Day 1; 27th June 2013
This is my daily journal of a trip of 5000km by car with my Turkish friend Semih Çağlar, sometimes accompanied with his wife Gülat.
A good friend [TD] gave me a small tablet thing to record bits of "stuff" that she titled Journies with Jay
and on the second page "ABSORB the beginning"
So the boxes are what I wrote in her 'book' and if necessary I will explain further in italics.

music to listen to or to play yourself
sketch for Sea-Tac
a pdf version

Before 5 AM Sea-Tac is quiet, the muzak, the motorized carts are rare or still. The crowds smaller and maybe too too tired to chatter loudly. Even the continuous announcements seem less continuous as though HS has relaxed the need to drive us crazy with anxiety.

The TSA line(s) seemed long but the herding & shouts worked to make it all go pretty smoothly and the self-check in worked.

I was moving too slowly this morning so there's going to be a mold-furred cup of coffee near the computer when I return. AND I left the list of addresses and phone numbers on the desk.

I managed to pack food and bag with reading material and everything else (we'll see if that's true) under 8.5kg for the 4 week trip and hope to return lighter by about a kilo (nope defeated by about 2kg still not bad).

It's raining so I gave in and took a cab. Paid $40 it was a bit more but the driver had quoted that much and so that's what I paid.

Soon off to Newark. Breakfast sandwich made by me delicious but messy. Bathrooms here have those sensor faucets but they short you on water or just don't work very well.
Tedium with moments of interest

3 PM EDT, Newark, found the correct connecting terminal resolved, physics question ~ flight still isn't posted sciatica an issue ~ and that was just for a 4 hour flight, next is another 10 then wait then 2½ hours (?) hopefully no wait. The faucets here don't like me either, not sure what that means.

I folded paper around the TV screen in front of my seat because the controls didn't work. Later a stewardess told me I could do it and then it worked. Probably because I wanted to turn it off while they were describing the emergency procedures. Still I found all the moving images up and down the airplane distracting and many were on the "pay for content" screen ~ so they either hadn't figured out how to turn it black or weren't bothered.

Sat on the aisle (assigned) good to write left handed with, but my elbow was always in the way (B-737).

Newark Airport nice at first I thought it better but really why are there clothing stores in an airport? I get that t-shirt kiosks for a souvenir of a place (except they are all made in China or elsewhere) but do rich people discover their need for a Hugo Bass item when they 'suddenly' find themselves in Newark? Seems unlikely. The other word damaged here is Gourmet, there are at least 3 different places to get, prepackaged in plastic, food with signage that says what they offer is gourmet ~ seems unlikely too and chancy.

Newark still

Listening to the chatter, the overhead announcements, there is a pattern a sinewave-like not quite rise and fall but a resemblance to what actors are trained to say- rhubarb ~ over and over again. Added to this is the steps and sounds of various rolling suit cases on the edges of flooring. I was thinking "how would Gershwin" translate this environment into music? There are no horns honking to break the somewhat grievous monotony of airport waiting areas but but...

I wanted (still someday yes!) to create a guerrilla piece in Occidental Park where all people would bring something that rolled and at different signals would roll over and at different speeds the various sections of brick and stone and patterns that exist there.

So my airport piece (probably would need permission ~ also if permission was given I wonder what the restrictions would be?). But running, walking - all the different kinds of rolling things - get the cleaning crew and maybe even the people in their motorized carts with that horrid high pitched sound. The pacing could be set to the various kinds of announcement and could be randomized by not controlling where each "dancer" is. So the announcements are; [1]unattended items, [2]Gate departures, [3] Person's sought, [4] no smoking, and each one would control tempo or direction.

This is not exactly what Gershwin would do but the sounds of all this motion that was what he -over and over again- captured in bits and pieces of his music. That's probably too much of a cliché and a favorite piece of his Promenade was danced by Fred Astaire and is a walk on a cruise ship! So with that and the enforced confinement of a cruiseship/airport ~ I'm sort of on the same track.

Recently I dug some grooves into a dead CD and put it to play of a windup 78 turntable ~ scritches & pops repetition but the arm wanted to go to the center so the sound got higher and not actually faster (or not much) and today I read about Mizra a sound/visual artist. The wheel is constantly being re-invented and if there was a God - to what purpose is all this re-invention, this squirrel-cage race to no-where? A creative creature believing in originality driven in circles by the history that is constantly being forgotten and so much to be rediscovered in order to be advanced. Or maybe we are all infected as a virus ~ an organism forced into patterned behavior by genes, biology ~ I'm way in the deepend here i.e. don't know what I'm talking about.

music to listen to or to play yourself
the Sea-tac Sketch revised
a pdf version

Plane's delayed
Day 2; 28th June 2013

I arrive in Istanbul 10+ hours sat next to a woman from? Don't know, she spoke on he cellphone to her Mama in English with an accent, had Quiet Room as a book to read in English, had a splint on her finger, wouldn't talk to me, except 'thank you' when I helped with food or waste removal. Was not pleased to see that I was going to be her seat mate.

So the discomfort of airplane travel squared. At least the movies were free just nothing I either wanted to see or I had already seen. Didn't really sleep so I've been up this entire trip with occasional dozes. The last one seemed more like sinking into a hallucination ~ not unpleasant but unexpected.

