Well, I am getting so good at Turkish—instead of just one side of one page language sheets as I had last year in the Balkans, the Turkish sheet has two pages—But I hardly need them at all any more.

I got up pretty early in the old Greek city of Herakleia, and headed out in the early-morning light to see some ruins. wasn’t early enough to beat the cows, so there were some traffic jams here and there in the village. And it must have been too early for the tavernas and coffee houses to be open, as some of the men were actually working!

So there are ruins all over the place: in the fields, on the hill-sides, at the lake-shore, all over. But not many signs as to what is where, except in the village: once you are outside the village (about a three-minute walk, actually, in any direction), you are on your own. So I just kind of headed out east down a cow path (I am a trained police officer, with years of field experience, and I can testify in court that it was a cow path—definitely, Your Honor—and not an ancient one, either. . . .) And here’s the transition in their major transportation network from motor vehicle to foot. . . .and pretty soon a village woman taking her cows up to a pasture after AM milking appointed herself as my guide— “Agora,” she said, and kind of swept her hand around a flat open area with columns and such in the weeds. She beckoned me to follow her, and in a few minutes, said, “Hammam.” So these were the baths. And still up and still not really a path—a goat might not have had much trouble with it, but they aren’t carrying a good camera and two lenses. . . . And now we are up pretty high just east of the village, which is maybe 50 meters away but down below us, and she points and says, “Templo.” And then here’s where my Turkish got really good. She called to some 10-year old girl in a farmhouse down below us, and this is precisely what she said: I know you’ll be impressed with my growing language skills.

“Bring the loot—I’ve got a really big one hooked and just about netted.”

And the kid clambers up the rocks from the steep side and deposits a serving-tray wrapped in a shawl filled with tourist loot— lace and crocheted doilies, Muslim skull caps the old men wear, bracelets, earrings, etc.

Well, I bargained hard, and got their pictures as well as a trinket.

I went down to the lake shore later, and shot these.

I did think, though, although this may be pretty Lutheran, that they were missing a bet and causing a problem as well. The soil here isn’t all that good, and there was an awful (it was somewhat awful, to boot) lot of (we’ll just say) available fertilizer lying about, and I’m surprised some entrepreneurial farmer didn’t send the kids out with a scoop and a big plastic bag to haul it all back.

They certainly could have used it on their fields, and they didn’t need all the insects it drew. . . . I mean, I don’t live there and I’m not a local, but with as much as they scrabble in so many other ways to eke out a living, I was surprised not to see that much resource going to waste.

And another Lutheran kind of comment— it’s not as bad as the Balkans in this aspect but they could use some good trash removal operations here. Maybe they could get the prisoners out of their cells and clean up the place some. But they don’t. And they kind of need to.

Anyway, I headed out of Herakleia toward Euromos, the next ruin on the map. I stopped to ask for directions, and was clearly told—

Hah! OK. Next roundabout, left.

So I got to the next roundabout, about 100 meters up the road, turned left, and hit this.

It was the Saturday Market in Selimiye

Complete with a little smithy

I got something to eat, and had backed into a little side-street to eat it— out of the way—and this guy tapped me on the shoulder, brought me a little chair from his carpentry shop, and I sat in it while I ate.

There was just about everything for sale there, so I got some lunch stuff for future days.

I thought this was a nice image—a couple of little tulip-shaped tea glasses – this is what you get served chai or apple tea in— with little spoons to stir in the sugar.

So I backed the car out of there, with a dolmus (see below) having edged in behind me, and headed left at the second roundabout for Euromos

There’s a wonderful Temple of Zeus there, and a necropolis (cemetery) so of course I stopped and spent about an hour shooting some more ruins in the weeds.

Then I drove down a side-road and over a pretty good sized ridge, and got o the coast where there was another ruin, Iassos, which was apparently settled in the ninth century BCE.

I climbed all over it—some good signs, but no map (at almost none of these places— got tired and hot, took a little nap in the car, and headed back in for some more.

Then I headed for Bodrum, a big frou-frou yachting town right on the coast. And was discouraged to see, as much as I enjoy the game, big billboards advertising golf courses.I used to kid that a golf course was a sign of civilization, but after the Ionians, Hittites, Lydians, Scythians, Greeks, and Romans, not to mention the Byzantines, Ottomans, and Turks, I’m not sure Turkey really needs golf courses. . . .

Bus stops:

In some ways, Turkey is one huge bus stop. There are two kinds of busses—the tour busses big enough to put a rudder on and sail just about anywhere in the world, and much smaller ones, called a dolmus, which holds maybe a dozen people. They run everywhere—not many trains here, but tens of thousands, maybe more, dolmusses. You stand by the side of the road, and when the right one comes along (they are generally A to B to A to B), you hold your hand out flat, palm down, and they stop.You get on, determine the fare from the card above the driver’s head, pass the money to the person in front of you who passes it to the person in front of them. . . . to the driver. When you need to get off, you shout something.

Historically, they didn’t have a schedule—they just took off when they were mostly full, but these days, I’m guessing they are more regular than that.
It sounds a little casual, but they work just fine.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert