves for Ankara at 3pm Bilge will meet me at the airport and take me to her home for the next days' exploration of Ankara.

Temmuz 4th Ankara Muze (museum) etc... try to see the train museum for Roger

Temmuz 5th otobus to Safranbolu for düğün

Temmuz 6th explore Safranbolu

Temmuz 7 & 8th Çorum- Hittite ruins- Ortaköy- Amasya Muze

Temmuz 9 Samsun

Temmuz 10th Ordu ½ day Giresin (Amazon Island) Muze

Temmuz 11 & 12th Trabzon-Rize-Ayder/yayla, Muze, Sumela Uzungöl (which means long lake)

Temmuz 13th Return to Istanbul

3rd July

Breakfast, then off with Durmuş to his Technical College, do email and now 10am and 4 hours (at least until airport.

Little Details; Semih's favorite store MMMigros, a chain which to me seems a cross between a grocery store and a big drug store without the drugs/Pharmacy.

In the morning (maybe other times- actually other times too) there is a news program with a man or woman sitting in front of the camera with a stack of newspapers that he read to you and maybe comments upon.

The 22 people arrested are still not charged, some news reports think they will be called terrorists-- this morning a plumber tells of working on the newspaper owner's bathroom and how he discovered a gun hidden behind/above the shower stall.

Chamber of Commerce (for the whole country) back the men arrested, the head of the organization says, in public, that the arrests are suspicious and reflect the trouble the ruling party is in.

Water Kettle and Soup Pots

Durmuş shows me his copper utensil collection. It fills a storage room of a surplussed building of his college. (It used to be the official buildings of the Engineering department but they have moved to the new cam­pus)

Many objects are plates or bowls from areas near Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Konya, some are Syrian or Russian- lamps, burners. He explains how those big pots that I have seen made in the Kahramanmaraş Bazaar are used. They hold maybe 50 kilos of raw wheat and a fire is put under them and they are boiled/cooked. Then spread out to dry and then taken to a mill to be ground into different grades of bulgar (finer for çorba, coarser for köfte and other dishes) But there is another kind where the husk is off and this is cooked and yogurt is added and kneaded and then dried (and ground?) and this is Tarhana. So as he was growing up there were sacks of bulgar for different dishes for the winter- 80-90% of food is/was wheat.

As head of the school (Durmuş) people stand as he enters, make sure we have a place to sit, something to drink and often they remain standing even in conversation.

Durmuş' last name is Öztürk, Öz = original(or real) Turk, he is about 5'4”, ½ legs, a large belly, salt & pepper (mostly black) short bristly hair, a broad forehead.

When he stood to fire the bow and arrow, wide stance, feet firmly on the ground he looked like a kid ready to take on any bully in the schoolyard.

Some mornings Pamuk (the cat) will catch a bird from the balcony, but 1st only hurts the bird, doesn't completely kill it and then screams for Semih to come and see and take care of disposing of it.

After the copper collection tour, we go to the Engineering dept. and sit under trees and are served 1st a glass of water with ice then very cold sparkling mineral water which comes from near Kayseri- a first for me I think- a 20ml green bottle.

At MMMigros we got some wine- not an expensive red one, more a rosé in texture than hearty, the other Semih said was white (it didn't look it in the store but I couldn't read the label) but at home it was a richer red than the first.

Coming back from Migros Gülat, Gülan, and Aydur were doing finishing touches to their dresses for the wedding.

Since we are all leaving at the same time in the AM everyone is packing. A very busy evening.

The last few days after I made the Saffron Dinner, now I am allowed to make the tea or heat the water for the çay (I still don't make it right) and Semih has me boil my own eggs for breakfast.

Sometimes I am allowed to help- a little- in the kitchen. I helped de-string the beans for fasulye (bean) last night - a cut bean, tomato and peppers dish that's between soup and stew.

Gülat's mother made a pasta that Gülan made for a meal cooked in a broth (I think maybe only water) The pasta small small squares and a smaller bit of meat inside, then pinched into a sort of pyramid shape and boiled. Then a tomato sauce and a yogurt garlic sauce is ladeled on top. (more on this in Safranbolu)

I am being very strict about no dairy, so when I describe dairy it is never from taste only from ques­tions and looking.

Durmuş has diabetes too, so after lunch, where he had the dessert, we walked up to the top of a high hill above the compus where the school had placed a gazebo, a small barbecue and picnic benches. It was hot! On top of the hill overlooking the campus spread out all around us, factories (spinning mills) and fields of cut wheat and green corn. Before that but after lunch we had walked up to the Student Guest House and got a short tour by the grounds keeper and were served the 1st Turkish coffee of my visit. The coffee grounds truly fine- finer than I can make at home- strong, in a demitasse, bitter- no sugar- and special, unexpected (Durmuş had asked for Nescafé- I heard and understood that- and he was surprised too) so an honor.

Lunch was salad, and a shredded wheat-like dessert and a yogurt meat dish and a bulgar and pasta dish. I had one bite of the meat dish- very nice but... I would have eaten 2 dishes of bulgar just like the pilav from a day before. Still eating bread with rice or bulgar is an idea that I fight the resistance in myself to do.

Durmuş asks me if I have Semih's cellphone # I say no, Do you have the people in Ankara #- no, You don't have cellphone? no- shock.

So I say kızmet, I don't think he really thought it was funny though we laughed a bit anyway.

But wouldn't international charges be outrageous even if I had one? And if I did have one I doubt I would use it- and in an emergency won't there be someone/where I can get help?

Hope so.

Durmuş delivers me to the GaziAntep airport and I spot Arzu, the piano teacher. She is going to Ankara and so will be on the plane too. So I had someone to talk to for the hour before our flight ~ though we do not sit next to each other on the plane. We tried to talk about music and she laughed at me about how I couldn't count/dance the traditional dance.

Boeing 737-400 rough in taking off not smooth in landing. Announcements in Turkish and English but most of the announcements in English are pre-recorded. The flight is only 55 minutes, so it's almost not worth dozing but I am tempted ~ I nearly fell asleep in Durmuş' office.

It's been hot, hot and windy & windy and hot during my Maraş visit and as we fly out some things I hoped to see from the air – are obscured by clouds!.


Michael Pollen say don't eat anything with ingredients you can't pronounce- that could be a real problem in Turkey (joke).

Please speak slowly

Biraz daha yavaş konuşabilir misiniz- lütfen

They, the women in Ankara, try to teach me this sentence (I asked). It is probably the most important sentence in any language that I don't know, or even that I do know. In Turkish I never once learned it well enough to use it- maybe by the next visit.....

I am met at airport by Bilge Kilıç (sword)- take otobus to their home, Muzaffer- father, Ruhana – mother, Zümrüt- 2nd daughter, Kubra-cousin. Their home, an apartment 4 tiny bedrooms, a dining room table takes up ½ the main room the rest is TV room with 2 divans and then chairs beneath the elevated TV. Muza (and others) are addicted to changing the channel- and the tv is on nearly all the time.

Zümrüt does Aikido and Kendo, is going to study Japanese so in 2 years she can go to Japan to study Kendo (but she doesn't like Japanese food!?). The contrast between Bilge, squarish body, black hair and large breasts and Zümrüt  slender, light brown hair (I later see dark roots so she really has dark hair too)- Bilge walks in a military style, her arms rhythmically swing as she walks fairly briskly. Zümrüt walks quickly but her arms are quieter, she looks more like a gunslinger while she moves. They are both pretty and Zümrüt has some facial features of Uma Thurman and with her martial arts I'm reminded of “Kill Bill”.

I had misunderstood and at first couldn't figure it out. I thought I was told that Bilge was younger than Zümrüt but in fact it was the other way around.

Zümrüt = emerald (she says she looked it up and her name in English would be Esmeralda at the time I was speechless so I couldn't explain that for me she should prefer just Emerald but I thought it).

Muza (Muzaffer= victorious) is a smoking, emphatic stocky man in his 50's (I think) . He speaks no En­glish (and doesn't seem to understand any either) (Zümrüt speaks the most, I think Bilge (= wise) actually speaks more than she admits but accedes to Zümrüt when they are together.) Muza spent at least 30 minutes in Turkish telling me, insisting, that American Indians were Turks, that they had the same culture, mythology, etc... and I tried to say something against that, though in the end, what do I know? So I said 'maybe', he kept on and on though by then I had stopped trying to say anything. (though the more I think about it- there seems to be no connection between the mythologies of the two peoples, and his statement that they share over 100 words seems like a weak connection and not unlikely just not enough to prove the point.)

Kubra- light brown hair (eyes like the family [except for Ruhana] with that washed out blue that I have mentioned- it's very striking) and is very nervous/high strung. She just took an entrance exam to get into a Masters of Education program. First said she didn't speak English but knows many words so- she fights to say something and then....suddenly whole sentences.

Bilge and I exit the otobus and walk a few blocks to the apartment. In this part of Ankara, the road they live on is a very Busy 4 lane Blvd. Like Aurora/hwy 99, there are seemingly cantilevered pedestrian walk­ways over this road.

The traffic is constant (all night too- earplugs were a sleep saver) and loud.

Çay is offered and accepted Zümrüt askes if I want Pink/Carnation with my tea, I am perplexed ~ is this the flower and they dry it and put the powder in tea? No it is clove and clove comes not from a flower (It comes from an Indonesian tree related to the myrtle) but there are carnations that smell like cloves. So I try tea with a clove, and it is a nice change from the other (many) cups I've had today.

Later in the trip I tell Semih and Gülat about the tea and they tell me that it is not unknown but not common.

Dinner is mercimek çorba (lentil soup) salata, kayısı juice (apricot), and balık (fish- probably trout, open fileted, boned and hard fried, the skin sticks to my teeth). The 1st fish of my visit a very tasty change from goat and lamb- oh and bread, of course.

After dinner we go to AltinParki (altin = gold), tonight is Kondi (can't find it so I know that I'm not spelling it right- Semih says that it's not a big celebration) some kind of lighting the minarets festival ~ so while we are walking Muza talks on his cellphone nearly the whole way to the park and Zümrüt and Kubra's cellphone's take turns ringing with greetings on Kondi, this becomes sort of a laughing matter.

Altin Park has a domed tent and a religious folk music concert begins while we are there. Electrified violins, bağlamas and singers, the female singers are dressed in bright satin gowns and the men are in suits. But the two singers I watch don't seem very familiar with the music. They are reading from a music stand. The concert is being broadcast live on TRT so the music stand is very far away, to not interfere with the TV image of them which did not help them feel secure while singing the songs. Accordions, Ney and kavals.

Altin park is a walking around park like the one Semih, Gülan, and Gül and I visited 2 years ago in Is­tanbul ~ it is a place to go after dinner to walk perhaps meet people, there are roasted corn, and cotton candy street carts, ice cream and trinkets, a small train with cars illuminated along its edges that takes people around the park (no rails) and cafés where we have tea- that is not good according to Bilge (it is strong but mostly tannic and bitter). And we walk back to the apartment and chat a bit and I start losing my ability to pay attention so it is time to go to sleep.

4 Temmuz Friday (the 4th of July)

Woke at my standard 5:45am. Laid around until people got up – had a huge breakfast. Zümrüt hurt her back in Aikido 9-10 months ago and went to a Chinese Dr. for treatment so she(?) arranged for her friend(?) Volkan (volcano), a masters student of economics and claimed, like everyone on this trip, to not speak but understand everything I say (which was true except that he spoke very well too). So he will be my “translator/guide” while Muza is our facilitator and adds details in Turkish to the things we see.


We take a taksi (to most places) to The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi)– this is the one I really wanted to see- awarded as one of the best museums in the world. It's well laid out in chronological order (though the displays were not easy to follow as the numbering of them was compli­cated so sometimes we had to wander a bit to find #81 after looking at #80.

The following is not in my journal

The museum is fabulous, all the things (objects) that I knew of from books on the ancient sites in Turkey have representation here. The most wonderful (for me) was that the archaeologists from Çatalhüyük managed to peel off, from the mud walls, the paintings/murals, so here, in real life, are the 9,000 year (yıl) old paintings of the first record of a volcanic eruption with the first 'map' of a 'city', a dancing figure with a leopard skin over its torso. This was the second time when I was so excited/pleased I had tears in my eyes. (The first was during the Kına.)

