Always fascinated by ancient history, I knew that one
day I would have to visit Asia Minor/Anatolia. When in the winter of 1992 I finally had
the time and the money, I headed for Istanbul
and the Aegean coast for five weeks of exploration. The countryside, the history, the
people, the language, the food, the spirituality - all of it sunk its hooks into me and
has never let go. I have been back to Turkey (Türkiye) every year since.
Unlike the other trips which I have made to Türkiye, this past summers trip keeps
coming back to me like a distinct series of snapshots. Maybe its because this time I
rented an old rock house in the village of Assos/Behramkale,
and I fell into the rhythms of everyday village life. Each day contained a unique
experience which has now become a photograph in my mind. The one constant was
the never varying, dry midday heat and the unwavering progression of the sun across the
rocks, olive orchards, sheep and goat herds, wheatfields, and villages of the Troad region
of northwestern Anatolia. So, what I can share with the reader are simply...
Türkiye Yaz, 1997 (Summer)*
...The unwavering roar of
the cicadas in the zeytinlik (olive groves) near Edremit. The zeytinyag (olive oil)
roadside stores with their showers for washing the dust off of your car and
their çesmeler (spring water fountains) for filling your water bottles. Mile after mile
of stone strewn hillsides covered in olive trees. Mile after undulating mile of small,
dusty cars, trucks top heavy with bulging cargoes, and the ever faithful sleek buses
hurtling along at breakneck speed, passing on blind curves and hilltops, and blinking
their lights to indicate that THEY have the
The breathtaking views of the
lapis and turquoise Ege Denizi (Aegean Sea) from the cliffs above Assos and again from
Güzelyali south of Çanakkale looking out to the tip of Gelibolu. Knowing that I was
seeing the same view which St. Paul observed nearly two thousand years ago when he was on
his way to Lesbos Island. Weeping once again over the waste of young lives during the
World War I battle at Gallipoli/Gelibolu, and feeling a re-newed admiration for Atatürk
because of his words to the mothers of the dead Johnnies and
Mehmets...in this soil, they are all our sons now....
The swallows, rock nuthatches, owls, red
squirrels (sincap), hawks, grackles, tits, green finches, yellow wagtails, woodpeckers,
and bats which scurried, swooped and soared around the rock cliff rising straight up out
of the houses baçhe (garden). The kuslar (birds) swarming around the baçhes
white mulberry tree. The roses, pots of geraniums, carnations, herbs, trumpet vine,and
ancient üzüm (grape) vine in the baçhe. Purple butterfly bush growing wild along the
steep, rocky village lanes.
The constant dry wind which brought
relief from the heat but also insistently carried dust into the house. The immense feeling
of well being which the roadside çesme brought when its icy water was poured over your
parched arms and legs and neck. The almost instantaneous drying of wet clothes when hung
out to dry in the wind and sun.
The mellow light of sunset and the view
of the Ege Denizi from the village çayhane (tea house) near the kale (top/fortress) of
Beyramkale/Assos. The old men drinking
tea and chatting under the grape arbor there and at the çayhane in Babakale on the very
western tip of the Troad. The toot of the dolmus (shared taxi) horn as it approached the
crest of the hill. The smile that spread across the balikçis (Young
Ali) face as he hopped aboard the rear bumper of the dolmus and held on as it roared
off toward the docks (iskele).
The Cuma Pazar (Friday market) at
Ayvacik with its many divers stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, and hand-crafted household
goods. Four different kinds of kiraz (cherries -the best are black ones from Uludag), various varieties of
seftali (peaches), erik (plums), armut (pears), fasulye (beans), beber (peppers), domates
(tomatoes), sogan (onions), kavun (melon), patates (potatoes), and kayisi (apricots). Six
different kinds of beyaz peynir (white cheese), freshly churned tereyagi (butter), and
thick, fresh (taze) yogurt (yogurt). Hand carved wooden spoons, flour sifters, and
multi-toned copper bells for the goats and sheep to wear. Plus! the challenge of chasing
down and bargaining with a gap-toothed Yoruk mountain woman for her carpet that I spotted
sticking up out of her rucksack. She had spun the wool and then woven her vegetable dyed
woolen carpet in 3 x 3 squares on a small, transportable loom, finally
connecting the three finished pieces together by woolen cords.
The ancient, wandering village woman
dressed in black who came by the house on the last morning. I gave her all the remaining
meyve (fruit), sebze, and some pirinç (rice) and seker (sugar) from the house. This
would, hopefully (insallah) bring a good journey (iyi yolculuklar) and Gods
blessings to me on my trip back to Izmir and then on to Istanbul
And, it did!
*Read Deborah S.
Decker's complete contribution at: exploreturkey.com
First 2 passages of the original text omitted by webmaster Assos