Monday, March 12, 2012

Hot potatoes & Shepherds

Searching for an elusive goat trail that connects to a long forgotten stretch of the Anatolian Silk Road we asked a family of shepherds for help.
Hours later we finished a simple meal of wood oven fired potatoes, flat bread, goat cheese and tomatoes they had insisted we eat. They sat beaming while we ate their dinner. Eastern hospitality expectations and obligations are uncomfortable for Westerners like us...but there is nothing to be done but humbly accept.
After dinner and glasses of çay we were told the goat trail we coveted led from their animal pens up to the ancient Silk Road.
Neither of them can read or write. They are the descendants of generation of nomadic shepherds. To my delight I learned that their 24 year old son is continuing the tradition.
A relational footing was dug, we hope to reinforce it this summer when we return to accept their offer to wander the SR as they graze their flocks and herds.
More when I can write from something other than a keypad...

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Coffee, Maps and Addictions

The Map Room on a Winter's Day

Today I get to do one of the things I love best on a dark and rainy winter's afternoon....pore over maps and old journals from adventure's past. Tweaking our route for next week's SRE is balm to my restless soul. Rereading my battered Moleskines to fetch to memory the names of mountain peaks, cliffside villages,  abandoned churches, and most importantly, the people we have collected in our spirits along the way is a potent elixir to all my ills.
I love maps. For years I have collected, bought, borrowed and hoarded them. I thought I was the Mapista of nomads....until last December when I walked into a curious little bookshop in a quaint Welsh village and into the path of Mike Parker, presenter of the BBC Radio 4's On The Map. As sleet sheeted against the windows of that old Welsh bookshop we had a few minutes to compare notes on the maps and trails, mountains, cultures and peoples that we had discovered along our journeys.

That day I stood in the shadow of the giant of cartophilians and realized that my feeble knowledge of maps was inadequate to the tasks ahead.
So, back to the moment...the rain has now turned to snow against my windows. The wind is skirling in frigid tendrils around my neck from the old window frames behind me and my thick Turkish blanket joins me on my chair. Its time to bone up and hit the books...or maps.
Looks like today couldn't get any better....

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Anatolian Journey-Soul Food

I love where I live. I love Turks. I love Turkey...and you know my thoughts on Turkish cuisine border on obsession. But, it is in the villages where my heart beats deepest. I feel free there. I feel the ancient ways calling to me from the canyons and pulling me to the ridges. It is there that the excitement swells from my soul. I feel there, the most alive and I am passionate about exploring every corner of the Anatolian Silk Roads.
In a few days we will hit the trails and make a swing through the Taurus Range villages and then east-northeast to Erzincan. We will follow the Euphrates south towards Malatya. Catching up with old friends, village chiefs and imams along the way. 
My Istanbul window is bordered with dark clouds and filled with sheeting snow blowing sideways...nothing beats the ramp up to a village expedition.

Now...a little eye candy

Praying in Mahmut Bey Camii in Kasaba Koy

Mahmut Bey Camii's Amazing Interior

Sabancı Camii

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World