When I was done going through the museum, I wanted a catalogue. Either they were out or it didn't exist in English so I ended up buying one in Turkish- this won't be bad for me since I know pretty much what I'm looking at already but it will be practically useless for my friends. They did have ones in German, Italian and French- and since the only tour group that came through (rushed really as though 'yes you should do this but we know that you aren't really interested') was Japanese. There was a woman by herself who looked/dressed American but I didn't ask her. Otherwise the museum was essentially empty, Here is one of the most beauti­fully laid out historical museums in the world and no one goes to it. The photos don't look like no one was there but the place is large enough that even two tourist groups were swallowed up and I felt that we had the place to ourselves.

Some of the most remarkable things, there are goddess/god figurines with two heads- sometimes like Siamese twins. Some of the representations of gods look like female below the neck with very phallic heads (maybe those are supposed to be hats?). Most of the 'important' figurines that I had seen in books were re­markably small. Also the colors in reproductions (even on postcards) were way off- the best example is a fa­mous figure of a large, possibly pregnant, mother goddess on a throne. She is maybe 8 inches tall, but in pho­tos seems really big, and the material is an ugly greyish clay but in photos they have made it brown.

(note that her face has been reconstructed and in this photo it is 'closer' to the way she really looks but the grey is much darker in person)

5 July Saturday

Last night Zümrüt and Muza watch 'The Hill have eyes” and I jumped one too many times so off to bed. I thought I'd write but instead went to sleep until roused completely at 6:45am by Muzaffer- a quick scrub then breakfast.

Bilge and Ruhan had gone ahead – yesterday to help with the wedding in Safranbolu. So it was just Zümrüt, Muza and myself yesterday.

Bilge called at mid-night and said to bring something alcoholic to drink. (It turns out it was to calm the nerves of Gül and Batu) So Muza goes out while I pack and Zümrüt makes herself up.

There is no way to catch up on yesterday. It was a bit too much walking, standing in Earth shoes (which I now know have no cushioning!) so my foot aches and I stretched last night while Zümrüt 1st oiled the staves of her Kendo sword and then to ease her back pain, laid on the floor. Her Sensei gave her a new kata sword (wooden instead of bamboo- different technique) with her name on it.

Now it is sit and wait to leave for Safranbolu and düğün. I think we go at 9:30am. Tried to watch TV after breakfast but it is so time consuming without helping me very much. Just about the time I find a word in the dictionary, the news story changes and I've lost all the other words.

The main news is that the ruling party AKP has given it's closing arguments in their closure case and it is up to the judges to decide if they will continue to exist or not, at least I think that's what is going on.

Yesterday, during Zümrüt's shift at the airport an American gave her a pin of the US flag and some other symbol which I did not recognize. She did not know why he gave it to her (abruptly) and I could not ex­plain it either. She then gave me one of those little Turkish flags that were all over for the World Cup match.

Dinner, yesterday- after going everywhere in Ankara, Muza took me to an Urfa restaurant for Urfa style Kebap- a 3 tiered tray of roasted vegetables (peppers, tomato, eggplants) and various meats (beef, goat, lamb) chicken on Skewers and kibbe-like and köfte-like ground meats and something wrapped in a pasta-bread thing.

Then a (small) table sized piece of etmek that you tear a piece off of and put vegetables on (strip charred peel off of the eggplant) mash add meat if you wish wrap bread up- eat. Sort of a wrap, sort of a taco/burrito but not.

Most of the bits of meat were large bite sizes, the chicken skewers and vegetables are more than bite size. The second etmek was barely cooked, soft and easier to wrap around the meat. A very heavy meal, very tasty, lots of food some left over.

This was followed by dessert that was honey, shredded wheat pastry with a cheese filling so I had çay and su (water).

Men's clothes-- Maraş most men are in cotton shirts and a mix of knit or woven cloth, the cloth shirts are single colors and there are a lot of pink-rose colored shirts. The knit shirts are Henley/Polo style with col­lars and in Maraş plain, but in Ankara most seem stripped, horizontal to the ground which makes some of these large men look very wide indeed.

Muza had heart bypass surgery 2 years ago, smokes and eats with vigor. He is a poet (I think at first that this is what he tells me he is- I am mistaken) 54 years (yıl) old.

Yunus Emre was a poet, contemporary of Rumi, also in love with life but less of a religious mystic.

The reason I wrote the above is that Muza made a very big deal out of being a follower of Emre and not Rumi. So I looked him up, in fact in Istanbul I bought a book of his poems in English to read on the Plane. Those poems, some of them, were very attractive. However Emre's reputation as being an unschooled rustic poet of the people was turned on it's head when I found out that he used Western Urban Turkish and that he spent many years studying under a teacher a, Baktashi, which means that he was educated and highly disciplined.

Remarkably, melodies to his poems are still sung. His poems are still recited/known by farmers and rural people. If you type in his name into YouTube you will get many many confusing links and often tunes to his words.

We take otobus to Safranbolu (or Karabuk, they are close and I'm not positive where we go and then where we end up.)

The bus is high off the ground, the mirrors extend in front on a large square arm, they are double mirrors one for distance and one for along the sides. So the bus looks alittle like a centipede kind of bug with droopy antennae. There is a television screen at the front playing dance (pop-rock) videos, lots of quick edits and scantily clad women dancing and various stars singing.

20 minutes on the road and we are still in Ankara. The blocks of apartments (new) 8-10 stories with balconies, various façades but from a distance they all look like a forest of tiny blocks.

We three (Zümrüt, Muza, and I) take seats (are given?) across from each other but there is a lone woman (in a suit vest, at first I thought she worked for the bus company) so an attendant asks to seat her in our row which means that instead of Zümrüt (who speaks English) next to me, Muza (who does not) must move so the woman will be sitting next to a woman. There were 2 babies who took turns screaming so I put in my earplugs and since Muza was visibly both­ered, I got out my bottle of them and offered him a fresh pair (through gestures) he hesitated and then refused.

Ankara is near the center of the Anadolu plateau (most of the 'peninsula' of Turkey, the Asian side is surrounded by mountain ranges, in the middle is a plateau, large flatish more interesting than Kansas. This is the bread basket of Turkey, huge fields of wheat are grown here- bread is a mainstay of the Turkish diet.) The landscape is flat rolling plains farming country but in early July already tan brown fields and land to the horizon, surrounded by low (to me) mountain ranges sort of like the plain and then foothills of Montana.

I've written banjo-like and the word cermuş but I can't find anything that means that word. It doesn't seem to be a word at all- the mystery remains.

Given the various skin colors of Turks and the artful makeup the young women do, I am surprised that this has not crossed to the USA. Some of it is a bit heavy on the foundation but....

I was wrong about the color of this family's eyes. There is a kind of bleached out color but it is a tan, nearly hazel but no green, lighter at the pupil, darker at the edge. At least for the women and Muza, I think Ruhan's eyes are brown.

The Atatürk Mozole. Probably like the Washington monument but I don't remember what our found­ing father's memorial looks like. Atatürk's resembles something designed by Leni Riefenstahl,

path bordered by lions				One of the entrance towers

(The bus is going 110 kph)

It's on top of a hill overlooking Ankara.

You pass a guardhouse then up a road and then a set of mar­ble stairs to the avenue of lions. (Volkan tells me that the original animal for Turkey, as a new republic, was the Wolf but that it was taken by some other country. So after about 5-10 years the wolf was taken off the currency and lions and charging bulls were put in its place.) The lions are laying down but ready to attack in defense. Then more stairs and a tower of Liberty and a Tower of Freedom(?) stand as gateways to the Mausoleum. In­side the towers are bits of Atatürk history (BTW at= horse, ata=father) and the story of how stones from every part of the country were used to create this monument, and the story of how this place began.

Throughout the grounds are guards, standing and marching, and I think new recruits to the Navy (they looked very young to me).

Whereas the Civilization and Ethnographic museums22 were nearly empty or only with tourists, Atatürk's memorial is jammed mostly with Turks.

Ethnographical museum				The Mausoleum Plaza

I was intrigued and repulsed by this monument to nationalistic fervor. Overwhelmed by his cars, boats, gifts from foreign dignitaries, his stern face on paintings are everywhere throughout the country- is this the same as in the US? Perhaps I am blind to this in my own country but here it is nearly oppressive, a cultural insistence, it is both a kind of pride in country and a pressure to be a Turk in a certain way.

Atatürk's Tomb (behind us)

This is also perhaps how the country is tearing itself apart at the moment. The religious and the secu­lar- at war sometimes subtle and sometimes like now, the ruling party with a religious component trying to find a way to allow more religion into the official (governmental/federal) life and only getting so far before (maybe) being outlawed. This is not so different from what the Conservative Christian movement wanted from the Republicans and Bush though in some ways our battles are more entrenched, the forces more equal- here the conflict is unequal ~ the majority of the people seem to support the AKP, however those who want to con­tinue a secular government have the law and constitution and perhaps the military on their side. For the moment, law carries the day.

We pass a woman with a scythe the blade is as long as her torso, an emaciated cow being herded by a woman with a thick staff, a barn loosely boarded up, more brick homes, deciduous trees predominate, rail­road tracks

I had read that in Ankara there was a train Museum with the train engine that Hitler had given Atatürk. I asked, because I have a friend, Roger, who is a fan of trains, if I could visit so I could tell him about it. This wish was granted, but was a difficult wish to fulfill. No one seemed to really know where it was and when we thought we found it, it turned to be on the other side of where we were. When we got to the place, it was boiling hot, open air, probably more than 20 engines from England, USA, Germany and France but no brochure and we were not allowed to take photos nor was there a brochure. Volkan and I agreed that since we were not 'into' train engines it was difficult (unless you counted how many wheels an engine had) to tell the difference between all these black engines. So a lot of effort and sadly not enough of a good story to tell. To stop us from taking any pictures the single guard/ticket taker (this was definitely a museum no one goes to, he was surprised to see us and had to go ask someone about taking pictures) followed us around the place. I have no idea what state secrets there were there – oh and we were told that yes there was an engine from Hitler but that it was in another place/museum.

This is not the museum, this is the train station.

As we travel North in the bus, the mountains are more thickly wooded, however the ground is still brown. This, in many ways, resembles my Aegean trip. Karabuk (where Safranbolu is) is a mountainous province- the valleys are planted, small farms probably, herds of goats and sheep up high. This trip is sup­posed to take 3 hours but it is becoming Turkish time as we are past that already.

On these buses between cities, they supply water and beverages, and occasional squirts of an alcohol based 'freshener' at this time it is lemon or lime smelling but in the past it was rose. There are stops along the way in fairly nice restaurants with good bathrooms. All in all a pleasant way to travel (especially since the railroads have become mainly for industry or fallen into disuse).

We arrive in Karabuk and outside the bus depot is Durmuş and his family in a car.

Durmuş says there is no reason to live here except for coal. (there are mines). The town is a sort of Pittsburgh, a huge steel mill is on the outskirts of the town. The older the section of the factory the rustier red the building. That is why I saw train tracks- a special line was built just to bring iron ore to Karabutk and carry steel away.

Semih comes soon after and takes us to our hotel. I think it's another Student hotel. There is a refrig­erator (unplugged) a television which I can plug in but not make work, a shower (hooray) and 2 twin beds so I have 2 sets of towels, soap, shampoo and a small vanity and a wardrobe. My window opens onto a construc­tion site and behind that is a Mosque- at 5pm the call to Prayer- this is one of the 1st times that the singing seem artful to me, I enjoyed listening to him and for once it seemed too short!

We (Durmuş' family and I) went to Safranbolu for lunch and a walk, then I came back for a shower and nap.

Safranbolu is a world heritage site- the architecture is Ottoman but it looks very much like a village of Anhalt buildings. The buildings are very close together which means in the summer sun (it is again at least 30°C at least) there is always (necessary) shade--

Correction there is now one bed and set of towels and I am no longer keeper of the Tequila. The hotel needed the bed for another room and knocked and came in and away it went. The construction of the apart­ments is behind the Mosque. The Mosque is green stone(?) with a metal (tin?) roof. But the minaret is on the far side of the mosque so it is not so loud in my room.

I have not found out why but lokum (turkish delight) and very different from what we get imported, is very popular/big/important in Safranbolu.

[I am sitting at the vanity to write this – there is something very weird about writing in front of a mir­ror]

There are narrow alleys through out the center of the town with shops on both sides, it's like the whole place is one big bazaar. Little places selling knick knacks, mostly made in china or elsewhere, however there are numerous shops making and selling lokum. It is firm and not jelly-like and coated with coarse co­conut shreds, the main flavor is saffron, of course, and I think they all have pistachios in them. I was with Durmuş and his whole family in the afternoon and we went through the town, he with his camara, Çarğrı with his cell­phone (I asked Durmuş what all the calls were, were they for business? He said, Perhaps he is in love- I later, after returning home, found out that he was having girlfriend problems and was breaking up or being broken up with her) to his ear. Orhan running around and Aynur shopping.