Supposedly I was going to get a dairy free diner but salad was covered in cheeze though the vegetarian 'main course' was safe. Breakfast a greasy roll/croissant ~ i.e. suspect, a cup of fruit- I ate that.

So got my visa and through customs, which was more of a joke than last time ~ didn't ask anything just stamp stamp and I'm on my way to the next terminal to wait.....
Istanbul Havaalanı no one looks 'Turkish'

Found it and check in but I'm so early that the gate isn't posted so I went to the post office (which is more like a bank) and changed $20 into 37.50TL [Turkish Lira- formerly YTL Yeni (new) Turkish lira but it's no longer new so they've dropped the Y], and now is a 'Kantin' eating a 'rosebeef' sandviç with a pretty good tomato, pickle, and the bread a sort of multi-grain. Though small for 10.50TL tasty for airport grub. My 1st çay tea and .5L su water.

explanation of Turkish letters

ç = ch
ğ =sort of silent a syllable separator
ı = uh (not quite but low in the voice)
İ/i = long e
ş = sh
ü = uh but different think yucky ooo
ö = er with rounded lips will maybe come close
Gazi-Antep = Antep was awarded an Honorific of Gazi which means a veteran of the war of Independence. Most citizens of the city refer to it's Original name Antep
Kahraman-Maraş = Maraş with the honorific which means Heroic
Şanlı-Urfa = Urfa with the honorific which means illustrious
Generally I will refer to these places without their honorifics

music to listen to or to play yourself
In the Istanbul airport
a pdf version

So it is lunchtime in Istanbul. Trying to understand how many hours I've already been gone has become aggravatingly difficult. 11 hours difference- 4am Seattle on 27th, and now 2:30pm on the 28th Istanbul and I will still be here at 5pm, the Gaziantep 7pm, Maraş 9(?) I can't do the math.

There was a moment in the dark over the Atlantic but near Ireland when I was craving pen and paper. Just the urge to write no supreme ideas, and maybe that's what I was hoping for, a means to think through the ooze of air conditioning noise, the jet engine noise (we were seated on the back of the wing- so loud) and all the screens doing different things even thought the person seated in front of them was often asleep.

The pen and paper were too difficult to get to without waking too many people so I sat and read (Granta 20 writers under 40) and dozed. Teleportation or a heavier dose of meditation cannot come too soon.

Eating in Kantin which is in the domestic terminal I imagine everyone or nearly everyone is Turkish. What I'm finding interesting is how this is not a homogeneous country ~ there are so many different faces and colors of skin. Even body shapes. On previous visits I saw (I think) so many people who if of the same age had the same body shape but here now with the huge range in ages and colors and face I am hard pressed to say what a Turkish person looks like.

The idea of wheels in an Airport wouldn't work here in the domestic terminal ~ the floors are walnut sanded flat- no rhythm no edges to make extra sounds Plus (it's the old terminal, I didn't hang out in the main really new looking one so I don't know what the floors are like but think they were concrete flat) ~ additionally the announcements are continuous there is no pause or barely any and so far the voices are all women ~ also here it seems that the 'crowd' noise isn't here. Children's voices, some men on their cellphones but in general the conversations are subdued - some men cover their mouths as they talk on the phones, just as is done when someone has a pit (olive or) in their mouth and want to remove it.

Semih's oldest daughter and son-in-law Beltir and Batu were in Seattle before I left. I took them to a Chinese restaurant- my fortune cookie read "you will travel somewhere far away". This was 2 weeks before I was to leave. I just found it in my wallet ~ placed it in my passport for Semih and Gülat to laugh at.

When I checked in for my flight to GaziAntep, Atlasair asked me for my credit card that I used to buy the ticket. By chance it was not the ones I left at home but I wasn't sure as the woman rattled off the numbers, luckily it was the one I had with me. kızmet(kızmet is fate or a sort of 'que sera') works for me.

There's some Turkish set of words that sound like GeorgeLennon in the announcements, as if the dead Beatles will direct you to the place you want to go.

Wow the English announcements on this plane are good! (on plane to GaziAntep) There are significantly more conservative women on board and very few yabancı foreigners (like me) so I half expected no English at all.

music to listen to or to play yourself
still on the way
a pdf version

No matter how close I think I'm pronouncing something I am wrong, i.e. not understood even though it must be obvious that some of the time I am understanding what is asked. Context really is everything.

