David Robinson Photos


Turkey Day By Day

En Route: London

On my way to Istanbul, I stopped off in London for four nights and managed to see three plays — The Letter, The Glass Menagerie with Jessica Lang and The Lady From Dubuque with Maggie Smith. I also went by train to Cambridge to have lunch with Anna Newton, always a great pleasure. She's 83 now, and still as feisty as ever, political, and as dedicated to helping the unfortunate of the world. Also, still funny and quick with a quip. She's still walking, too but took a bus to the station to meet me. Out of the station, we turned left — "my politics as usual," she said. On the street, always the teacher and do-gooder, she dispensed advice as needed, instructing one little girl to cover her mouth when coughing. Both the girl and her mother were smitten by Anna's attention. We had lunch, went to Waterston's and walked around Cambridge a bit until I had to catch my train. Still one of my favorite people ever, ever since 1963, Nigeria.

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London - Istanbul

The flight was easy — but getting on the plane could have been a nightmare had I not overheard on my arrival from San Francisco the new Heathrow regulations about carry-on luggage. Only one bag was allowed — and the agents were being rigid and obstinate about it. As a result, passengers were frantically repacking at gate security. The worst part was that they had already given up their checked luggage. But since I had witnessed this confusion coming in, I had the opportunity to prepare my bags in advance so as to protect my cameras. In the end, the only problem was the incredibly long lines snaking through the terminal to go through security.

One security guard remarked to me, "David Robinson' that's a good name." I gave him a quizzical look until he pointed to his badge — David Robinson.

On this trip, the normal anxiety of flying into a new culture and language was magnified for me by also entering the new digital world. Istanbul is an interim step, a period to gather myself before hiking in the mountains and a place to learn my new Nikon 2000. I have six days.

Rather than negotiate my way into Istanbul on my own, I had arranged for a car from the hotel (Hotel Poem) to pick me up. In the terminal I noticed an ATM machine and went over to get some cash. No problem. But I soon realized that I had left my card in the machine. What a way to begin! Remembering a security counter next to the ATM, I hurried over to it. Just as I got there, I heard my name on the PA and sure enough, a policeman already had my card in hand. I was impressed — as well as thankful. But then the policeman handed me two cards, mine and someone else's. My quickly gained confidence in Turkish efficiency was somewhat modified.

Istanbul Reconstructed: May 7-13

Hotel Poem is in Sultanahamet and close to most of what I wanted to see in Istanbul. The room was small but the hotel was pleasant and comfortable, about $40 per night. From the rooftop terrace, I could see the Blue Mosque and the other rooftops of Sultanahmet. The hotel couldn't accommodate me for my entire stay, so after four nights I transferred to another hotel (Hotel Spina) a few streets away for two nights at double the Poem price.

As usual, as soon as I arrived I went out to get my bearings. I found that the Blue Mosque was quite close, as was Aya Sofya. Street life in Sultanahmet was mostly touristy, but the park between Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya was filled with Turkish families. I sat on a bench to watch and ruminate.

For some reason, traveling elicits memories of other places; why does an Istanbul park cause me to picture a shady path in Santa Margarita? Or why does a French girl passing by bring me back to a dinner table at the Pension Gauguin in Hiva Oa? I have no idea. But I remember the observation that writers often write best about a location while living elsewhere. Think of James Joyce in Paris writing passionately about Dublin. Photographers don't have that luxury, so I guess daydreaming has to suffice.

I found that I needed a lot of time to practice with my new digital camera. Stopping on the street to arrange the myriad settings required, frame and photograph and then evaluate the results seemed awkward. But I found a refuge in the Blue Mosque where once inside I could stay as long as I wanted, completely relaxed and free to go through all the camera routines and experiments at my leisure. And in stocking feet on plush carpet, to boot. I returned often, using the Blue Mosque (and later Aya Sofya) as my studio. Back at the hotel I would review, read more of the manual and then return to the "studio" for more experiments. It was the abstract forms of the curves of the arches and domes as framed by the rectangle of the camera that fascinated me.

Istanbul is a European city with headscarves. That's the only noticeable visual difference, and the women themselves are quite modern and fashionable. There aren't many women in black, at least in the main part of the city. To an outsider, the headscarves seem benign, but the debate over headscarves in Turkey (and also in France) is intense and at the heart of what kind of future Turkey will have; east or west, secular or religious, democratic or authoritarian. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. Right now, headscarves are forbidden in government buildings or at the university — no admission, period. With the new Islamist party in power, it's possible to envision that headscarves would be required in those institutions (as well as in the mosque). But optional? That doesn't seem possible in the current charged climate.

I went exploring further-a-field; I took the tram to the port, visited the spice market and walked back along the long waterfront. The trams are clean, quiet and efficient. I also took one to the University and while there went to the Mosque of Suleyman and the Mosque of Sultan Beyazit, both impressive in the now familiar form of domes and arches, tile and calligraphy. Of particular interest to me were the graveyards outside these large mosques and other smaller ones I passed frequently in the city. Without my understanding any of it, the form of the calligraphy became part of the architecture of the columns. Sometimes these columns were decorated with tiles, but mostly it was the writing that made them special. The graveyards were all well maintained and sprinkled with roses, irises and other plants and shaded with trees. Outside every mosque is a place (for men) to wash before prayers. Washing is an important ritual, and water an important element of the culture of the Moslem Middle East. The forms of these fountains interested me as much as the architecture of the mosques themselves, in part because of the human rituals associated with them.

One of the great surprises for me in Istanbul was the Carpet and Kilim Museum near the Blue Mosque. I had expected another rug salesroom. The carpets were old, even sometimes in tatters, but they were exquisite. I know nothing about Turkish carpets — we call them rugs — but I couldn't help being overwhelmed by the beauty and craftsmanship of these carpets. The collection is extensive, organized by region. Of all the carpets, those from Anatolya-Ezerum seemed closest to the carpet I remember playing on as a child. Oddly, I noticed that some of the carpet styles were named for European paintings that depicted Turkish carpets; the Holbein style and the Lotto style, for example. Why this genuflection to European culture?

The only impediments to walking the streets of Istanbul are the ubiquitous carpet hustlers; everywhere you go you are approached to go to a showroom to see carpets. But these men are unfailingly polite, low-key and conversational. There were several I chatted with, and they gave me several good tips. And I did go to a few shops — with no obligation, it was emphasized — to sip tea and look at carpet after carpet. I was determined not to buy, and as a result, I disappointed several men I would have liked to please. And, the carpets were beautiful.