I also asked what all the flavors were of the different lokums, made in the shops and he didn't know, and didn't know the English words for the ones he did know. The shops often have someone outside with a plate of samples. He tried a bunch of different shops and finally decided to buy from one of them. 2-3 kilos! I asked him why he bought from this one shop, how were they different from the other ones, he said that there was no reason, he just did it. Btw these photos of Safranbolu and the ones of the 'picnic park' are his.

We had lunch and I had gruveç (Gülat's was way better) and now I understand that the pasta that Gülat's mother made, is served with a garlic/yogurt sauce and a tomato sauce at once and is called mantı. Aynur had some and they asked the restaurant if I could get a taste without the yogurt- the mantı were bigger but the flavor was nearly the same.

The outer posts and structure of the houses are weathered to black 4X4's and between is white stucco. Many are in a sort of Swiss Chalet style, a lower floor set back with the upper floor(s) jutting out protecting the door in and probably some other useful reason that I can't figure out. But one function is it possibly makes it harder for the snow to fill the streets in the winter.

This site seems to me like it will take a couple of hours to see but tomorrow after the guests have left Semih and I are to go exploring and I will find out if I am wrong.

The wedding; 450 people, the site is the courtyard of a Restaurant, open to the air, apple trees, cones of fire works, an out of tune flute, violin, guitar trio plays as you enter. Families sit in separate areas I.e. Batu's family (the largest group 400) is on one side of the dance floor, Gül's family on the other. Plastic chairs covered in satin and a mauve gauze. Tables have plate of salad, and large buns, coke, water, candles, a water glass, the silverware comes in a pouch with a pocket for each utensil. There is much meeting and greeting. (Big Merhabas)

Gülat's mother is dressed in a gold satin smock. Bilge is so (beautifully) made over that I did not rec­ognize her at first. Most of the gowns are strapless.

Bılge,Bahadır, Gülan

Gülat's Mother giving wedding gift to Gül

A cousin is seated at my table to “take care of me” Bahadır. He is a fabric importer, his company makes suits, his shirt is pink and the suit is very fine. The company is soon to open stores in the USA but I can't remember the name of the company (I think it starts with an 'S').

Eventually the 'show' begins with slides of Gül and Batuhan's childhood, from their dating up to now. Then they enter and the cones of fireworks go off as they pass them on the walk way.

Applause- something happens next- they are seated at their own table on chairs with very high backs (think thrones) covered in white cloth.

They enter with fireworks and are seated at their thrones

Batu has a dark suit, white vest and tie, Gül's dress is white and strap­less, beaded bustier, lace(?) the skirt of the dress is held away from her legs by hoops, there is not much of a train to it but is longer than floor length (during the dancing I step on it a number of times- I once tell her that and apologize and she says 'that's ok, I'm never going to wear it again')

There is a 2 part band, the 1st part is a pop group (bağlama/guitarist, singer, keyboard w/synth drums, and something else) and the 2nd part is Ud, drummer (hand drum like darbuka) and synth-keyboardist.

The Mayor

The witnesses

Batu's Parents, Gül's Parents

So there is some music. Then there are 4 witnesses called to Batu and Gül's table and they sit at one end (the Çağlar end which meant that they had their backs to me and blocked much of the view of what comes next). An Announcer with a microphone who is more like a Bailiff (assistant to the judge- in this case the Mayor of the city)- He announces that we are here for the marriage of B&G and calls for the Mayor....

The gown/robe for the mayor is high collared with embroidery on the collar (the court deciding the fate of the AKP party wears black robes in the same style) and is burgundy. The Bailiff helps him put it on and he sits across from the witnesses. They use a wireless microphone so everyone can hear (with this many people the area that must be covered is large, especially since it is outside. 45 for Gül, 30 co-workers/students with Batu and the rest are his extended family).

There are a few jokes, comments, the rest is pretty much what you would expect- except that there is an emphasis on -Do they agree to be married? Do the witnesses attest that they are not being forced to mar­ry?- Then everyone signs the papers, the witnesses and bride and groom and then the Mayor and he stamps it with his official stamp bam bam bam and they are married.

The band plays, food is served, the couple dance, then couples dance, eventually wine and raki and a 2nd course and group dancing, then couple dancing, then more group dancing, then the cake......

Batu leading a dance

Ruhan leading me, Bilge and Gülan in that line dance

The cake is gigantic multi-tiered with models of the bride and groom in a house on the top (and sparklers lit next to the model house), the cake is sliced by both of them together with a meter long sword and it is even­tually served. More dancing, more dancing.

Semih's nephew, his wife, Semih's sister-law

I meet Semih's sister-in-law, her son and his Macedonian (Turkish) wife. Sister-in-law likes to gamble and wants to come to Seattle and then go to Las Vegas. Somehow I agree to go with her!

The other Bahadır, Semih's Nephew, His wife, Batu, Gül, Semih's Sister-in-law, two people I don't know and Gülan

Semih's nephew has been to Seattle for 4 days, he was an exchange student to Germany and his class went to Seattle so he was “exchanged twice” (his words).

Muza and Durmuş take pictures, Zümrüt's roots are showing- she has black hair not light brown. Someone with a professional video camera tracks Gül and Batu all night long.

The Çağlar Women

Finally the wedding is nearly over. To get to the chauffeured wedding night Range Rover (black with wide lace ribbons and bows running down the middle and stuck somehow to the rear doors so the car looks like a present- which for a moment I thought it might be [it is the car they use to drive to their Istanbul but it is not theirs to keep]) Batu must run a gauntlet of his male friends, he removes his coat and glasses and with a roar charges through the line and the men strike out and hit him on the back (mostly) when he gets through there is more applause and he dresses and then he and Gül get in the car and are driven off.


After they are officially wed the couple meets and greets all the people by going to each table. Gül is given small wedding gifts- mostly, as far as I could see, jewelry, the pieces that Gülat showed me, in Maraş, looked very beautiful and expensive (some may have been heirloom?), gold rings and necklaces, rubies, bracelets, and when her neck and arms and fingers were full she had a small white cloth bag to hold the rest- this part of the celebration took most of the time before the serious dancing.

Before leaving Ankara for Safranbolu Muza got a call from Semih to bring a 5th of tequila. I carried it in my bag and there was a flurry of knocking on my door when they wanted my bed and others wanted the tequila.

It was for G & B for their nerves to go through with the whole wedding.

By the end of the night (the tequila ended up on the wedding table) the fifth was nearly empty and other people were taking sips. Especially an Azeri-Iranian man who works in Gülat's department- Yusef.

Yusef is short, very thinning grey/white hair at the wedding he had a red check shirt. When there was group dancing his style seemed to owe a lot to John Travolta or maybe just disco in general, I eventually remembered him from my last visit as he is very much an individual, a character and though he spoke English (he had studied in the USA on the East Coast- seems like no one ever gets past the East Coast when going to study) I could barely understand him. Watching him dance I was struck by how much everyone knew what they were “supposed” to be doing and he was just off doing something else.

The 'other' Bahadır, Aynur is in the background

Dancing, I danced, at one point a different Bahadır (still related to Gülat) tells me to shake my shoul­ders but I haven't figured out how to do that. Another moment Batu's colleagues gather me into their circle and we do the exchange and circling and bumping then suddenly they have all joined arms on shoulders so we are very close together and Batu has joined and instead of 'dancing' we are jumping up and down to the music boing pogoing sort of energetically- when I go back to my table the 1st Bahadır compliments me “you are very energetic” I just feel elated and old.

The line dance that I fumbled during Kına and practised, happened over and over again. Sometimes with two or three separate lines at once (the dance floor was not that big) and sometimes one big line which then would curl in on itself so the center/leader/head of the line was jammed so tightly that I don't know how we were stepping and kicking as there really wasn't any room to do that.

That night it thundered, the sky got dark, and it rained, a heavy warm rain which washed some of the sulfur from the burning coal for the steel mill from the air. It felt good to stand in the sprinkles, at least I think it was nice.

Next morning

Seeing people off, a very long process- only 45 people but it took until 2pm+.

1st Muza, Bilge, Ruhan, Gülat, Semih and I go to a kuyu kebap place that Batu's parents had taken Semih and Gülat for breakfast. Kuyu is similar to tandır (both words mean some kind of hole in the ground) slowed cooked – Muza had a 2:20pm bus to catch and it was 1:30pm when we got to the restaurant, so the food was slow-cooked too fast. Very very hot bread bal= honey and butter then tomato salad then a dish of pilav and the lamb, the rice had currants and, I think, roasted pine nuts that were very long. It was good but so much food so fast and a coke and then water melon and away- we got to the bus station 5 minutes late, the bus was still loading, so time for a last cigarette, then goodbye.

Bilge looked very tired and sad and sometimes angry, fed up at times beautiful and other times very young and like a teenager who just wants to go home and be with friends. She is not working at the moment, her last job was at a call enter and she quit because it was too much stress.

At the wedding there were 2 young women who this morning I find (because Gülan tells me and I finally meet them) out are sisters. At the wedding they sat together but I couldn't tell that they were sisters at all. The older one is a good friend of Güls, the younger one reminded me of a young Kate Bush (instant crush, very cute). The older one is a music teacher of some sort and the younger one is an art teacher. After breakfast she collected dead snail shells from the Hotel's garden and spent much of the morning cleaning them out with a toothpick or something.

The fabric Bahadır has a sister who I did not recognize but was the woman last visit who approved of Bush and works on the Commission for Turkey to join the EU.

She is married now to a policeman, and about to become an Expert Foreign Specialist (more money) and at least her husband and probably she no longer think Bush is so smart. However she still thinks he is do­ing the right thing re; Terrorism. She believes he is doing a lot to combat terrorism in the world and she also believes that the PKK (the Kurdish guerrillas) have killed many many children and somehow that makes it ok that our war in Iraq has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. This line of discussion closed my mouth.

Turkish is more inflected than it is presented and much more than American English.

All the mosques in this area are green (or almost all) Semih says it is common but this is the 1st I've noticed it

Now that the sun is once more out it's humid hot, the rain of the morning was a quick reprieve.

There are marriage celebrations everywhere, Karabuk/Safranbolu are some kind of wedding cen­tral.

Drums, zurna parades, cars honking parades, bands playing for the dancing. Blare from all around the hotel, and inside it too.

I see the Mayor, from last night, leaving the hotel after we come back from dropping Muza and family at the bus station, he has just finished another wedding.

Gülat is very tired and we both go up to our rooms while Semih takes care of Arzu and her friend. Arzu comes up to my room to say goodbye. She has asked if she can write me and that she is interested in Contemporary piano or piano + music. I think she won't because her English is weak and throughout our con­versations (now and at the airport) I think she has understood something only later to find out that she did­n't.

This morning I talk some more to Semih's nephew and wife. They tell me of Santorini and Mykonos, and how they hope to climb Kilimanjaro. So we talk about climbing and altitude sickness. Later over tea and cigarettes Semih has me tell everyone how I cook with Saffron. It may be grown here in Turkey but it is defi­nitely not part of this groups cuisine (though the nephew's Macedonian wife says it is part of Greek Cuisine- which I didn't know). Seafood is also not a large part of the groups diet, that is also interesting as nearly the entire Anadolu peninsula is surrounded by water and there are rivers & lakes everywhere.

To look and see is sometimes hard. Today out in the parking lot, while saying goodbye to people I no­tice a house, no ledge over the bottom floor, yellow stucco (safran) red tile roof and an odd looking growth decaying on the roof. Sort of a muffin that is blueberry, mould and been partially eaten by mice. It slowly be­comes a rotting brick chimney to my eyes but it took looking at it for 5 minutes before I was certain.

The same, I think, was true of the Atatürk Mausoleum. This huge grandios plaza, the dioramas of the significant battles for Independence with sound effects, the shrines- I can think of no other description- of the various generals with their busts and a description of their roles in the war of Independence. And the nation­alistic sounding music and songs everywhere, from loudspeakers in each shrine/alcove. For me it was too much. But a great way to get an idea of a young country, Proud of it's recent history and it's birth- not so dif­ferent, I believe from our earlier times. It is just that in the last 40 years of the history of USA I have become so cynical about 'countries' and their history-stories. Plus it was clear that Turkey's versions of some of these battles and the versions known to me from other sources are quite different- it was hard to keep the mood of awe.

For me the most interesting part was his library, a fairly large room, floor to ceiling- books on shelves. I was told that he read them all, which I wondered about but then I was told that they all had his markings and annotations {I didn't know what to make of a displayed copy of “The lost Continent of Mu” by Col. James Churchward with annotations.}

He must have been like Jefferson, though more of a general and then a philosopher because many of the books were about nation building, economy, laws of governance from around the world and in many lan­guages.