music to listen to or to play yourself
6:30 I don't know somewhere over GaziAntep
a pdf version

~~~~~ Arkeolog ve musik ve cusine 4 hafta Maraş > Sinop (Karadeniz) > Boyabat > Istanbul > Izmir > Bodrum > Istanbul > USA
hafta = week, so I was trying to explain I would be here for 4 weeks, and traveling from Maraş etc, I have no idea if the message got through but at least we tried. ~~~~~
The above is how I explained why/why I was in Turkey on the plane from Istanbul to GaziAntep to a Turk who had a little English but not very much and didn't understand me when I tried to speak the little bit of Turkish I had. So I drew and wrote this on my journal paper with arrows and lines.

Day 3; 29th June 2013
Hot with moments of joy

Arrived in GaziAntep - met Semih drove home to Maraş, it is very hot maybe 35C. The "new" car is a sort of Volkswagen SUV, high end car he, at times, was driving over 140Kmph (about 103 mph) and no vibration or sound to let you know- pretty much like driving a BMW or Mercedes.

Greeted by Gülat and Pamuk (the cat) she (Gülat) is wonderful to see [not that Semih wasn't -he is very brown and has lost some weight] and cooking köfte a kibbe (if you know that dish) a meat ball lozenge and fried potato and my 1st grand Turkish salata (Yeah!) and water. We sit and eat on the balkon... the olive orchard across the street is gone! Apartment buildings are filling the view, the one directly across from us is still under construction as are more in the distance.

As we flew into GaziAntep (Antep plus an honorific for war veteran, from the war of independence) the sun is low (7 pm !) and there is a layer of pink haze/smog. My nose is plugged but I am not sure if it's airplane plugged, new country plugged or smog plugged. Semih points out semi (truck) after semi going towards GaziAntep, says they are all going to Iraq, northern Iraq and the oil fields, getting construction materials from Turkey.

While in GaziAntep there is a woman and her child begging car to car at a stop light, Semih says "Syrian". She is a war refugee and that there are many in GaziAntep (he says 200,000). This is the 1st sign of the civil war. She is in a blue denim dress with a head scarf, her child is dressed the same without the scarf. She is young and goes car to car with her hand out, solid, perhaps a proud look on her face.

~ ~

After dinner dessert is cherries, a dark bing-like cherry and packet tea (like Lipton) then bed, it is too hot to be covered so I open the window put in earplugs, read a bit of Mary McCarthy until my eyes fall shut, sleep, wake, sleep and now up because Sun approaches the window. There is a south wind and I am north facing so quickly close curtain, take a shower, figure out how to turn on the fan and now I'm on the balcony in the wind and shade and it's nice. Semih says I may rest today, some shopping, go out for dinner maybe a swim (there is a pool adjacent to their apartment complex) and I will read and rest to acclimate to time and weather. This morning no pink just heat haze of the hills.

The number of things I forgot to bring grows. No addresses to send postcards to friends. No inhaler, a small instead of large dose medication, Dusty Strings gave me a t-shirt to take photos of in Turkey I can't find it and now home I still can't find it. I probably didn't need to bring 2 sweaters but that remains to be seen as I think it could be cool nights near the Black sea region and in the mountains, but for now few clothes on is best.

My second sleep? This night is probably not hotter but 1st the fan that keeps me cool(er) has a pitch to it and keeps me awake, so I turn it off and doze, but it is hard to get a deep sleep. This day has been vocabulary literature permission to cook in the kitchen and too much food for dinner. We swam for maybe an hour? and my swim suit is too big/old so just pushing off from the side pulls the suit down over my butt, maybe I can pin it tighter tomorrow.

I wrote a short email to people about their addresses so I could post something but didn't check for responses ~ I'll try to check in the morning.

Not being able to sleep well at night = sleeping in day. I "napped" for 3 hours after lunch (spaghetti noodles greased with margarine and sauced with Heinz catsup ~ yes really) Semih made it said it was the easy way and that usually there was a 'real' sauce.

Breakfast was olives (cheeze) cucumber, tomato, nescafe, a hardboiled egg and whole grain bread. But---

Dinner in a restaurant; pide (large oval seeded with nigella and sesame seeds puffy flat breads) and minced herbs in red pepper (mildly hot) as a spread. A huge bowl of traditional salata (tomatoes, onion, greens [usually parsley]) a köfte of spices and bulgur, very hot, with a sauce and leaves of iceberg lettuce. Then Gülat had a lamacan, which is a meat oval pizza-like dish, this too was spicy not as hot as the köfte but it a kick to it. And they ordered a dish Semih had it with yogurt and I without. Which reminds me that there was a yogurt and eggplant dish. The dish for me had roasted hot peppers & tomatoes on it but the meat dish was a roll of flatbread and inside a meat mix sauced with a tomato sauce. They had taken the meat roll and cut it on the bias like a diagonally cut sushi roll and set each slice side by side so it resembled a flower.

I ate too much.

Semih is reading a history book, devouring it, must have read 300 pages yesterday.

My vacation book is Parallel Stories, I keep dozing off so I haven't gotten thru the part I had read in Seattle but there is much I hadn't remembered so this isn't a complaint.

Sometime in the late afternoon Gülat shows me and explains the photos of Gülan's (youngest daughter) engagement 'ceremony'. So I get my first (turned out only) glimpse of her fiancé Erman, who is this enormous body with a chubby cheeked round heard. In the photos he towers over everyone. The 'ceremony' is somewhat like olden days where the man must ask the woman's family for permissions to marry, but it is the grandfather who is asked. There are rings and gifts and a special cake just like at a wedding.

Which brings me to the world of vocabulary; Pasta = Pastry, cakes cookies/sweets. Tilki= fox and like a fox is sly= kurnaz. Then I am reminded because we go for groceries,and all the vegetables have signs and there are names that I once knew/know egg= yumurta, eggplant= patlıcan, sheep/lamb= koyun, goat= keçi, and hammer= çekiç, onion= soğan~