I spent an entire day in the sprawling Topkapi Palace looking in all the buildings, photographing details of the rooms with their marble, tiles and gold decorations. The audio guide was recommended and was quite good. I was able to wander at will, a very relaxing day full of opulent visual stimulus.

I also took a boat trip on the Bosphorus which turned out to be comprised entirely of tourists. I was early, took a seat next to a window in the enormous ferry and watched it fill up with group after group of tourists from all over. A remarkably beautiful young Asian girl with two friends sat down across from me, and I was immediately smitten, hard to look away, hard to look out the window at what I had come to see. Beautiful black hair in a French bun, stylish jacket with a pinned fresh rose. She turned out to be from Singapore working in Dubai for Emirate Airlines on holiday. My imagination ran away with me.

Then a raucous group of tourists wanted me in their pictures; when they found out I was American — they were Iranian — they insisted I pose with all of them, one by one. (This scene reminded me of the time in 1961 in the port of Tema, Ghana, when I was with a group of students touring a Russian trawler. When the Russian crew discovered I was American, they all rushed below to get their cameras so they could "capture" me on film. Pretty crazy).

I thought too of Richard Haliburton swimming the Bosphorus. As a teenager I used to read avidly all his stories of exotic travel adventures. (Mentally I was with Halliburton around the world and therefore completely missed the Kerouac phenomenon at home).

Fethiye: Sunday May 13 & Monday May14

The interlude of Istanbul was over, and now I had to turn to the part of the trip that was the central reason for my coming to Turkey — a week of hiking in the Lycian mountains with a group called Explore. On Sunday May 13, I flew out of Istanbul to the town of Dalaman and then went by bus to Fethiye where I was to meet up with the other hikers. I was hopeful that I would be able to photograph successfully on the hike with the digital camera. Of course, I had also brought my old Nikon — just one body with two lenses — just in case.

The plane trip from Istanbul was an easy flight, and everything went smoothly at the airport in Istanbul. After arriving at Dalaman, I got my bags quickly and to my great relief found that the bus to Fethiye was waiting. In less than fifteen minutes from arriving I was on my way to Fethiye. All I had to do was hope that the hotel had received my fax and had a room for me. I dared to think everything was going remarkably well, always a mistake.

At a certain point in Fethiye before reaching the Otogar (central bus stop) the bus stopped and most of the people got off. I wasn't sure if this was where I should descend, but I asked the driver, showing him the name of my hotel and he motioned me to go with another passenger whom a taxi driver already had in tow. We wrestled our bags across a divided road and to the parked taxi. The driver had to push it to get it started, always a bad sign. But we both got in and off we went. It was soon clear that instead of going to my hotel which should have been nearby, we were heading out of town.

My fellow passenger was a Canadian who was staying in Oluduneniz — not Fethiye — and somehow I had gotten hooked into a 45 minute taxi ride over dusty roads that were under construction in order to accommodate the expected hordes of summer tourists. Oluduneniz is a booming and expanding seaside resort — highly recommended in the guide books — but at night I couldn't see much of it. The Canadian was a consultant in the travel business and was going to a conference on sustainable tourism; he had never been to Turkey before. I suggested he deal with this taxi business as his first piece of advice to the locals.

Every time I asked — shouted — at the driver for Fethiye, he said yes, it's 15 kilometers that way (back). I knew that. The meter was up over 40 lire, and I could envision my having to pay another 40 to correct the mistake and get me back to where I should have been in the first place. I told the Canadian this ride was on him. His resort hotel was in a compound and we stopped at the gatehouse where I began to try to sort this mess out. Luckily, we found a fluent (and very courteous) English-speaking concierge who explained my situation to the driver who in turn looked stricken — a good act, I thought; I was convinced this was a scam. But after talking to the driver the concierge told me he thought it was an honest mistake, that the bus driver had told him the two of us were together. Meanwhile, the meter was still running and the Canadian hadn't yet reached his room inside the compound. (In his case, it was reimbursable anyhow). I waited for the driver at the gate and he agreed to take me back to Fethiye for no cost except the 10 lire it would have cost me in the first place. Of course, he had to stop to see someone en route, but she/he wasn't home so it didn't take much longer than the 45 minutes back to get me to the hotel.

The hotel — an unpronounceable name — did indeed have a room for me so I went up and found a double and single bed in a large room with a balcony and stall shower. Not bad. It cost 35 lire in cash up front. This was the same hotel where the tour was meeting and staying the first night. I had arrived a day before the others (all flying together from London on a charter). After unpacking I went out to see the town. I asked for the center and was directed down the street, turn right a few blocks and you can't miss it. Sure enough, I found the main street and one block away the small harbor and marina with boat after boat lined up stern to quay with a string of restaurants opposite. I found a restaurant I liked and had fresh fish for both lunch and dinner. By the time the others arrived I was a regular. The first meeting of the hiking group was set for Monday at 4:00 PM. So I had almost a full day to continue exploring Fethiye. In the morning I went out to investigate the part of town under the cliffs and climbed up to the 350BC Tomb of Amyntas, overlooking the entire town of Fethiye, shallow rooms cut into the hillside with classical columns on the facades.

One of the first things I noticed in Fethiye was that every building — 100% — whether home or office or hotel, had a solar water heater on the roof. They're way ahead of us on energy. Wandering the neighborhood I came upon a man at rest who quickly volunteered to be my guide of the narrow streets, then asked for money. Since this was my first day, I had no small denominations, so he willingly took a large one in exchange for the information he dispensed — which, luckily I found quite interesting.

Hiking; Explore

The Lycian coast has been renowned for its hiking ever since Freya Stark and then Kate Clow wrote so lyrically about the region and its charms. But in an effort to avoid what I feared had become ordinary and crowded, I had opted for a hike off the beaten Lycian track in the foothills of the Taurus mountains in a tour offered by Explore, out of London. (I had gone with Explore to China in 2004). The tour was billed as a "village to village" hike. But I could find none of the villages on any map I had access to, so it seemed I was flying into another void coming here. The guide, the group, the route were all unknowns. And, I was still anxious about using the digital camera; one of the reasons for choosing this hiking tour was my calculation that at a walking pace, I would have time to experiment and learn the new camera. Despite my practice sessions in Istanbul, all the other uncertainties of the trip paled in light of this one. The following is drawn from notes I kept on the trip.

Day 1 - Tuesday May 15

As I expected, all the others on the tour are Brits, and as I feared, they also seem generally young and fit. I'm seventy, and how I am I going to fare, what rigors of the hike I am I going to have to face?. Our guide turned out to be a Scot — in Turkey? Paul is young and blond with a ponytail. How is this going to work, I asked myself. (I have a natural preference for local guides). Thankfully, we are a small group - six women and three men. Most have come in pairs, but some like me came alone. Remarkably, there is one couple - Sam (as in Samantha) and Tony - on their honeymoon. At dinner in town we got a first look at each other and went over some of the ground rules: Buy snacks for the week; there aren't going to be any on the trail. Ditto for towels, tissue and toilet paper.

