Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Final and Weirdest Vacation Post

We are almost off the vacation blog topics! I apologize for stretching it so far, but I just had so many fun photos to share.

On our last day trip, after we drove across the very old bridge, we drove to a tiny remote village. We read in a guide book that they had some ruins to see. We tend toward the less visited, less advertised ruins. They seem to hold more adventure, in our opinion. Besides that, there's no entrance fee nor security guard to yell "Yasak!" (forbidden) as the kids climb on things. Well, adventure was an understatement in this case. I have debated just blogging the photos and giving you the rosy picture, but alas, the truth is always more interesting, even if it is disturbing. When we left there, for at least a half an hour on the way home, we kept saying, "Well, that was weird." and "Still can't believe that."

We came upon this little village set at the top of a mountain and at the end of a dirt road. As we drove in, a lady sat at the edge of the village yelling something at anyone who happened to walk (or drive) past her. We are still unsure what she was communicating. Our van was met by three ladies, who insisted we park right there. (We later realized we could have driven in further.) They immediately began greeting us, almost as if expecting us!, and telling us about their town. I quickly realized they were saying Turkish words I'd never heard. For my Turkish friends reading this, is it possible it was a dialect? So many seemed unfamiliar. Was it just the country accent? They asked about our kids. They told us about their kids. They were so very friendly. We took this picture with them. (I think Eva is doing "His Banner Over Lo-ve")

They began to walk with us through the town. I literally had my eyes and mouth wide open. Except for one trip to a remote place in Mexico (where there were tarantulas running in the bathhouses and chickens laying eggs on my duffel bag), I have NEVER been to a more remote place than this. We were told that this community is self-sustaining. It would have to be. It was so far up in the mountain and so remote, no one could have gone to a grocery store. No one had a car! The houses were all basic mud/stone structures. Several homes had some livestock. On we continued down this mud path to the 'ruins.' The ladies walked with us. One had a baby snoring on her back. They told us the town had one school, with 50 children and 1 teacher. I immediately began wondering how our school could somehow sponsor them. How might we haul our students up in that mountain to teach their kids English and to fix up their school? The ladies said the school only went to 5th grade. As we walked by the school, the children giggled and hid. I wondered when they had ever seen blond hair.

Then suddenly about half way to the ruins, the ladies all stopped. It was as if it had been rehearsed. They threw back their wraps and had piles of scarves, necklaces, bracelets, tablecloths. Ok, so I started to piece it together. Insisting we park at the entrance to the village so they could walk with us. The mounds of scarves covering their bodies (and wares). The timing of it all. I have to admit, I was disappointed. I wish I could tell you that we chatted over a cup of tea (we didn't). That we promised to visit again and bring school supplies (we didn't). That I gave them a copy of the Book in their language (I didn't have one with me.) That our children played in those fields for hours while we talked (they didn't). In fact, it only got worse.
They pulled out their wares and told me each piece cost 15 lira. I live here, I know the prices. They had tripled them. So, we hemmed and hawed. Then I said, "I am sorry. It is expensive. Don't you have anything for 5 lira?" They continued to push the items in my face. I kept looking at Campbell Clansman for help. He didn't know what to do. I am all for buying a trinket here and there to help these poor folks. But there were three of them, and everything was 15 lira. I just didn't want to spend 45 lira on things I neither wanted or needed. Finally she said, "I have some beaded bookmarks for 5 lira." Hurray! Problem solved. I told the 3 big girls to each pick out one bookmark for 5 lira each, then we could proceed on to the ruins. Well, only 2 ladies had an assortment of bookmarks. The three girls picked out bookmarks, we handed them 15 lira total. And then you will not believe what happened. They started fighting over the money. They never turned and said, "Goodbye." or "Enjoy the ruins." They just started yelling and fighting. I looked at CC and said, "Now's our chance, go!" and we moved away. (As it turns out, God redeemed my 5 lira bookmark purchase into something useful...they made great American Girl doll headbands!)

We were amazed as we walked through this village. All their milk came from their cows. All their meat came from their animals. They baked all their own bread. They carried their own water from a water source. It was amazing. We passed an old couple. They were spinning their own wool from their sheep. If you look closely down at this picture, a woman is carrying straw on her back.
We quickly realized one of the three women was following us. She led us to the ruins. Soon we had another woman following us, clearly an octogenarian. At one point, I wasn't sure I (holding Eva's hand) was going to make it up to the top. Watching an 80-something woman do it with ease was very motivating. We got to the top.
And this was what we saw...

This Roman amphitheater had remained until a big storm caused some of it to crumble in the 1940's. The old woman sat down once we reached the top, and then began hitting her eyes and telling me she couldn't see, that she needed money for doctors and hospitals. It is so hard to know what to do sometimes. I concluded, this time, to just comfort her and tell her, "I'm so sorry, auntie. I hope this problem passes soon." I really would not have missed the money, but I was concerned we would soon be swarmed. As it turned out, we were later swarmed anyway. We walked back through this poor little town and tried to get into our van. The school children began running up and asking for money. To the lady who followed us all the way up to the theater, we gave a little money. She suddenly felt embarrassed and begged me to buy her wares instead. We told her, "No, we insist. You provided a service to us. You helped us find the way to the top." So, in the end, all three ladies received something.
If I could paint the picture myself and re-write the day, I would have created a scenario where the 'town greeters' were genuine. We would have gone into their humble homes and had tea together. We would talk about our beliefs. I would have given them a Book. I would have planned a way to help their little school. But the world is not perfect, is it? In this imperfect world, we just looked like a big dollar sign. Nevertheless, I am glad we went, for that village I will always remember. I would even recommend it as a trip to a friend. I would, however, tell them to be ready for those ladies to flash what they had under those wraps!

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Deena said...

Wow! What an experience! The view is amazing! It's so neat that you get to walk through these places that most of us will only see in photographs. I enjoyed this series of vacation posts.

Lindsey said...

Please don't apologize for your vacation series, Sara!! I have so enjoyed looking at the pictures, reading of the details, and "traveling" if only by internet! I'm so sorry your visit to this village was awkward- but it seems to me like a balance between hot/cold, good/bad- it will help you better appreciate the more "perfect scenarios" you spoke of!! I know I will likely only ever see Turkey through photographs. How cool, though, that I was able to see photos AND get a first-hand real experience to go with!! Thank you so much for that. :)

Those kids of yours sure are getting big!!

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

WOW, it looks like you had an amazing trip. I'm more than a little jealous-- my hubby and I have always wanted to travel to Turkey (our friends and family think we're nuts, but your pictures and stories prove why it's such a great place to go!). I'm especially intrigued by the Capadocchia region. Off to read more of your vacation posts!

Confessions From A Working Mom

Melanie Keffer said...

I, too have enjoyed these vacation posts. I always do.

That was scary Sara. I was thinking the whole time while reading that you, thankfully, understood the culture and knew how the Turkish people do not harm children.

Then my heart filled with pity for them and a way of life that must be hard. Still, they do not seem truly poor, or I just couldn't tell from your writing.

Whatever it was, it was VERY interesting and finding that amphitheater in the middle of nowhere??? I guess you didn't have time to do like you did at Perge and think of what it must have been like in the day. Wonder why the Romans had an amphitheater in the middle of nowhere??


The Fish Family said...

I loved this post!!

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