Turkey – Week 1 Update!

OK, OK – I know it has been a week and no updates on my adventures in Turkey just a random tweet now and then. Well I have an excuse – I’m tired – really really tired.  Today is Sunday which is our day off.  So I slept in late (ie 9am) ate myself some breakfast and when the power came back on I committed to write this update before I take the bus into town and find myself a local mall.

I will not be posting any pictures today.  While I have taken well over 1,000 – my agreement with the IAS says that I will not post any picture without authorization first.  And while the Director just asked me to run them by her quickly – I wasn’t ready and will post photos later in the week.

So without further delay – Turkey Week 1:

Day 0 – Sat/Sun:

The flight was relatively ok – even after Travelocity assured me I wouldn’t be charged for a second bag they made me pay $50 (which Travelocity is handling).  The 11 hour flight from Chicago to Istanbul is mostly a blur because even though they had fully interactive “pick your own movie” touch screen devices – I slept for over 7 hours.

Istanbul was easy – no one said anything at immigration or customs and I then changed some money found my fellow student Karyn (who was already there) grabbed some rice pudding and waiting for the flight to Isparta.  They claimed my bags were too heavy but some nice chats here and there fixed that (at no charge).  We arrived in Isparta where Prof Iversen met us and took us to the field house in Gonen (the town we are staying in).  It was past midnight and when I got to the room my roommates quickly tossed out their smokes (they have been good since) and I went to bed.  I will write an entire post later on the living conditions here.

Day 1 – Monday:

Breakfast is at 6:30am and then people leave at 7am for their activities.  When I walked down the hall at 6:30 (its really a schoolhouse that we have turned into a dorm for the summer) the Director told me to go back to bed and that there was a second breakfast at 10am.  After second breakfast they drove Karyn and me to Isparta to get our residency permit from the local police station – it was a pleasant wait but it did take several hours of sitting (and I have never actually seen the permit).

On Monday night I walked the 2 blocks into town to look around and then came back and went to bed.

Everything seemed very laid back and casual – seemed so mellow that I had no idea what was coming next!

Day 2 – Tuesday:

There are several teams here and the German group is doing geological testing up on the mountain where the ancient Greek fortress lies in ruins.  I was to go up with them (at 8:30 not 7am) and I ended up going up in the second truck which was much later.  It was a crazy drive straight up the mountain on a path that was a fire road (to prevent the spread of forest fires) so it wasn’t really a road and it went UP!  Here every time we see a fork in the road here we take the one that looks less like a road than the other.

I was sure to wear my long pants, high boots, SPF100, and bug spray and boy do you need all of it up on the mountain.  We could only get so far by truck and then it was a straight climb up with no paths and lots of prickly plants. I had my gear in my backpack and shoulder sling but it was nothing compared to the gear brought up by the Germans.  I took many photos and some great panoramas.

The Director said I could stay or go with her on another adventure so I packed up and headed back to the truck.

We took another road through the mountains where the Nomads live in small shacks and tend to their sheep (which are everywhere).  As we explored a field I found my first shard of pottery (after several rocks) and our driver had fun playing games with the rams.  The German professors children (8 year old girls) were with us and it was just a pleasant ride through the mountains.  We even stopped at a mountain spring where they drank the cool running water.  This has happened several times since and even though it hasn’t given anyone “the poops” I still haven’t done it.

On the way back we stopped for ice-cream – yeah!

As hydrated as I have been staying the sun makes you very tired and I sleep here very well.

Day 3 – Wednesday:

Everyday the students are told which team they are on and when to be where.  The Director keeps moving me around to different places and its funny how I get all the best trips.

On Wednesday we drove into Isparta to go to the museum.  They were doing research and photography and squeezes (which are like rubbings but 3 dimensional paper impressions) of some of the inscriptions.  The museum has a vast amount of stuff and while small it is very well laid out.  They sculpture is all in gardens outdoors and it was amazing to see.  I shot some panoramas of the place and some other VR experiments.

I was told to check out the pottery exhibition because on Monday I will be shooting the work for a catalog!

People are out usually from 7 to 1 and then we have lunch and stay in for the rest of the day to do work or have seminars.

Day 4 – Thursday:

On Thursday I was part of what is best described as the anthropology team (though they don’t call themselves that).  We drove to the site of a recent illegal dig (ie grave robbing) where several team members were taking care of the graves (its an important thing when something like that happens).  There we met a Nomad family one of who came with us to serve as a guide.

