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Published: October 10th 2015
The holiday view. Sleepy little town with wonderful views and few ambitions.
One Thursday morning three kids showed up at our front door. I thought it might be the neighbors asking me to turn down the music. They've never complained before but there's always a first time. So I throw on some pants and I open the door and there are three kids standing there, two boys and a little blonde girl all decked out in their Sunday best except that here it isn't Sunday best; I think that it's more of a Friday best thang and the younger boy is making a show out of hitting a nail with a hammer that he's slapped together out of a couple of twigs that looks like a crucifix quickly constructed in a Blair Witch woods to ward off a vampire, and the older boy, who's about ten years old, is dressed in a new blue suit with a little yellow patch on the breast pocket like a Hogwart's alumni or maybe an Angus Young wannabe and the kid says 'Bayram' to me and I'm thinking that he's looking for the Bayram family and there's a new tenant that just moved in upstairs though I have no idea what their name is so I point
Mike with the local offerings in Tunisia last year. Tunisia has more of a hands on approach to the holiday than Turkey does.
towards the ceiling and I say Bayram? but the kid just looks at me and says Bayram again and I shrug my shoulders and the kid with the hammer starts hitting the nail harder with the twig thing and the little girl throws the older boy a look and the kid says Bayram again but this time with some meat behind it and I shrug my shoulders with a smile but these kids aren't smiling and the carpenter starts really laying into his nail like he's framing a house on a tight schedule and the older boy leans forward and says BAY-RAM enunciating his syllables like a grammar teacher for the learning disabled and the girl looks up at me like I'm the dumbest bastard she's ever met in her entire six years of existence and I'm like 'Holy freaking cow what's this all about' and I yell to Karen, who's in the back room, to come over and check this out so Karen rolls up and asks the obvious question; 'What do they want?' So I figure we'll throw some candy at em' and while we're at it I'll give them some money too because, quite frankly, the kid
Big tourist cafe near the port where local sensibilities are set aside. You rarely see the same people twice here. Every time KJ and I come in the waiters look surprised to see us again.
with the twigs is starting to freak me out a little so they get the candy and they calm right down and when they each get a one Lira coin they brighten right up and the kid finally stops with the hammer and they leave. Turns out that it's some kind of Koranic Halloween thing tied up with the Feast of the Sacrifice but I never did figure out what was up with the hammer and nail routine but I didn't like it one bit. I did not like it Sam I am.
The official name of the holiday is Kurban Bayrami. The Islamic Feast of the Sacrifice commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to show his faith in God. The same story that's in the Old Testament where Abraham was willing to kill his son Isaac, until an angel told him to stand down. When we were in Tunisia last year we watched them sacrifice sheep in every yard in our neighborhood. This year we saw a single sheep being led down a local lane by an old man with a rope. For all I know it was the family pet. Turks will purchase animals at
Main Street Guzelyali
Where the Minaret vies with the local cell towers for dominance.
slaughterhouses where the sheep are sacrificed, cleaned and packaged for pickup or delivery. One stop sacrifice. The meat is shared amongst family, friends and the needy. Some families will throw in together and buy a cow. Kurban Bayrami lasts four to five days. Families gather for meals, kids get new clothes, food is passed around. It is a time for bonding between the generations. Even non-practicing Muslims take part. It's like Christmas without the trees.
Things got real sleepy around here during the holiday so we decided to check out the beach town of Guzelyali about 10 miles south of our place. The C-11G bus passes right in front of our building so we jumped on, paid the 3 Lira fare with our Kent card and rode down there. A small group of young soldiers were heading back to their barracks from a shopping trip in Canakkale. Some of them sported new civvies and others carried seasonal yellow melons in plastic bags. It was a nice sunny day and we had no problem finding seats on the nearly empty vehicle. There are a whopping eight bus stops in Guzelyali. The burg is stretched out for over a mile. There's
a small Mosque there with a single, slender minaret. There are some expensive homes perched along the water but public beaches are nearly non-existent. A few of the small hotels have thrown in together and opened small strands equipped with chairs and umbrellas but there were no people on them when we visited. The umbrellas were closed and the chairs were stacked along a locked fence. A few families were barbequing sardines on Hibachis and drinking tea from big thermoses. They sat on big blankets spread out along the quiet roadway.
We found a small cafe on the water and walked inside. Outside tables were shaded by a few olive trees. Turkish neighborhood cafes are split into two parts. Indoors and outdoors. Women are rarely found indoors. It's a male domain presided over by old, gray-whiskered men who play cards, backgammon and a version of gin rummy that involves racks of little ceramic tiles that they constantly clack around. When Karen walks in things get real quiet until we place our order with the waiter and then we hear the old guys murmur 'Americans' to each other and then the clacking starts up again. Women will generally sit with
their families outdoors. It is rare to see a single woman in any cafe or restaurant. If they don't have a guy with them they'll usually roll around in groups of three or more.
Karen and I played cards while we nursed our club sodas. Old guys would peer at us from their tables and smile. We always respond with happy little waves. They love that stuff. They're always curious about us. Who we are, what we do and what State we come from but they rarely have the nerve to ask. We get a lot of attention at the gym we go to. Another male domain. They focus on our personal conversations, our workout routine, our demeanor. It took three weeks before one of the guys asked us about ourselves and as soon as he was done the other men raced over to him to see what he had learned.
In the end we found Guzelyali to be a sleepy little town where folks enjoy each others company and the fine views. They seemed to have enjoyed the bit of excitement we had brought into their day. After a few hours we packed up and headed out.
They all waved goodbye and smiled. Life goes on.
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