A blaze of dried peppers
A trip to Turkey
About four year’s ago we went to south-west Turkey, travelling on a package but doing our own wandering. Unusually, we didn’t hire a car but went everywhere by bus or taxi. Turkey felt too big and mountainous for us to be able to get to see much on a short trip using a self drive. We wanted to see the towns and visit the archaeological sites within reach. But within reach seemed quite a way still in Turkey, with lots of mountains in between and too much opportunity for arguments between driver and navigator on offer. Ahem.
Early one morning we set off from Turunc, to visit the large provincial town of Mugla in the Province of Mugla. (Turunc is sort of facing the island of Rhodes and a trip up the mountain, along and down again a few times into another harbour gets you to a ferry over.)
Have you ever used the Turkish bus services? I’m not a very widely travelled bod, but I can only imagine that the Turkish bus services would stand out in any world list. Whatever the size of bus, from over-large transit to full-scale coach, at the very least ‘limon’ wipes are offered around by the bus conductor for the refreshment of the traveller, at least once and more than that on a longer journey. On large coaches there are sometimes three transport workers – the driver, the conductor and the person who brings around the limon and the beverages plus biscuits. And all for free. Turkey is a huge country and the buses do it proud. They are quite amazing. The tourist coach, however, is much the same as anywhere. We went on a couple of group trips. (More re those, possibly, later.)
Mugla is a very interesting town. It has a university and a restored old quarter as well as large, modern constructions. With the commemorative statuary, it had a feel of a central European town. We came across a TV film crew shooting episodes of a soap opera in some of the beautiful old quarter buildings.
We stopped to have breakfast at the cafe/shops round the outer edge that were used by the market stall holders. We hadn’t known there were so many types of flavours of pepper. The displays were stunning in their shades of reds and subtle browns. It was a good, mixed market with fresh produce and hardware, the kind I remember from childhood,in the 50s, but with different styles of wares. Many of the stall holders were women and taking photos was a little difficult as it was not always acceptable to them. Which I can quite understand. If it had been me I’d probably allow the stand but absolutely not me. In fact I’ve done that when I used to do trade shows.
Female clothing was a mix of ultra modern (the whole thing), modern but making sure the upper arms were covered, skirts not too short or with trousers, through to full traditional work clothing (particularly in the countryside. Out in the countryside, from the comfortable buses, we often saw traditionally dressed women walking along the edge of the road, carrying huge bundles of wood or vegetation on their backs. The load was usually bundled up in a large piece of fabric or woven leaf matting with the four corners being firmly held. If there was a male around he usually seemed to ride behind her, sideways on a mule or donkey. They seemed to be going to travel a fair way as there was rarely any habitation, of any kind, in site.
I wandered around either in trousers or long skirt and, more often than not looked something like the woman above, as you can see in this charming back view of small figure marching on ignoring partner with camera. (I said I don’t like photos.)
I’ll must put together a post of some of the houses in Mugla. They have an air about them that I found both serene and comforting. What they were like to live in, there’s no real way of judging, but we visited quite a few of the renovated ones that were open to the public. They were more museum than home – trapped in time.
However, one of the first things we did was to go to the Municipal offices. Don’t ask. It’s something we often do when travelling. Steve worked in the municipal line of things, until recently, and he was probably pining for work. We usually struggled through mime etc in order to ask for a town map or guide etc. On this occasion a member of staff who spoke excellent English was winkled out of his nearby office. He passed on some leaflets with a map of the old quarter and took us out into the streets a little way to show us what not to miss. We made arrangements to drop in on him later and have a cup of çay. I’d developed a preference for Ada çay, a sage tea, which later information advised to drink sparingly. Ah. We walked around and talked to whomsoever was patient enough to stand listening to our fumbling attempts at communication and ate far, far too much before travelling back on the crowded, standing room only, late commuter bus (a larger version of a transit bus) and yes there were limon wipes.