Day 1

June 24, 2003

En route Frankfurt - Istanbul

So far, so good. My traveling companions Ellen and Jen each had their challenges on Friday - Ellen with a dental difficulty, Jen with a different health scare. But after a day full of appointments, all was well.

I saved my difficulty for en route… foolishly assuming that my ticket was entirely electronic. Wrong. So I arrived in Toronto, after the Pgh travel agency had closed for the night, ticketed only as far as Frankfurt. I had confirmed reservations, but no ticket. Turkish Air in NYC couldn’t help me in Toronto, so I had to wait until Frankfurt to straighten things out. Arrived in Frankfurt. Still the middle of the night in the US. Turkish Air could not confirm what I had paid for my ticket, so I had to front some more money, but the young woman at the counter assured me that I can get a refund “within six months” for the amount I am out (less $50 ticket replacement fee). Ouch. Onward.

Aside from that, the trip has been delightful so far. Had an interesting seatmate on the Toronto-to-Frankfurt part of the journey. I knew we’d hit it off when I saw her get out her copy of the newest Harry Potter book. She turned out to be headed towards a summer of opthamology residency and community health research in Madras. Our conversation ranged from bits and pieces of life stories, to books and movies, to the practice of medicine and the curative powers of listening. We traded email addresses as we went our separate ways. Perhaps we’ll stay in touch.

We’re about half an hour out of Istanbul right now, maybe less. I can feel the plane descending. (So can a small child several rows back.) I should put this away, and get neatly stowed. The connection in Istanbul is a close one, and I need to be ready to move.

. . .

11:08 local time, Ortahisar

“Allah,” calls out a woman’s voice, and amid scattered applause, our plane lands in Kayseri. Smooth landing in view of snow-wrinkled Ericiyes. Mehmet‘s father drives seven passengers to our various pensions and destinations, as the sun sets, and the landscape grows sand gold and then rose red. Jen dozes. Ellen marvels. I want to stop and visit everything at once. All over again - or for the first time. We pass Avanos, the turn-off for Zelve, through Goreme, Uçhisar and then we turn down the hill into Ortahisar, with me directing us to the right end of the village with gestures. As the streetlights come on, the minibus stops in front of Crazy Ali’s store, and he has already phoned Hatice to say we are there. We drink apple tea in the dusk, in good company, with Ali’s antiques surrounding us.

Back. It is as wonderful as before - more wonderful - since it was such a homecoming to see Hatice again. And then we walk down the hill to Barbara’s house in the dark. The large key. The illuminated courtyard. The same vaulted whitewashed rooms with kilim-draped benches. New eyes to see everything with, with Ellen and Jen along. The call to worship at ten sets the end on the evening. “I’ve never seen so many stars,” says Jen, leaning out the window. We unpack and talk and drift toward more sleep. Breakfast with Hatice tomorrow, and then we’ll see what the day brings.

What do I hope to do this visit? For myself, make video of weaving. Make some panoramas: Barbara’s courtyard (if I can figure out where to stand), Zelve, Red Valley sunset, the garden (if we go). I want to teach Hatice and anyone else how to edit video using the computer, and how to post it on the web. How many days do we have? Not many. (I’m sleepy, so I have to count everything out.) Six days in the village (25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30), one day to see Kultepe with Remzi, and then one very long long day flying home on the 2nd. Nine days.

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