The next morning I hopped the bus and went back to Cardak. I checked into the hotel I had stayed at a few days before. I worked on emails and blogs for the day. I waited until after dark for dinner, when I could sneak out to another market to buy a simple dinner of bread and yogurt.
The next morning I walked out onto the square, took good-bye photos with my Cardak buddies, and hopped the bus back to Dinar to resume my walk.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Late afternoon I arrived at my destination for the day, a village called Kaplanli (pop. about 250). Kaplanli was one kilometer off the main road, and I had to walk down a narrow gravel road to get there.
A few farmers met me walking back toward the main road. I thought they might be walking to the nearest town to pick up supplies for dinner as there probably was no bakkal in Kaplanli due to its size. I waved hello to them, half expecting them to stop me and ask what I was doing here, but they just waved back and continued walking as though foreigners carrying backpacks walked through there every day. So I continued walking too, the rest of the 500 meters into town.
As I walked into the village I could peer into people’s back yards and see old crumbled storage sheds and mangy looking guard dogs and sometimes a single sheep tied on a rope to a pole. I was stunned by the poverty I saw. Also I was right about the village having no bakkal. However, I had eaten a good sized breakfast earlier and wasn’t hungry so it didn’t matter.
I thought, Turks from Istanbul would be even more foreign here than I am, with their white-collar office jobs and their iPhones and their brand-name Italian fashions.
As had become my standard procedure when entering a village, I found the garden at the village mosque and sat outside on a bench waiting for some worshippers to exit.
I noticed a shady area off to the side of the mosque and stood to take a closer look. The ground was covered by a thick blanket of pine needles–a great place to pitch a tent. And since it was a mosque there were bathrooms and a place to wash up. It had all the luxuries I would need.
A few worshippers soon came out of the mosque, and I introduced myself to them and asked if it was okay if I camped there in the garden. It turned out that one of the worshippers was groundskeeper for the mosque. “Of course, it’s fine for you to camp here,” he said, introducing himself and a few of the other men.
I set up my camp at about 8:30, but since it was a little too early to go to sleep, I sat and rested on the wooden bench near the front door of the mosque rather than on the pine needles outside my tent. I chose the publicly visible area because I didn’t want to spook anyone by being a stranger who walks into their village from off the highway and then disappears into the darkness.
While I sat on the bench, a man from the village brought me a huge round tray filled with cheeses, olives, soup, meat, and plenty of bread and set it on the bench beside me. I started to thank him, but he scurried away before I could get a full sentence out of my mouth. I looked down at the tray. It contained so much food I wondered if I could eat even half of it.
I ate as much as I could, and then stood up to help digest the meal, looking down at the remains and wondering, Hmm! What do I do with the rest of this food? I couldn’t just leave it in the tray because I didn’t want the villagers to think I wasn’t satisfied with the meal they brought me. I decided to stuff it into some plastic bags I had been acquiring along the way, and carry it out of the village. However, as I started stuffing the food into my pack, I realized it might attract mice during the night, so I prayed to God for forgiveness and surreptitiously flushed the food down the mosque toilets.