Last night, my host family, Suha and Deniz and their daughter Melisa, were kind enough to bring Lizzie and me on a trip to the mountains. Every morning I wake up to see the mountains and small lights flickering, but I have yet to go visit them. The car ride took over an hour – lot of narrow, winding roads – and the temperature difference between Alanya proper and the top of the mountain was astounding. I was chilly for the first time.. ever.. in Turkey, so it was fortunate that I had a sweater with me. We ate at a restaurant situated on a creek and talked about how delicious Turkish food is while eating delicious Turkish food – very meta. After we ate, the owner of the restaurant needed a ride or something (a downside of not speaking Turkish: I can’t understand conversations happening right in front of me), and since our car was full he climbed onto the back of the vehicle. My host dad joked, “Local transportation.”
At another point while driving, we managed to find ourselves in a goat traffic jam. I did not realize this was a thing that happened until I was on a microbus in Georgia, driving from Batumi to Kutaisi, when a herd of cows decided they did not want to move out of the way for us. Here in Alanya, there was a giant herd of at least fifty goats that moved slightly to the side of the road, but not enough for the big jeep to pass, forcing us to wait until all the goats and their herders were behind us. It made for a very comical few minutes, nonetheless.
When we finally escaped the giant goat herd, we spent a half hour or so playing at a mountaintop park. Melisa was thrilled by the ponies and playground, so we followed her around and talked about Turkish picnic culture. Apparently, Turks are not “campers,” rather they are just simply “picnickers,” according to my host father. The three essentials to a Turkish picnic, it seemed: chai (tea) with the little Turkish chai cups, arabesk music (a post about which is forthcoming), and a huge open fire.
As it started to get dark, we began the long drive down the mountain. We stopped along the way at an “organic market,” which consisted of a man and a woman selling various fruits, vegetables, dairy and produce products – my host parents bought eggs and butter, after which the man continuously offered to butcher the chicken for them. Lizzie and I were slightly confused about the whole process, as we could not see what my host dad kept taking bites of – I guessed dough, she guessed cheese – in the end, he was comparing the taste of salted and unsalted butter. I’ve never seen butter in such a large volume before, but I think he ended up going with the salted butter if that’s important to the story.