stop in yenice
Today we made the 3-hour drive from Konya
to Cappadocia (one of our shorter driving days in this country).
Our guidebook suggested that we visit an old caravan stop (we
pictured a desert oasis filled with camels and tourists), but
we couldn’t find it, even though there are apparently several
on this road. Just before conceding that we must have missed it,
we pulled off the road into a tiny town to check the map. And
when we say “tiny,” we mean it.
The highway doesn’t even acknowledge
this town; a few clay-brick houses appear briefly on the left
and if you glance the wrong way, you’ll miss it. The population
is probably in the triple digits, but only just. Instead of pouring
over the map, we decided to have a look around the town just for
kicks. About 5 minutes later, we had explored the whole thing.
I got out to take a few photos. A kid meandered over on his bicycle
to have a closer look at me. I waved. He didn’t. I waved
again, and smiled. Long pause. Finally he smiled. “Merhaba,”
I said (Turkish for hello). He smiled again, and came closer.
By this point, several other kids were running from their houses
to investigate. To even things up a bit, Susan got out of the
car, too, but we were vastly outnumbered. The oldest one (maybe
he was 16, the others were more like 5 to 10) spoke a tiny bit
of English, but we communicated mostly with hand signals.
with the majority
of Yenice's young population
Then, also on a bicycle, an old man rode up
with a young boy of about 7, maybe his grandson. The boy obviously
wanted to join in and talk to the strangers, but he was too shy,
so they kept their distance. We smiled and waved at him, but all
he could manage was a small wave. His grampa kept encouraging
him, but he just couldn’t do it. Then the old man whispered
something to the boy, and he ran off. About a hundred yards away,
he reached a woman who was baking something in a very large outdoor
clay oven. We were watching out of the corners of our eyes, but
mostly we were kept busy with the other children, trying to learn
their names and whose brother was whose. When we next looked up,
the boy had returned, bearing a loaf of puffy round bread topped
with a few precious black sesame seeds. It was all he could do
to approach us and shyly hand it over, then run back to his grampa
who was smiling and laughing. In case we didn’t know what
it was, another boy quickly made eating motions to let us know
what to do. We were desperate to try to think of something to
give in return, but didn’t really have anything. Instead,
I dug into my camera bag and produced a thirteenmonths business
card (we had some made when we stopped in the states since it’s
a lot easier than writing things down all the time). We pointed
to ourselves, then to the card, and then… well, it was futile.
There was no way we were going to explain properly, but it didn’t
matter. They all wanted one. They seemed very happy to have them,
small colorful tokens to remember the strangers perhaps. And of
course we made a special point of taking two over to the old man
and his grandson. After saying thanks a million times and taking
some more photos, we reluctantly climbed back into the car to
continue our journey.
and the bread
Just a few hours in each direction down the
highway are cities that support large tourist industries and have
many modern conveniences. Here, however, life is very simple,
very old-fashioned. It may be the way they would choose to live
given the choice, but it didn’t really seem like they had
one. They welcomed us with open arms and gave generously the only
thing they had to give. The chance encounter was brief but made
a big impact on us. If we ever return to Turkey, and we very much
hope to, this is the one place that we will absolutely positively
visit again (and bring some photos of this visit). Maybe they’ll
look at our card and think of us sometime; we’ll certainly
think about them.
Turkey is resplendent with memories for the
eye. This one is a memory of the heart.