All this is in anticipation of güvec a lamb and eggplant dish the Gülat made years before that is very very good.

I watch the butcher = kasap, trim the lamb ribs with cleaver and then a knife. He trimmed all the fat and bits of the spine off the 'crown' then cut each chop and laid them on a container,then weighed it, the the fat and trim was not included in the price. He also cubed some larger pieces of lamb (haunch?). All this was put with the vegetables in the trunk of the car, then we went to eat and then home. No worries about spoilage or anything ~ just another confirmation of how anxious our American lives have become.

Get home and put everything in fridge. Gülat washes some of the fruit and leaves some not yet ripe apricots out to ripen. Then she and I watch a show with Turkish Narration, Turkish subtitles when people are speaking another language - about El Sidon caves with Neanderthals, a family and how they were wiped out and probably eaten due to climate changes and reduced livable habitat.

After the fridge and before program Gülat tells me I have permission to cook to be in the kitchen that on my 1st visit she did not know me but now I should just eat what I want then we talked about saffron pilav that I will make for her (I sent books and saffron ahead of me). So ~ 'mi casa es su casa' sort of but in Turkish.

Day 4; 30th June 2013

Sunday at 4 AM (now past) is when 1st call to prayer is, it is dark and even in an agricultural environment (which is what this is) this call doesn't completely make sense, because you can't see anything! The animals would be asleep etc... so I don't understand why there is this call so early. My pen (fountain) is nearly out of ink - so next cartridge is due. This is the issue with my- new pen the flow is uneven sometimes very dark and other times not so, yet until it grows faint (which means 'out of ink') it doesn't mean anything.

music to listen to or to play yourself
it's all in my head
a pdf version

Because I keep on hearing it in my dozing when I set paper & ink I'm not sure it's mine at all it may or probably is a melody from something else, something someone else wrote or played. Something I heard outside in the world. This has often been a problem for me even if I'm sure I'm quoting something/someone else to most other listeners they don't hear it, don't recognize it. There's a part of Empty Words that I think is a copy/direct quote of a bit of an REM song but no one mentions that they can hear it. OK ~ ~ and sometimes I go back to what I believe is the original source and end up agreeing, it's nothing like what I wrote hmmmmm....

Semih and I were talking about books and he tells me he has read all of Don Quixote in English! He loved it. I ask him if he has read Homer and he says the Turkish translations aren't good and maybe we can find a good English one in Istanbul.
later in ½ sleep I think he might like Invisible Cities too.
sun is coming up and my neck is tired

Swimming suit and Hittites

Get up late slept after 2nd sleep very nice. Ate breakfast read, nap swim go to the new Maraş Museum- Jackpot!.muze = Museum

I did not know of a dig in and near Maraş and that it was an old Hittite Capital. But in the very well set up, good English (mostly) translations, displays, and then funeral stele and lions and a sphinx, all around Hittite hieroglyphs. Not a big Muze but nice and well done. I was able to get a booklet which I intend to give to JB.

Afterwards we went to a new shopping mall similar to Pacific Place but it seemed gigantic. We went there for a new swim suit that would not fall to my knees when I jumped in the water. Found something in 'M' and for 15TL so I had enough left from the airport to pay for it.
We soon after tested it. So I've swum twice.

Drove past large grain silos and an artificial lake ~ later Gülat tells me that the lake changed the environment there, now pomegranates are grown. While driving we passed a hole in the ground where another apartment building probably is going up. The soil is very red, like, perhaps iron rich ~ Semih says it's very good for growing trees as it has many minerals.

Shopping mall is filled with shops so similar to those in the states that if Americans replaced the Turks you would not know you weren't in USA, without looking closely. The kitchen supplies are different because the cooking is with gas (propane here and Natural Gas in larger cities to the north), and some kinds of material (cloth) are different. I am struck by how many people are employed in each store or restaurant. I was pushing a grocery cart in a narrow lane and the handle caught on a box of glass canisters, they broke on the floor and nearly instantly 2 men in "average/normal/casual" Turkish clothing came running from nearby and opposite directions saying "it's ok you may go on continue shopping". The 2nd man had a roll of tape, I imagined either taping off the area or using it to get the smallest slivers off the floor, but as we rolled away I heard the 1st man's foot push the glass into a pile.
We got 2 liters of organic olive oil because Semih 'knows the firm'. A bottle of wine (which I don't think we drank-) and a large bag of cat food for the white cat Pamuk.

Back home we have çay, read, nap, and swim to test the new suit. Then I get to make the salata in traditional Turkish way; Gülat thin sliced an onion then salted and squeezed the shreds, then I sliced cucumber (English type) 2 green peppers, 1 big red pepper (not bell), 2 real tomatoes, 1 bunch of mint, ½ a bunch of parsley, and quartered a lemon. Now that I have done it once , I know that I sliced too finely and next time bigger pieces because we eat from the dish communally and stab with a fork to get a bite. My chopping was so small that stabbing didn't work very well. Finished with pomegranate syrup, then olive oil, and squeezes of lemon. It still tasted good but Gülat and I had to use spoons to finish it. With the salad we had twice cooked chicken. 1st in a pressure cooker, then in a pannini thing. This tool is what the köfte were cooked in too. They put parchment paper on the metal elements then the peppers and meat and another sheet of paper on top and close the lid. The meats still get brown stripes and cooked, the paper is disguarded and one doesn't have to clean the cooking unit. Fasulye (green beans) with tomatoes long cooked (Gülat says the beans weren't the best ones, the good ones weren't available) even so the dish was very green beany.

