Day 8 – Gonen and Isparta

Day 8 – Tuesday – July 19, 2011

Bilge told me she needed me to get pictures of the stones in the park. When I asked which ones she said – everything without an inscription.  This is a pretty funny and regular request since Paul was asking me to get everything with an inscription.  Next time I just photograph everything and let the two of them sort it out.

I kid.

So I went down to the park and she even gave me Yussof the drive to help me get them clean and such.  He started to wash them off and I realized that the lighting was terrible – all of the photos I took were either pure sun, pure shadow, or a marbled mix of the two.  I went instead and grabbed some Sour Cherry juice which is a real treat here.

I came back pretty early and was told we were going to have a big lunch with both the Mayor and the Governor.  Bilge was all prepared in her ‘war room’.  It isn’t called that but when you see her sitting at her desks surrounded by terrain and satellite maps of the region you just get the impression she is ready to move troops around.

I was asked to sit in on the meeting to take pictures.  To my surprise when the Governor came in there were 3 men and I wasn’t ready for the Governor to be the youngest and most casually dressed of the three.  I am not talking bad about him – he was dressed fine – I just let my preconceived notions of what an American politician should look like carryover here. A few minutes later the Mayor of Gonen came in and he looked like what I thought a Mayor should look like – he walked with a kind of regional pride and was very friendly.  They were presented with some slide shows and some papers – but I just took my pictures and sat there quietly.  After the short presentation we went to lunch.

Lunch was very nice – we have a sort of soup/stew with hunks of meat in it and a really nice salad.  The salads here always have shredded raw onion in them which gives them a real tang.  I also got to try pomegranate dressing.  I am becoming more and more in love with the flavor and the look of pomegranates.

At lunch I became fascinated by the Mayor’s ring – it had a huge black Onyx on it and an Ottoman crest on one side and the Turkish star and crescent moon on the other – I liked it but I don’t think I could wear one.  We showed him the panorama from the Mosque and he wanted to know if he could get the files to put it on the city’s website!  (Of course I said yes)

We then as a group went a little ways up the road to explore this empty house.  It wasn’t bad but it needed some fixing up.  I took a few pictures but Bilge said to take more that it might be the field house if they start to dig!  Dig! So exciting.  Actually I have been to several digs and they look like a construction zones.  The house was neat though and I think it will be a nice staging point.

When we came back the Mayor and Bilge started to sign papers with pictures and hand things back and forth.  So it turns out that we found the stones on one day, the city delivered them to the park the next day, they positioned them nicely the day after, and now was the formal transfer of responsibility where they were saying where each stone was found and how they were given to the city.

We had what I call a ‘political day’ last year too with us shaking hands and taking pictures and greeting the villagers.  I am told at the end of the summer they are going to have a big thing for the villagers again and I am sad I won’t get to be there.  The Governor left first (I guess his wife was ready to have a baby) and then the Major left.  We all kinda relaxed and the day was mostly done – we tend to finish things mid to late afternoon anyways so I hopped the bus to Isparta to get my massage at the Hamam.

This time I did it right.  Got on the bus – got off at the right bus stop – walked to the right Hamam and told him I wanted the sauna, scrub, and massage.  So I went and laid down for a bit in the Hamam and got nice and sweaty (like I needed it) and then he called for me.  They laid me down on this stone slab and started to scrub me with like a Brillo pad.  I reached up and there were these thick gray/white ringlets all over my body.  I picked one off and asked him what it was.  He said ‘YOU’.  That’s how much dirt and dead skin they scrub off of you.  It was so weird.  He even did my head and face.  Then he covered me in soap bubbles and started to give a really good massage.  We were in a room right off of the Hamam which was still very misty and warm and I was just wondering how wrinkly his skin got after spending all day in a towel in a sauna rubbing people.

After the massage he dumped a giant bucket of warm water over me and it was nice to feel everything just rinse off.  Of course a second later he took a dumped another bucket of water but this time ice-cold. I know I screamed and he laughed and just repeated the process hot then cold hot then cold.

He then led me back to the front where he toweled me off and offered me tea (I declined).  I felt SO good.  It was late afternoon so I didn’t worry too much about sunscreen and 25TL later (I tipped 4) I headed out to Isparta.

I did walk around a little before I got back on the bus.  They had pistachios for 30TL a Kilo (which is like $10/pound).  They were smaller but not too salty and I really like them here in Turkey.  I saw them roasting coffee which smelled so good – and they had a real coffee roaster too – huge machine very sweet.  They also sell Carob here which I love to eat is hard on your insides (makes you gassy).  Its also called St Johns bread and its really a good treat.  I used to have it on Tu Bishvat (Jewish Arbor Day) when I was a kid and it brings back fond memories – it also tastes good if you like a naturally sweet thing that feels like tree bark.

Even though I knew dinner was coming I stopped quickly and grabbed a sandwich from one of those meat spit carved things and he put on it some sauce that tasted like pepperoni.  3.5TL never tasted so good!

Walked past the military complex to the bus stop where I saw a woman holding a rabbit.  I asked if I could take her picture and she said not but a moment later called me over and let me take it. There mom – another bunny picture for you.

When I got back they had laid the daily pottery shards out to dry and I noticed this HUGE cricket just sitting there.  It let me take its picture with a flash (which is VERY rare for me to use) without jumping.

That afternoon Paul had left – he said he was coming for lunch in a few days though with his family.  Also we were getting a new addition – the German students were coming with their laser scanning equipment to get models of the ruin on the mountain.

At dinner Bilge told me that Pervin had plans to take me around tomorrow to show me 3 area cities.

Images from Day 8 (also read the captions!)
(click here if you don’t see the image thumbnails)