After a sparse and unsatisfying Nescafe breakfast at the hotel, we set off to the town market to stock up. Turkey is a trail mix aficionado's delight, a land of nuts and dried fruit, so there was plenty to choose from. I bought raisins and nuts to mix my own on the trail.

Lycia is full of rock-cut tombs, temples and stone sarcophagi dating from the civilization several centuries before Christ that gives the region its name; One of the oldest sites was our first destination out of Fethiye, Tlos, where we played tourist before heading off to the mountains. By the time we departed Tlos, to begin our first trek, the sun was straight overhead. The van dropped us at a spot in the road — marked now by a white donkey — that I doubt any of us could find a second time. Our bags are going to be transported to where we were going to stay the first night and then again throughout the hike; that was an essential arrangement that made signing up for this trip possible. But, most of us probably carried too much in our backpacks anyway. For me, I had my new camera plus a backpack. As a gesture of false confidence, I left my old Nikon stuff in my luggage.

We started out in the heat of the day with a steady uphill climb for about an hour until we reached an elevated wooden platform built for shepherds to rest. Here we unpacked our food and had our first "picnic." At one point, a man approached to see who we were and what we were doing, and Paul invited him to join us. We learned he was responsible for maintaining the water supply for the village below. Water was plentiful in the mountains; often we could hear the rushing streams as we walked through the woods on crunchy pine needles. There were many springs and watering troughs along the way.

Several characteristics of the hike were already present, though I didn't fully grasp it at the time. First, Paul knew the countryside and the language well, spoke and understood the vernacular and got on well with the locals. It turned out that he had been living in Turkey for eight years (having come several summers as a child with his parents) and had recently married a Turkish girl.

There were no regular or marked trails, but Paul seemed unerring in knowing where to go. I found out later this was due to GPS reckoning; he had hiked the area before and plotted the general route for us to follow. But beyond that, it was up to us to find a path, a goat trail or opening in the woods to follow. We cut through forests, across newly ploughed fields or around boulders to make our way from unmarked point to unmarked point.

We also found out that it was Paul who had conceived this hike and had approached the farmers and persuaded them to put us up. They had never done this before, so it was new for them as it was for us. Without Paul, none of this would have ever taken place. Any initial doubts I had about him quickly vanished. We met hardly anyone along the way. But when we did, Paul could communicate easily. Without him we would have been lost and at a loss in seeking assistance. None of us had cell phones — that was a relief — but if we had, they would have been of no use to us. As a group, we were very much alone and on our own in rural Turkey.

We reached our first night's destination, the "village" of Bagliangas, around 5 PM — after hiking approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles). The village turned out to be just a single house along a road amidst fields and farmlands, the home of Suleyman and Bilal Poyruz. There were no other houses nearby nor any other attributes of what I imagined a village to be. My conception of "village" was based on Italy or Greece, a small group of houses, maybe a café on a small main street. Not here. This turned out to be true of all the other "villages" we stayed in as well; they were single houses, at most family compounds.

Upon our arrival, we all kicked off our hiking boots on the upstairs balcony and entered a modern and comfortable house. Our bags were piled high in one of the main rooms, having magically preceded us. The first order of business — as always — was to have tea, the ubiquitous and endless Turkish tea served in small fluted glasses with tiny spoons with which to stir your sugar or just tinkle the glass.

This house was typical of the others we were to stay in; the living quarters were invariably on the second floor above workrooms or storage rooms. This first one was a dairy farm, so there were stables attached to the rear of the house as well. Suleyman had three kids, and they alternatively sat staring at us inside or frolicked about when we poked around the stable or fields out back. Several of us went out to watch Bilal milk the six cows with a portable milking machine which she could move along the line from udder to udder. She didn't seem to mind my taking (several) pictures of her. On a hunch I asked her if she had names for the cows, and sure enough she rattled off the names of each one.

Concrete stairs led up to a small balcony with a nice wrought iron railing all around, a standard feature I was to discover. A line of old olive oil tins planted with herbs and flowers lined the balcony. A laundry line overhead held various cloths drying. Shoes were piled up outside the front door. Below, a new Toyota pick up truck was parked. This and the house and the furniture inside spoke of wealth, although I didn't fully grasp that this first day. The two main rooms had couches (the last we were to see until the last day of the hike) but no chairs. The kitchen was modern with wooden cabinets decorated with napkins carefully folded in triangles hanging over shelves of dishes and glasses. One room contained a large corner sideboard with photos and all sorts of other special items; plates, dishes, doilies. Artificial plants and things I'd never seen before, Turkish tchocskies. All this spoke of a profitable farm and disposable income.

Dinner was served in the larger room. Before serving, two cloths were placed on the floor and then large metal trays loaded with food were brought in and placed on the cloths. This was a ritual which never varied. Neither did the food, for the most part. Everything we ate for the entire week came from the farms. We had olives, feta, cucumbers, tomatoes, hard- boiled eggs, yoghurt and home made bread, flat and round and folded, which we used as plates. There were forks and glasses but no other implements. The only drinks were (cold) water and (hot) tea. Breakfast was a repeat of dinner.

The food was welcome; the first day's hike had left me winded and wondering if I was going to survive. Along the way, I experienced sequential aches and pains; my back, my thighs, calves, shoulders all hurt at some point but luckily not all at the same time and not severely enough to stop me. Yet, I couldn't help having my doubts. Paul, in his helpful way, said that the first day is always the hardest. But I knew that the first day was also the shortest.

Day 2 - Wednesday May 16

On the second day out, once again we followed no set path, cutting across fields and streams and through farmer's compounds. Occasionally we joined a road but only briefly because the roads, all made from crushed limestone, glowed in the sunshine and gave off too much heat. And, walking on roads would not have been honest-to-God hiking. So we cut into the woods or up a hill as soon as we found a suitable path. After a few hours, I came to the conclusion that nearby, there must be a network of roads that would have taken us directly, quickly and without effort to our destinations, thoughts similar to dreaming of waterfalls in the desert.

The topography and vegetation slowly changed as we hiked; here there were more stones and therefore more stone walls. Extensive cultivation sometimes gave way to thin pine forests. We passed solitary tethered cows who greeted us mournfully. I photographed them but had to ask myself why. Was I reduced to this? But in truth, I hadn't discovered much to photograph in these fields and forests. The landscapes were beautiful to look at but not (for me) photographic. We came upon few buildings - one a solitary mosque built like a stone warehouse with shiny blue metal doors and a call to prayer speaker mounted on a long pole. But there were few people or anything with color except for the wildflowers. I photographed them too, but with the same nagging question as to why.