There is a wedding taking place nearby, big drums and loud music ~ we go to look, then back to the park behind the pool for late çay ~ We meet Dürmuş his wife Ayner(not sure of the spelling) there.
He was in a bus accident coming back from Van on a photographing trip, has bruises still, fifteen days later, and his right foot is wrapped and he limps. He otherwise looked fit, he tells me that to his surprise Semih climbed/hiked with him.
He photographs flowers and tells me that because he keeps good records and returns each week to the same forest place, that after 15 years his is a good natural record of how climate and wild life have changed.
His oldest son, who I met last time and was sad and on the phone all the time, has married and his wife is expecting ~ so Dürmuş will soon be a grandfather. But he didn't remember the sad phone calling, so didn't know if it was the same woman who was now the wife.
Semih told me that Dürmuş's copper and tin collection (which filled at least one large classroom 4 years ago) is no longer his passion and that he wants to give it to the University but Semih cannot imagine why the University would want it.

Gülat is taking TD's request for poppy seeds very seriously, they discuss it at least once a day - where maybe the seeds can be found - mostly because it is too late in the season.

Off to Urfa tomorrow so maybe a short 2nd sleep/nap before I must really get up.

Day 5; 1 July [Temmuz] 2013

Monday- rose early to go to Urfa ~ Göbekli an ancient temple site about 300km away, near Syria, across the Euphrates (Firat in Turkish).

Trip there is uneventful, however Urfa has over 200,000 refugees and even without them the Arabic influence is visible.
I no longer know which city had the influx of 200,000 refugees, Antep or Urfa. But Seattle has officially 634,535 people, Antep has 1,393,289, Urfa has 526,247; I've been comparing Tacoma to Urfa but that's wrong as Tacoma has 202,010. Soooo imagine all of Tacoma suddenly displaced and moved into Seattle ~ additionally imagine that most Tacomans are Catholics and they speak with an accent, dress differently, and have nothing but the clothes on their backs. That's the situation ~ happy civil war.

Most of the apartment buildings in Maraş and Urfa are on the same model, square blocks, 4 to 10 stories tall (sometimes more) each unit with a balcony. Hundreds of these building dot the landscape completed and under construction. In Maraş they are of one color or often 2, in Urfa mosaic patterns, blues, yellows, designs and each building, at least in color, different from the adjacent one. It's like suddenly being in a lively environment. Also the headscarves are deeper colors, purples and a rich blue, even the long 'dark' dresses that are not burkas (burkas technically use a veil across the face, the woman is essentially totally covered- there is an upset with France here because they are calling non-veiled covered women burka wearers) are ornamented some in velvets and deep reds. In Maraş I have see 'designer' dresses of these and that is not what I mean- here in Urfa the material is different (sometimes) and in color. Not just black or grey or off white.

I am continually stared at in Urfa, my long hair is too unusual.

However all this came later in the day.

We drive through Urfa to get to Göbekli. That is why with an early morning sun against the mosaics on the balconies I have gone though a digression.

12,000 years ago

WOW,Wow,wow. Following brown signs [brown signs are used throughout the country for 'sites'] to the site up a dirt single lane road ~ parking on a tall hill that almost towers over the landscape (memories of Daği Nemrud*) even before seeing anything, I am impressed with the dedication of humans to create something somewhere that seems 'off the beaten track'. Later I learn that perhaps it was not so isolated as it now seems.
The landscape I was told before we arrived, would be like desert, but it is agricultural, grapes, pistachios, olives, a bit of cotton. We drive past fields of wheat stubble. Grapes and pistachios (fıstık) and olives Semih tells me are the only plants that don't need water, deep roots, so they will grow in this environment. I was told it would possibly be 40- 45C at the site so we brought hats and umbrellas but we arrived around 10AM and there was a bit of wind and the temperature was 'only' 35C.

At the entrance was a bearded Turbaned man, sitting under a thatched awning connected to a metal ½ sized shipping container. Inside was a video monitor, a bed and a hot plate to make tea. Adjacent to the 'house' were a set of solar panels.

His 'turban' was red and he had traditional billow legged pants, a stripped cotton shirt. We sit on a low bench under the awning and he tells us that the land is his family's and they still own it. His father in the 60's discovered a human figurine but no one knew what that meant and, as he shows us from a folder of color Xerox's, an American Archaeologist 'rediscovered the site, later/currently a German team is doing the work.

I stood looking into a set of structures, stone in T shapes carved with animals, insects, patterns and thought how do I describe this? How do I described my feelings?

What imagination is acquired to realize that 12,000 years ago humans designed with extreme forethought and then made with effort that today without machines would require huge numbers of people. How long ago did creatures such as ourselves use pulleys and pivots to erect these things and what beliefs, what kind of compulsion would have been strong enough and over what kind of time to make this possible?

We are all humans from long ago past and today with DNA and, obviously, imaginations, but looking down into this site ~ propped up with round timbers you can understand how little we really understand each other.

I kept on wanting to have the placement of the pillars to function like Stonehenge but I don't think it works at least not as far as the archaeologists know/have figured out. Plus they believe that there are earlier structures below the ones being revealed but they would have to destroy what exists now to discover what is below.

Semih and I walked around and over [they had a raised slatted walkway over the pits and, as any site, you are forbidden to pick up anything,(there is a sci-fi story about time travel where you go back in time and walk on elevated walkways to avoid changing the future- of course someone steps off and all of history is changed)].

