Day 2 – Gonen – Isparta

Day 2 – Wednesday – July 13, 2011

We started today with an early breakfast of…. that’s right cheese, olives, and bread. Yummy.

Our first stop of the day was back to the Police station in Isparta to try and get our residency permits.   You have to love the bureaucracy its all about stamps and photocopies and typewriters. There were a lot of people waiting but one in particular stood out – her had an ‘air’ about him – I mean he totally reeked – and I don’t mean like BO or even smoke – but it was a strong smell of garlic like a very old salami – it was crazy potent and I kept having to hold my breath. It only took an hour today and we were told that they would be done later in the day.

My task for the rest of the day was to photograph as many of the inscriptions in the Isparta Archeology Museum as I could for their catalog. There is a lot of formality in this country. And similar to the bureaucracy at the police station when we went to the museum we were taken to the director’s office first for a chat. There Bilge asked me “What would you like to drink?” with the quick follow up addendum of “There is no escape from this!”  I had ‘su’ which is water. I have avoided the ‘chi’ (ie Tea) because there will be many times I am forced to have it (a cultural necessity) and I am stalling as much as I can.  We sat in the office for 30 minutes as Bilge and the director spoke in Turkish – it was all a form of pleasantry – an expectation that we wouldn’t work until they had showed us some courtesy – the irony of course is that we just sat there for 30 minutes having no idea what they were saying. But ceremony is ceremony and you have to love that.

It was pretty hot out (but not very humid) probably high 80’s low 90’s and fairly sunny.  The sun meant that I didn’t have to worry about a tripod but also that lighting ‘was what it was’. To get the shots I needed it was a lot of kneeling, squatting, and bending after a few hours I really needed to give my back a break.

For those photographically minded I used my 18mm-200mm lens the entire time.

One funny moment happened right before lunchtime.  I was so caught up in taking a photo and moving around a column that I stepped on a sprinkler head and activated it. Of course I had no idea what I had tripped over and why I was suddenly all wet and quickly had to scramble to figure out how to turn it off again! No one noticed 🙂

Paul noticed that the items he needed to work on weren’t in the garden and we found out that they weren’t at the museum yet so he said that was all we needed for the day and headed back for lunch.

After lunch I was going to go into the village with Pervin.  She is a professor or city planning or something of that nature and is very interested in how people currently live and how they have lived in the past.  Last year she is the one who introduced us to the nomads and the villagers and knows a lot of people.  I wanted to give the photos I brought with me to the villagers and she said she would help – also she needed me to help her photograph some mud-brick buildings.

I remember that one person lived across from the ruined Hammam (bath-house) so we went to that window and it was indeed the same house.  We knocked on the door – no answer.  The opened the door and yelled inside – no answer. So we figured we would come back later.

We hiked around and found some new construction.  New construction is very important because they always un-earth things when they go to build new and what they find the museum can take.  We also find items that are built into walls – sometimes inscriptions and all – so we do look carefully.  In one pile of rubble near a construction site we found 2 stones with inscriptions and really nice carved column top. Paul told us that he has seen one of these inscriptions the previous year but that it was in someone’s shed.  The shed was now gone and it was in this pile of rubble. We also found another stone that head a wreath on it.  Its tough climbing over rocks and field (and rebar) and at one point I slipped and landed on my knee – funnily enough it doesn’t hurt today – though everything else does.

Paul wanted to show Pervin the other sights so we walked to where we collected pottery in a freshly plowed field the previous year. Its a nice little walk and there are a lot of fruit trees along the way – I love the while mulberries we just kept eating and eating them – I am tempted to plant one back home.  We found an old cemetery in one of the fields some of the graves went back to the 19th century but one of them was from 1990.

Survey archaeology is pretty fun – you walk around – photograph some flowers, eat some berries, hike through construction sites and garbage dumps. We found a turtle on the road – really just a turtle – of of the people with us (an 11 year old who is the nephew of the representative of the Minister of Culture – and sometimes quiet the terror) picked it up and it got scared – I made him put it down (and then I set him back upright!) and a few minutes later he came out and headed off down the road.

Speaking of roads – the path we were on was an old roman road! Paul showed use the way the stones were laid out and how that this was part of the ancient road between the cities. Pretty cool.

We saw some other animals too – we saw dogs – and cats – and chickens.  The cats always look like death – the dogs look very slow and the chickens – well they are just future food.

It had been a pretty busy day so we stopped in the square for some ice-cream before we headed out again. The ice-cream is very gooey in Turkey like its part marshmallow – also the spoon had a squared edge!

I really wanted to go back and try to give that guy his picture.  Paul went back to the field house at this point.  As I led the group back to where his house was we cut between the mosque and the place where you wash your feet.  Pervin was like – ‘um – we were supposed to go the long way – women don’t generally take this path’.  I wouldn’t have thought anything of it because we took the path earlier but right now there were a bunch of men gathered outside the mosque and they started to talk and ask questions.  Pervin explain what we were doing and I pulled out the photograph of the man.  He laughed and told me that the guy had gotten married and moved but would walk us to his new house.

We walked to the new house and there he was – a year older – but it was the same man – Abdullah. We showed him the photos and he said it was the best present ever.  He then insisted that we come in.  Now it is very important to me that the gift not turn into an imposition – I don’t want to be ‘gifted back’ from these pretty poor families but accepting basic hospitality is fine.  He led us into his house. As we hit the first landing we had to remove out shoes and proceeded into his modest home. I love these Turkish homes they have the best carpets – I’m not kidding you can’t fail to notice them.  So of course he asks us what we want to drink and instead of asking for tea I ask for water and he offers ‘Fanta?’ which is really just Turkish for any form of soda on hand.  He goes into the back and then the yelling starts. His wife, who has yet to come out, and him are really going at it and then he comes back with the glasses and Pepsi.  She makes a quick appearance and then leave the room where we sit and he jokes and I take a new picture of him and he and I take a picture together but he makes me wear his hat which is too small.  He tries to get us to stay for a meal but we tell him we must be getting back.  We leave and he follows us down.  Pervin is thrilled because its another ‘in’ with a villager that she can go back and interview.  He then insists on giving me a present – I am dreading it being the hat – but am pleased when he comes back with a bag of cherries.

I gave home a deburred – I was covered with stuff – though luckily not red berry juice like some of the others (it got everywhere).

Oh – highlight of my day – in this guy’s living room – off in the corner – a stuffed animal of a penguin.  (I photograph imagery of penguins in everyday life and this was a real treat).

Images from Day 2 (also read the captions!)
(click here if you don’t see the image thumbnails)