Day 9: Selcuk
(Breakfast picnic on the beach.)
Yoncakoy beach is about twenty minutes away and has sand along one edge and jagged cliffs along another. It was worth the effort for the mother, the daughter, the daughter’s friend and I to carry chairs, a table and all of our things up the cliff to a flat part and set up for our breakfast picnic packed by the mother of the family I’m staying with. We were so overheated from the climb that we left our shoes at the steps and climbed into the cold water to swim with little fishes.
I swam to the cove in the cliffs: this area is 8000 years old, I wanted to find something to prove it, but there wasn’t a shovel in sight, so I swam around and dreamed of who might have hung out along those cliffs years ago.
My new word of the day is cheese, “Peynir” (Sounds like ‘Painish’ rhymes with danish.)
There’s something about the freshness of the food in Turkey that’s making me feel like my taste buds have found an “on” switch that I didn’t know was off. I asked what kind of cheese we were eating and the answer was given with a shrug and the tapping of the translation program, “sheep’s cheese.”
No brand name or color of the wrapper was offered, just that it was something from the market. The cheese was soft, tart and creamy and made everything else taste better; I didn’t know cheese could have that kind of power. And for the first time in my life, I know what a cherry is supposed to taste like and so starts my cherry kick.
The daughter and her friend had to go to a volleyball game so the mother and I stopped for ice-cream from a place that put our scoops in glass dishes with small flat ended spoons. For the mother’s first English lesson with me, she picked the phrase, “I need to…” and we paired as many scenarios as we could think of to this starter: ‘I need to eat ice-cream.” Her friend came along and joined us for a cool treat and an English lesson.
“What can you already say?” I asked him.
He said, “What is your name. Where do you live? Do you like the color red?”
We practiced the phrase-of-the-day and he said, “I need to smoke a cigarette.” which confused me for reasons of health; I don’t normally compliment someone for smoking a cigarette, but his sentence was perfect.
Later the 12-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old friend were ready for their English lessons. They have a lot of vocabulary but don’t know how to apply it, so I asked as many higher level questions as I could about King Arthur before we started reading about him. “How do we know about King Arthur?” I asked. “Did he star in television or movies or YouTube videos?”
The mother and I have so much in common. She wears the same clothing style that is hanging in my closet at home. We eat the same kinds of foods and like the same kinds of music. She asked me if I wanted to use her organic coconut oil, and I showed her that I had the same exact jar that I’d bought a few days before. We both stood in the bathroom mirror adding oil on our dry elbows and I shared my secret oil/butter concoction I made at home to oil our faces.
“Now we are ready to go!” she said.
The family and the daughter’s friend and I were heading up to the mountains to hang out in a few villages and catch the sunset, but the moment we arrived, the red ball of a sun fell behind the mountains. Darn it, missed the sunset. We walked through the Math village that hosts a summer program for highschool students. There were kids playing ping-pong, sitting together and laughing and eating popcorn with no chaperones in sight.
The daughter looked around and said to me, “Next year I want to come here to study math.”
“Me too,” I said.
We went into a museum in Sirince Village and the mother pointed out a kindergarten diploma that was written in Arabic during the Ottoman Empire’s rule in 1931. The official language of Turkey has changed so many times over the years, imagine trying to keep up as you write report cards.
As we walked around the village, cars passed us spraying road-dust over our group. The mother looked at me and pantomimed putting oil on her face and arms, then getting covered in grit. We laughed.
“I need to shower.” she said, and we laughed again.
And so ended another perfect day.