I did come upon one spectacular field full of red poppies, and taking advantage of a rest stop I worked fast and furious to try to get a good 'Monet' photograph that I could do something with later. I came away full of thistles but happy with the excitement, hopeful about the photographs.

In the forests we passed stacks of cut wood in precisely one meter lengths (because the wood is sold by the square meter). Although I heard a chain saw once, we never saw anyone actually working; the workers stayed hidden in the forest. Obviously, they were not clear-cutting; there remained a thinned but consistent forest on both sides of the road. Once, we passed two women brewing tea on the road for the invisible workers.

Surprisingly we came upon a turtle almost the size of a football on the road. Not easy to spot, it was the same color as the soil and pine needles. This was the first of many we were to see. We wondered what turtles were doing out in this dry environment. At one point we rested in another shepherds' platform next to a pond, and here we found a multitude of small green sonorous frogs. Like the turtles, the frogs provided a distracting diversion from the slogging hike. We watched a solitary goatherd and his dog take a huge flock of goats through a broad meadow up the hill and into the distance of the mountains.

And we came upon a small isolated cemetery where I noticed a tombstone using two different calendars, so that the date of birth was 1316 and date of death 1990. Good quiz; how old was the person when he or she died?

It was on this day that I came to fully appreciate the benefits of birding. Each day Paul assigned someone to bring up the rear and watch for stragglers. He gave that person a whistle in case someone became separated from the rest of the group. Since I was the straggler, I warned everyone that whoever got the whistle would be spending a lot of time with me. There were two rather avid bird-watchers in the group, and I discovered that they would gladly pause for any tweet or flicker, and that meant I could slow my pace considerably. I can do what I do at 1/125th of a second; birders take much longer to search and identify, so I had plenty of time to rest. Identifying wildflowers was another welcome — time consuming — activity; one evening I had Melanie and others write out for me all the wildflowers they had discovered — Adonis, Star of Bethlehem, white and purple orchids, sun rose, rock rose, naked orchids and others — I had never heard of. In fact, all the people on the trip took good care of me. They could see I needed it. The second day was about 14 km and our destination the "village" of Kayuck, actually the house of Bayam.

We arrived to find Bayam under the house connecting the drain pipe to the new toilet. In anticipation of our visit, Paul had delivered the PVC pipe to him the week before, but Bayam hadn't gotten around to finishing the job. While he dug and thumped with the sledge hammer and pick axe, his wife shouted at him, scolding him for not installing the drain sooner. In any case after the ritual tea, the pipe was connected and the toilet and "shower" ready. I was the first to use it, and this was my first time using a squat toilet. I'll skip the details, but it represented a rite of passage a long time coming.

The bathroom was all newly done in nice blue tile and so was the shower room next to it. Neither had running water — Paul says most Turkish farmers don't see the point of water inside the house. Instead, the women carried in buckets of water to "flush" the toilet and buckets of hot and cold water to pour over your head for a shower. Better if you mix the two buckets.

This was a new house, still unfinished, but which will be very elaborate when completed. (I'm sure the fees paid to Bayam by Explore will help). The house is in a beautiful setting with a steep mountain behind — large silver grey rocks with pine trees — and a sloping hillside looking down on the broad valley below. The old house is adjacent. Another family's house was nearby, separated by planted fields, and I could watch women from that homestead tediously weeding the field, stooped for hours.

All the farmers we stayed with are evidently doing well enough from their crops and livestock to afford to build new houses that are large enough and modern enough to accommodate us. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to do this. Bayam is a semi-retired farmer who still harvests and sells anisette seeds. He also has goats, chickens and turkeys, not to mention dogs and a couple of kittens. There was a John Deere tractor parked next to the old house, carefully covered and still in running condition, able to be used when needed — not put out to pasture as in other rural and farm areas I've been to. In Turkey there's not yet a generation of abandoned farm machinery in the fields circling the house that provide a rusted history of progress like farm "museums" that I've seen elsewhere.

Bayam's house had no doors as yet — they were stacked in a corner — so the bedrooms were open air. But the double-pane modern white metal sash windows were in. Blue tiles had been put down last week in the bathroom, shower and hallways, but the bedrooms still had concrete floors which had been covered with heavy plastic and mats and rugs so we could use the rooms prior to the tiling. There was not a stick of furniture in the house, not a chair or seat of any kind, not a table. But there were plenty of mats and pillows and blankets.

Every house seemed to have enough mats and blankets to accommodate a group even larger than ours, probably the large groups of relatives who descend and must be put up. That was lucky for us; unlike plumbing, these houses had plenty of bedding. The mats are fairly firm and long enough to lie on, the thickness of two chaise lounge covers, one on top of the other. The pillows are of two kinds, one square and a bit larger than those we use on our couches and the others longer and invariably overstuffed and hard. The latter were impossible for me to use as a sleeping pillow, so I doubled up a towel. The blankets were heavy and course but quite warm.

Given my exhaustion, sleeping was not a problem, but sitting on the floor with legs underneath is not something I can do easily if at all, so for meals I had to kneel or lean against the wall. I always felt awkward. The others had similar problems, but being younger they were also more supple, so they managed.

Day 3 - Thursday May 17

I took advantage of the fact we were staying at Bayam's for two nights to take the day off and stay "home." Paul okayed it with Bayam; I didn't want the family feeling they had to take care of me; I was content to read, look at my photos, write a bit, re-charge my batteries (photo and physical) and just relax. The women didn't fawn, but they did bring me lunch on my own special tray — the same fare; yoghurt, eggs (this time, the only time, fried), tomato and pepper paste, beans, bread and water. My day of rest was exactly what I needed — and it probably got me through the balance of the hike.

The others returned hot and sweaty from a rigorous hike that, based on their descriptions, I was happy to have missed. In the evening, after ablutions and dinner we all went up on the (unfinished) roof to watch the sunset. We sat on pillows with an unfettered view of the valley and mountains beyond and had tea served by Bayam and his two sons. One son was quite engaging, happy to talk to us even without a common language. We asked what he did and were surprised to learn he was in school studying to be an Imam. He certainly didn't fit our conception of an Imam. Even less so when we asked him about his smoking (forbidden in Islam). Not a problem, he said. Then we learned that he was off to go to a party in town despite his parents' fears that coming back late in the morning on his motorcycle after carousing typical of such parties might be dangerous. Yes, he supposed he would be drinking, but no it was not dangerous for him. Typical youth. His parents were surprisingly good-natured about it all, joking that boys will be boys. But will boys be Imams? He seemed to think that when the time came he could follow the precepts, but for now why not live a little? If more Imams are like this, I feel better about the religion.

