Wednesday, January 05, 2011

"Public Intimacies"

Realizing that a change of scenery in January is never a bad mental health strategy, we've launched ourselves on a somewhat loosey-goosey week-long trip around the Hatay region. Think Southeastern Turkey. Think near Syria. Think Mediterranean. Think renowned for food. Think no hotels booked in advance. Think buying bus tickets as we go.

We left Ortahisar yesterday at 8:30 a.m., took a mini-bus to the nearby town of Urgup, got tickets for the one-hour bus ride to the larger city of Kayseri, waited in the bus station for a couple of hours, and then hopped on a five-hour bus ride to one of Turkey's largest cities: Adana.

Once off the five-hour bus ride, we had a half hour mini-bus ride to the center of the city and then a slightly shell-shocked twenty minute walk (rolling bags behind us as we fought through rush-hour foot traffic) to the first hotel listed in the guidebook. It was nice enough, but not completely "budget" in price. Fortunately, despite their assertion that their rates are fixed, we talked them down twenty lira, a drop which, when coupled with fatigue, worked the charm of securing our stay.

So we checked in, wandered over to the nearest restaurant, and spent an hour wading our way through approximately fourteen plates of food, only six of which were ordered. But they kept setting down bread and appetizers and garnishes and desserts. We could hardly tell them to stop.

No, literally. We could hardly tell them to stop. With our meager Turkish, we couldn't possibly have asked them, had we the desire, to stop. The only polite course of action was to continue stuffing our craws.

Three hours later, Groom lay sacked out on the bed, pants unbuttoned, rubbing his belly and burping.

It was an auspicious beginning.

Today, we walked along the river, goggled at one of the Middle East's largest mosques, found a McDonald's (speaking of needing to loosen one's waistband), and spent a few hours trailing after the kids as they worked their way through several acres of playgrounds in the city's main greenspace. On the way back to the hotel, we bought bus tickets Iskenderun, a port city on the Mediterranean, leaving tomorrow.

And then, still picking our way across the city, we ran across a "movies in 5D" storefront, and before we knew it, we were strapped into moving seats, being showered with fake snow, fighting off whiplash as we screened a short feature entitled Snow Ride. I only screamed a little bit when fake bats fluttered around my ankles during the abandoned mine sequence.

Lately, I've been yawning a lot, ready to sleep 'til noon each day. Groomeo has been joshing me that I was bitten by a tse-tse fly. My response to such joshing is a fierce and valid, "My. senses. are. very. stimulated. As a sensitive sort, I find I am very tired. So hesh up and go buy more bus tickets already, Mr. Unflappable Hardy Steady."

As you may have gathered, both from this litany of Things Done and from the quality of prose you've just soldiered through, blogging energies run high in my heart and mind but low in reality.  Thus, rather than reaching for anything of substance to close this out, I will leave you with two photos taken today, as the kids romped the playgrounds.  For always and ever, I am most fascinated by the people around me--not the least of which were this lovely young woman and her companion.  His reclining position implies a recent meal at a Fourteen Plate Restaurant.

Perhaps the pink bucket by his head does too.

Anyhow, it's so rare to see men and women interacting casually, talking and relaxing in public, that they held my attention.

Until the next thing did.



19 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This sounds like a great little trek.

That couple looks like they could be in Central Park--except for her traditional head scarf meets Laura Ingalls Wilder headcovering!

alwaysinthebackrow said...

This is the kind of traveling that I like....but without a long bus ride. I am picturing your kids playing on a playground, speaking the local language with the other kids. Have they picked up the language better than you and your husband? Enjoy the Mediterranean.

kmkat said...

What did they do? I see nothing untoward in the photo.

yogurt said...

Makes for nice complimentary colors, the different shades of gray and the pinks. Wonder what the pink bucket is all about?

Mother Theresa said...

Sounds like a great trip! So, just what is that couple doing? It looks like there is a small child sitting behind the man in the first photo, so I assume that's what the bucket is for, but I don't see anything strange about either photo. They are great shots, though.

unmitigated me said...

My inner (and outer) geek wants to see photos of Iskenderun, which featured in a scene in the third Indiana Jones movie. The title escapes me, but I do recall Harrison Ford and Sean Connery sharing screen time. Somebody hose me down!

monica said...

Urgup, huh? didn't accidentally go to Nevsehir along the way ?

hehe..

14 plates.. wow... had to go XXL belt shopping too? Or better; you should romp with the kids, up and down the playgrounds ! Giving room for another round at the 14-place ..

lime said...

ever the set of adventurers going about with no reservations. i suspect in that part of the world it works pretty well though.

LOL @ the reason for the pink bucket. and ain't people watching a great pastime?

Jocelyn said...

I think my last sentence led several of you off track: when I said "Until the next thing did," I meant until the next thing I saw grabbed my attention--like, maybe a kid running by or a candy wrapper blowing in the wind. I meant to say I am eminently distractable by all around me, not that this couple did anything at all...outside of astound me by sitting/speaking to each other in public. In our village, it's only men in the main square, with some women occasionally coming through in pairs...but we never see a man and a woman hanging out like this. Never.

haphazardlife said...

Mediterranean. Sounds amazing. - Jazz

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That is exactly how things would go down on a day-trip--nothing as planned, all over budget, full of surprises. The pink bucket just makes that scene.

geewits said...

Oh I so the love the sea. I can't wait to see pictures. In the meantime, my brain is wondering how a 5 hour bus ride works. Especially with children. Are there pee stops? Are the seats comfy? I wouldn't even want to fly for 5 hours. This very long bus ride is all in my head now.

actonbell said...

Ah, just going off, randomly, off-schedule...can't remember the last time I did that! How wonderful.

sweffling said...

What a fun sounding trip: and the sound of the food .... oh it makes my mouth water thinking of it. I have had some wonderful holidays in Southern Turkey in the late 1970s/early1980s with camel trains walking along the main roads while our local buses roared past. But the pitstops and the loos, never will I forget those!! Enjoy.

tattytiara said...

What a magnificent adventure - I have got to see me a 5D movie.

Deborah said...

My English grandmother, not a snob at heart but occasionally one by upbringing, used to sniff of certain women that they were 'mutton dressed as lamb'. I daresay this is what happened on your plate, and why you didn't like it much.

Having proven that I read your labels, I now confess to a certain stupidity of the can't-find-Waldo type. Is there something in that picture that I'm missing?

The pink bucket remark woke MFB up from his snooze in front of the television. Well, my guffaw did. I'm so glad you got to stuff your face. Reminds me of the days when I used to import Cheerios to la belle France and pass over 365 other sorts of cheese in favour of Cheddar. One's cultural food fills a place nothing else can.

Bravo for you all to make those unscheduled bus rides. Couldn't help thinking of how the youngest one might have entertained himself on the journey.

Deborah said...

Shoulda read the comments first. Apparently there was no subliminal message or planted object in that photo. Just a pink-loving woman smiling at a man who wasn't afraid to rumple his jacket. I do appreciate how unusual that is.

MFB would have taken his off first.

secret agent woman said...

He looks very relaxed and she looks happy - nice moment caught.

Pearl said...

I'm really starting to admire you, Joce. :-)

Nah. That's not true. I've been admiring you for a while now.

Pearl