That's the urge, the value for me to visit these ancient places- not sci-fi but how unknowing evokes, brings to the surface thoughts I did not have could not. Faced with such a deep unknowing, who, what, why and that there are people, Archaeologists, who are delving into a past so remote that the facts ` the stones, the design, the figures etched ~ still lead to guesses. Puzzles. Even the stones in the center possibly missing their 'arms' remind me of Kubrick's black stone or Bradbury's.

Semih sits while I walk around it all again seeing new images carved that I missed the first time ~ reflecting on how much more work there is to be done, and what ideas of information will come when the area is more complete. It possibly will never be recreated totally, eventually there will be no money or somewhere else will draw what little money is available.

For now this small hillside- preliterate, prehistoric is truely amazing.

As we prepare to leave served çay, a car with 3 Turks arrive and they tell us that 12,000 years ago it is believed that much of the land below was a lake.

This matches with something Semih told me how the soil nearby is 30 meters deep and that if it can be irrigated it would be a great place to grow food.

Return to Urfa; to see a high castle where according to Islam Ibrahim (Abraham) was thrown first off the walls where he is saved by falling on fish, and then thrown into fire which does not burn him.... I don't' remember exactly these stories from the Old Testament and lacking respect for fables that don't work very well (including my own) can't do more than look at fish and ovens and castle walls.

In this case the castle walls are Roman so the story is about 400 years (or more) out of wack. The castle is closed (Monday) there is a set of ponds/waterways filled with carp ~ holy and not allowed to catch ~ and numerous rooms/mosques and places where he was said to be burned

We climbed up the the castle walls which was sort of fun in the heat, and are told it's closed. We go back down and walk around the ponds, watch people. Semih had said we would see many Arabic dressed men but I only saw 2 however many many people stared at me so I was comfortable starring back.
Ibraham/Abraham fish fire patlıcan

We ate a patlıcan and lamb kebap and salad and lentil soup ~ toooo much. The skewers of eggplant pieces with lamb meatballs between sections. The skin of the eggplant was charred and the dish is served on a platter un-skewered. You cut through the skin, scrape the eggplant from it and then wrap the meat, roasted tomato, roasted green pepper, and a bit of raw onion in a flat wheat bread- nearly like a flour tortilla- to eat. Not very spiced ( the meat maybe a little) so everything tasted like what it was.

It was juicy so I found it to be messy. There was a huge quantity of eggplant, eventually I gave up on the wrapping, scrapped the meat and eggplant, tomato and pepper into a pile, mushed it up and ate it alone, and still couldn't finish it.

I am done in ~ tired, it is getting hotter, I am full and think we have a longish journey home, a nap a swim and a perfect day.
bald birds from Egypt? invisible

But Semih has plans.

1st we go to a bird preserve/sanctuary. He had told me vaguely about some endangered 'bald' birds that migrated from Egypt. I hadn't thought too much about it except a] to wonder what bird this might be and b] if pictured would JB be interested.

the bills should be red

We get to the preserve and there are no birds, they come to roost around 5 PM and it is 2ish. But there are signs in English. It is a Bald Ibis, when the project began there were only 45 left and the project is helping both to protect and to increase their numbers.

I don't exactly know what they 'really' look like but the resemble a Huge Kiwi bird with a reddish beak that nearly covers their head (the color) and that their feathers are black. I think they might be the size of an American Turkey.

Here's a link
If you do a search there's an org. that is in Morocco also claiming saving from extinction. No matter~ there are 'real' photos on the web and this is one ugly bird

But no birds so now home to Maraş?
Euphrates; too much; done

Assyrian Castle; bad tea; boat captains incompetent

No- Semih has plans ~ a surprise....

He had said something about a castle where they had cut the stone to the water so the cliffs below were shear and steep. If attacked they could repel invaders by throwing rocks down at them (cheaper than hot oil, I thought). But I did not realize that this was on the day's itinerary. we drove on country-ish roads now a steep and winding mountain side into the valley cliffs dug by the ages old Euphrates.

On this trip (to Turkey) I'm noticing that the roads are often much improved, especially compared with my first visit in 2006. However OFTEN Turks ignore the lines painted marking the lanes. In USA we would think they are hogging two lanes but here that's not what's going on at least not exactly. I have the feeling that because the lanes are new that they are both "optional" and since previously the orientation has been to other vehicles ~ ignored and that keeping distance from the vehicle you are passing or adjacent to is more in mind than staying in your own lane.

Seeming to race down this road mostly in the middle of it, through hairpin turns, I'm thinking "How is this getting us to Maraş?" It's not. It's to EskiHalfeti (Eski = old, Halfeti is a narrowplace in the river ~ probably long long ago a sort of ferry landing to get to the other side).

We are going on a boat ride! to see the castle.

This is where the 'castle' is and the cliffs are hand cut

I'm so tired and cranky feeling, I can't believe we are doing more. But the sedimentation layers of the cliffs, seeing again in geologic time how ancient this land is. This trip on the water with a small tourist ride boat, filled with Kurds & Syrian Arabs ( Semih says we are the only Turk and American on the whole boat) is like wider water places along the Grand Canyon.
As we travel along the 2 young men piloting the boat don't seem completely competent seamen, but the shore is close enough, yes I actually think of this, to worry to much. The music is too loud I am too tired. I realize that I need to set up limits with Semih so I don't reach this point.