In fact, we learned that in Turkey the Imams are civil servants, paid by the state. That would seem to provide control and therefore a brake on radicalism. It seemed an ingenious device. But ruminating on it later I also realized that if a religious government took over in Ankara and wanted to impose a more radical theocracy or religious practices, they had a ready vehicle to do so through their control of the Imams in every city and hamlet.

Day 4 - Friday May 18

Before leaving, I spent some time photographing the mother and attractive daughter (who had come up from the city to help out during our visit) making the large flat bread that was the staple of the diet. (They were packing a lunch for us to take on the hike). Both women sat on low stools and rolled the dough over and over until the bread covered the large wooden circular tray. After cooking it, they lifted it with a stick back onto the tray, then folded it. They were good-natured about the whole photographic process, as silly as they must have thought it was.

Paul said that the road around the mountain was quite long — so we might as well just hike over it. I got the impression that if there were two choices, Paul would always take the more rigorous one. In this case, it wasn't just one mountain to cross but several. We hiked up to meadows, hiked down to cross streams and hiked up more mountains to other meadows. I'm not certain of the precise definition of mountain, but at times these felt like the Himalayas.

The most remarkable experiences of this day were the broad meadows we discovered, empty except for goats and sheep and carpeted with wild flowers. The temperature was alternatively very hot and then chilling as the fog swept in over the mountains across the plains and then out again, once more revealing the sun. It felt as if we were in Mongolia, vast, empty and open with not a soul in sight. We passed a group of un-tethered horses with no one watching them; as we approached, they became alert and began altering their positions, creating interesting patterns against the grass and rock.

Lunch today was in the open in a vast meadow with just a low stone outcropping to offer any sense of place or protection. As we ate, the clouds blew in and out, and sheep too came and went, grazing right up to us looking for treats from our food. More curious than cautious, they seemed to regard us as just more blades of grass.

Then we spotted in the distant horizon to our right a pack train of horses and donkeys heading further up the plain, evidently carrying supplies for the herders already camped on the meadow for the summer grazing. Two men and one woman flanked the animals. One of the men carried a large metal serving tray just like those used in the houses where we stayed - was he expecting company out here? Probably, since Turkish farmers always seem prepared to host large numbers.

We did pass a couple of makeshift encampments — thank God for plastic — but because of hostile dogs, we kept moving until we reached another shepherds' platform where we rested and filled up at the spring. Along the entire trip, we were able to find spring water to drink, so we didn't have to carry extra water. If its good enough for the Turks (and presumably their animals) it's good enough for us. No one reported any intestinal problems from the farm diet or spring water.

At the end of the meadow, we found a steep rocky trail down — matched only by the one going up on the other side. Both were narrow steep zigzag rock-strewn paths laboriously cut into the side of the mountain. At the bottom, between the up and down was a small bridge made of logs stretching over a now quiescent stream.

In the rocky and vertical landscape, the wild flowers looked like an English rock garden instead of a Turkish carpet. We passed several abandoned buildings made of wood that reminded me of crude ski-chalets. But although it snows here quite heavily, I don't think they were for skiing. We also passed some wonderfully knarred old pine trees. And, most improbably we came upon a large sarcophagus with Roman inscriptions. Evidently, this mountain was a Roman outpost, although in the vast emptiness of today, it's hard to imagine what the Romans ever saw in this place.

At one point, an old woman came round a corner and stopped dead in her tracks, dumbfounded at the sight of us. Her mouth hung open, and she looked not just startled and confused but frightened. I'm sure she never had seen anyone like this group, maybe never any stranger at all. And we were strange, indeed, in shorts and hats and backpacks. She was dressed in an old and pinned black skirt and typical scarf. She looked as if she had never left the fields or farm and seemed so stunned we began to feel sorry for her, fearing that coming upon this band of Martians might cause her to have a minor stroke or something. None of us took her picture, thinking that certainly would be too much for her. But then, as we prepared to move on, she gave us a little wave from the hip, and we all felt better and waved back.

This reminded me that Paul had told us that when he was trying to arrange for us to stay in homes, people in the villages couldn't believe we were really there to hike; strenuous walking for pleasure was a concept the farmers couldn't grasp. They suspected that our real motive must be looking for treasure. I don't know what treasure they thought might exist out here, but whatever they thought, it made more sense to them than hiking. There were times I thought they might be right.

Today's hike was 16 km, a mixture of mountains and meadows. The house we stayed in this night was the smallest and most primitive of the trip — with the Saballiglu family in the "village" of Soyut. The man (finally) fit our preconceived image of a Turk — a dark patriarch with a thick black mustache like an overturned coffee cup. He had a serious, even fierce, countenance, always vigilant, never smiling, like the maitre d' at an expensive restaurant where at any moment something might go wrong. His wife was with the herds in the mountains, so it was he and his two daughters left to do everything, which meant the two daughters did everything with his constant supervision of them — and of us too. He stayed in the room all the while we talked, had tea and then dinner. He never relaxed. He slept outside on the small deck.

There was no water inside and no bathroom or shower of any kind. Anticipating our arrival, he had built a plank outhouse some distance from the house. The open entrance was sited up a hill for privacy, so getting to it meant going up hill. After we arrived, he rigged a cloth to cover the entrance. If more private, it was still a challenge, especially in the dark — according to those who tried it.

Evidently also recently constructed was the "shower" adjacent to the house and made of red brick building blocks with a concrete floor and open to the air above. The daughters heated endless buckets of water for us on a wood fire outside under a tree. On this night I was the last to bathe, and by the time I stripped down, the wind was blowing frigid air all around me. The bucket of hot water felt good but the whistling wind above and the cold clammy concrete under (bare) foot made it less than an ideal "shower" experience. The others waited dinner for me; when I dried off, we sat in the front room and as usual had the usual.

The two daughters were quite pretty, dressed as all Turkish country women in baggy flowered trousers and head scarves. Their shirts were plain and unremarkable, but by the time the trip was over I wished I could get some of those trousers. In the markets where we (tourists) went, all the pants were of better material and not as interesting. I never found any of the type worn on the farm. The older daughter's socks were worn through, so she was essentially barefoot. Her hands were like those of a man, dark, calloused and large. I had no idea how old she or her sister were — or the man either, for that matter.