So though I felt a bit as though under the eye of big brother with his portrait everywhere (I mean that. In some parts of Turkey a statue or painting a mural or Poster of the man seemed to be on every wall, any empty space, and not a particularly friendly visage rather glaring). I came away with more respect for what he and his cohorts have attempted/ and the results? Well so far it is an interesting experiment and worth watching.

“How do you know this?” “Jay, you are killing me”. These are Semih sentences. The 1st on was used and became a sort of joke last visit but now that the düğün is over- we begin again. He needed to go to an ATM for money to pay for the Student Hotel in K'Maraş after the Kına and since the 1st 2 ATMs were closed I thought maybe I could help with the money I had so I asked how much did he need 1000 YTL23? He turned to me stunned “how did you know this?” I said I didn't- in fact I was surprised he could get so much at once out of an ATM. But he said that I must have heard him talking in Turkish- He sort of insists that I must understand more than I let on.

But later we are talking over Pide this (6th July) evening and telling Gülat about something else and he says that he was figuring it out in his head and had just estimated, just before I spoke, that he would need 100 lira.

This afternoon, Gülat slept and Semih and I returned to Safranbolu to wander and maybe find some good Safran for them to take back to Maraş, there is a Parki/lookout over the village, so we drive up there and the view of this, in winter, snowbound Ottoman architecture site is concise- easy to take in. Up here there are graves of a general and then a structure, while Semih is reading it to himself I wonder out loud “Is this a watchtower, ? But it is in the wrong place - there is no view from here” Then I see narrow slits for windows and they are barred and I say “Oh it's a jail.”

“Jay, you are killing me!” The man, from Bulgaria was found guilty of something and exiled from Bul­garia to Safranbolu {later we bring Gülat up here and put all of our heads together} and Semih thinks that 1st he was kept in this small building but that now it is a place of pilgrimage and he doesn't understand how a criminal can become a person that people would make a pilgrimage for. Gülat and he now think that maybe it is just a grave site of the man and that he wasn't jailed in there. This morning (the 7th) I wonder if both weren't true. Somehow during his incarceration he became some sort of holy man.

The saffron from Safranbolu is not all red, like the higher quality saffron I am used to buying in Seat­tle or bought in Sapin. They include the yellow pistils that add a bit of color but no flavor and generally, I had read, should be avoided.

In looking for higher quality (I thought I had seen some while wandering with Durmuş the day before) we are told that the all red safran is Irani not Safranbolu safran and....

Most of the saffron here is in little plastic boxes sealed with scotch tape. No date of harvest, no idea if it is good or not. I can't find the place that I had seen with Durmuş. When we return that evening with Gülat we wander, nearly get lost, tell her the story of getting lost in Kusadası two years before and finally find a store that keeps his safran in a glass bottle and in fact opens it to let me smell how fresh it is.

He agrees that the saffron is different here because Turkish people do not eat saffron Pilav it is Irani­an cuisine. He says that people here make safran tea so that just the 3 red pistils are not as important because all of the pistils can be used to make yellow (sarı) saffron tea.

I buy the small jar (10 YTL) for Semih & Gülat and if they use it soon it will make them maybe 4 meals.

Today off to Çorum (pronounced more like Churum than Chore-um, don't know why). Student Hotel and Hitite sites.

However getting to Çorum is an adventure in itself. The road from Safranbolu (Karabuk) to the main highway is well traveled and therefore well kept. The bigger highway to Samsun is the standard 6-8 land freeway (well sort of, it's not quite clear- with speed zones, even stoplights). Then a large blue road on the map shows a saving of 150 km so we take it only to discover that we are on a one and a half lane sporadi­cally paved country road going over 2 mountain passes, meeting logging trucks, wandering cows, passing fields of rice. Many fields are being harvest by swinging hand scythes and a 3 pronged pitch fork for haying and a flat 6 pronged fork for winnowing the wheat. At the top of the pass, we are at treeline, and there are alpine meadows. Lower down on the Karadeniz side it is green but mostly brown earth, higher up it is mixed forest and low undergrowth but it is greenish. Gülat has us stop twice to get some wild flowers for her re­search. We stop for a lunch of kuyu or tandır, don't know which, in the town of Iskilip. Semih wants to go to an ATM but his bank doesn't have one in this town.

But we are both able to use a different machine.

This year the machines are multilingual, which completely removes any guesswork from using them.

Iskilip is large, to me, but the streets are narrow and many people are just sitting on bulkheads near the street, perhaps it is market day because many people have bags of vegetables especially it seems potatoes.

There are hills of threshed wheat that we pass by. We stop near a brick structure. It goes up from the ground and tapers, has hand holds/rungs to the top and sort of looks like a minaret without the top part. It is old but not ancient. We ask some shepherds what it is and they tell us that it's the chimney to an old brick factory.

As we enter Çorum we pass brick factory after factory- Semih & Gülat later tell me that they are hap­py that my request to visit Boğazkale has led us to Çorum because all they knew about Çorum was that it was very poor and dusty.

There are about 200,000 people, mostly young, there is a University (actually there seems to be some kind of University in every town of any size and they are state schools so if you pass the exam they are free). There are old sections but the main concourse is a boulevard divided by parks with fountains. We have missed by one day their Hitit (hitite) festival and I am glad as it is nothing or nothing much to do with Hitites and a lot about a festival.

Çorum and bricks, but it is famous for leblebi= roasted chickpeas, plain and soft, salted =coated white hard and yet not as salty as the Italian ones I've had, and sekerli (seker=sugar) sugar coated and somewhere in the middle between the other two in hardness. Atatürk ate the plain ones (they taste like they may have been boiled in peanut oil) with raki24.

Our afternoon adventure on mountain roads to Çorum puts us past the opening times of any Muze or site so we walk around the city, find the Çorum museum for tomorrow. It is fairly new, closed, of course, but the promenade is lined with amphorae and pillars and other statues from the nearby sites. We all agreed that we should see this muze 1st thing in the morning before Boğazkale, Alacahöyük, and we might make it to Or­taköy (we didn't we went to a different site).

We go to a very cheap restaurant and get a new dish- 2 very thin layers of bread with bastırma be­tween, Gülat gets Çorum mantı which is the mantı pasta but not stuffed (though still pinched into little pyramids), the meat is in the sauce. I was full of leblebi and yançi (the bastırma) so I didn't try some without the yogurt.

I was fortunate to be traveling with 2 professors as it allows us to stay at Teachers hotels which are much less expensive (under $30 a night so far) than regular places. Also as professors they can get into sites and Muze free. I can't but it is interesting to see how the state makes life a little easier for educators.

The wind came up and we are at a higher altitude, I think, because the evening and this morning (8th Temmuz) is brisk out of the sun. It's not yet jeans weather so I am wearing my 'wedding' pants as they are fuller in the legs and cooler to wear.

The sites we will visit today are out in the open so I plan to wear a long sleeve shirt which I can roll down in the boiling sun and socks to protect my feet from ticks which have become a problem. Due to bird flu the government destroyed many chickens and other birds so the tick population has risen bringing a new set of diseases to the people in rural areas. We are definitely in a rural area but not in the east where the out­break was the worst. Some people have gone to the hospital with a tick-borne disease, a few have died.

(I have abandoned wearing the earth shoes they are just too hot, from now on I'm in sandals.)

I also have a couple of hats, a baseball and a safari type hat.

As we were leaving the hotel to explore Çorum last night Gülat said something about what would hap­pen and I heard “what you will” - Semih turned to me and “how do you know that?” I was surprised as I thought she spoke English but she hadn't however what she said, in fact, in Turkish, did mean 'as/what you will”. Maybe I have a babelfish25 in my ear because when Semih says the Turkish word back to me it does not sound like the English at all and in fact I'd never heard that phrase before.

My body is not doing well, teeth, heartburn, arm all hurting keeping me awake. Thank goodness for meds.

The good news is that my feet are holding up better than in Ankara, changing to the sandals has made a huge difference. The earplugs I brought are a sleep saver. In each hotel there is just too much noise for me and the plugs make it easier to fall asleep. I usually wake up around 5 am, take them out and doze for another hour.

9 Temmuz

Samsun/Karadeniz/Black Sea ~ After a glorious day of Hitite museums and sites (more later) we begin an evening Journey to Samsun and the Black Sea Region. !st we stop in Amasya- a river (Green River) runs through the middle of the town and on one side are old ottoman style buildings and on the other modern buildings. High above the city is an old Kale which we did not have time to go to and below that are graves carved into the face of the cliff. Semih thinks they are Phrygian (frig) as they look similar to the ones near Alanya. We don't go up to those as they require a good uphill hike and we have done a lot of that today especially at Boğazkale. We do go into an Ethnography Muze which is an Ottoman mansion kept in its original form with manequins showing the activities of each room.

During the Ottoman Empire the head/Sultan would send his sons to different cities, both to keep them safe and to have them learn how to govern before he died and they would have to take his place. Amasya was the home of one of the sons who became Sultan after he fought and killed his brother. There is a beautiful (inside the outside is very plain) Mosque. The walls and domes painted and the windows bordered by designs. Outside in the 'courtyard' are 2 maples 400 years old. Gülat's father had told her to see this mosque and so she borrowed my neck scarf (to cover her head) and we both explored the mosque while Semih did something (?).

Amasya is also a mountain pass between the Anatolian Plateau and plain and the Black Sea Region. The map shows a multi-lane fast highway from Çorum – Amasya and even better Amasya – Samsun.


This was a kidney busting mostly 2 lane behind big slow trucks and passed by insane vans. The road was being built and expanded but looked to be 1-2 years from completion. Even when there were stretches of 4 lane divided highway the condition of the road was questionable. Most of this was in darkness. Semih agreed that it would have been better to do this in daylight.

Amasya province is a center for fruit growing and we stopped and bought apples (mackintosh-like), plums (red), cherries (bing-like) and peaches (peach sounds like piç=bastard so avoid saying that in Turkey) şeftali = peach the fruit.

The apple was soft but the skin snapped likes mac's and the flesh was white with the tart sweet flavor that mac's have.

We finally got to Samsun 10pm, found the teacher Hotel which is on the campus of (ondokus =19 Mayis=May) Ondokusmayis Universitesi, 19th May is the date Atatürk landed in Samsun to begin the fight for unifying the creating an independent Turkey. He went from there to Amasya and held a conference with like minded men/women to build up, Plan the fight, to create, begin to make, modern day Turkey because Amasya is/was hard to find and very easy to protect.

A monument showing Ataturks arrival in Samsun

If I were to advise someone on how to visit Turkey I would, in the most general way, say “pick a theme or subject”- any subject would work I think, Turkey is so rich and various in history and cultures that exploring Turkey this way would fill any vacation time you had.

Example; food- each region has it's speciality and/or variation on a common Turkish dish. There are places famous for sweets, chefs, each region has a different style of bread. And because the country is ecologi­cally diverse, each region grows different food.

It seems like there are different animals and especially birds in each region.

Hitite archaeological adventures

This trip or at least specifically yesterday was Hitite archaeological site directed. The area near Ço­rum was the capital of the Hitite empire. They were the first people to unite most of Turkey and down through Palestine to Egypt. Their control lasted nearly 1000 years and at one time the Hittites defeated Egypt in a war and received 'gifts' which included the Pharaohs' daughter to be married to the 'King' of the Hittites

The Muze in Ankara is a good place to start because many of the objects found at Hitite sites have been moved there, including reliefs and huge stone statues. This is to prevent theft, vandalism, and ecologi­cal destruction (acid rains ruin stone, eat away at marble). Many of the statues you see in situ are concrete copies and the originals are in the Ankara Museum (or in Istanbul).

With Çorum as your base it is an hour drive to Alacahöyük (Alajahoey ook)- a small muze is in front of what is believed to be a temple or series of temples, graves of the rich or dignitaries (is there a difference?). It is a small site that takes about an hour to visit, the signs are in English but if you read up on it before hand (like go into the museum 1st) it is a richer experience. The construction of the walls is different from at Boğazkale and there is a tunnel (postern, a word that I did not know was even English much less what it meant) that is just that, but is cooler so pro­vides a moment of relief from the sun.

I did not find this to be a very religious site though that was it's purpose, it seemed very formal. But it was 4000 years ago that these walls rose above the foundations that we walked along/around. The site does not seem to be actively dug at the moment either- while we were there some workmen were constructing a 'visual aid' at one of the gravesites.

