Turkey (day 5)

8.10.02

Email and weblogs at Hatice's in the morning. Brought her a second CD of images. Her internet service was quirky, but we discovered that if we quit the browser altogether and restarted it, sometimes we could get a balky page to reload. While Mom attended to her email I got Hatice to teach me some more Turkish phrases, and then while I was on line Hatice wrote out some recipes for Mom: manti and guveÁ. Then Hatice looked at the new photos and posted about the third day's weaving, including a picture which showed how the rug has grown.

The day's major excursion began around noon. Neighbor Aysha's husband, a taxi driver, took the three of us to Ðrg¸p, where we ate lunch on the rooftop terrace of a restaurant. Almost as good as Kamile Ozer's cooking. With the meal we drank ayran, a cold salted yoghurt drink ( mmm).

From Ðrg¸p our driver took us to Zelve, by way of the incredible rock formations Cappadocia is famous for. Fairy chimneys. Enormous pointed volcanic stones towering over the landscape in clusters, with oddly weathered rock shapes on top. A camel. Dolphins. Whatever your imagination suggested. Like nothing I've seen on earth. Then at Zelve, we walked through the open air museum - along a path that winds up and down through two narrow stone valleys - exploring cliff dwellings of the early Christians. Windows, staircases, ovens, chimneys, barns with built in mangers, dovecotes carved high into the sides of the steep walls. You could walk into some of the lower cave houses and try to imagine what it must have been like to live there. Giant stones were set to roll across entries to protect against intruders. There were churches and a mosque near one another, coexisting peacefully. There was a monastery. And now there were just these caves and windows and weathered steps carved into the cliff face. Even the assortment of tourists: Turkish, Italian, German, American, did not - could not - spoil the mood of the place.

Avanos, the terra cotta pottery center was our other destination. We went to a potter's shop at the end of a tiny street. The store itself was carved into the hillside. . . a series of connected caves. They demonstrated throwing a pot on the kick wheel and served us apple tea. Mom and I each bought the special shallow earthenware pot used to make guveÁ. It can go on the stove flame as well as into the oven. It is called "enguri" in Turkish - which sounds a little like "angry." I also got a natural terra cotta water jug - good for wine or water, I think.

In Avanos we also walked out onto a wooden suspension bridge which is just wide enough for pedestrians to cross the river. Then back to the car and back toward Ortahisar. Too tired to think about visiting the sights of Goreme (another open air museum - this one with rock churches with ancient frescoes inside). Goreme seemed (from the car window) to be full of young tourists.

More email at Hatice's, and I wrote a long one to Barbara - which finally went through on the second attempt. No sooner did I press send, than Barbara called Hatice's cell phone. Great to talk to her and to say aloud what I'd been trying put onto the electronic page. Worked more with Hatice - going over how to resize photos in Photoshop, and how to open and save photos attached to email.

We decided we couldn't say goodbye, so she will see us off in front of Crazy Ali's tomorrow. Hard to imagine going.

After a quick stop back at Barbara's to shift some of our gear, we went up to Crazy Ali's. His connection in Nevsehir had been unable to mend the ancient-looking yoghurt pot on short notice, but he had gotten it to stop leaking with some kind of clay. Mom bought it and also got a beautiful old small bowl with angled sides. I bought an eighty-year-old pair of Anatolian knitted socks, a crocheted coin purse of about the same vintage made by a woman for her husband-to-be, a fine old copper bowl, two brass bells, and two very old Ottoman cups (made in this region and exported to Mecca and then brought back by travelers). I made a little video of Ali reading two of his poems, and got a bit of footage of the inside of his shop. So many beautiful old things. Such a wonderful spirit.

One last dinner at the Park cafeteria, and then back to the challenge of fitting things into suitcases. I'm fine for the moment, but I expect I'll need to find some sort of carry-on bag for anything I get in Istanbul. Now to sleep. Tomorrow half the day will be in transit and then we hope to do some sightseeing in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul.

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