We get to the end (in one direction) stop for çay and biting bugs, then back - between I tell Semih 2 things per day; that I didn't know about all these events and had used up too much energy earlier to be happy now.
Driving a car in Turkey 1st time

We return and once out of the canyon and onto the main freeway (multi-lane sometimes tolled) I get to drive.

It helps to keep me alert and awake and is not that different from driving in the USA. Get used to the technology of a strange SUV Volkswagen Tiguan or something ~ the brakes are sensitive the rest is just driving.
Good food; so tired can't read; sleep through night 5 AM

Finally return home to Maraş to lambchops, a really good lentil soup (carrot, water, onion, yellow lentils).

I take a shower. Drop into bed read a page sleep through the night 10-5AM. First time straight through since actually i don't know even in Seattle it's been awhile. Woke is cool (for Turkey maybe 25C) and later i will tell you about Semih's Itunes*.

Day 6; Tuesday 2, July 2013
We go to Karatepe:

A late Hittite summer palace - big thick walls but those were not the most important to me. There were 'rooms' of reliefs in the best condition that I had ever seen. AND a set of writings in luwian hieroglyphs with Phoenician parallel script offering for the first time the chance to read/translate Luwian; a kind of Rosetta Stone for this language.

Hittite Rosetta Stone


The noses of the people were very different from Yazilkaya, bigger with larger nostril bulges. In some ways more cartoon like but really in general the detail of these reliefs was so good that later I recognized that nose on someone close to us. There were at least two sets of depictions of musicians playing cymbals, drums, double aulos (either reed or whistle) and 2 kinds of zither/lyre instruments. Both much like those drawn from Sumerian finds;

one with an angled upper piece and the other flat/straight. Both look as though they were played with only one hand. Also dancing figures.

Now that I have read the book on Göbekli there is a figure on one of the 'T's there that is very close to the center panel of the reliefs shown in "Sphinx and more" above. In the book much is made of the fact that the pre-historic period of Göbekli there are numerous 'demon-like' figures of human body with animal/demon heads and that it isn't until much later that sphinx figures (human heads with animal bodies) appear I'm not showing them but sphinx' became a fascination for me throughout the trip.

Leaving Karatepe we visited a Roman castle built atop a high hill. We did not climb up to it but walked along the marble way to an amphitheater where Semih had me stand and sing/talk. There was a wind and to hear me I had to project my voice (shout) for him to hear me.

Then home took a too long nap and
Concern about the front door
I don't remember now what this is about,
I think there was a problem with it closing
it must have been fixed hm

karnı Yarık and saffron pilav

I made saffron rice (pilav- I brought saffron from Seattle because Turkish saffron is not as intense and not part of their cusine, though what they grow is used for tea), Semih made brown bread in a bread machine, Gülat taught me how to make karnı Yarık*.
We closed the evening with melon and 4 games of Querido, a board game that I brought as a present for them and to use on our trip. {This turned out to a most successful idea}.

Day 7; 3 Temmuz 2013

Hittite Quarry

Today I woke at 5AM but so lethargic I didn't want to write or read or sleep. I dozed then rose checked email, responded to a project I can't get, and read some news ~ mostly about how transportation is screwed for the future in Seattle. So I am going to read a bit, nap, and this afternoon we are off to a Hittite quarry. Semih is making Bodrum reservations and I am a stump a bump...

Plans Plans Plans

Egyptian Coup: Something 'big' often happens when I travel abroad. I have made a joke of it but each time for the people affected it is no joke. The news is full of almost nothing but the coup and the police crackdown on Turkish protesters and since the TV is pretty much controlled by the Turkish government you can imagine the bias of the broadcasts. Erdoğan is shown over and over again at rallys created by trucking people in to show how much support he has etc...yet the images of police attacking the protesters the few who 'fight' back there is a parallel between what is happening here and what is shown on TV in Egypt. However the focus is on Egypt as it distracts from what is happening here.

a map showing various Hittite sites in Turkey

unfinished sentinels images of gods.....

Near the Hittite quarry (Yesemek) is Syria (maybe 9Km) The Kurdish grounds-keeper here had relatives in Syria and he paid for their coming to Turkey (there is a refugee camp of 20-50,000 people nearby), he found them an apartment and helped them find jobs. The rebels are not these people's friends, as the border is mined (I assume Assad did that but do not know) and only smugglers and some of the rebels know the ways around the mines. So, for a price, one can escape Syria. However as in every country with a civil war the cost of traveling out is high, maybe all your money or rape or death, your tools, your car.

There is an overlap in this story, not just that the fear of what is coming for the subjects but how one group or another so completely disrupts the lives of everyone.

The Yesemek site is a quarry of basalt which the Hittites used for their statuary/walls/reliefs etc...and here the images of gods and animals were roughed out in an atelier/mass production way. There are hundreds of stones with the rough outlines of sphinxes, lions, twin gods, sun gods, even a chariot (which had more detail than most of the other stones) then, when requested these stones would be shipped out and finished in situ.

However(?) sometime in the 8th century BC Assyrian army came captured all the sculptors and their tools and took them into Assyria quarries to work. So these stones left as they were/ suddenly the half worked stones, some less worked than that left on the site to be rediscovered 1800 years later. But only the stones, no tools, no living quarters ~ imagine Michaelangelo's studio with 1000 commissions- suddenly Rome is over-run by Egyptians and he and his apprentices and their tools are spirited away to a wadi deep inside Egypt. That is the affect of this place on me.