While drinking çay beneath some trees before going into the Muze (which was a good one for such a small site). A gypsy woman tried to sell me a beaten up copy of the Museum catalogue which was in English. Paperback and $48- way too much and I thought for sure there would be other places to buy it – big mistake. Given what happened at Boğazkale I now, back home, wish I had let Gülat barter with the woman but then I was just offended by the price.

From Alacahöyük 40 minutes on country roads, fields of sugar beets and sunflowers (that didn't fol­low the sun in fact turned away from it!), big extensive fields of wheat some harvested by combines(?) or ma­chines and some by large scythes.

What follows is a mixture of memory and notes made a week after visiting the Hitite sites, too much happened too fast to get everything down in a timely fashion.

Boğazkale, is a 32 square km walled in fortress of the Hitite Empire's capital- Hattuşas. The setting is against a 'mountain' and thus protected on it's back side, even so there are massive walls right up to the cliffs behind. The walls are similar to the great wall in China I.e. broad and walkable. The sides of the wall were built up and then the insides were filled with rubble. There are numerous 'villages', and temples inside the walls. Some were being dug during our visit.

At the gatehouse a man provides us with a tour of the first part of the site. Telling us the current (I thought) views on what this part of the capital functioned as. Much of it was storage for grains and legumes. But there was this large green stone that he told us was brought from far away, maybe Egypt or maybe it was part of a meteorite like Ka'aba in Mecca. 26

The green stone at Boğazkale, me, the guide and Gülat

The guide did show us how on the side of the stone were depressions, 5 of them, which fit very nicely the hand (you can see them below his right hand) and so they think that it was a sort of prayer stone and people would place their hand on it at this place and that it wore the stone down. I'm not a particularly superstitious person but for many days afterwards I felt haunted by the image of that stone.

On the site are gates in the walls. Famous is a lion gate (which is a copy but a really good copy) the carving on the stone lions is so detailed that there are hairs in the lion's mane.

Lions gate

The site is steep and we walked and drove all around it. Eventually tiring both Semih and Gülat out. The sun was just beating down on us and there really wasn't any reprieve. At one point after having stopped at one part that said we could see Hitite heiroglyphics (which are very different from any other people's) and couldn't see much of anything they were so worn away- the next place that was supposed to have them was up a long set of stairs. Gülat sat and said go on ahead and see if there's anything to see. Let us know, we will wait here.

I ran up and saw what were supposed to be rich peoples homes (the ruins of the walls) but the hole with the heiroglyphs was up further and I guessed that there was no use in checking it out after the last place. I have since seen photos of them and am kicking myself because they are in good condition and I would have liked to see them.

Standing in the middle of this ancient city, I looked out over the valley and to the mountains far away, there is no wind and it is so quiet that I hear a truck about 10 miles away start it's engine and drive off. A feeling expanded in my chest of wonder and delight, I was full- this place is just so cool.

The largest site is Boğazkale/Boğazköy 32 square miles on a hillside, temples, fortified walls, livraries of cuniform tablets, baths, home and gates with lion or sphinxes on each side. Unlike the other 2 sites there is work still being done here. We were not able to approach the digs (there is a perimeter road -paved- inside the city walls that you drive on, stopping at different views, objects and places ) they were quite a ways off the road and driving to them was questionable behavior. The size of this place and the number of buildings, statues, walls is impressive. It is so quiet that I could hear a farm truck engine far off in the distance. You can see for miles in 3 directions (the mountains to the 'rear' pretected the city and black that view).

There is one striking object and it is easy to see on the visit. A bright blue/gren stone. Nearly square and was near the library. It is thought that it was a wishing stone. 3 Theories of what it is and how it came to be here

1. a meteor like at Mecca

2. a present from Egypt after it was defeated by the Hitities

3. oops I don't remember now, but there was a 3rd idea.

I think our 'guide' said that the rock could not come form the area but the book ( I bought a book) says it is common to the area.

There are indentations on one side where the guide showed up how a hand and 5 fingers could fit to touch the stone while praying or whish or something. Most of the stones are granite or marble and grey-pinkish-white, so this block of blue/green is very striking – the book says that where it was bound (beneath a floor level) indicates that this, it's current location, is probably not original.

It was hot and there is a lot of climbing and near the end of the visit I was going on ahead to see if there was something that Semih and ülat neede to see. So I made oneerror and didn't climb far enough to see a chamber with heiroglyphs because it was around a corner.

The Hitites used Assyrian cuniform in the early days and later changed to their own form and language. However for the common people they used their oun heiroglyphs which were very different from Egyptian ones and I would have like to see those good clear examples in real life but missed it.

Yazilkaya is the smallest site, a set of rock reliefs, one set has eroded but the second was protected from people by rockslides and possibly the hallway was purposely enclosed to hide it. Anyway a book I read said to go there around noon as then the light would cast the best shadows from the reliefs making the details easiet to see. The sun was still high at 1:30ish when we got there and the reliefs stood out pretty well. The 'halls' are narrow and boulders rise at least 2 meters above your head. In chamber 1 is a procession of men on the left and women on the right.

In the second, better preserved, chamber are reliefs of the King and gods together. Very tall gods and shorter humans. One relief looked like this long tall human figure and there is somewhere on the siteis the explanation that this is a sword, with a human-like head for the hilt, the pommel has lion heads and there are other figures along the blade, once you can focus on the whole of it, it is very impressive.

Nearby is another Hitite site Yazilkaya. This is thought to be a religious gathering place for seasonal rites. It is two narrow hallways with reliefs carved into each side. A guide book said to go there near noon as the shadows would be best to see the greatest detail in the stone reliefs. We arrived a little after 1pm.

There are columns of men on one side and women on the other marching in honor of the Kind and his royal force. In the other hallway are great reliefs of the king in embrace with the gods.

This is a very small site but because one of the halls was covered with debris it was not found until lately and is in amazing condition.

I mentioned that we did not get a chance to ask someone about a couple of things about the Hitites. One thing was that they used a symbol for the sun that is very Zoroastrian/Persian looking. The other is that the symbol of a two headed eagle was a sign of royalty. The questions would have been did this originate with the Hitites and then pass on to other people, or did they borrow it? If they borrowed it, from who?

Never found out.

As we were leaving Boğazkale there were tent/shops men coming up to us trying to sell us carved rocks and beads and just about anything that might remind you of the site and a lot that didn't seem to have anything to do with Hitites at all.

However one man did have a book in English about the site. The cover price was 15Euro and he wanted 30YTL (which at that moment was about right as exchange). I hesitated and Gülat and I exchanged a look and she gave a little shake of her head and I put my wallet away and walked to the car. Meanwhile Semih was buying something from someone else and Gülat bought some necklaces (I think). After about 5 minutes I hear Gülat call to me. The man had lowered the price to 25YTL and she would let me buy the book.

Barter is not a skill that I have but she did and so does Semih. They have different styles which I would not be able to explain (it's the sort of thing “you had to be there”). The result seems to be the same. A lower cost on many things.

We just didn't have time for Ortaköy- a site of the city Supinuwa which is currently being dug ~ and in Ankara were finds from sites near Gaziantep, Kültepe (also near K'Maraş). Recently there was found a huge temple complex near Urfa to the Southeast for K'Maraş. I think one (me) could spend an entire summer visiting/exploring archeological sites in Turkey- which is why I suspect that any subject that you chose could take a summer in Turkey to Explore.

After we go back to the car Semih presents me with a souvenir. A rock with “hitit-like” figures carved into it. I got it home and it sits on the shelf with a model of Kqppqdokya landscapes that he gave me last visit and a skull figurine playing a bass that Gülat and Gülan gave me from Alanya just before I left last time. Mementos.

Life just got interesting. We have arrived late (9:15pm in Trabzon at the Teacher/University Guest house and it is next to the take-off pattern of the next-door airport. If it goes all night there will be little sleep. It is no wonder why there were rooms available.

Guest hotel- luke-warm-shower-water, TV almost works, marble floors, seems new construction, there is a white tile terrace on the roof, huge bright blinding, but you can see miles and miles of coast line all sand beach resembles Southern California but there are no breakwaters and the waves do not look so big, at least from up here. But there are waves. There is the ocean haze of morning but in the distance is a band of probable smog.

It's hard to tell but the coast looks alot like Malibu

We travelled from Samsun to Ordu to Giresun to Trabzon, visited Atatürk sites and/or museums in each place. In Ordu & Giresun getting to and from the museums was a labyrinthine adventure. We may have exhausted what the museums in this area (Karadeniz) have to offer as each one has been smaller and had few­er things that we have not seen before. So now I think it is time for scenery and food.

The hills were covered with a forest of HAZELNUTS fındık . Last visit Gülat bought fresh pistachios from a roadside stand and this time fruit yesterday and today fresh (taze) hazelnuts, the shell a creamy green inside the green husk that looks like a combination of a daffodil's trumpet and a frilly skirt. The shell is easy to crack and the meat is mild, not tannic like I expected. We toss the husk and shells out the window as we travel along the boulevard/highway that goes along the shore. After Samsun there are breakwaters and occa­sional swimming beaches.

Semih spots a restaurant sign Kilikits Pide which is a speciality of the region but what we get is not the real thing which is sopposed to be more like a calzone, this was just thin crust folded like a letter, in from both sides. It took so long to serve that we were making jokes about how they were growing the wheat before they could make the bread, even hand ironing each tea leaf before making the tea.

We met an archeologist at the Giresun Muze but he didn't speak any English so Semih and Gülat talked to him about many things- while the Guard went out and bought coffee mix for us. He also didn't charge us admission. Some of the talk was about the archeologist going to get a Master in Antropology and some of the talk was about the church that the Museum use to be- Barok/Baroque/Gotik/Gothic elements and Cycladic designs. The rest of the talk I didn't understand.

The guest hotel, near the airport, thankfully the planes stopped at midnight- there have been few this morning.

We ate at the University Restaurant last night a bit of wine, a bean meze, a tomato/pepper relish kind of meze, some fried calamari rings and a shrimp dish baked in a metal pot/bowl usually covered in cheese (not mine). Bread has changed it is not as 'french' and now denser, fewer air pokets, and Semih say that is lasts longer- doesn't mold in 2 days like the other bread but lasts almost a week.

{He or I would often inspect the bread in the morning for mold, I'd say about half the time we would toss the bread because it had molded so fast.}

Yesterday 3-4 men attacked the guard gate of the American Embassy in Istanbul. Definitely a suicide mission. 3 attackers (guns, hand grenades) are dead, the guard at the gate and 2 traffic policemen are dead, a number of people standing in line for a visa to the US were wounded. Headlines”US attacked – 6 turks dead” it is not Irony but how can I read this otherwise?

The coup conspiracy and the AKP closure case are also in the news (have been and is both big news and boring because there is only guesswork, leaks, and opinion. Not many facts except that fewer than 100 people have been arrested and held without charge, some for up to a year. One man developed cancer and was re­leased to his wife and died soon after. There are generals in jail who plotted (maybe) to assassinate Orhan Pa­muk.

Trabson Marble, granite, and coal on the road to Sumela Monastery.

bolu= abundant, so Safranbolu means abundant Saffron

The road to Sumeli Monastery, is along a river, steep canyon, geometric rock cliffs, green beautiful. I Imagine monks taking many days to walk/climb- a religious wonder-filled experience before arrive at the monastery.There are fish tanks/farms along the river, cool and clear.Sumeli Monastery is somewhere that if you go to Turkey and Trabzon you must see. I thought it would be mildly intersting but I found it to be a wonderful place.

Smack in the middle of this picture is the monastery you can make out an unnatural square shape with a flat roof (which it is not but that's what it looks like).

The buildings are under restoration so you can't go everywhere but just the process of getting up to it was a delight.

If you go there by otobus, you are dropped off at the bottom of a very long steep steep climb but by car we got quite close and the climb is maybe a quarter of that of the 'tourist'. Still you have a hike through woods, past a costumed Black Sea Kamanche player. Then the way is bricked and another – much better player in farmer's normal clothes. He was good enough that a group of people danced while he played as we were leaving. These people were tourists like us- they knew the music though and gave him some money to play for them.

Semih did not like this kind of music- he asked me if I could hear a melody, I sang it for him, but I don't think I changed his mind. Actually seeing and hearing a good player I got a better idea of how to play mine when I get home.

At the foot of the site is a narrow set of steep stairs. At the top the buildings reveal themselves as a small village; rooms to live, eat, cook and pray. One large section was completely covered with painted murals. All religious scenes. All of them defaced ( some literally- the faces obliterated). The scenes were damaged but many were recognizable as parts of either the Old Testament or the New. Semih had me explain what they were, I couldn't explain them all as I did not remember a lot of Christian mythology but I did my best.