It was customary to pay the farmers for our visit — out of the 50 Pounds we each had given to Paul on day one — and Paul generally selected someone to give it to the farmer. I don't have a good recollection of who did it this time, but whoever it was, handing over the money finally produced a wide grin from under the moustache; the severe countenance dissolved at the sight of cash. The girls too got into the fun, giggling at my sunburned red knees. If this experience was strange for us, it must have been far stranger for them. And, if Turkish girls can giggle at the sight of a (male) foreigner's knees, how serious can be the threat of Islamic fundamentalism?

Day 5 - Saturday May 19

This day's obstacles were a series of goat-proof fences made from brush, brambles and branches and ladder gates constructed by farmers to protect their crops. No other material available out here, I guess, except by purchase. We came upon one after another and had to climb over them to make our way. The topography was more varied at the lower elevation, with more trees including poplars and pines. We passed several passels of goats (not herds) munching on anything in their path, one guarded by a woman goatherd. These constricted and defined spaces were quite a difference from the vast meadows and endless forests of the previous day. We also passed many more structures, stone or wood and for the most part abandoned or infrequently used. Everything spoke of a more varied and prosperous agriculture. Wildflowers continued to pop out of rocky outcroppings. Expecting to find more carpets of wildflowers as in previous days, I switched to my old Nikons hoping to be able to do some triptychs of flowers. But alas, the carpets were gone and the English gardens were back. I found my old camera strange to use; I fumbled the focus, forgot to wind the film on so forth.

We found a nice cluster of rocks and trees where we could take our morning break, and I used the opportunity to relieve myself in the plein air, a glorious sensation matched only by the view across the mountain.

Then we entered a pine forest and came out upon an enormously wide gorge with great white boulders in the stream but not much water. Opposite were sheer brown cliffs with what looked like caves near the top. But there was no possible access to these openings. The gorge emptied out onto a valley with a mountain in the distance. Filled with water, this would be a good size (and raging) river with no possibility of crossing. We worked our way upstream over boulders until we could cross to the other side. Then it was a steep and tortuous climb, the most dicey of the trip. The path was a narrow goat trail right at the edge of the gorge with loose stones and gravel. One slip and you were a goner, down 200 feet or so, more at the top. This was the only part of the trip that I felt was downright dangerous, as opposed to exhausting. But exhaustion was part of the danger too. We all made it with help from Paul and at the top we found ourselves far above the gorge in a ridge-top pine forest.

The rest of the way was an easy descent. It brought us into an even more varied and wealthier farming area. We passed strings of bee hives but didn't approach to see if they were occupied; Paul says that since the government offers a subsidy for hives but has no follow-up to see that the farmers actually use them, many are empty. Once again, we could see a greater variety of crops and cultivation. And the houses were more substantial, more modern. Some had cars in the yards. We took a well-maintained road and for the first time in days passed cars on the road.

After about 13 km we reached our destination, the most "modern" house of the trip. Right away we could see the difference; for the first time there were abandoned vehicles scattered around the house. (In many rural areas I've been in, it's a sign of prosperity to have junk around the house; I call it conspicuous abandonment). Also a school bus; the homeowner is a part-time bus driver. Inside we found a more elaborate decor, two large rooms as usual but with several couches and outdoor white plastic chairs, the first chairs of any kind on the trip. More than that, there was television and Coke and chips for dinner; we couldn't resist either. Upon our arrival we were served tea and doughnuts, another first. We found out later that the family had been through the drill before; this house, unlike all the others, had had previous groups.

Evidently starved for some kind of normalcy, the group with alacrity decided to set up a betting pool on the football match between Chelsea and Manchester United that was going to be televised. Most of us crowded around the set in an instant and odd repudiation of rural hiking. But Turkey took its revenge on our embrace of technology; most of the game was lost because of power outages.

Those were caused by high winds that had come up just before we arrived and increased through dinner and afterward. After dinner as the poplars swayed, the sky turned brown, then yellow. After sunset, we could see red over the distant hills. Then we smelled smoke. It was hard to know just how far away the fire was, but with this kind of wind, everyone was worried. It turned out, however that there was plenty of distance between the fire and us; it was a mountain and valley away. The next day we learned that five fires had been deliberately set around Fethiye, most likely the work of the PKK, the radical Kurdish group.

In addition to the television, doughnuts, Coke and chairs, the most different aspect of this house was the family dynamics. The woman of the house was no shrinking violet, certainly not content to remain in the background as an observer. In fact, she could not remain silent. Maybe this too is a product of greater contact with modernization, who knows. But the most charming part of being in this household was watching the young daughter and her father's evident love for her. She served us, spoke some English learned in the local school and was quite outgoing and comfortable among a group of strangers. Then she would go sit on her fathers lap or snuggle up to him, and he would hold her like a kitten.

Day 6 - Sunday May 20

We woke to our last breakfast, took photographs of everyone with all the cameras and bade farewell to rural Turkey. Or so we thought. There was one last uphill hike through the woods just for old times sake. I wasn't sure I wanted even another short day, but after a good sleep (on a nice firm couch) and because I had come to feel part of the group, I decided to remain with the group (rather than ride back in the baggage van). I was glad I did; everyone was in a good mood. We began uphill — as usual — but not for long. We soon came to a large hard-packed road. And than at a junction with a major road, we ran into a Turkish family. Could they be hikers? We couldn't believe so; this was the first time we had seen anyone walking except the lone farmer or shepherd. I'm not sure who was more surprised. It turned out they were walking to a wedding. One old man, walking with difficulty, lingered well behind; I had sympathy for him. Others going to the wedding passed us a bit later in a lorry.

Then suddenly our van appeared and the hike was over.

Fethiye: May 20 & May 21

Back in Fethiye we checked into the same hotel and agreed to meet for lunch in town. On the trail, several of us had vowed that as an antidote to the rigors of the mountain, to the Spartan conditions and demanding exercise, we were going to have a full blown massage at the Haman. In one of the guides I had photocopied, an old style authentic Turkish bath house was listed and lauded. Paul didn't know where it was located, and he made it clear that this was not something he would ever do. But as an indulgence to us, he got us directions. In the end, six of us went; Dan, myself and four of the women.

In separate changing rooms, we men and the women changed into robes and waited our turn. I was surprised to find only one massage room used for both men and women. Everything was marble. Off to the side of the main room were ante-rooms that were kept hotter. Most people wore bathing suits, but I had forgotten that recommendation, so all I had was a towel. We all sat along the walls and watched as some Dutch and German couples were soaked, swatted and rubbed, first one guy, then a second, then the women. Once it was my turn, I lay on one marble slab to be sloshed and soaped with a large shami-like towel. Then I swung over to a second slab and second masseuse who did the same. Then I stood, and he shampooed my hair and sloshed me with more water. I lost track of the precise details of what was being done to me.

