Wednesday/Thursday, 16/17 January
Before leaving Gazientep on the commuter bus to began my final day of walking back into Gazientep, I met Mustafa and some of his colleagues at a bakery for a breakfast of katmer. Katmer is a favorite breakfast food in Gaziantep. I had never eaten it so I entered the bakery with curiosity running high.
Mustafa called out to the man behind the counter that he wanted a couple servings of katmer and tea for everyone at the table. The katmer arrived in moments. Starved, I swallowed down my first serving in a few bites astonished at the sugary sweetness. Katmer is a pastry piled high with thin layers of phylo dough. Each layer is sprinkled with powdered pistachios and white sugar, slathered in sweet cream, and then the process is repeated on the layers after that.
In other words, if you want to start the day with a sugar buzz, eating a couple servings of katmer is the way to do it.
Since I was the guest and it was my first time eating katmer, Mustafa and his colleagues insisted that I eat a lot of it. Two servings was not enough, so Mustafa turned to the waiter and waved at him to bring us more. I wondered, do they really want me to eat a lot of katmer, or are they just using me as an excuse to eat katmer themselves, or both?
Four servings of katmer later, our little group broke up as abruptly as it had formed. Mustafa and his friends scrambled off to work, and I, hands shaking and head buzzing from all the sugar, stumbled out to the main highway to begin my final stretch back east into Gazientep. I boarded a bus and headed back to the place I had left off the day before.
The day’s walk was pleasant, most of it a very gradual downhill slope on a curvy road for 30 kilometers. Hills all around me. The bright sun reflecting off patches of snow still on the ground. And lots of rocks. Rocks, rocks, everywhere.
I came upon a small plastic water bottle filled with a yellow liquid. I had seen hundreds of these on my walk. For months I had been wondering why people, all across the country, on long inter-city drives, were filling water bottles with apple juice and then throwing them out onto the shoulder.
This time, being much closer to one of those bottles, I paid more attention, peering at the bottle and finally realizing, “Oh, hey, I’ll bet that’s not apple juice!”
I don’t know why it took me 4-1/2 months to figure out.
Later i the day as I walked into Gaziantep, 61% of the way across Turkey, I met up with the Silk Road camel caravan statues carrying loads of spices west out of Gaziantep. I snapped a photo of the caravan. I remembered that my mom was having knee replacement surgery the next day, and I thought it might inspire her to get up and walk on that new knee if she saw the photo! If people could walk from China, I could walk across Turkey, and my mom could walk on her new knee.