It was as if they (Gülat and Semih) had brought a guide (me) along to this amazing place literally hanging in space 1300 meters above sea level, stuck to the side of a cliff- a shear cliff.

The place was jammed with tourists, mostly Turks, however a group of Israeli people and a few other Americans were in the mix. Most of the older people were having a tough time climbing up to the monastery and I'm not sure why but an ambulance had come up to the Tour bus lot while we were having lunch after coming down. I suspect the exertion of the climb cause a problem.

And the area is so beautiful. 27 The road follows the river up and there are small farms, some accessible on rope footbridges crossing the river. Corn, Brassicas, squash, beans and the hills (some steeper than 45°) planted and covered with Hazelnut trees/bushes. The area is lush, the air clean and fresh from the rushing water and breeze through the greenery. Sword ferns, nettles, wild geraniums, a vine like a blackberry cane, and trees ~ mostly deciduous but a lot of pines. Then the ruggedness of the rock outcroppings. I didn't think I was home sick but the ground in so much of the Turkey I have seen is yellow/brown- not covered with undergrowth- that the contrast with this part of the trip was great. The air at sea level in Trabzon is damp, like oceanside in California, though it is only 30°C it seems very warm in the sun, there is a warm breeze, it doesn't cool you as much as cradle you.

We had lunch on the mountain and returned to Trabzon to see the Atatürk Villa ~ he stayed in this very beautiful house, built by a Greek Trabzon banker, 3 different times for 1-3 days each. The last time was near his death and in one room is the divan/sofa where he wrote his will. The building is blindingly white, fronted by a forest of timber pines planted so close together and in rows that no light reaches the ground. There was a group of boys either playing or on some kind of boyscout-like exercise amongst the trees. The trees have grown so tall that you can't see much of Trabzon from the balcony anymore but in Atatürk's time, you could.

The sun goes down, Maxfield Parrish clouds, on shore- rain clouds tumble over the mountains to be shoved out to sea, blue/pink sky the orange red ball of the sun slides behind the peninsula that defines Trabzon from the next town/city to the west. The sea is calm. Along the walkway are a set of exercise tools and people are using them in the dusky light silhouetted by a pinkish aura, women in headscarves and that long smock, using a treadmill like thing legs swinging back and forth suspended above the ground. Arms draped over a bar holding their bodies up.

For Dinner we went to Akçaabet for Köfte which is special to that town. We tried the little restaurant in the basement of the hotel but they were out or not making things that I wanted.

Meaning- didn't have cheese ~ I just never realize last visit how much dairy is in Turkish cuisine, there is yogurt or sour cream or butter or cheese in almost everything or on it or even breakfast. Last visit, since we were eating in aparts (rooms with a kitchen) most of the time Semih was making breakfast, so I believed that 2 boiled eggs, a handful of oil cured olives, tomato slices/quarters, cucumber and bread was the standard Turkish breakfast, with çay or nescafé to drink. When he was leaving out was butter, jam or honey, and most of these hotels have had 2 cheeses – a feta-like and a smooth grained solid light tan cheese. Most soups çorba have milk (the soup near Sumela was a water broth, spice, brassica leaves [kale?] and bulgar and corn [I think]). Many pide have cheese, the mantı often have a yogurt/garlic sauce and may have cheese – it is possible to travel Turkey with food allergies but not as easy as I had remembered.

Thankfully Turkey has Salata- salads- variations on chopped peppers (green/banana) tomatos, onions, paper thin sliced and sweet not strong though I asked Gülat and she said sometimes she kneads then with the lemon juice and salt to make them milder, parsley, cucumber, lemon juice and maybe a touch of olive oil. The salad is placed in the center of the table and eaten communally- you eat from that plate with your fork. Two nights ago the salad for the 1st time had purple cabbage (lightly pickled) and carrots, last night with the Akçaabet köfte (ground meat patties heavy with garlic, some kind of flour or grain for binder, salt and thyme or an oregano-like spice, grilled) came 12” plates [we got 2 servings] of salad. A very pretty dish – cucumber & onion on the bottom, a layer of tomatoes ringed with think sliced raw kale or maybe a lettuce that looked like dale, and then a top layer of white beans. Lemon dressing which Semih insisted on adding vinegar to. I liked it without but agreed that the vinegar added something to the dish, the vinegar must have had sugar in it or even though it was light brownish red, may have been a grape vinegar- the sourness made the sweet of the tomatoes come forward- I don't know. With 2 plates of this salad I got stuffed- delicious.

After Akçaabet köfte, we walked along the boardwalk, and there were more of the exercise stations I had seen earlier. Gülat says that there are some in K'Maraş too and that early morning fat women walk and workout on them.

They are mostly gentle movement tools, only a couple looked difficult but then I didn't try them so I don't know.

Coming down from Sumela we bought some boiled ears of corn (lightly salted- in kiosks in parks it's often boiled then grilled [actually it is probably always boiled then grilled but I hadn't watched very closely until now]) a tough, thick skinned corn like I remember from the 50's – very chewy almost sticky. And a small bag of roasted hazelnuts, which are more like what we know in the USA- but the flavor is different. I don't think they are roasted with anything, no salt, no oil, just fındık but I didn't look closely and have never seen such a kiosk again.

Su water-

water to drink is almost exclusively bottled. In homes water is delivered in big carboys like we are familiar with, and you pump it out into smaller containers- put those in the refrigerator, unless for cooking then directly into the pot.

The quality range of water from the tap is great.

It mades sense that different parts of the country would have different qualities of water. Istanbul, Ankara and all of the southern coast and K'Maraş all have very hard water so the shower soap and shampoo don't lather up much. Suddenly in Trabzon the hotel soap foams, lathers... maybe it's the soap? The shampoo is only a bit sudsy-er, hum- well the water feels different.

On a rest/cigarette stop up to Sumela I climbed down to the river, I expected icy cold water as the environment is similar to our mountain passes but it was air temperature, well not quite that warm but only cool not cold and definitely not icy- I could imagine going swimming.

11 Temmuz

Today Rize, Hopa (maybe- it's near the Georgian border- I've not been told why Semih thinks we should go there but he seems driven, so I think that He wants to see it. I get to go along to discover why when we get there.

Then Ayder yayla which has hot springs but I was only told that last night and nothing I had read said anything about that. But we have passed a couple of signs for “Termal” hotels recently so it makes sense.

A man, coming to Turkey with long hair, is an experience ~ children will stare, young women stare, adults will stare. In one museum a group of children in white t-shirts and red baseball caps gathered around Gülat and I (I was distracted by the display in a case so didn't notice at first) “Hello Tourist” they say to Gülat in English. I look up and I am being stared at by 20+ children, they ask me my name and how old am I, I tell them my name and say I am old. These are the 2 sentences they learn in school-- the first one makes sense but of what use is it to know how old someone is?

At the Atatürk Villa a boy/waiter just stops and stares finally he asks what is your name? So I ask him back “What is your name?” which took him a moment then he tells me (it started with 'B') and then a moment later he says point with his thumb to his chest “I am Orta”. End of conversation.

When we swim in the Black Sea (later) Semih and I are floating and haning on the rope that marks the edge of the swimming area, a boy comes and hangs with us and asks “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” “Seattle” he swims off shouting to his friends that I am Russian.

The headscarves in this area have a variation – it looks like wimple – a stiff piece of something that curves over the rear part of the top of their heads- a shape that forms sort of an arc that keeps the scarf off of the back of the head and looks very Renaissance. Not all the women wear it but many do and I've not seen this anywhere else in Turkey.

The male Karadenız folk costume is black- black vest, black trousers, and a black brimless cap like a short fez

North =cold, black (Kara), evil

South =warm, white, good

Today a late start, and I think we are going to Rize and Hopa and Ayder (hot springs?) Don't know why we are going to Hopa everyone says there is nothing there and it appears they are right. But I think Semih wants very badly to see Georgia and so we are driving past Hopa going onto Sarp which is the border. There is a line of trucks at least 3 km long waiting to cross and people carrying sack of things they bought in Turkey to take back to Georgia (hard to believe that things are cheaper in Turkey than Georgia but Semih implied that many things were hard to get in Georgia and so people cross the border to buy buy buy and carry back in large black plastic garbage bags. So we park and walk around a bit and then drive South/West to a beach near Hopa to swim at last in the Karadenız. All along Semih has been telling me how cold the Black Sea is and that the weather would be colder and I better have warm clothes etc. So earlier from Samsun on he mentiones swimming but I have not been willing/reluctant to swim in “colder” water. It's supposed to be colder but it's warm enough for me, there are jellyfish, clear ones about 6” in diameter and the beach is rocks and gravel and the drop off steep and close to shore. There is a group of young men and one is playing a bagpipe and 1 st they sing, then some dance. Semih thinks they have taken their movements from fish but to me it looks like another version of the line dance. (I resisted but thought that in Istanbul if I saw one I would need to get me a bagpipe. Though this was another musical instrument that Semih made fun of, as in there was no melody.)

Leaving Trabzon to go to Ayder via Hopa (not an efficient or direct route ;-) ) we enter the Tea growing region. Where before the hills were covered with hazelnut bushes/trees now steep nearly cliffs are planted with tea plants. Every town has a Çaykur (factory) and there are old looking men and women climbing these steep mountainsides with huge tarps tied by the corners to make sacks- carried on their backs filled with tea leaves. They bring them down to the roadside and a truck comes along to collect them. The tea is harvested using hedge shears with a bag attached to the bottom blade and then that bag is emptied into the tarp. Every 10km or so there is a storehouse and from there the leaves are taken to the factories to be processed into the national tea.

Farmers picking hazelnuts in Giresun.

Rize is also famous for summer cloth- a travel book recommended that I buy clothes here. Gülat sees a fabric store and we stop and 2 hours later she has bought scarves, material, furniture coverings, Semih a shirt and I bought a tablecloth, wash cloths and a scarf. The material is a stiff cotton, a very open weave with a jacquard pattern of tea leaves or diamond shapes, there are many hand altered pieces that are beautiful and very expensive. The strictly woven goods are very inexpensive. This was in Çayelı near Rize.

The region is also famous for beans and we stop at Husret “home of world famous for beans baked and grilled meat” (yes the sign was in English, well that's the English it was in). The beans were in a red sauce, probably tomato (but the color was more paprika colored) and oil and I don't know what else, creamy soft very tasty beans. We also had a grilled dish of chicken that was so tender and so good, exquisite-- as too often the meat grilled like this is either dry or tough or both but this had the crisp outside of grilling and was moist and and and oooo yummers.

Leaving the beach we travelled south(really west) and turned inland to climb on a mountain road to Ayder- a mountain pasture/small village near a hot spring.

The clouds are low and the air is drizzly the stone street pavers are wet. The rocks are in hexagonal slabs shapes, and the bridges across the river Çoruh are being replaced- from rope and wood, to wire and concrete. The road is technically 2 lane but again is more like 1.5 lanes.

We are staying at the “Palace” a single wall construction wooden 3 story very rustic building/hotel. The walls are made from 12” boards unfinished, the beams are rough hewn, smooth but not machine smooth. There is a cedar box kind of smell to the place.

It is run by a very red faced Turk of Armenian decent and his brother/family. Gülat brought 20-30 of her students on a trip around Turkey but especially the Black Sea region 2 years ago and stayed here.

I think the man recognized her.

We eat at a restaurant 30 meters away for dinner and then return to the terrace of the hotel to have some Georgian homemade wine. They (whoever made it) bottled it in a plastic mineral water bottle which in Cyrillic and Latin letters say “Hydrocarbon Georgian Water', on the side it also says that it is 'healthy water'.

It is a light red color with a slight vinegar tinge not unlike some which Semih & I had 2 years ago and also very close to some of the wine I have made from my grapes (and my friends tried to enjoy but couldn't). He also put before us a plate of nuts and seeds that were very fresh ~ I wondered how in this damp environment he managed to keep them so dry?

In the tourist restaurants (2) that are adjacent to this hotel there are musicians playing traditional folk tunes for people to dance or sing along with.

Semih and Gülat hear, recognize many of them and sing along.

Gülat speaks very good English but finding the right words sometimes takes time. This evening we are laughing and talking and going over the trip of how Hitite sites and Amasya and Sumelı and even Çorum were the high points with a lively end in this rugged green place with rushing water on all sides. At one point she is stumbling for words and I say I am sorry I don't speak Turkish better (how about at all) and she laughs and says she is sorry too.

