Monday, September 12, 2016

Increasing Cast of Characters, Antalya

Personal cooler
Today’s blog post is dedicated to my readers, I know you are hoping for something to read something a bit more exciting than watching a chess match.    My confession?   At times while writing I really feel like a goat-herder in a foreign land.   My English teachers never favored my prose!   I didn’t try hard enough.  Are you old enough to remember Casey Stengel?    He said it best, “Without losers, where would the winners be?”   I never liked the Yankees, but Casey was quite a character.  Only Yogi could top him. That’s Yogi Berra, for any of you under 55.   

Herb Vendor
Today, it is the people.  The  spirited people we met in the past few weeks are working on me.  These are people who make you feel that they are not thinking,  come back when you can’t stay so long.  They are  super friendly, gratified to talk about their work and life.  

I really enjoy stopping and talking to the working folks in a new city.  Sitting a few moments with the guy who picks up the trash at the Kremlin in Kazan, and using sign language more than speaking, I make a friend.   
Coffee Roasting Shop
On another occasion, not quite so enjoyable, but equally interesting, I sit with an undercover detective while  he interrogates me on how I was just robbed.   He is dressed exactly like the four big guys who robbed me on the bus.  To describe him I would say, he looks almost homeless.  I jokingly mention this to him, and his face changes to one of wariness.   Then he realizes that I was complimenting him on his effective undercover look and gives me a smile.  
The investigation continues and then he closes his small tablet.  Now that he is finished with me, it’s my chance for a cross-examination about his work and how he goes about it.  He’s trapped and he is not getting away until I unload the torrent of questions from my mind.   During his interrogation, we both have a laugh or two, while he removes some stereotypes I have about Russian police.  Also removed is some the gloomy feeling one has after such an experience.   (BTW, After three weeks, we have been informed that my wallet has been found and is being sent.)

Got Knives!

50 Year Owner
Two years ago while wandering through the artisan area in the center of  Antalya I discovered a knife shop.   It was a gem of a shop where the owner makes knives and cleavers for cooking.  The display had many of different sizes of cleavers, and I chose a fairly large one.   Now when I use the cleaver, I remind myself to go back for a few knives.  I just had to go back and see how his knives felt in my hand.   (I am the cook in our house)  So on the return trip, I chose two large knives that felt comfortable and balanced.   

While there we forged a link with the two artisans, the father, who owned ran the shop for 50 years, and his son.  We learned that the father came from Ankara, the Turkish capital, where his father had a knife shop.  Three generations later they are the real deal, super knife makers.  
The son sits behind a grinding wheel, sharpening knives for another customer.  This customer knows some English and  grabs me by the arm, takes me to the wall where there are certificates and photos hanging.  He beckons to the older owner and relates to  the father/owner that I am from America.  (As if he didn’t know, — ha!)  The father goes to the wall and points to an old black and white photo of his father, the originator of this establishment.  Next to this photo they proudly display both a photo of the George Washington of Turkey, Ataturk and the flag of Turkey.  
While the customer is excitedly telling me about his uncle who lives in America, he is speaking in Turkish to the older owner what I am asking.  They are proud of their shop, and the customer is also proud.  Everyone feels important.  While the younger owner sits at the wheel and sharpens my knives he warns me several times that they will be sharp.  Then he shows me his display case with a special knife with art work burned onto the blade.  I ask to buy it, and he says that it is specially made for display only.  This is the knife I really want!  You  see the photos of our two new friends.  We will be back next summer, for sure.

When Orietta and I made a special trip to a market in Kumluca we discovered a wonderful market with the most perfectly ripened vegetables we had ever seen.  The photos speak of this! 
Every one is ripe!
This market was fairly large and the vendors were people who have  small gardens and bring their produce to sell.  It’s all mom and pop operations and you can see from these photos that the vegetables were perfect.  
Bag of figs
Every vendor wanted to talk about their produce and inquired to know where we were from, and why we were there.  
We had a mind to find some figs, sumak and isot biber, which are dark chili flakes.
We walked the whole market and at the other end of the market, outside the roof,  there was an old fellow who had carved a few utensils from wood and he had laid them out on a small mat.  Clearly he wasn’t part of the market, but was selling just outside where he did not have to pay the area rental fee.  We took an interest in his work, and he had a proud smile.   His work is now being used in our kitchen.  We will look for  him next summer.   Let's hope that things will calm down in Turkey, and tourists will feel safe to visit.   The problems they have had has not helped the tourist industry.

We take so many photos, it’s good that we don’t use negative film anymore. We can just shoot away with both the camera and the phone. 

I wish I could show all the photos, but with my blog software it makes it a bit too difficult.  What you get is what you pay for, and this is a free blog spot.  We  come away with some amazing photos, and my wife's big camera really is the perfect tool.   

Working our way back towards the exit we take a few shots and then  all of a sudden a young fellow steps in front of my camera, and proudly poses with a big smile.  We humor him with a few shots, and questions.  He keeps changing his pose for us.

He does not seem to bothered by the heat, but we are.  It is over a hundred degrees with humidity.  Time to find a place with air conditioning and something cool to drink.   August is a hot month for the Antalya area, and we are glad that most of our time will be at the beach in Cerali, one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.  We like it so well that  this is our second visit.

Just outside the market we have lunch, a doner kabob, for only two euros, our cheapest lunch of the trip with the cleanest bathroom of the trip.   And with super AC!

The unsung hero of the day is the Antalya tram driver.  Sitting in his cubicle, with no air conditioning, in a temperature way over a hundred, he jingles the  bell to warn people off the track and stops long enough for the old folks to get on and off the tram safely.  I think how it would feel to sit as a driver of a tram for a entire career .   (I think I was lucky.)   Everyday, as a teacher, was different for me, but for him,  every day it is the track and the route.  He must always be alert and not have a lapse of attentiveness.  Two stars in my book. 
Large Sunflower Seeds

It is the people of Turkey who make it special.  I hope you will consider a visit some day.  

One more blog post on the people of Turkey, then I have some things to say about Talliin and Riga.   After that the blog will return to Italy.

I have had to stop the link for subscribers, as google does not allow me to track the information.  Sorry.

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