Konya and Çatalhöyük On Way to Ankara
Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
154Trip End Sep 11, 2009
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A rainy day in Ankara. I'm here with Barak Obama. Well, in the same city, anyway. I beat Obama to Turkey, oh, by thirty-nine years. I don't know how old he is, but I was also eating peanuts for breakfast before he was, too. (It started in Turkey). But that's about as much as I can say that I have on him.
I've just watched on television Obama's speech to the Turkish Parliament here in Ankara today. Well, I get emotional over such things, especially the values he espouses. I got a little choked up. Also, it is just amazing to me to witness any politician--any politician, anywhere in the world--speak as he does.
Not his demeanor; it's the content of his ideas and values. I wonder if there is a precedent in history to this, or is this a new paradigm for a globalized population, disparate in many ways, but yet becoming more and more internationally homogenized. Could we be seeing the emergence of the first modern leader, not just of a nation, but of humanity?
Yea. That's pretty ridiculous to suppose.
Anyway, I've bopped into Ankara about two weeks ago, now. I'm once again having a taste of a sort of "domestic" side of life, skewed as it might be. On the normal side of it, I'm doing such things as washing dishes, vacuuming, making minor repairs and other physical adjustments to the living environment. On the not normal side, well, it is partaking in the lives of two people, one of whom has an issue of mental abnormality, and with many of the complexities that arise from that. I won't go into the private details of it except to say that one never knows what to expect. At times it can be a wild ride, and sometimes--sadly too few--softly endearing.
And, truth to be, I'm prolonging this visit waiting the arrival of a new debit, or ATM card, the one in hand having expired last week upon my birthday. Whether that is a coincidence or the way they are managed, say by quarters, I don't know.
Fortunate it was that I changed my banking address to that of my niece before I left the United States (for an unrelated reason). For at this time I have also exceeded the one year limit of mail forwarding by the U.S. Postal Service. So at least the replacement card went to my niece, rather than into wherever everything else has disappeared--including, I think, some tax information.
Nevertheless, the ATM card, forwarded by my niece, has yet to arrive, now after something like three and a half weeks. So for the present, I am unable to obtain cash or employ my card in hand for any other transactions. (Next time, two cards with offset expiration dates.) Presently I'm negotiating with my banking contacts for a replacement to be sent.
I came in to Ankara from the Bodrum/Milas area on the southwest coast of Turkey. Though it was a slightly longer way to go I came via Konya. For there I had an invitation to be hosted by a young couple who are also members of a travelers' social network in which I participate. They had read my profile and for some reason contacted me with an invitation to lodge with them. Usually it works the other way, a traveler seeks hosts in a location one is about to visit.
Well, this visit turned out to be, I think, more than the usual in terms of mutual contribution and exchange.
I took an overnight bus from Milas, getting into Konya around 5:30am. For some cultural/historical reasons, I suppose (perhaps the smell of camel dung from ancient caravansaries), Turkish bus terminals are located at varying distances away from the center of the towns and cities they purport to serve. Thus, one is encumbered with a second connection of some sort to get to central accommodation locations or transportation hub. In the case of Konya there is a new and efficient tram from adjacent the bus terminal into central Konya.
There Savaş came to meet me (early as it was; and demonstrating the unique Turkish hospitality), and drive me to his and Meryem's apartment. (A note on the name Savaş. The last s--ş--in Turkish takes the sound of the English sh. And, the word [name] means "war." The man Savaş is anything but a war-like man. He's a man of peace). Savaş and Meryem have an apartment in a typical Turkish apartment complex. It is pretty new, neat and clean and well appointed. Looking out their fifth floor window, Savaş looks down upon Ottoman period houses in the neighborhood in which he spent his childhood. That is, across the road. Where the apartment is, it is a new city.
I spent most of that first day just in the apartment on my computer. Savaş spent much of his afternoon in a university engineering class. Meryem did whatever Meryem does on a day when she does not have to go to work. In the evening Savaş downloaded the latest Clint Eastwood film "Gran Torino," which we watched. Enjoyable though it was, I thought the directing, acting and story line were all rather stiff.
On the second day they wanted to host me by assisting me to see some touristic sights of Konya. Well, I was already familiar with the museums and such. But I did want to revisit the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük, to which I had been about three times, the last being for the solar eclipse on March 26, 2006. I won't go into the importance of Çatalhöyük to archaeology or world history. For that information can be found elsewhere by and for the curious. (Some information is in my pictures).
Savaş called ahead to confirm that the site was open to visitors. I believe it is a World Heritage site, and is presided over by a watchman 24/7. On this day of our visit the watchman was "an old friend" of mine. And there's a story I'd like to tell.
On my first visit to Çatalhöyük I took the bus to the near-by village (or small town--what's the difference?) of Çumra. As I was getting off the bus a fellow, accompanied by his wife and child, asked me if I was going to Çatalhöyük. My Turkish then was much more limited than it is now, but I nevertheless understood his query, and to which I said yes. I understood he basically volunteered to take me there, some several kilometers out of the town, and which I had planned to walk and/or hitchhike. I figured the fellow must live out that way and was offering me a lift.
