Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

July 25, 2015

Visit to My Village - Part One

After our transatlantic cruise, I decided to pay a visit to my mother. I have visited her almost every year, but always at Christmas time and at her home in Ankara where my other relatives live close by.

Mother spends her winters in Ankara and the remainder of the year in the village. This visit would be special because it would take place in the village of Evrenkoyu where I was born.

Mother is in her nineties and often I find it hard to talk to her on her cell phone. She will forget to recharge her phone, or she will not carry her phone with her, or even when I do reach her, she has problems in hearing me.

I called my younger brother, Riza, and asked him to inform mother that I would be visiting and I deliberately did not give any specific date, telling him that I wanted it to be a surprise. But, in truth, my motive was not to surprise her.

If she knew when I was coming, she would announce my visit to the entire village, resulting in my having to receive countless relatives and village people.

I felt that all the visiting would overwhelm me and the sole purpose of my visit was to spend time with her. I only had three weeks and, wanting to make the best of the time, I also decided not to stop in Ankara to see my sisters and other relatives.

Funny how plans go array. Little did I know what would happen.

My flights to New York and on to Brussels were comfortable and uneventful. Before leaving home, I purchased a round ticket from Brussels to Trabzon, where I intended to stop and see my other brother, Bayram.

Because my flight would arrive at midnight, I reserved a hotel with the idea of getting some sleep and then I planned to call my brother the next morning and spend a day with him and his family.

After retrieving my suitcases and passing through customs, I turned to see someone waving at me. My brother, Bayram? How did he know I was here? After the greetings, he took one of my suitcases and we hurried out to his car which he had left running on the curb side.

"How did you know my arrival time?"

"Are you kidding me? I have been receiving continual calls from our sisters and other relatives about your arrival."

"Oh well, there goes the surprise and a $176.00 hotel reservation."

We started quarreling about family matters and the fact that, when visiting, staying in a hotel is not our custom. How much had I forgotten?

After arriving at the apartment and greeting my sister-in-law, Dina, my brother and his wife retired for the evening. In the morning they left for their respective jobs and my young nephew, Altay, was dressed by his nanny and taken to school.

When I finally woke, I went to the living room window and looked out to see mountains leading down to the spectacular Black Sea, reminding me of Malibu and the mountains and canyons facing the Pacific Ocean.

Only here the slopes are much greener.

Wandering into the kitchen, I found a note from Dina about my breakfast.

She listed tomatoes, black olives, goat cheese, and bread and butter. The cay was hot and simmering on the stove. But, goat cheese? I have never tasted it and did not even want to try it. Oh, what the heck. No one is here, so I took a bite. To my surprise, I quite liked it.

To fill my time until my family returned, I did some writing and face-timed with my wife. What an incredible thing to be able to see and talk to my wife halfway 'round the world.

That evening, Dina insisted that we have dinner at a restaurant in Akcabat, a small town on the coast about forty miles from where they live. It was an open-air restaurant right on the water. There was a cool sea breeze and the food was delicious.

When I ask for a local beer, the waiter looked surprised. Bayram took over and explained to the waiter that I did not know the rules here. What rules? He told me that there was no alcohol sold other than soft drinks, Ayran, coffee and tea. Something else I did not know?

On the drive back to their apartment, I sat in the back seat with my nephew. Bayram drove and I had to laugh to myself as I listened to Dina arguing with Bayram about his driving. So similar to my wife and I. So, maybe, some things are the same.

The next day, Bayram took me back to the airport where I had a rental car reservation with Avis. Yes, Avis dominates the market here in Turkey.

My wife had reserved a compact car, with the idea of saving me money. Of course, I asked if there was anything better. I really wanted a jeep, but they did not have any, so I settled on a brand new 2014 BMW sedan.

Because we often use Avis on our trips to Florida, the young man who prepared my papers on the car gave me discount. But, even then, I decided not to tell my wife how much it would be costing me.

That evening we went back to the restaurant In Akcabat, only this time I drove. Dina and Altay sat in the back and Bayram sat in front to show me the way. Funny that there was no argument between them, all though, I got the impression that Dina was a little nervous about my driving.

The morning I was due to leave, Bayram left for his lectures at the Eurasia University. Before Dina left for her work, she told me she wanted to drive in front of me until I reached the Gumushane split. I protested, assuring her I could find my way, but she stubbornly insisted.

She and Altay lead me to the outskirts of Trabzon where we said our goodbyes and I was on my way to the rugged Zigana Mountains.

For years I have heard stories about the Zigana Mountains and how treacherous they are to drive through, with a narrow road that zig-zags back and forth around sharp curves with no rails or security of any kind.

There have been many vehicles that have flown off the road into the deep canyons.

To my surprise, the road has been re-done, with wide lanes carved out of the slopes, and extra space where drivers can pull in and take a look or take pictures.

Then, there are the tunnels; tunnels that are so long, I wondered if there was any end.

Having learned to drive when I lived in England, this was the first time I have ever driven in Turkey. I had heard horror stories about drivers who do not obey traffic rules here, and I was extra cautious, but did not encounter any police cars in the mountains.

After several hours, the Zigana Mountains were behind me. The rest of my drive was uneventful, although, occasionally I saw a police car hidden from view and I remembered that, for those who are speeding, the penalties are quite high.

After passing through the small town of Torul, and then Gumushane, I watched for the signs that would take me to Erzincan and Kelkit, finally to Siran.

I was almost home. 

Part Two