12 Temmuz

This is the last full day with them. The weeks have been filled with laughter ( I have watched Turkish people gathered together for conversation, and almost always there are smiles and laughter ~ even the typical 3 men sitting in the shade if they are talking soon there are smiles) Some tears (at the wedding) songs & music, a great variety of food ~ trying to taste how each region is different has been sometimes hard but possible. Even all the Atatürk sites and constant images have broadened my ideas of what Turkey is/was and how it got that way.

Ayder-- the call to prayer was in a dark 4:30am. We had gone to bed at 11:30, that was too little sleep but then at 5 am it was like a light was turned on and somehow the sky just got bright. At 5:30am I give up and rise. There is alittle bird on a wooden lampost whistling away. A rooster is cawing through the bathroom window but by 6:30 it is truly light and there are shop keepers sitting outside on the walkways drinking tea and talking. Taxis and dolmuş are already bringing poeple up here and some of the tourists are out walking and taking pictures.

Across the river is a mountain stream. I can see the top where it is coming from but there is no snow so where is the water originating from?

This is a hamlet.

Quick notes/comments

The hotel really is 'Hotel Saray' and does mean Palace but also a place to rest.

The restaurants up here all have their own fish tanks/farms

There was an old man and a boy with wheelbarrows stacked with wood taking it into the bakery, meaning wood fired ovens

When we've had our breakfast it is time to explore the alpine meadow, with gypsies herding a few cows and tents in a field for rent to those who want an even cheaper place to stay. This is a starting point for treks, hikers with huge backpacks go up and come down from the surrounding mountains

The mountains are the Kafkas mountains and it took me a couple of days to realize that that was Turkish for the Caucasus's (felt kind of stupid)

We drove up the potholed clay road, up to the alpine meadow where cows were grazing and we sit looking into the Çoruh river, inspect bark beetle traps, collect wildflower28. We go back to the village and experience the Termal- A 60°C pool of clear water piped from underground so it is not a hot springs like I know- no mineral sulphur smell, just pure clear extremely hot water. Semih was really excited to try this out. But just as he always had me go through the cold shower rinse set-up29 to get to the swimming pool first, he has me try to get into this water first too.

I put one foot in it, just before I had watched a man come out of the pool and collapse and there were signs (in Turkish) warning that you should only stay in the pool for 10 minutes at a time and that you should only do that 3 times.

To put it in relationship to what you know 60°C is 20° hotter than you are supposed to have a hot tub it's 140°F. I carefully put half of one foot in and thought “How am I going to get into this” (as opposed to how am I going to get out of this?) so stepping like a Lipizzaner I slowly entered the pool. This was way beyond hot. Semih thought he was going to die. I managed to last 3+ minutes and had to get out. It was so hot that my body never really got used to it. I got out and laid on the side of the pool. There were men and boys swimming in this!. After resting, I think “I'll never be able to wade into this pool again”, so I roll myself off, crashing into the water and still I'm only in for about 2 minutes.

We take lukewarm rinses, which feel icy cold. Semih says he's never doing that again. For me, I admit, I didn't exactly find it healthful, seemed more dangerous. But it was an experience. You know that it's a risk when there are big signs posted about how a doctor is in the building. They had masseurs available but we weren't able to do that not enough time.

Up on the meadow we sit, and Gülat collects wildflowers, and relax, and listen to the river rush. I find a spot and squat on a rock and stare at the water roiling over the rocks just beneath the surface. I feel at peace and notice that the way the water is rushing it appears like strands of hair flowing down the valley. I imagine coming here again and staying and just sitting and being and watching the 'locks' rush by me.

Before we leave, over breakfast, I ask if we can go back to the fabric store. I realized that I really wanted some 'gifts' for friends and that this was a great place to get them, and I couldn't get the cloth out of my mind either for a shirt or curtains for me. Semih and Gülat agreed, smiling.

Leaving the Ayder we pass a farmer who is growing tea under a Kiwi arbor. We stop and he comes down from the hillside and they all talk shop. It was an unusual setup and he spoke with an accent that I just couldn't get a handle on so I just observed. He had learned this method from an Agricultural Agent and was trying it out, seemed to be working as the kiwi were good sized and there was tea below.

The unusual thing that he said, with force, was how “there was too much work to do, we don't have time to be terrorists”. I later asked Semih why he would say that, it was out of context (or so it seemed to me) Semih thinks that the government comes in and takes men away both as suspects and to join the army, and that the people in the region resent it.

We return to Çayeli and eat beans in the 2nd 'famous' place, which Semih like better than the 1st (but I thought it was salty and not as good). We stop at the fabric store and I can't believe I didn't write more about this place. 1. It was so much fun. The store isn't that big but each section (sheets, embroidery, clothing, scarves) had it's own beautiful young woman attendant (actually I don't know if they were young or not- they all wore long sleeves and traditional woven (colorful) clothing and the wimple headscarf that leaves just their lovely round faces showing). They served tea, and laughed and spoke practically no English but when we reappeared there were smiles all around. They opened packages of material and draped scarves and it was just fun. At one point one of the women said to Gülat “oh he really is Turkish”. Gülat also bought me a momento a beautiful glittery blue cloth that one 'rucks' in the center and places in the middle of a table for decoration.

A big red sun sets into the sea, the last evening with Semih and Gülat.

We are back at the hotel by the airport. My room is directly above the air conditioner and it shakes the room, it went off for 15 minutes at 5am. So not much sleep- showered, it's really hot/humid. So I'm already damp after my shower, thinking that Istanbul will be worse.

My big bag is gross and thankfully full- stuffed to my mind. Between shoes & clothes for the wedding and the things I've bought for friends or were given to me by Semih and Gülat (and Gülan- she had chosen 3 cds that she liked for me and I got them the first day in Istanbul). It's full- too full. I wish there had been a way to stow the wedding clothes or safely send them back without me but that just wasn't a good idea.

Didn't have time to go to the Internet cafe so I don't exactly have the Hotel address, hope I can remember it from before, I have the landmarks of how to find it still in my mind (I think).

I leaned out over the air conditioner and the air outside is much cooler than in here so I move to a table downstairs.

Last night I treated Semih and Gülat to dinner, we had already settled our accounts, over the cost of the gas (which I paid for) and a few other things I still owed 1 YTL which I paid. The dinner was my present to them.

It is interesting how hard it is to find a place to write.

In fact it doesn't seem like people write by hand here at all. (actually- do they write [by hand] at all in the US any more?) When I was in Ankara I finally found postcards to send to friends and wrote them and had to wait until we were in Çorum to send them. I went to the Post office by myself...

The post office is mainly used to collect the government subsidy that you get monthly (if you get one and many do). It is not so much used to send something. So the cashier had some trouble finding stamps and they were not cheap! Happily they all got to their destinations.

Trabzon on the Karadenız. I always thought that Seattle had the best clouds in the world. Well Karadenız comes close- even the light is similar, sometimes the clouds are etched by the light making them look surreal. The sea is so big that you can't see across it and I think that affects the light or at least the way it hits my eye.

We drove up to boztepe (top of the highest hill in Trabzon, nearly every city on the sea has signs for a boztepe) a big park on the hillside overlooking the city. Trabzon is not as big in population as Seattle but it appears as large in terms of lights at night, but more compact. What I notice is that lights don't move, there are no streams of headlights moving through the city. Either they are hidden by the narrowness of the streets (and boy are they narrow) and the height of all the buildings (at least 3 stories) or everyone walks and remains closer to their own neighborhoods. Probably all of that....

Erkenegon, the coup conspiracy, everything seems to be folding in on this group and the closure of the ruling party. Somehow the PKK attacks (although who exactly is attacking whom is difficult to determine from the images on TV) are being visually associated with the Party failures.

Gave the folding knife that I brought for Semih to him as a final gift.

Last night I paid for my room. At dinner we lightly recapped the trip ~ how Boğazkale, and Sumela, and Amasya were the high points and how we could imagine returning to them another time.

We joked that in about 5 years time I will have to return for Gülan's wedding (which is not emminent for, in Istanbul, she told that she had sent her boyfriend away for a month but now they were back together but then in K'Maraş Çarğrı said that she had broken up with the boyfriend, and later, in an email, she tells me that their relationship was over having 'rotted from the inside'). During dinner Gülan called or Semih called her and she and I exchanged goodbyes, I am just not good on the phone and especially cellphones give me the creeps so I wish that I could have said something better than I would write and thank you – but then what more is there to say?

13 Temmuz

The sea is calm, the clouds are burning off and soon I must wake S & G and have them take me to the airport.

I made lists of places to go in Istanbul, the museums and perhaps some other sites, and then cd's/books that I would like to find.

The plane was boarding as we arrived at the airport, perhaps it changed leave times, perhaps I flipped numbers but it was leaving at 7:05 not 7:50!

So I should confirm leave times for tomorrow or I might not get home.

We had 15 minutes and Turkish goodbyes (similar to Merhabas)hurry hurry getting bag checked in and seat and suddenly Gülat has come in to be with me. I take my boarding pass a last American hug for her, She says “we will miss you” I say “I will miss you” and I go out to the plane. The trip is nearly over. On to Istanbul.

The flight was straight forward, screaming child in front of me, quieted down when the plane started to move. Signs in the Airport are in Turkish and English so finding the bus to Takşim was easy. I remembered from last time (2 years ago) that I sat in the bus unmoving for 15 minutes but at least it's the right bus.

Istanbul feels cooler than Trabzon, but it's early yet and the forecast is for it to get up to the 30°s.

Istanbul- Got off the bus and promptly walked in the wrong direction, asked a street sweeper for the street I needed, he told/pointed me back the way I came. Found Iştiklal but still needed the Hotel address, thought I might recognize landmarks but finally went to an Internet café, cleaned out my emails and found the address.

It was a longer walk than I remembered and I have a nicer room than last time. Arranged for a wake up call at 6am and a taxi ($45!) for 6:30. Got directions for the Arkeologi Muze and walked there in a probably confusing way but with a few questions to Turks, I arrived in less than the hour the hotel said it would take.

The MUZE – there is not much here from Boğazkale, most of the reliefs and artifacts are from Gaziantep (Zincerli) which we might have gone to, if I'd know and there had been more time. (Kına definitely took precedence).

I found the layout confusing and some displays needed more labels but-- there are some very cool things, like ceramic glazed bricks from Sumer of animals/bulls and a 4 legged bull bodied snake headed/necked thing in brilliant colors. The sphinx from Boğazkale is here and it's far scarier in person than in photos. Many of the objects are in process of restoration or not restored so you get a much better idea of how much or how little was found and how the restorers got the idea for how it originally looked.

Nothing from Neolithic and not much from the Chalcolithic periods so nothing of Çatalhöyük or Alacahöyük either. And too much Mesopotamian stuff including some fragments of cuneiform of the Hammurabi code- the display of how cuneiform developed is really good.

OK I'M an IDIOT. The Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi is unbelievable and HUGE, a HUGE big building with the little building I was in as an intro.

It took me 4 HOURS to go through 2/3rds of it and I just got worn out.

There are 2 overwhelmingly cool things.

I may have been tired for each amazing experience in Turkey or it's just me and that's ok but I choked up.

Climbing some stairs in the main building I looked down and there are hundreds of plastic trays/boxes and in each one are shards ~ at first I thought I might be looking at the cuneiform archive (20,000 tablets are supposed to be here) but it was just shards of pottery stacked maybe 6' high and a huge room maybe 100' long and 20' wide. Amazing each box tagged waiting for someone, money, energy, time, to piece them together and record them.

The second moment was walking into the Sidon excavation room and seeing the “Alexander” Sarcophagus. A beautiful and perfectly preserved piece of marble with the conquests of Alexander the Great in relief along the sides. It's breathtaking beautiful. It's also not Alexander's it's some Sidonian King's but I get emotional just writing this. There are still traces, that you can see with naked eye, of the paint that they colored the figures with.

I had read that the Maraş lion is here but I missed it if it is. There are tons (no pun intended) of reliefs, stele, I think I may have done the whole thing backward as I went left entering the building and even with Troy at my start, it kept on getting earlier and earlier, they had some of the Troy treasure displayed. They did have a lovely bunch of cuneiform with great translations (need to find a book of these, Semih had one but it was in Turkish). On the top floor they had an exhibit of the Kybele temple site in Efes (Ephesus) along with the small Aphrodite from Selçuk that I saw there 2 years ago., it was easier (and more exciting [at least a minor thrill]) to understand and enjoy this part of the exhibit because I had been there and knew, now, more about it.