We left the bus station, I thinking his car was parked near by. But we walked on past "just across the street." Oh, I figured, the car is in a near-by parking place. We walked on, the family and I. For several blocks, and I was beginning to wonder. . . .
We came to some railroad tracks, and I understood the fellow as he pointed out a house across the way as his home.
We went there and he indicated for me to wait outside with his father; or father-in-law. After a spell he came out and we started walking around the corner--to the car in the garage, I thought. Well, there was a garage, but we walked on past it. Wordlessly, because I wasn't up to conversational Turkish. (I'm still not).
We walked a few blocks to a major road, and I thought he'd point me the way. But he turned and walked along.
At the edge of the village we came to a tiny little bread kiosk, and he went over and bought a loaf or two. Oh, I thought, we're going to have a picnic!
We kept walking. And I kept thinking, "How far is this guy going to go with me?" I couldn't ask.
After a while we started to hitchhike, and eventually a truck stopped and we got into the covered back bed.
We arrived at the entrance to Çatalhöyük, and walked in the short road to the watchman's house, which he entered straight away. In fairly urgent need, I hastened into the WC. (No. Normal; no stomach/food problems in Turkey).
When I came out the fellow was in the small main room smoking with the watchman. Sitting there awhile in the smoke it eventually dawned on me that my guide from Çumra was the weekend watchman, come out to take on his relief duty. And we all had a laugh at my late deduction.
Since that time I had subsequently been to Çatalhöyük once or twice, the night before the day of the eclipse sleeping in that same room with the watchman of the time--a different guy.
On this visit with Savas and Meryem I noted the very new structure sheltering the latest digging of the last season. Revealed were some very interesting features (see picture).
In the evening we watched a newer James Bond movie. Savas, it seems, can find anything on the internet (and download it).
On the third day the table tennis tournament was the main event. Alas, Savaş' boys weren't up to the task. But, I must say, they were the youngest and most inexperienced lads. He's had winners before, and I'm sure with another year of training these fellows will be up to the match. I had watched his training method the day before and was surprised at speed and force in which returns were made. When I asked why they couldn't match that engagement between themselves Savaş said that he could return to them with total control, so their returns were all of a rote stroke. It seemed to me merely a matter of time for them to learn the basic varieties of what I would call the trained kinetic responses.
Also at one point in the aftermath of the tournament proper I asked what Savaş had said to one of the boys at a break in his match with a girl about half again as big as he. Savaş answer was that he told him to serve to her backhand as she was weak there. That convinced me that he was a good, caring, observant coach, not just a guy trying to help out.
In the evening it was dinner, beer, and movie time. Savaş had been telling me of a movie he wanted me to see. It is called "The Man of Earth." (Note: If you go, heed the warning and do not read the synopsis: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0756683/). I was skeptical of it based on his briefest of descriptions. I'd never heard of it; didn't recognize any of the actors. I became enthralled with it. It reminded me of "My Dinner With Andre," or "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in that it was basically a dialog set-piece. But it is neither so abstruse as "Andre" nor as savage as "Woolf" (though the antagonisms are a bit over drawn--for the sake of necessary drama, I am sure. Enough said. If your curious, check it out. For my part, I'd recommend it.
After the movie, and some discussion, we started into a round-robin of downloading music videos. Savaş would select one song, Meryem another, then I'd make a request. YouTube is censored in Turkey. But clever people like Savas can find ways around the blockage. Even though Savaş and Meryem were about half my age, most of the stuff we watched were from the late 60's, most of which I myself had missed because I was never a "hippie," and then was absent from the States. So I had never seen Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix, for examples.
For the record (if not anyone's interest), a partial "playlist," starting, albeit, with those completely new to me (some spellings perhaps suspect; first the group's name, then the title of the song):
HoneyHoney, "Little Toy Gun"; Skid Row, "18 and Life"; Skunk Anasie, "Charlie Big Potato" and "Twisted." Nouvelle Vague, "In a Manner of Speaking"; Mercan Dede, "Ne Ve Samzen..."
And, moving into some I do have some familiarity with (if only, in some cases, very vaguely by name): from the movie "Crossing the Bridge" (a great survey of contemporary Turkish music), a song by Sezen Aksu. Selections from Dire Straights; from Pink Floyd's "Echoes, Part I"; David Gilmore (of Pink Floyd), "Take a Break;" Bruce Springsteen, "Working on a Dream" (recently performed on "The Daily Show"); The Greatful Dead, "Ripple"; Jim Morrison, "Light My Fire"; Janis Joplin, "Summertime" and "Cry, Baby"; George Harrison, "My Sweet Lord"; and Pink Martini, "Lilly" and "Hey, Eugene."
I love the contrasts one can encounter in travel. When I left Savaşand Meryem I was buzzed!
I am struggling with this particular web site to have the map show my actual route of travel. But it is next to impossible to do so as their map pin placement function is dependent upon a limited database of towns. And it is next to impossible to trace a true land routing. Never mind the details. So my postings have to bow to the map functions rules, rather than the time chronology of my travels.
Therefore, this map pin at Muğla reflects a return to my travels of discovery after about a six week sojourn to Ankara--and a complicated return route, which will more or less be reflected in future travel, back over much of the same route. Is everybody clear on that? Good. Let's move on.