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  • Writer's pictureM. Virginia Southworth

The Land of Olive Groves

After a nice sleep-in, I awoke to the call for prayer from a nearby Minaret. Also, Bella, the cat pounced on me!

We had a delicious breakfast of feta cheese, frittata, black olives, fresh baked bread, red and green peppers, tomatoes, honey, yogurt and of course tea. Afterward, we made our way down to the parking garage underneath this very tall building. Ahmet and his sister sat in the front while Mary and I caught up on things sitting in the back.

It was a journey of over three hours to get to the town of Erdek which is on the North coast of the Gulf of Erdek on the Kapidag Peninsula at the South of the Sea of Marmara. There is a nearby tiny island, Zentinlik, where there is a research station dedicated to olives. In fact, one has the sensation that he is traveling on Biblical land with all the olive groves and the evergreen wooded areas.

Me, Asuman and Mary

We stopped at a rest area that has a Burger King and a Starbuck's of all things! There was no charge for use of the restrooms. When I came to Turkey the first time, all the restrooms had pay toilets.

There was a tobacco shop which brought back memories of me getting Grampa his favorite Balkan Sobranie tobacco. I also got him a meerschaum pipe on that trip. It was the least I could do as I did not dare tell him my destination. I did not want Grampa to worry. In fact, I called him from Istanbul to reassure him that I had arrived safely. I can still hear him on the other end! But thanks be to God, my Guardian Angels watched over me then and I thank them as they continue to do so today.

We sat at an outside cafe and drank demitasses of mud - I mean,Turkish coffee! We had fresh pastries with it. I was very enthused when I saw a confectionary shop that specializes in candied chestnuts. This is the time of year and they are very big over here. That along with the Baklava, and the Turkish delight are the specialties.

I remember the first time I tasted one of these delicacies. The lady who I was an au pair for, received a box for her birthday. Her mother had bought them in Paris. They were wrapped in gold foil with a satin ribbon on the box. These were Madame's favorite! I remember the housekeeper who came from war torn Bosnia, and she loved them too. She would reach high up on the wardrobe and slip one in her apron pocket. Now, Asuman was purchasing a small box of them.

When we got back in the car, she thoughtfully shared them with all of us. These were succulent and oh, so fresh!

We had a beautiful sunny day in late September. We passed a roadside stand where a fella was selling melons. Ahmet stopped to get one. Then we stopped at the Migros super market in the village of Erdek. I love going to the super markets in other countries. I picked up some tea, some Turkish delight and some lilac soap. Ahmet got groceries to make dinner. He is a phenomenal cook. He has worked in restaurants and he has worked on the big ships doing the catering.

We arrived mid-day at the family abode. It is a new duplex with a shared pool. It is situated at the base of the 782 meter high Mount Dindymus. There is a lovely view of the Sea of Marmara. There are also many stray dogs. Most of them are white with black around their faces. They are a certain breed known as the 'Kangal Kopek'. This is a popular watchdog, similar to our German Shepherds. This breed is supported and promoted by the Turkish government.

Bella, the "Pouncer"!

The neighbors have goats and geese. One of these dogs oversees them. Ahmet buys extra food at the store and prepares it special for the Kangal. This also insures that his property is protected too.

On this day, the wind was blowing fiercely. So much so, that one of the chairs blew into the pool.

Turkish Kangal Kopek Dog

That was quite a performance of me retrieving it with a broom!

We snacked on pistachios which are also popular here. They have all the Bible foods here. That is why the people live so long. I only brought a small backpack, but I washed what I wore on the airplane. Mary and Ahmet have a washer and dryer here. One thing I have noticed about the washers overseas, is that the cycles take an extraordinary long time. Of course, I was in no hurry. I hung up my clothes where they could catch the sun - but inside. It was too windy to even take a walk. It was strange though, because the neighbor have a bottle of water on top of their chimney. It was a matter of great discussion how that bottle remained stationary throughout the windstorm.

Asuman was watching Turkey's version of "Judge Judy" or "Ilona Fix My Life".

I set the table and Ahmet served a sumptuous feast. There was roasted tomatoes and eggplant, potatoes, minced meat - all in a delicious sauce served with tasty bread and homemade yogurt. Ahmet opened a natural malt beer. We ate to our hearts' content.

Evidently the dishwasher takes as long as the washing machine does. I told my sister to relax and the least I could do was the clean-up. I have always done the dishes growing up and next door at the big house. Mary marveled at how I tidied up in a timely manner.

We finished with some gelato, cookies and chai. Then, like a bird in a nest, I stole away to the top level, and turned in for a good night of rest.

To be continued.....

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