The one thing about many of the objects from the various ages in Turkey was how small and delicate the work was, whether in stone, copper, silver, gold, clay. Often the object was tiny tiny and the museum provided magnifying glasses for many of the display cases.

I hoped to find a good catalogue or museum book but there was only a coffee table book and it was not that good and $80.

No Alacahöyük book anywhere either. After that, having been told that the museum closes at 4pm (not true in the summer on a Sunday) and my feet needed a walk or a break (there were chairs periodically in the Muze and thankfully they were near open windows, I was hot and sticking my shirt looked like I'd been working out.) I got some more water and left the building.

A friend had encouraged me to go back to the Hagia Sofia (at least that 's what I thought I remembered, I had been there during my first trip) and it's next door to the Arkeoloji Muze so I went in and spent about 1.5 hours there.

There was still scaffolding, that I remembered from before, in the middle of the floor. Obscuring some/all of the main dome- arrrgh. But I saw some things I'd missed before-- like the mosaics are filthy in the alcoves' ceilings but then I looked closely and notice how beautiful they might be. Silver and gold tiles in patterns that were difficult to clearly see. Ironically (and weirdly to me) there were photos of many of the parts of the mosaics and people would take photos of them and pose next to hem for photos. The second weird thing is that the photos did look better than the actual mosaics

I still liked the faceless swirl of wings of the seraphim in each corner of the main dome the best. The structure is ornate the pillars on each floor which hold up the upper floor, are in quadrants, and at the base of each pillar is an iron cladding (pinned) and the same(smaller – the pillars are slightly tapered) on top and above the buckle is either a carved marble or stucco ornate top with flows into the supports for the arches, which support the next floor up.

I think most of the ceiling, at one time, was shiny mosaic but now most of it is painted over (no human images in Islam allowed so they painted over the mosaics) and what has not been cleaned is coated with ages of soot from candles in candelabra, and coal and charcoal heat.

After this I still had no map and hadn't exactly come to these sites in a straightforward way (wandered, asked, wandered, asked- found). I asked a guard for the Galata bridge (which would take me directly back to Iştiklal) and she just directed me back to the entrance of the Aya Sofia (same as Hagia Sofia)[so much for thinking I could speak any Turkish].

SO- I followed the tram tracks. I had seen the tram crossing the bridge and figured that even if it wasn't direct (it wasn't) it would probably get me back to the bridge, a sign for the bridge, or a sign for Takşim It did -eventually, and I walked through a different part of the old city.

Back on Iştiklal (this is a walking street and the hotel is on an alley off of it) I get cash from an ATM.

Unlike last visit many of the music instrument stores that were closed were open (uhoh). I open my journal to read the list of things to do that I made in Rize and that helped direct my attention (I had promised myself not to buy any instruments this trip)(I started drooling over a Turkish clarinet “no no no no!”) but I broke down an bought 2 more dudek reeds and I think I now know why I couldn't play my dudek with the reed I have.

Next I come to a cd record shop with a Miles/Coltrane LP in the window. Cd's are on my list 3 in fact, music of Karadenız, (they don't have). Sezen Aksu with a Balkan Band (they don't have), Cem Karaça (they have). I laughed and said “you are killing me” when they couldn't find the other two. (What came over me? Tired) I walk on, I visit every bookstore I see and, eventually, enter the Robinson Crusoe (bookstore) and they have a small book of Yunus Emre poems in English (Shambala press, out of print so not a totally out of order purchase, I need something to read on the plane.)

Muzaffer on my 1st night in Ankara says “I love everyone ~ all people” and something about Emre being a poet like and contemporary to Rumi but better because he was a mystic but not religious or yes religious but not formal or something. He gave me the idea the Emre promoted enjoyment of life and love of all people no matter what. So I wanted to see what he might have meant by that.

I found one more cd on my list and then in a moment of weakness bought 2 more not on the list. There were other books that tempted me but they were in Turkish and I couldn't pretend that I was going to learn enough to read them. (The Ankara Muze book is in Turkish and that will be hard enough even though I know what it is talking about)

So purchases complete and all I've eaten is 2.5 liters of water and a çay. I've walked for 8 hours, it's hot, I've been sweating so much I have a salt pattern on my shirt. I need something to eat.

The last time I ate dinner in Istanbul by myself I got sick just before having to come home on the plane. I don't want to take that kind of chance again so I walk and walk and spot the place that Semih and Gülan took me to 2 years ago. We had had a snack and beer and wandered up and down from Takşim that night.

Çicek Pasaji (Flower passage) a long narrow restaurant with shops off of it and the tables are long and could be shared. As a single I am shunted off to a side room next to the bar but with a ledge/opening into the main hallway. They have a multi-lingual menu but I keep on having to look at the Turkish to figure out what I really want (The English translations of traditional foods was too confusing). I have mantar (mushrooms) patlıcan salata (which was basically baba ganoush) an oven baked meat dish, and something else but I can't remember what, a meze I think. The beer is draft and creamier than Efes (nearly the only brand in Turkey) from a can.

SO I sat and wrote and 5 young american women celebrating one of their 21st birthdays are seated on the long table on the other side of the wall.

The bits and snatches I overheard told me they were east coast college kids but more than that I didn't catch and in a way glad I didn't.

Finished my meal and left, returned to hotel, turned on the Air con, tried to watch TV (Couldn't) room cooled down and I fell asleep (earplugs in) from 10-5 not a quiet deep sleep but way better than nothing.

At 6:10 I'm showered and packed and in the lobby, the taxi is waiting and this large broad shouldered man comes down and is wearing a jacket with “Arm Wrestling Champion” on the back. There was a competition here (Turkey/Istanbul? Not sure) I saw on TV last night and he was a competitor so I got some money back from my paying in advance for sharing ride.

The Airport is confusing but maybe I just like being confused as I found my way around fine. This 1st flight is a mixed crowd but it's not full so I have a window seat and an empty seat between so there's room.

The plane takes off.

This is the end of the journal, nearly the last page of it, the end of the trip , a good trip, a different trip.

14 Temmuz 08

Somewhere over Eastern Europe


1Atatürk was a general who organized the war of independence and created with help the government and country we know as Turkey- he is the Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and the Lafayette of Turkey. There is a lot of Atatürk in this trip. In the dictionary “founder and first president of the Turkish Republic”.

2Kına is both henna and a folk-marriage ceremony that uses henna. Kına the ceremony comes before the 'wedding'

3Dolmuş's don't have regular stops you just stand on the side of the road or on the sidewalk and raise your hand if you want a certain one (they have destination signs in the front window) however they don't trust you to notice them so there is a constant light tap on the horn to let you know-wonder-hope that you want them.

4Gazi-Antep the first part was given to the city after heroic battles with the French during the war of independence and means “war veteran” and is an honorific. Kahraman-Maraş is the same. The original name was Maraş [some­times you will find a reference to Marash in books it's the same place ş is pronounced sh] and the honorific in this case means “hero” so sometimes people write K'Maraş or just Maraş and the same with Antep

5The 'new' word for black is seyah, the old word is Kara so the Black Sea is Karadenız not Seyahdenız

6yayla= alpine meadow, highlands we go there near the end of the trip.

7pide is often a narrow thin bread with tomato sauce and spice and ground meat, each city/region has it's own varia­tion but many times I could not tell the difference, I suspect that this is because I am allergic to dairy and that the cheeses of each region differ as they should.

8Durmuş is on the agriculture faculty his field is animal (husbandry- I think) he is however also the rector of the Com­munity College of which there is much more later. I met him two years ago, and he is the one who climbs mountains 'with a stick' and is now an avid photographer- which I do not remember about him from before. He is a short bulky man who carries himself with force as if the waters will part as he approaches. He also loves to take running leaps into the pool creating tidal waves. His wife Aynur is in the apartment frequently and she seems to be the one who knows most about how to conduct the kına, she's sort of the 'wedding' director. She is from the Karadenız region with a high nasal voice that seems loud to me- however later I find that many people in that region speak very loudly.

9Çay, Turkey is the land of 10,000 cups of tea (this being the 'joke' between Batuhan and myself [he changed it from 1000 that I was saying] He also coined [with my assistance] that Turkey is the land of 'hurry, soon, then wait'. At ev­ery turn anywhere, talking to anyone for any reason çay is made and offered, it is cheap even when you buy it (except in Atatürk airport, there it's 5 YTL or about $4.50- yikes!) and, to my mind tastes better than Nescafé.

10Gülat tells me, in Trabzon, that I didn't eat very much in Kahramanmaraş, and in Ankara I found a scale and weighed my usual, by the time I got home I had gained all of 3.5 lbs, i.e. nothing.

11I have written tumel= foundation, not sure why, it also can mean basic.

12Turkish driving; especially in Istanbul but in any city in Turkey is mostly by magic. The drivers are ignoring the laws of physics, they believe and somehow pull it off that two objects can in fact occupy the same space at the same time. There is frequent honking, sliding, merging- it is a fascinating dance after you unclench your entire body and just let go- I have no idea how they do it and was surprised at how few accidents or the results of accidents I saw (3-4 for the entire trip).

13 Even traffic tickets are somehow bargain-able - he paid the ticket before leaving for Safranbolu, and because he used cash(?) the ticket was reduced from 200 YTL to 150 (or something like that).


15Family names are a recent thing for the Turkish people, until after the war of Independence people only had first names Atatürk mandated that everyone have a last name- many of the things that he and his people put together to create Turkey are similar to Western ideas, this being one of them. However this does not explain why there are so many people with the same first name.

16bağlama is a 3-4 string long necked lute with ties on frets and played with a pick, also called or like a tar, setar (not sitar) with a teardrop body shaped top and deep mandolin-like body.

17Kahramanmaraş ice cream is famous throughout Turkey, it is made with mastic and so it is maleable (stretchy) and stays solid even in the heat of the day. You will see sellers chopping it up with cleavers and putting rough chunks of it into (really onto) cones. The difficulty for me being allergic was that nothing was dairy free there so I had a small bit of pistachio dessert which is mostly green nut paste bound with butter and sugar, but in the heat I think most of the whey solids must be left out and I did not suffer very much the next day.

Link here


18After the wedding I learn the significance of the nuts – they are a speciality of the Black Sea Region, Which is near where the wedding will take place and is where the groom and family is from.

19Merhaba/hello. When meeting someone you shake their hand, maybe even grasping their forearm with the other hand and then kiss to each side of their head. I was never sure which side to begin with so there always was a feeling of clumsiness whenever I met someone. However this is not how you greet someone for the first time. Then it is usually just the handshake (for men) or a nod (I think) for women (I.e. a man meeting a woman). Durmuş told me how when he went to the US to study he met a Turkish friend there and made to greet with the shake and hug/kiss and the man pushed him away “no, no don't do that here they will think you are homosexual”- so he had to control his habit.

20Line dance in a 5/7 beat step the one thing I leave out is that you connect to the persons you are between with your little fingers, crooked or hooked into each other, a tenuous hold and one easily broken. Though it didn't help that be­ing on the wrong foot I practically fell down and that definitely broke the line.

21I had developed tendinitis in my right arm just before leaving, from playing and gardening and driving bus and couldn't get it to rest/heal very well until later in the trip.

22After the civilization museum we went to the Ethnographic museum. Here there were 5 - FIVE people visiting. In fact so few people that the lights are on motion sensors and Muza being the tallest kept on waving his arms at the lights so they would go on and we could see the exhibits. It is mostly folk costumes and culture and not even pre-Ottoman.

23YTL-Yeni=new Turku=Turkish Lira= the exchange rate was close to even, I just read that they are going to remove the Yeni from now on the currency will be just TL Turku Lira.

24Raki is a licorice/anise hard liquor, like ouzo, Pernod, and anisette. And like them not drunk straight but in a glass with water dilution (to taste) which turns the water white.

25The translating fish you put in your ear to understand intergalactic languages- featured in Douglas Adams' Hitchhik­ers guide to the galaxy books

26This turned out not to be true but I didn't find it out until I read a book written by a leader of the dig about it on my way home on the plane.

27During a 'scenic' = “cigarette” break on the way up Semih asks me what I think. Without a moment of thought I said “It's beautiful” “Oh Jay, I think this is the first time you've said anything about my country is beautiful!””But it is beautiful”. Then I felt a bit guilty, there are other parts of Turkey that have their own beauty, are beautiful but here is where I felt settled in, in my comfort zone. Surrounded by the sounds of birds, rushing water, and lush green forest I felt 'at home'.

28Gülat was collecting the flowers for research and , I believe or got the impression, that she hoped to find ways or flowers that were useful commercially, like for arrangements etc.

29To get into the pool outside his home you walked through a gate that set off a cold water rinsing shower.