by Fred Moore - October 2009
Here’s the picture, we’ve just turned left off the main thoroughfare into Adana and immediately ahead is a Sunday Bazaar. This is supposed to be a city street; but today it’s a mass of humanity milling about in canvas covered temporary kiosks shopping for this week’s meal provisions. This bazaar is no different than a thousand others across this country on Sunday; you can find anything here from apples to zippers. A bazaar like this will magically appear one day a week in almost all villages and some of them even twice a week.
There’s a single narrow lane open through the chaos in front of us; laid out on the street to our left and right are literally piles of fabric; the stacks are being pawed through by women and children looking for that next dress or pair of pants. On our right, about ten feet from Carol’s door, is an irrigation canal; the fabric is scattered across canvas sheets between us and the canal of rushing water. On our left beyond the scattered fabric are poles holding canvas tarps aloft to block the sun from stands of produce and general department store merchandise. On the right also is a tea and borek stand; these guys are just inches away from the water.
Except for this extremely narrow lane, every millimeter of asphalt is covered by some form of sales vendor product. We’re totally consumed now by the bazaar and you can’t get a briefcase between my door and the crowd outside. They seem utterly oblivious to our presence as we worm our way through the chaos and go about their shopping even when I brush against some of them as we proceed. We’re moving at a snail’s pace but we’re making steady progress. Don’t look now; the car in front of me is backing up! Bump, right into my car, (yes, I forgot to sound my horn) neither they nor I pay any attention to the bump; it was simply a minimal tap and no damage is done. We continue as before crawling out of the horde of frenzied shoppers. This makes me incredibly nervous but we’re not alone in here; they are several vehicles in front of us, ah, there, finally, the end is in sight!
The road surface is plenty wide here and asphalted so it’s a nice drive on this beautiful day. We’ve got all the time we want to just tour the agricultural country, as we make our way toward the coast. Twenty minutes or so now and we come to a crossroad and make a left headed east. There are a number of fields abuzz with migrant workers (our Turkish friends tell us, they are actually Gypsies) collecting what appear to be corn cobs. The fields along here have been burnt off and these people are picking up corn cobs? In my childhood we used to burn fields as well but never corn fields. I puzzle over what they might be going to do with the cobs but their massive bags are bulging to the flaps. (I spoke with a Turkish friend – they use them for kindling in their cook stoves.)
No longer traveling next to the ravine, I relax and enjoy the countryside drive. The road twists and rolls over this agricultural plain, each road sign seems to indicate more bends and turns in the road ahead. The fields stretch out across the plain on both sides of us now to the horizon but in the distance further on are some beautiful mountains. Unfortunately there has been too much burning of fields this morning and the distinction of the rocky crags on the horizon is muted. We’re looking through a translucent haze that hangs in the air and detracts from what should be an awesome mountain vista.
Here we enter the small village of Catalpinar and I have to stop; there’s a turtle crossing the road. I ask Carol for the camera and once it has gotten past the front of the car, I snap a photo of it. It looks like a box turtle; the shell is the color of dark slate with accent rings of pale yellow. I’m sure it probably has a proper Latin name but no matter, it doesn’t seem the slightest bit concerned about our presence in its domain; we simply let it go about its daily routine.
As we continue on we pass a number of tractors and we find the road littered with horse dung from all the horse carts that have been this way this morning. Here’s another village, Akpinar. As we enter the village there’s a flock of domestic geese parading in the road. They’re gray and white and look as though they’re marching; I give them their space and then move on. The road here narrows to nearly one lane; it seems the villagers build right on the roadway sometimes (one assumes the road was here first). Fortunately we meet no traffic so we have no challenges getting through the village.
As we retrace our drive, we talk about the distance we’ve come out of our way. It turns out to be only ten miles and it was a nice drive so it’s no loss and besides we made the teahouse lively this morning. We pass the turn off now and continue the way we should have gone. Oh no, don’t look now but the asphalt is breaking up, and oh my, very badly. We were doing so well and now, ouch, this is pretty nasty gravel and patchy asphalt. There are big trucks headed my way. I decide to pull over and stop; I don’t want one of these rigs throwing stones into my windshield. This road has virtually no shoulder and now I notice I’ve got traffic coming up behind me! I’ll have to move on; I drive very slowly and hope the roadway gets better quickly. Great, more trucks and the road is still a mess, but at least it’s dry.
Ah, there’s the end of the broken asphalt and a sign indicating we turn right. This is better road; well, it was better road. Here come three tractors and wagons kicking up dust so the road breaks up more ahead. Good, that was quick. We’re at another crossroad and have to turn left; this road has been recently re-surfaced in oil and stone. This is not quite as nice as asphalt but far better than what we been driving over behind us. I can drive a little more normally now as well. We don’t go far and I decide to pull over to look at that beautiful mountain in the distance; I’ve got to have a photo.
Here we are coming into Yurmurtalik from the west and we’ve been out this far before but have never driven in from this way. There are some high rise buildings out here, probably summer homes and now we’re here by the dolmus stand on the village limits. We drive into the village and to the seaside for lunch; we’re stopping at Erzin Sahil Restaurant. It’s been a while since we’ve come down here and the reception is overwhelmingly Turkish. The son who runs the place meets us in the parking area and opens my door; when I’m out he grabs and kisses the back of my hand and places it to his forehead. This is a sign of deep respect for young people toward their elders. He walks with us to the terrace and I ask him to seat us out of the sun. The terrace overlooks the sea and the water is aqua marine blue and calm. There’s just the slightest ripple as the breeze teases the surface.
We’re comfortable and we order grilled levrek (sea bass), a wonderful white meat fish. It comes with chopped cucumber, tomato and pepper salad. We get two types of loaf bread, plain and toasted slices. We also get a large platter of freshly cut and deep fried potatoes. We eat leisurely and enjoy the wonderful sea breeze. We’ve done what we set out to do today and congratulate ourselves on finding the way. Once more we’ve discovered new landscape and fascinating new villages. How can anyone be bored in such a rich and wondrous location?
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