Day 17: Denizli
This morning at breakfast, a Turkish woman asked to join my table. She was well dressed and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. She could not speak English. She put her backpack and purse on the chair at my table then headed to the breakfast buffet.
After she left, I was thinking about how trusting she was, leaving her bag and her backpack on the chair. I carry my bag everywhere since it has my passport and all of my essential things inside. I was eating and thinking about how strange it was, her leaving her stuff.
Then I got that creepy feeling. What if… what if she had planted something at my table?
Moments later she returned, sat down and ate her breakfast. (She took no olives and no cheese. Is she really Turkish?)
But it’s the kind of thing you have to think about when you’re traveling in a country with active terrorism. Today Turkey led airstrikes on Iraq. A few days ago two children in a different part of Turkey were killed by a terrorist group that planted new road-side bombs.
These things were on my mind as I got ready to wander around the city.
There are four things I check for before I head out exploring: notebook, phone, sunglasses, water. I was ready. I put a long sleeved white shirt on over my sleeveless shirt as sun protection.
I heard something outside. Horns beeping. Voices. What was that?
The chanting was in Turkish so I had no idea what they were saying. One person led the chant, many repeated it. I looked out the window but didn’t see anything. It got louder. The chanting sounded angry.
What was going on? I closed the window, closed the curtains and sat on the bed. Though I had no idea what they were saying, it could be a high school soccer team running a carwash, I couldn’t go out.
I played on my phone for a while, then did some writing. By one o’clock I hadn’t heard anything for a few hours, so I went out.
My first stop with the city cemetery. I wanted to see tombstones written in different languages, as proof that there were many different languages spoken in the many different occupations.
The cemetery sits in the center of the city. The tombstones sit on tended grounds and are shaded by many trees. I easily found headstones written in Arabic and other stones that were so old you couldn’t read any of the writing.
I wandered for a while taking photos and wondering what year the tombstones were from. According to something I read, there are some notable tombs in this cemetery, but that’s not why I came. I just wanted to see some old stones, and that I did.
I found my way to the old quarter. There weren’t many people wandering around, which made me sad for the shops; too bad I can’t buy anything here; there is no room to take trinkets home in my suitcase. I bought a bottle of water and the seller asked me if I wanted a piece of cheese, or that’s what I thought she said. She was slicing a big hunk of soft cheese, my favorite! Since I wasn’t sure if that’s what she said, I declined.
At around five o’clock it started raining, hard. I decided to dry off at the hotel before I chose my dinner for tonight. Kebab again?
I reorganized my purse, filled my water bottle from a larger bottle and turned on the air conditioner. The rain stopped and I jumped off the bed, slung my purse over one shoulder and grabbed my sunglasses.
But as I walked towards the door, I heard the chanting again. Many voices. Shouting together. Cheering. Whistling. I wish I knew what they were saying. It got loud enough that I thought I would record their voices so I could ask one of my Turkish friends to translate it for me. I checked the local newspaper written in English. There was no mention of a major sporting event or local rally.
I wanted to record the chanting from my balcony, I couldn't see the demonstrators, but I could hear them. As soon as I was ready to hit the record button, the Call to Prayers started and the chanting stopped.
I have a ticket out of here first thing in the morning. Good timing.
I put my purse on the bed, kicked off my shoes and decided it was a good night to stay in. The hotel has a restaurant, but I didn't feel like translating a menu. Luckily I had some snacks around.
Almonds for dinner.