We drove several km across the mountains and stopped at a family (they car left us there) and we interviewed them.  It was all in Turkish but you got to see how these people lived in the mountains – very different.  One family had a 20 day old baby who was adorable.  They were very friendly and asked us to eat bread and cheese with them and then took us to the next family (and the next).  We ended up talking to 3 or 4 families walking from hill to hill and from shack to shack.

At one point the team tells me we are walking down into the valley to get some water and then to another Nomad family.  We hike down the mountain into a lovely stream (of course more sheep around) and then after the break they tell me we are going right back up the mountain!  Because I am slow (cause I’m almost 40, fat, tired, and loaded with gear) I start up the mountain first.  They all passed me which is fine but when I get to the top – they weren’t there – they were gone!

They apparently had kept going but I didn”t know in which direction.  So there I am in the mountains all alone – it is great video and photos to be sure.  I veered towards the left where I saw some grassy areas (with the intention of going back to a Nomad family I met and getting directions or a lift home) and when I came over a ridge I saw the team looking for me frantically.  They had gone to the right.

We met another family and then I saw this strange stacking of stones like a 20 feet tall Jenga game. They told me it helped keep the wolves away (like a scarecrow) it was pretty cool.

They then told us that the car wasn’t going to pick a up and that we would need to walk back the entire way – so off we went though the mountains again we met a lady with a horse who was very friendly.  The head of the team was great and recorded interviews constantly and got people to agree to let me film and take pictures.

After a hike we found that someone had called the jeep for us and we didn’t have to walk back the entire way after all!

We then headed back to the field house.

But the day wasn’t over for me yet.  The head of the team told me to be ready because we were going to go into another town.  I changed from boots to shoes and we drove to the other city.  There we were met by the mayor who spoke to the team for a little bit (the team at this point was just 4 of us).  He then took us to a cultural room where they have special events (and we had to take off our shoes – so it was good I got rid of the boots) and showed us some nice antiques.

He took us around town and showed us some ancient stones (with inscriptions that the other team will have to go back and investigate) and we had tea with him.  He invited me to come back again and said they might arrange a demo of some ladies making the local bread.  We will see if time lets this happen.

The Germans were leaving on Friday so we had a big party for them and it was a lot of fun!

Day 5 – Friday:

On Friday I went to the local Bazaar (which is only on Fridays) with the head of the anthropological team.  It was great because we encountered some of the Nomads we had met the day before selling their olive and cheese products.  The olives were about $2-$3 per pound (and yes I did all the conversions right).  There were lots of fruit vendors giving out samples of little plums and apples and the yummiest cherries I have ever eaten.  When I asked how much the cherries were she told me 1 Turkish lira for a kilo.  That’s like .75 cents American for 2.2 lbs of cherries!

The market was fun and I did a little shopping – they told me that Istanbul was going to be very expensive so I will try and do some stocking up next week.

Since the Germans were gone they were going to give back the Jeep – but without the Jeep getting to the mountain would be difficult.  I never go to photograph the robbed graves so they took me up there for a quick shoot.  The wild dogs started to bark and growl at us. I was ready to flee when our diver grabbed some rocks and drove them off!

The ancient town of Appolonia is not too far from Gonen and there was an old road that no one takes anymore that runs through the mountains.  Our job was to drive the old road.  When we go to the town we found the ruin of an old Mosque which might have been a church.  There were berry and fruit trees around and we all had some yummy samples.

We stopped for Turkish tea and coffee and then headed back on the new road (which was still a mountain road) and back to the field house.

Day 6 – Saturday:

In the morning I finally got to go on my first 7am trip.  We went to a local farm to a field that had recently been plowed in the corner of which were some larger stones and broken pillars from what looks like a temple.  We walked through the field collecting pottery shards.  It was crazy we just kept finding them – bag after bag after bag.  Collecting shards means bending a lot – which is not good for me – so I pointed a lot as a I photographed and filmed.

The march back was great and we sample the fruit trees as we went – I have never had white mulberries before and they were amazing.  We saw the ruin of an old bath with an ancient inscription on the wall (they had found it last year) and a German speaking Turkish fellow came out and talked to us for a bit.

In the afternoon we had a field trip to Sagalassos which is outside of the area of our Director so it was just educational.

It was amazing and I got some killer shots of this ruined theater – the tunnels inside were mostly intact.  It was just a fabulous day.

Since Sunday we are on our own we stopped at a grocery store for food where I also got shower shoes and some other goodies.

Day 7 – Sunday:

Sitting here writing this stuff for you fine folks and then heading into town!

That’s it for now – I will follow up this week with a post about our living conditions and food as well as a photo essay after I get approval.

See ya – Jared

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]