So from this man with his more guttural pronunciation of Turkish ~ a Kurdish man with Syrian relatives - do we hear of similar things.

We three sit on a bench and he makes tea with a wood fired samovar, it is tea from Sri Lanka-

Syria cannot grow tea so they import is from Sri Lanka. It is very dark very strong, Semih drinks his plain, I take a small amount of sugar, our friend puts half an inch in the bottom of his glass. Semih say Syrians love the sweet and are famous for making different sweets.

The man gives me a DVD of the place (subtitles in English) and a brochure which is in English. Yesemek got money from Opet a petroleum concern, but just for the entrance building and toilets, nothing more. The government no longer gives money so archaeologists have gone elsewhere ~ where funding is available. So these stones, a cliché but still true, sit abandoned, facing south, silently and in faceless anonymity, a monument to our humanity, what is left of it and what is left unsaid.

saç means iron however it is also a steel/wok-like pan used for braising meat etc

Returned home to news of the coup, swam,
new swimming cap Semih bought me a swimming cap (long hair is not allowed in the pool unless you are a child) but it was too small and nearly impossible without help to put on. Today we went to a sport shop and got one that fits. It didn't make it home so it's sitting somewhere in Istanbul- I think

ate a dish of lamb fasüley ~ generally and not in disparaging ways it was a meal of left overs. The saffron rice, the beans, the salad was fresh and then? I don't remember.

~ ~

The interesting peculiar things about Turkish TV and news are numerous- some of them familiar enough that I didn't need to understand very much to know what they were talking about.

The topic was only Egyptian coup. Each channel had one square on the screen of Tahir Meydani with flags and fireworks and some kind of green lazer kind of things. Then in a banner below a big headline that usually said "Misir in Trouble" with a subtitle that usually only said "REALLY". Then beside the scene of Tahir another square (above the banner) was a commentator and each channel had assembled a set of people who were 'experts' on this topic ~ However, even to me, it was apparent that, whatever their religious or political stance, they actually had nothing to add to the understanding of what was happening in Egypt. Additionally on more than one channel the moderator/TV person took the major portion of the talking rarely letting anyone else speak.

One channel actually had someone somewhere near Tahir, but again other than describing what we could see in the inset, he had nothing to add.

Below the banner every 2 or 3 minutes there would appear an ad for something. Most often about a soccer game, sometimes a car or soap. Twice there was an animation that was a wall breaking and Misir's name would appear - so I thought that their staff was working on actually speaking to the situation visually but now I think I am wrong.

It has taken me this long to become attuned to being here, in terms of sleep and 'other stuff'.

Day 8; 4 Temmuz 2013 (the 4th of July)
music to listen to or to play yourself
4th of july
a pdf version

Yesterday and today I basically slept at 10PM and rose around 5AM, still before Semih and Gülat (who goes to bed around 2AM and gets up at 10AM if she can)... Last night she decided to come with us on our trip to Karadeniz (The Black Sea). I am happy about this as it makes the dynamic different, more varied, the rhythm of travel changes greatly from a Semih and Jay Duet to Semih, Gülat & Jay trio. A trio is always more stable. Also I think it relieves the pressure on all when Semih can speak Turkish in a conversation without having to translate (which he had to do at the quarry yesterday and as I know from having done it for others) is hard and, unless you are really fluent, kind of destroys your knowledge of what you wish to communicate. I remember while living in Denmark that sometimes it was relaxing just to listen to American Tourists even if it was disturbing how 'ugly American' what they were saying was.(really bad grammar there).

Reading books in 36C heat sunburned feet? No

Today I am left on my own in the apartment, to read relax write until 3PM when they return from their University Jobs. This is both nice and at times weird because I have no key so I cannot leave. At some point I know that I will want to stretch my legs- not possible ~ so read, sit, maybe compose avoid email (what an addiction especially as I'm not getting any personal messages) maybe try to watch something on TV [I can't believe I wrote that].
Reviewing the thought about Urfa building and Maraş I am convinced that what I wrote is true. The apartment building surrounding my view from the balcony are all (if completed and many are not) 2 colors and no decoration. Sometime in the last 24hrs I thought I will add Urfa to my revisit city list and spend more than a day there. It joins Granada.
Swim eat read doze

The door moldings seem to be made from acoustic board so after a while it shreds, exposing the papery layers and is brown, the ceiling in 'my' room has a long diagonal crack in the plaster, not sure if there is a layer between it and the concrete. I have seen a truck loaded with rebar but not seen any used in the construction of these apartment buildings later in the trip I did. This morning while looking at the incomplete 'superstructure' across the road I had an image of how easily it would - like a house of cards- just tilt and collapse in an earthquake. The buildings have central shafts and then columns internally and along the outsides, marking each apartment's outer dimensions but (and I realize I don't know what I'm talking about) it just seems weakly reinforced.
Semih's condo in Istanbul is going to be razed because it is not earthquake proof. So when rebuilt [2 years?] then he and Gülat will retire and move there or to Ankara or Urgüp or ... but retire is the main part.

A good friend asked me a number of times if I was having fun/did I have a good time?
I thought it strange because to me it seems obvious.
I was engaged, fascinated, provoked, intrigued
"Fun"? didn't really enter into it, in fact large portions of any trip are not fun,
but 'am I happy?' 'is my mind occupied with interesting ideas,
with what I am witnessing?' 'would I rather have been home?' yep, yep, yep- nope.
Am I thankful for the opportunities that I was given to do what we did?- major yes.