I started out today (Sunday) at a lovely little museum in Afyon and it had some wonderful stuff: Neolithic (stone tools cultures), then Phyrigian, Hittite, Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman, and you know the rest: all the usual suspects.

I could only shoot pictures out on the grounds. but there was some great loot inside.The biggest tourist attraction in Afyon is the acropolis (citadel) but it’s 700 steps up there, and no road, and so I cranked out the big lens and you are getting a closer view than I did—

Turkish Army Post

On the way back through town (remember there’s a huge Army presence in almost every town, and in larger towns like this one, there’s more than one such little 1-2 acre compound).

Few have this level of security, though, like the one I wrote about a few days ago, but couldn’t shoot.

Here’s a shot of the guard post right on the main road to the next big town—- think of 99-E in Sellwood or Aurora Ave N going through Greenwood but with sandbags and guys with some pretty good weaponry— tanks and such in the parking lot out back and a lot of Keep Out signs .

And some pretty forceful No Parking or Stopping signs all along the road in front of the place.

Those are sandbags on top of a neck-high cement-wall the soldiers stand behind wearing flak vests and carrying some pretty good firepower.

We are further from the un-rest in extreme SE Turkey than we were in Cappadocia, and while I saw similar compounds out there, and all over the country, they didn’t have the extra security of the little cement walls for the soldiers at their guard posts.

More Poppies

There’s something about the colors here, or the combination of colors, but I must admit I spent much of today (Sunday) on the back roads looking for old citadels and fortresses and more of the opium poppie

Three Vignettes of Village Life

Sh*t Balls

I was driving through a really small village today on the track of more old stuff, following the signs to the ruins, and I drove past a bunch of mud-brick homes, barns, stables, all with dirt roofs, and (remember I’ve hardly been drinking at all over here) there was an old woman in traditional dress squatting by the opening into the cow barn and at first I thought she was making mud bricks with lots of straw in them and then I saw the stable wall of the neighbor’s around the corner, and it became pretty obvious even to me what kind of big balls they really were.

Oh, My!

You can see the new “loaves” atop the stone wall.

Rug Cleaning

In another village, it seemed to be clean rug week— here’s the wall of the local cemetery and the newly cleaned rugs are hanging over it to dry

And the cemetery is out on the road out of town near this. . . .which is the only one of these I’ve seen on the entire trip.

Cleaning Sacks in D??er (DUE yer)

And in another small village, D??er, at one of the numerous water sources—

the village will have several little fountains, not decorative, usually, just a wall with a pipe sticking out of it and troughs in front or to the sides for the water to flow out.

Here’s what they generally look like.

I saw a dog frolicking in one last week, but this, today, was new to me.

There were two middle-school aged girls walking up and down in the run-off troughs, which in this case were about two feet wide and a foot deep by 15 feet or more long.

And there were lots of plastic gunny sacks, about as big as a medium gym bag I’d guess, in the water and they were kneading them by walking back and forth on them and through them (like the old grapes-stomping cliché) as the water flowed slowly along.

When I went back to confirm that what I’d seen was what was happening, they got out of the troughs and stood together, all-but hiding behind the structure where the water was coming out. They were clearly anxious and very twitchy, so I was pleased I’d left the camera in the car.


There are geese in all these towns, too, hundreds of them, as the goslings are all a few weeks old and going everywhere with the adults.

I didn’t shoot them (they were pretty dirty from cooling off in some pretty good-sized mud puddles) but I did see this extreme example of redundancy

(which was one of the qualities in almost all my students’ [high-school to police academy to corporate]) writing I harped on the most.

Field Workers

I’ve shown you the women working in the fields all hunched over,

before, but here’s the other side of that kind of work that I hadn’t been able to capture until toda

I get the strongest sense of the bonds that come with shared hard work as these women always eat (normally in a circle, if there are fewer of them) in tight bunches like this.

And, like the garden we had in Edmonds, these all have one row and a path and another row and a path. Nothing like the intensive gardening some of us commit at home, with a wide band of plants (maybe up to three feet wide– twice as wide as the gardener’s reach in from one of the paths) and very narrow paths.

That way you are using the massed crop plants to crowd out the weeds and you aren’t walking on the soil the plants go in. Very efficient, but pretty OCD in a way. . . .

Again, over here, the bigger than a normal garden (but still human- rather than animal- or tractor-powered) planting areas are much more like tiny farms: with much less yield per acre for what amounts to some pretty labor-intensive crops.

And again, all the market stalls and greengrocers sell exactly the same stuff.

No Nudists Here (Damn)

I have talked about how covered up the traditionally-dressed Muslim women are— either in the country or villages, or in the modern cities, where the putty-colored or dark flat-blue ankle-length coats do the job, but I haven’t mentioned the men yet.

Almost all the older men wear some kind of cap or hat, invariably a long-sleeved shirt, maybe a vest or a sweater, and a sports jacket or suit coat—even on tractors or often working in the fields.

Updated Street Photography Goals

I realized the other day that while I’m getting better at asking about and shooting street portraits, all the results seem to have come out of the Fine Art of Mug Shots School, so the next goal is to get people to do more than just stare straight into the camera.

This man stopped to visit with me as he was cycling past the last poppy field this afternoon. He told me all about the mound behind the field, where some gold crowns and other pretty cool Phrygian artifacts had been found.

It was one of those wonderful Turkish, English, German, Italian conversations.

These valleys are full of these little hillocks, and few of them have been excavated, so there’s lots more to find and lots more to learn out here.

Here’s the last opium poppy field, which I shot because the colors were different— the light (normally a brilliant white) ones are almost lavender and the purple ones are much lighter, too, and not the intense purple of the ones in the previous couple of days.

Tonight’s Digs

And finally, here’s what you get for $15 in Kutahya, a half-block from the big pedestrian stroll-way in the center of town.

There’s a big regional bi-weekly market here on Wednesday, and I have laundry to do, but I’ll also try to see if there’s regional markets in near-by towns before then, so I can hit them and leave here Wed AM—if not, I’ll leave Wed noon, heading for Bursa.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert