Sunday, October 21, 2012

House sitting in Turkey

Evelien purchasing dried fruit
from a vendor across from Ali's store.
Ortahisar is a tourist haven, with massive tour coaches parked in front of the Mosque, coming and leaving, dozens of them every day.

A man who goes by the adopted name of Crazy Ali has an antique shop. He probably could do a lively business, but doesn't seem interested in selling much. He prefers to talk to people and serve his excellent Turkish Coffee and tea in the little tulip glasses with two cubes of sugar and a tiny spoon. He also squeezes oranges for excellent juice. So far, after three visits with him, I have paid for only one thing, a book on Cappadocia. We now have a deal. Sometime, everyday, I will come visit him, and if it's not too busy he will teach me some Turkish. In exchange, I will teach him one English word. His English is quite good. He learned while in high school and has had ample practice over the last 50 years running his tourist businesses. At one time he rented the tower from the town and ran it as a tourist attraction. Now it is being "restored", but it would seem the government is tearing down more than it is restoring. The plan, according to Ali, is to turn it into a museum. Ali's store is directly across the street from the Mosque, and at the very edge of town. Literally the edge. Behind his place is a cliff face straight down to the valley. The street extends in the opposite direction and is populated by all kinds of stores and offices. There are several nut and dried fruit vendors, a wine shop, a lawyer and accountant, two or three bar/restaurants, a couple of groceries, hardware store, and a dozen shops selling stuff to tourists: t-shirts, handmade ceramic bowls and plates, clothing, jewelry, metal lamps, stained glass objects, etc. I don't know about other tourists, but I'd have a difficult time taking home things that might break easily in my luggage, not that I would have any room for that kind of thing. At the end of the street, tucked into the cliff face, there is an onyx factory. I haven't visited there yet, but I suspect it also caters to tourists with ashtrays, bowls, and figurines.

Evelien's house is perched on the hillside opposite the tower. A couple of days ago a large storm built up and it rained briefly. It happened at sunset, casting the most wonderful light on the tower and the clouds.

To get to the town's business area, we must walk downhill to the bottom of the canyon, then uphill a couple hundred feet to reach the plateau on the other side. Coming back loaded with groceries is rough on the downhill knees.

If we don't go uphill to town, the path leads further into the canyon where there are hundreds of caves once used as homes, and many pigeon caves (see the previous post). This is where the dogs get their daily exercise. Many foreigners walk their dogs in the canyons, and occasionally there are disagreements amongst the dogs with one or two getting hurt. The locals don't seem to like dogs or keep them as pets. Many are afraid of them and with good reason. Packs of stray dogs roam the hills and come into town at night in search of food. Some young men keep dogs for fighting and take them into the valleys at night for training, and fights too I suppose.

Most of the pet dogs have been taken from the streets but still have a "wild" side. A neighbor's dog, Daido, is one of those who races around freely, often going with us on walks. The problem is that Milo (pronounced Meelo) loves to race off with her. Evelien lets the dogs loose in the canyon, then puts Milo on a lead when we are in town so he doesn't kill any of the chickens and ducks. (He's known to do that.) Now that she has gone on her trip, I am alone with the dogs. Yesterday Milo took off up the canyon with Daido and never came back. I called for half an hour, then headed home to see if maybe he'd gone back to town. Daido danced up the road, so happy to see us, but there was no sign of Milo. I was almost panic'd by then. It just wouldn't do to come take care of someone's dog and then lose him!! Walking back up the canyon, a neighbor came down with her three dogs and Milo was with them. Now I know to keep him on a lead if Daido is anywhere around.

Evelien's other two dogs, Zeno (Say-no) and Nuera,  mind very well, stick together, and come when called. But Milo is young, still a pup really, and headstrong. I was told when my son was born that boys and dogs want to know only two things: what are the rules, and who will enforce the rules. Clearly, Milo is not convinced that my calling him has any rules attached, or that there are any consequences if he breaks the rule. So he's on the long lead now, until he learns who is boss.

Everyday, this is what I get to see on our walks in the canyons: