With Katie J in Avanos

Trip Start Jun 03, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Beikaya Keramics

Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 22 and 23, 2010

Okay… where do I start with this crazy and hectic couple of days in Avanos visiting Katie Janyk, our friend from Gibsons. I guess chronological is the best bet. Warning… this is a long posting because we have crammed in so much into these two days.

We set off from our Goreme campground after watching another beautiful morning sky full of balloons from Kaya Camping. The drive to Avanos was only about 15 minutes, but we discovered that my directions to the studio on Katie's email had disappeared. So then we tried phoning from my cellphone which seems to have set itself to "Emergency Only" calls. Finally we stopped and used a phone booth, but no answer from Katie’s cellphone. So, we just went by what recollection I had of her directions, and we did find the studio pretty quickly.

Beikaya studio is up a tiny little narrow road in the old town area above the tourist shops. It is a very quiet and isolated little alleyway with old houses built in and around old arch shaped cave type hollows. Beikaya means “caveman” which is Ergoyan’s nickname, and his studio is built into one of these cave niches (see photo), with some stone block rooms above and in front, one being a kitchen and toilet, and the upper rooms being the rentals for students who come here to work, such as Katie, including a fairly nice little toilet facility up there.

The studio itself is a fascinating little space, with the walls covered by an eclectic conglomeration of tools, photos, wall murals and knick knacks. There is a wood stove in the centre, benches around one end with Turkish upholstered cushions, a great 150 year old ceramic structured kick wheel recessed into the floor, and ceramic works in progress on the tables. Ergoyan, Katie’s friend who we met in Istanbul, runs this place… he works here every day from about 2 pm til 2 am, He has students, friends, neighbours, assorted assistants, and customers coming and going all the time. Ergoyan does have his own home and family in his separate life elsewhere in the city. Needless to say, cigarette smoke wafts constantly, and Cay is always steeping.

The two other characters who have been the biggest hits with us have been Katie’s friend from up the hill, Sherifa, and my buddy and “fixer”, Osman, who has a big ramshackle cave and house complex next door with big dreams of making it into a tourist pension some day. Osman had an accident a few months ago which gives him a squint and a twisted smile and mouth, which adds to his character. He began wheeling and dealing with us immediately upon arrival, trying to get us into a balloon excursion, arranging restaurant outings, selling us bottles of wine. He also took me on a tour of his huge house, which really has a lot of potential… big and full of potential character, and a beautiful view of the town. He also came on a walk to the market with Katie and Pat and I and was wheeling and dealing with his friends the whole time, getting us discounts on some boots, lunch, etc. Osman spoke some French, which became my best means of communicating with him.

He did really come through in the evening, as he escorted us all to the tourist type restaurant that he works at. Our party consisted of Pat and me, Katie, Ergoyan, Sherifa and Osman. We all piled into our van around 8 pm and drove all the way back past Goreme into Ucisar… a good 25 minute drive ending way out in the country. We all were wondering what we were in for. As it happened, it was a great evening! There was a tourist bus out front which indicated something special… we walked into a long cave-like entranceway, and then into a huge cavern of a restaurant. It was a bit empty feeling, as it was designed for 300 people, and because of the late season, there were only about 50 German tourists and ourselves. Osman had arranged a bottle of wine and some bowls of snacks to be awaiting us. It turned out to be a great show, with a little Turkish musical combo of a flute like thing, a Sas (big lute like thing), and a big drum thing. Then a troupe of dancers, 3 young men and three young women, put on a whole evening of traditional dance, coming and going in different costumes and combinations to do different kinds of dances. Each time they did a new feature, they would end up with grabbing some audience members to come up and dance with them. Because we were a small crowd, it meant we were called up 2 or 3 times. My best fun was being called up by the gorgeous and sexy belly dancer… I had to do the hip wiggle thing and belly action alongside of her. Most fun was having her pull my shirt up so my belly was showing! See the photos…

We got home by about midnight and encamped in a small flat spot in the square in front of the studio.

Today we hiked up to Sherifa’s house which is the highest on the hill above us, with the best view in town. Not that it was some luxury villa… it is a basic little Turkish house of white washed stone and wood, with Sherifa, her 13 year old nephew, and her very Turkish mother. What was special was how clean and neat it was, and the fact that its extensive renovations were pretty well done by Sherifa herself, a 30 something modern dressed Turkish woman. She is single, and very busy and capable. After a lovely breakfast and Cay, Sherifa and her mother brought out their wonderful knitting products for us to see. This was not at all a sales schtick as we were really just having Cay with Katie’s friend, but this kind of thing seems to be very much just a part of the culture. Pat did buy a very nice sweater.