In Moslem cultures, water is important and in the Haman, one of the luxuries was the extravagant use of water, adding to the sensualness of the massage. Of our group, I went first and managed to remain covered. Then Dan and the women who stripped down to their underpants. The masseuse told me to wait inside after I was through with the final watering down, and who was I to disobey? So, I watched the others get done to them what had been done to me.

Afterward we were put into soft beige towels and given tea outside while we dried off. We all looked as if our caravan had been soaked in a rainstorm. This was indeed a wonderful antidote to roughing it in the dry and dusty mountains. In the evening, several of us — Tony and Sam, Melanie and Anthia — not wanting the trip to end, went out drinking and had a pleasant evening sitting outside in a gentle breeze and chatting with the café owner.

The following morning, all the others (except Tony and Sam, the honeymooners who were off on a cruise to complete their vacation) were scheduled to depart, flying together back to London. For them, Turkey had been a quick interlude from work and their daily routines. But I was continuing on, heading east but not sure exactly where. I decided to invite myself to join Paul who was headed home to Kas with his wife after seeing the group off at the airport. The three of us traveled by bus. The hard part was getting to the Otogar from the hotel. I had to carry my suitcase, cameras and backpack, and it was more arduous than the hike. The bus itself was comfortable and the ride along the coast beautiful. In Kas, we had another walk through town from the bus station to a hotel Paul recommended. It was small and cheap (50 YTL) — despite its name, Hotel Kas — right on the water and not far from the center. It turned out that Paul's wife's family ran the restaurant adjacent — Café Elit — so we first had a beer to relax and talk. They were full of tips about the town.

Kas: May 21 - May 24

I spent my time in Kas leisurely walking around from the quayside to the hilly part of town looking at shops and restaurants, resting in between. Choosing a place to eat dinner became a main focus; I found one restaurant I liked and returned there to eat on a patio overlooking the harbor. I noticed small ceramic oil lamps on the tables and ended up buying two from the restaurant to take home. Kas was that kind of place, friendly, relaxed.

Although my hotel was right on the water, access was off rocks, and I was content to look rather than leap. In the mornings, I watched a group of women from the hotel next door do their yoga at the water's edge. But they didn't go in either. I did take a local bus one day along the coast past Kalkan to the beach at Patara. There, I found a broad and absolutely flat beach and got my swim, the only one of the entire trip. It felt good to get in the water. I rented a chair and umbrella and had falafels at the shack restaurant, all very satisfying. The bus took us past farms and green houses and a solitary blue mosque. Mosques still have the capacity to startle, to remind me, if I forget, that I am in a Muslim country. The trip along the coast between Kalkan and Kas afforded a sequence of spectacular views.


I also took a day trip by boat to the Greek island of Kastellorizo, and that turned out to be a very positive experience. In order to go, I had to book the day before and leave my passport overnight, to be collected on the boat in the morning. The island's called Meis in Greek, and if you say Kastellorizo to a Greek or Meis to a Turk, they will correct you and not too subtly. The boat took only about 45 minutes and was intended to be a day excursion; there are all sorts of regulations and prohibitions for staying overnight. The population of the island is a fraction of what it was before the War, down from some 15,000 to (it is said) 200 to 400 people today. It was evacuated by the British to protect the people from German bombs. Many houses were destroyed. Nonetheless, the buildings around the pristine horseshoe harbor of Megisti, are being restored and painted, so it has the effect more of a stage set than an active village. I liked it immediately. It was quiet and colorful. Up the hill is an old monastery and new school, and I spent about an hour photographing there before walking around the entire harbor and selecting one of a handful of outdoor restaurants to have delicious grilled fresh fish for lunch. Although only there for a few hours, this island struck an emotional resonance with me in a way Turkish villages (I then realized) didn't match. I wondered, but I don't know, why.

On the return, full of sun and wine and inspiration, I watched (and photographed) a young redhead mother and daughter lounging on the deck, totally innocent of my photographing them.

May 24 & May 25: Antalya

After a few days in Kas, I was rested and ready for the next part of the journey, by bus to the Cappadocia region. Paul had given me the name of a hotel in Antalya and had praised the town itself, so that became my stop-over destination. The bus took about 4 hours from Kas, an easy trip. Antalya is an ancient Roman harbor town with an old section (Kaleici) of restored buildings, and the hotel was there. I arrived early enough to be able to explore the old town, harbor and the modern commercial center. Minor things of interest for me included discovering a fire department motorcycle fitted out with axes and other gear and an elegant modern restaurant with Western style paintings of odalisques over the tables. Coming shortly after visiting a beautiful small mosque, that seemed quite a change. The owner was the only overtly hostile Turk I came across, probably because I was wandering around his restaurant with a camera.

The next day's bus trip — from Antalya to Goreme — was considerably longer, but the Turkish buses are excellent; new, clean, fast and comfortable. It's always remarkable to see so-called developing countries with transportation systems so far superior to ours. We stopped near the midway point in a gleaming spotless terminal for about 40 minutes to stretch and get a snack. It was on the platform in this terminal that I got into the only political discussion of the trip. (How different from the journeys of my youth where political discussions were endless and one of the attractions of travel). Here a man spotted me and quickly approached, He spoke good English but better French from having worked for several years in Europe. We spoke a mixture. His first greeting was the standard "Where are you from?" Then, "What are your origins?" An odd question but easily answered - English, French, German and Dutch. "A mélange." He said. True. Only later did it dawn on me that he was really asking me if I were Jewish. No. Then the surprise; "Bush must be Jewish." Why? In mixed English and French, he explained that Bush — like the Jews — is always attacking, fighting, causing trouble. Instead of democracy in Iraq, there is killing. It was hard not to agree with his criticism about Iraq, but I did not want to associate myself with his broader assertions. Then he asked the question I think Americans find the most difficult to answer satisfactorily abroad; "Why do American always attack Islamic cultures — Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia — why?" It's pointless to say because trouble comes from those places. I don't remember what banalities I offered, but we parted amicably, and he went to explain to others who I was and how he had bested me.

By the time the bus started up again, a crowd had gathered alongside, waving Turkish flags, shouting slogans and cheering for one young man who was boarding our bus. In fact, he was carried on board. I figured he must be a soccer star or pop singer, but there was no one I could ask. The crowd stayed with the bus until it left, and some of the fans followed us out of town in cars waving flags and blowing horns. Quite a sendoff.

