Well, it's almost Christmas. Of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't much in this part of the world, but we had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends, Peter and Emine at their house in the middle of an olive grove on the top of a hill overlooking the sea. It was a real Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, and it was a real turkey purchased from the market alive-alive-o. (At least we didn't have to thaw - just pluck.) We had pumpkin pie and opened our last can of cranberries.
So with Thanksgiving over, it's back to things as usual on Promise which means marketing, laundrying, ham radioing, and getting to know Turkey. Under the category "marketing", in our area there's a market in Kusadasi on Cuma (Friday), in Selcuk on Cumartesi (Saturday), in Soke on Carsamba (Wednesday), and in Izmir everyday. We're never without one if we get the urge. A stroll through any of them provides separate little stalls for almost anything: eggs (still no egg cartons), cheeses (mostly the soft feta-like cheeses), meat (no pork in a Moslem country), olives (black, wrinkled, and bitter, but yum), pot and umbrella mending (nothing is thrown away here), pants (the colorful, baggy, harem pants worn by the women), scarves (the tablecloth- sized scarves with which the women veil themselves when in public), underwear, (not fashionable, but at least western style), and so on till you find what you want. I especially love the spice sellers with their open bins of unlabeled spices. Smells great in that part of the market. I've been asking all the spice sellers, "Vanilya varmi?" (Is there vanilla?) So far the answer in Kusadasi has been, "Yok." (Roughly equivalent to "nope". Oh well, on to another market.) Also on the streets of the market are the shoe shine men with their intricate brass boxes decorated with tassels and pictures of their favorite place, person, or camel.
The sellers and shoppers are mostly men. Women are either at home where they belong, or if they're working ladies have already been dropped off by the horse cart at the groves and fields. The women do all the picking; the men don't have time as their presence is required at the cay (tea) rooms. (I won't be starting a chapter of NOW here.)
One of the men who works in the market is the seller of sacrificial rams, leading them through the streets yelling Allah knows what to entice folks to buy their sacrificial rams from him. We pop a bottle of champagne; they slaughter a ram. They did one in the marina recently to celebrate a new piece of equipment. All the employees gathered to watch, and the ram was duly slaughtered. It was probably the best meal they had all year. At least we hope they ate it, because although working for the marina is considered a very good job, Turkish wages are so low that many of the marina employees live here at the marina in a plastic covered hut. On colder nights, they can be found sleeping in front of the fire in the yacht club bar.
But lack of money doesn't stop the Turks from being very hospitable and generous however they can. They will share whatever they have. (If you don't like tea, you're in trouble.) You can't do the simplest business without many glasses of cay served in tiny glasses, on tiny saucers with tiny spoons, and three large lumps of sugar. George asked a butcher for chicken. He didn't have any. Two people were sent scurrying from the shop: one to find a chicken, and the other to bring George a glass of cay while he waited. (Picture George sitting in a butcher shop sipping a tiny glass of cay while he waits for a chicken.) Going into a carpet shop to see what they have is often an all day entertainment with periodic cay and sweets. They don't seem at all upset if you don't buy anything. It's a lovely way to do business if a bit time consuming.
Ah yes, time consuming. Well, there's always the laundry. There are no laundromats here in Turkey. Laundry day on Promise is Friday, barring rain, and it takes the better part of the day and all our buckets to do a week's worth by hand.
Our Turkish friend took us into the hills to a small village on what must have been laundry day. The women were sitting on stone steps in front of their ancient stone houses at large tubs scrubbing away at the laundry, their water heating in pots over a wood fire. Our friend said they were embarrassed to be seen by rich foreigners doing their laundry that way. (If they only knew!) It really was like being transported back in time a few hundred years. Ours was the only car in the village. And while we were walking around, the village men washed it for us! (See, and I complain that the men here don't do any of the work.)
So, whether in a mountain village in Turkey or on board the American yacht Promise, things really aren't that different. Although at least on Promise we have an inside toilet, and it's western style, Allah be praised. A Turkish toilet is a porcelain- lined hole in the ground with a built-in footprint on each side - there's no sitting down. There's also no paper. Instead there is a little tap of running water at which to wash. (Actually, you're lucky if there's a toilet of any description.) And a "bathroom" here is a "hamam", the communal steam/bath/massage house - alternate days for men and women.
Well, doing the laundry and going to the bathroom in Turkey may be stone age, but amateur radio technology is rapidly improving thanks to George. Yes, after much cay he's finally been given a Turkish radio license by the Minister of Transportation and Communication himself. George's Turkish call is TA/W4AVO. (My license "isn't ready yet", whatever that means. Maybe I didn't drink enough cay.) Anyway, George has found a couple of Americans and a Turk (one of the 250 Turkish radio amateurs) in Izmir with whom to play packet radio. Packet is brand new to Turkey, and they've asked George to write a "how to" book which will be translated into Turkish by his Turkish friend, published, and presented to the Minister of T & C. (We're taking orders for autographed copies. Can I put you down for one?)
Well, those are the events on the home front (subtitled "As the Boat Floats"). Now here's the national news....October 29th was Republic Day (when the Turkish republic was formed in 1923) complete with parades, bands, flags, posters, and special tributes on the TV for a week. And November 10th was the 50th anniversary of Ataturk's death complete with many of the same things. Who's Ataturk? Well, General Mustafa Kemal was responsible for driving out foreign troops and creating the republic of Turkey. Elected in 1923 as Turkey's first president, he attempted to modernize and secularize the newly formed country. Among other things, he gave women their basic rights (although most of them don't know it), instituted the use of the Roman alphabet instead of Arabic, outlawed the fez (the cylindrical hat with tassel that all the men wore), closed the mosques for ten years to wean the people away from religious fanaticism, and generally tried to drag Turkey into the 20th Century. In a 1934 law to create surnames for all Turkish people (until then they had first names only), the assembly awarded the very first Turkish surname to Mustafa Kemal, and he became Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Father of the Turks). It is illegal to say anything bad or make jokes about Ataturk. (George is going to be hauled off to jail one of these days if he doesn't stop saying ATTA TURK!)
Speaking of the devil, George is just back from a visit to his Izmir Ham pals and reports that his Turkish friend, Ergun Ozakat, wants to hire him to program computers and me to manage a new yacht club in Izmir. (In the next episode of "As the Boat Floats" will George, the famous Turkish author, convince Susan, anxious to begin a new career, that happiness for her lies in the field of Turkish Marina Management? Will George "go native" and disappear into the computer underground of Izmir? Or will they decide that they've had enough cay and return their floating home to US waters?) Stay tuned.