Day 8: Selcuk
I took one last walk by the Aegean for my early morning stroll and got there before the fisherman went out for the day and just in time for a major dog fight. Strays ran past me to join the brutality, like a planned gang fight. Barking, biting, tackling. The locals walked by without giving them a second look. I was reminded of the article I read that called the strays “wild” and kept to the other side of the street. After several minutes the dogs stopped their rude behavior and returned to wandering the shorline looiking for scraps.
The village bread had just been delivered to the bakery in crates stacked on top of each other; I may not be able to eat bread, but the smell was a reward in itself, sweet, savory, doughy. As I walked back to the hotel, motorbikes sped past with bags of bread bouncing from the drivers’ hands.
The manager of the hotel offered to drive me to the bus and when he asked a driver where my bus was, the driver shouted his answer at me as if I could understand louder Turkish. Yeah yeah Mr. Impatient Turkish Man, don’t worry, there’s always someone else to help me find my way. The manager asked someone else and loaded my suitcase onto the bus that would take me back to the airport. I thanked him, again, for his help and then we kissed, first onone cheek, then on the other.
Several months ago my friends Amy and Tim (who have a series of super cool videos on YouTube under the name, Go With Less,) suggested a program called Work Away, where you exchange working for free room and board in another country.
I had checked out various listings. Most wanted someone to come in and clean and cook and tend to the children and shop and do laundry. Yeah, no thanks. But there was this one listing asking for someone to come to Selcuk to help a 12 year old girl learn English. No laundry or painting the garage required.
I started writing to that family, but we couldn't make the dares work, or so I thought. Because when I wrote again asking for advice for my trip to Selcuk, they insisted I come to stay with them.
I met the father who happens to be an archaeologist and we rode the train together for the hour and a half trip to his small town and he asked if I had any questions about my trip to the Archeological Museum so I asked him if children find artifacts every time they go outside to play.
He laughed for a long time then took out Google Translate and showed me the word, “Layers.”
I told him how as children we would find arrowheads, or little knives in the dirt in upstate New York, and how we would collect them.
He shook his head slowly, imagine little children playing with swords, but the topic moved on before I could explain.
He was discussing the 8000 year history of the area he insisted that my country didn’t start in 1776. I had to be the one to tell him that when the white men came and claimed America, they erased all prior civilizations.
“I don’t understand.” he wrote in the translate app. “The native people aren’t on your calendar?"
His wife made an amazing lamb dinner and I was feeling pretty good for being treated like a queen. They made dinner for me! They set the table for me! We ate and used technology to communicate.
The mother is a first grade teacher and the daughter plays piano and volleyball, but not at the same time. We sat at the table after dinner getting to know each other. The mother’s classroom has no picture books and she eats lunch with her students and gets no planning periods all day.
I spoke into the translation program, “You get no breaks during the school day?”
“Five minutes to use the bathroom between subjects.” she answered.
After dinner the daughter let me know that she loves Katie Perry so we watched Katie Perry videos on the internet while she tried to sing along.
A family friend visited and practiced her near-perfect English. “America?” she said. “Where were you born?”
She asked, “Where do you live now?”
She said it was unusual to get a real American to visit in Turkey, which I took as a complement. She told the story of her uncle coming to visit from America and being told to wear long sleeves and long pants on his trip. She said he was most uncomfortable on the hot days. They had to lend him better clothes. She added that Turkey doesn’t have a dress code.
“How long ago did your uncle visit?” I asked as I sat in my long sleeved shirt and long pants.
“20 years ago.”
Yeah? Well, nothing’s changed.