Cappadocia: May 25 - 29

Once again, in choosing a hotel, I followed Paul's advice over that of others' and booked a room at the Local Cave House Pension. As it's name suggests, the rooms are cut into the tuff — that's one of the signature features of the region — so the only light and air comes from the front door or window. The rooms are quite comfortable, nonetheless. On my first night, the only room available was an enormous suite elaborately furnished with rugs and antiques. After that night of splendor, I was moved to a normal room, still very nicely done. There was a shared porch area overlooking the pool. Breakfast was in a dining room next to the pool; the staff were pleasant and attentive. All in all, a very attractive place.

I set out to explore. The sp-called Goreme Open-Air Museum was a moderate distance from the hotel, so I headed there first thing in the morning. The museum turned out to be vast open area with a series of Byzantine (Christian) churches all cut into the soft rock of the hills. Despite the Moslem dominance today, these churches are preserved as important pieces of Turkey's historical patrimony — and major tourist attractions. Some of the interiors were decorated with frescos; most are empty caves of varying sizes. After poking my head into a few of the caves — that was all you could really do — I opted instead for wandering in the fields opposite the "museum" ring of churches where bus loads of tourists were crowding the entrances. I preferred instead to leisurely explore caves where there were no other people. I began experimenting with black and white and found it worked better for the strange rock forms and shadow shapes. The digital camera allows me to switch seamlessly which means I don't have to carry two cameras.

Through the hotel, I signed up for a couple of day tours, one to the troglodyte city of Derinkuyu cut deep into the volcanic tuff. This is one of several underground cities — the guide book says 36 — dating from the 7th century BC built for refuge and security during times of conflict. In the earliest days Hittites were able to dig down two levels, but after the advent of metal tools, these underground dwellings reached down seven levels — as deep as 275 feet — below ground. Thousands of people lived here for months at a time; it is possible to make out the footprints of their kitchens, dining halls, stables, grain storage, wine presses, wells and so forth. But if thousands once lived here, thousands of tourists come today; moving around deep inside the earth in crimped passageways was difficult, and at several points, one group of tourists descending had to wait for an ascending group to pass before squeezing down the narrow tunnel. Tour guides had to be crossing guards. The further down, the narrower the passages and the steeper the descent. I could imagine someone getting stuck or panicking. As for photography, it was out of the question.

Wherever I turned above ground, I was face to face with all the strange forms of Cappadocia, especially the "fairy chimneys" typical of the region. Created by irregular patterns of erosion, the term "fairy chimneys" (in English) seems a strange choice to describe what are so obviously phallic shapes, naturally formed circumcised penises protruding in the landscape.

At one point, a group of school children approached me with eager inquisitiveness and were excited to find I was American. How odd, I thought, that whereas many Americans would automatically assume these kids to be radical or hostile they seem so normal.

Deprived of color in the landscape, I continued to use black and white settings. I also tried taking the same photo in color and black and white to compare them (reminiscent of a series I had begun in Paris in Pere Lachaise in 1990). I was drawn to the color of flowers like a deer to water, but I couldn't help thinking 'Has it come to this — to photographing flowers just to have something to do?'

One of the logistical problems I faced in Cappadocia and never solved was getting to nearby towns from Goreme by public transport. I never was able to get a bus (with a guaranteed time of return), so except for the two tourist tours, I never was able to visit the other towns of the region. I did wander the town of Goreme, however, and discovered its working neighborhoods and back streets; this was a familiar sort of territory and full of interesting buildings, man-made textures and sights including a goat in a window, kids playing in the street, a horse stable etc. This felt better than a cold beer, welcome relief from the dry dull landscape of tuff.

Another tour I took was to the Ilhara Valley, a deep canyon cut into the rock with more of the "fairy chimneys" lining the bluffs high above. The hills contain many churches, but I'd seen enough churches and interior spaces to last, so I contented myself with a leisurely stroll along the stream. The valley itself was cool and green, a welcome respite from the hot, dusty and brown land above. Donkeys were available if you wanted to ride, and a few restaurants were located along the river bank. The tour booked lunch for me at one about halfway. Frantic waiters trying to cope with the swell of tourists virtually slung the plates at us. I felt for them.

After my leisurely hike along the cool valley, the tour took us to the Selime monastery, another remarkable warren of rooms carved into the mountain. Once again, in the absence of color, I concentrated on the patterns of rock and shadow in black and white. Not far from the monastery, the valley opens up into a broad plain covered with more "fairy chimneys" and towers with carved rooms and natural fissures. There is a tourist center nearby on a bluff overlooking a broad valley where artifacts and vibrator-looking replicas of the fairy chimneys are sold.

My last hike was in the Rose Valley a center of agriculture and vineyards. (Cappadocia is known for its white wine, and I have to say it's better than Greek retsina. But I stuck with beer.) The patterns of cultivation on the scraps of flat land contrast with the forms of the hills and chimneys surrounding the valley bottom. Early on, I had wondered why so many holes — obviously man-made — had been cut into the tuff towers. Now I could appreciate why; to capture pigeon guano used to fertilize the fields. A very clever use of a natural resource where there were few others available. There were more old churches along the way, more of the same by this time. I came upon a man and donkey working in a vineyard, then a roadside stand selling welcome cold drinks. All in all, it was a pleasant way to pass an afternoon.

The valley led to the town of Cavusin which is a remarkable sight because half the mountain into which the old dwellings had been cut has fallen away, leaving exposed a cross- section of the old city. It's uninhabited now but looms over the new village below. Outside town I discovered a cemetery with a mixture of new granite stones and what seemed to be almost replicas of the fairy chimneys as grave markers.

In town, I got a lift to the main road from a farmer in his tractor and waited for a bus back to Goreme which never came. But I was picked up by some tourists going my way and made it back to the hotel and to the terrace.

Sitting with a beer I noticed a man with a Red Sox jersey and casually asked him if he was from Boston. I got quite a story in response. No, he was English, a retired policeman in fact, now living in Turkey. But he was a Red Sox fan (short for fanatic) for sure, and he had flown many times to the States explicitly to see the Sox (and other baseball teams) play. He had seen far more games than I had. So, for my last night in Cappadocia, we sat around talking baseball. What a send-off.

I had booked an Istanbul hotel next to the airport in order to facilitate my early morning departure to London. In planning the trip to Turkey, I had decided that I could not bear to fly over Italy without stopping, so in an improvident use of my BA miles, I added a London - Milan - London loop and spent 10 wonderful days in Italy visiting friends. But that's another story. So is the 4 days I spent in New York. I was lucky to get out since I went to the wrong airport, JFK instead of La Guardia — but six weeks to the day from my departure, I made it back to SFO.