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

July 26, 2015

Visit to My Village - Part Seven

The next morning we were on our way to Erzincan. Hakan had a basket filled with fresh mushrooms for his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

I stopped in Siran to buy petrol for the car and ordered tea and simit (Turkish pretzels) but Hakan did not want anything. Our drive on the autobahn was smooth and driving the BMW was quite an experience.

The only other place I stopped was at the high elevation on the outskirts of Erzincan. I took a few scenic pictures of the high mountains that reminded me of Alaska. From this vantage point we could see the entire city; built in an ancient dry lake bed, surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains.

After we left the main highway, Hakan navigated until we arrived his daughter's house. Despite his asking, I did not wanted to go in, as I thought that his daughter would not expecting an extra guest.

"I have to meet my friend," I insisted. "I will pick you up at around 5 pm, unless you want to leave earlier, then you can call my cell phone when you are ready to leave."

I drove back to old Erzincan and wandered around. There was nothing of interest for me, so I drove to the airport, parked the car and went through security.

I had a pleasant time at the airport sitting in one of the restaurants, although it was more expensive than in town. And a beautiful young girl was serving and I enjoyed chatting with her.

Time flew quickly. When I stopped back to pick up Hakan, he came out with his family and introduced me to his daughter and two grandsons; his son-in-law was out of town. Soon we were on the outskirts of the city and on our way back over the mountains.

"You did not have friend to meet, did you?"

Hakan caught me in surprise and I knew I could not lie.

"How did you know?"

"Intuition, my young friend."

We stopped in Kelkit for Mother's bread and then in Siran where I bought some groceries including some black olives for breakfast.

"Those are the best kind, and pricey," Hakan remarked.

He also bought half a kilogram of black olives, but a less expensive kind. Then I had an idea. Without him questioning me, I turned back and bought another kilogram of olives, the same kind as before.

"My aunt wanted some," I whispered. While I was putting my groceries to the trunk, I put the olives into Hakan's basket.

The next morning I was still in bed when Hakan showed up at seven. I am not an early breakfast eater, so I skipped eating and had some coffee. My backpack was ready and Hakan had his cane. I thought he had other weapons but he did not show me.

We stopped at the very bottom of the mountain. This time Hakan planned to climb the way I was going to, had I gone by myself. We would be crossing another dense forest, but the trees and bushes were not so tall that it made it difficult to find one's way.

Inside the forest, Hakan stopped at every noise and listened, sometimes he signaling me to stand still. I had total confidence that we will be all right, but this was the bear infested land and we did not want to come face to face with one.

I felt relieved to come to an open area where we could see all the way up to the rocky area above us.

Of course, that did not mean there were not any bears around, but at least we would see them and be prepared to deal with them rather that come face to face in surprise.

After four hours zig-zagging uphill, I asked Hakan to have a break.

While we were sitting, he started to tell me another one of his stories.

"One of my brother's daughters married a man from Erzurum. One time they came to visit the village. The man got up early in the morning and decided to hike by himself to these higher elevations. Anyway in short, he came face to face with a bear. According to him, he threw his backpack at the bear and barely escaped with his life."

As I listened, I kept looking all around, imaging bears everywhere.

He went on to tell me another story about when he was in his mid-thirties and had been hired as a cowboy to graze the cows of the entire village. One day, he gathered the herd at a water hole to rest, and saw three of the cows in the far distance.

When he went to bring the cows back to the herd, he discovered a bear mauling one of the cows.

He fired his weapon, and with his two watchdogs he was able to scare the bear off. Fortunately there was another man close by who helped him with the struggle. Finally, before the animal died, he had to slaughter it.

In the Muslim tradition, if the cow was killed any other way, it would mean it was not halal, not 'kosher.'

"How did you bring the animal back to its owner?"

"I sent the other man to the village to inform the owner and to bring a horse with semer to take the meat home. When the owner arrived, he was most appreciative of my slaughtering the animal, and gave me part of the meat for my labor."

"What a story." I shook my head.

"We should be going" was Hakan's reply.

Part Eight