In the afternoon, Pat and Katie went carpet viewing while I began sorting out problems with propane gas for our van. What a great adventure that turned out to be! I began by finding Ergoyan in the studio, and as I began investigating his little propane bottle to see if it would fit our BBQ, along comes Osman! Ergoyan suggested Osman help me sort out the issues. I had 2 issues… one was getting our BBQ propane bottle replaced, as it is a significantly different type here from our NL bought one, and the other issue was filling our built in propane tank for our stove and fridge, as we had already discovered that the intake fitting was wrong for the filling stations.

So… first stop… little propane bottle shop. Osman takes on the owner full bore, showing him what is needed, and meanwhile whispering to me “quatorze lire, no problem, discount”. Sure enough, the guy was able to find fittings for a Turkish style bottle, quatorze lire, and off we went, with a quick stop at the horse betting shop. Next stop, gas station that had an autogas pump. As I knew was going to happen, Osman jumps out saying “no problem”, and immediately discovers “big problem” because the fitting was wrong.

“No problem”, and off we go to a auto repair shop which didn’t have the fitting, but sent us to another one up the road… “no problem” and off we went. This next guy was very good,,, whatever Osman said to him got him to drop what he was doing, and take on our project. This guy, Selman’s Oto, was a very competent and professional type of character, and set to work. He did find the right basic kind of fitting, but soon discovered that it didn’t have the thread required to fit into the van. He and his 2 teenaged sons hunted around for a while, but didn’t find it… so “no problem” and off we drove a couple of kms back into town to pick up a thread adaptor at a hardware store. I could tell as they were testing the adaptor that it was almost right, but different gauge of thread. “No problem” and back out to Selman’s Oto with the ill-fitting adaptor. Of course Selman recognized the wrong thread right away. After a few loud words, Osman grabs one of the teenaged sons… seemingly at Selman’s objection, hops on a little motorbike, and zoomed off back to the hardware store. 20 minutes later they come back with the same ill-fitting adaptor. “No problem”, and Selman goes off to a different shop to braze the pieces together. All this time, Osman is whispering into my ear “Quarante lire, discount, no problem in Turkey” with me thinking how hard Selman is working to get this thing done.

After about an hour and a half of this, we are done and off to the filling station down the road… “no problem, top qualite” Osman is saying, when I know perfectly well that gas is just gas! So… we begin filling the tank….pssssss…. the brazed joint leaks and gas is fizzing out. “No problem” and back we go to Selman. I am thinking we are the last people he wants to see, but, no problem, he takes it off and works on it another 15 minutes or so… then back to the filling station…”no problem, top qualite”. We begin filling the tank….psssst… it still leaks… but this time not so badly so the filling station guy fills it anyway. Of course once it is full, the leak is still going psssst…. So “no problem” and we set off back to Selman with propane spurting behind us. I am thinking… don’t light up a cigarette Osman, and I sure as hell hope there are no loose electrical connections under the van. Of course as we arrive back at Selman’s, he has a cigarette going. Anyway, Selman takes off the fitting (luckily there is a spring loaded shut-off valve inside of where the fitting is), brazes up the last leak a third time, and Voila! No problem! Two full gas tanks, and we are done. I did end up paying Cinquant Lire ($30) for almost 2 hours of Selman’s work plus the fittings.

So… how to pay Osman for all his time with me, and for the great dancing night before? Well, firstly he seemed to be having a good time… but I did end up buying two of his bottles of wine for 50 lire, which I hope gives him a nice little profit because he is pretty broke due to his accident.

Supper time now… so “no problem”, and off we go to Bizim Ev restaurant with Katie and Ergoyan, for a delicious dinner, set amongst dozens and dozens of local ceramic art pieces, including many of Ergoyan’s.

October 24, 2010

We had a delightful time with Katie, but said our goodbyes this morning, and headed back toward Goreme and Kaya Camping. On the way we stopped at the open air museum complex of caves and cave houses at Zelve. This was a much larger complex than the one we saw three days ago near Goreme, and much less touristic… indeed we were on our own much of the time. The hiking around was trickier on somewhat slippery sandy trails and up and down rock faces, hence the lack of tour bus groups. There was therefore much less descriptive information to tell us about the history of the place, but that was easily offset by the quiet and spiritual feeling of the place. It was populated for a couple of thousand years. The last people did not leave until 1957. There are Christian churches in some of the caves, as in Goreme, but there was also much more of a “town” built into the caves, with a mill, store rooms, ladders to house caves and so on.

We are now back at Kaya Camping, and will likely stick around here a couple of more days. Late Fall weather has come, with cloud and damp air (no rain yet), and we have broken out the fleeces and gloves for the first time.
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