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Turkiye

The Mevlana Mosque and Museum in Konya, Turkey

It took me a while to post, thanks to being busy, shellacked, and decompressing. This was the weirdest yet most rewarding trip I’ve ever taken. It was with a tour group but the country was so fascinating, so different from anywhere I’ve ever been that the two, the complacency inherent in being in a tour group and the daring in being in Turkey, balanced each other out. Beautiful, cosmopolitan Istanbul is easy to be in for someone who lives on the Eastern seaboard and has a list of her favorite cities. The hinterlands of Turkey, on the other hand, were another thing altogether. It was the first time I felt that I am no longer at home. Headscarves were actually very common, the language is bewildering, and after dark the streets make it clear it’s a man’s world.

History has been written here, though, by those with the guts to write it. Alexander and Julius Caesar, the sultans, Asia minor, Anatolia, the Crusades, Hector and Priam, all words written into legend, words that are legend. They’ve been through here. The hills and mountains and olive groves in places look like they must have looked thousands of years ago. History speaks and lives and breathes here, against a backdrop of small farmers, minarets, and open markets. Tourism is a large part of the economy but Turkey hasn’t sold its soul. I had the feeling we were catching it just before the old world vanishes. I can recall that in a short list of missed photographic opportunities: the hills on the way to Konya with a little village in the plains at the bottom complete with red roofs on the stone houses, Hieropolis perched at the top of the calcium deposits at Pamukkale and the modern village at the bottom, our tour bus crossing the tracks behind a train with a shepherd and his flock of sheep walking along the one-lane road. Oh, baby. If this is Asia, then I want more of it, though there is still a time and place for the warm and familiar places like the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

That’s where my fictional characters are talking right now, and I must return to them. CIao, a piu tardi.

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