Most of my life I’ve felt like a visitor passing through without belonging to any place in particular; I would be forever getting ready for the next trip. When I was a teenager growing up in the States, I used to think that if we owned a summer house in Turkey, I would have a place and friends to call my own and feel a sense of normalcy somehow. While most of my friends were envious of my life of jet setting across the Atlantic back and forth, I always envied their simple summer plans of going away to the same place to be with the same people, doing the same things. Even having a family didn’t make a difference in my life, now I was moving the whole family back and forth. These were the thoughts I always had to contend with as I agonized over our summer plans every single year; we never were able create the stable atmosphere I had been longing for. Maybe due to the fact that we now live in New Jersey, we were finally able to realize this lifelong dream of mine and get a house in Bodrum this summer. Ironically, now it’s the boys who want to make plans of staying put and living like a normal teenager while we are dragging them here, for their own good.
I feel we have finally succeeded in creating the perfect atmosphere this summer of sharing good times with loved ones in one of the most beautiful parts of Turkey, a summer to remember and to repeat. We feel at home and a part of a community that we are already making plans to return to next year; this is due in part to some simple rituals we have established as a part of our life here. We go into Turgutreis every Saturday to have lunch, ‘Manti’ (Turkish Ravioli) especially prepared for us; Ali, the proprietor/chef asks us early on in the week, the only question of how many people it will be this Saturday. So far, we have been there every week as a family with slight variations within the group. This week our niece, Aydan, her husband, Yucel, my cousin, Ozlem, and her husband, Mehmet joined us. Murat was suppose to leave for Marmaris, to go sailing, but he just couldn’t go before he had his ‘Manti’ with the family and then my husband had to rush him into Bodrum to catch his bus.
Another ritual is our shopping forays into the Turgutreis Saturday bazaar. This week we had to pick up a couple of things for Murat to take with him on his trip so I took him to the textile part of the bazaar while Mehmet went to get our vegetables. It was an incredibly hot and crowded day but still worth it for the photo opportunities it afforded if nothing else. I have been checking out the colorful fabrics they have on display, trying to find excuses for buying the whole lot every week; I have to come up with something soon, since I won’t get another chance after next week and I know I will be dreaming of these fabrics when I get home and kicking myself if I leave without buying anything. Having a seventeen year old is not very conducive to this kind of frivolous shopping so I had to leave the bazaar without a single purchase this week as well. I have some mean plans for next Saturday though, I just might get up at the break of dawn to beat the heat and the crowds and go crazy. I have heard from my sister-in-law that the stands are setup before dawn, this I have to check out for myself and add to my list of unique experiences.
Even as Murat was dragging me by the scruff of my neck, I was still able to get a couple of shots of the colorful array.
This is my favorite stand of table cloths and bedspreads and towels made from 100% natural cottons. My newest obsession is the ‘Pestamal’, sarong-like cloths worn wrapped around in the Turkish Baths that absorb moisture like a regular towel and weigh next to nothing. I have been buying them every time I go into the bazaar and I think I will take a dozen back with me to give as presents. I have bought another variety of ‘Pestamal’ to use as a table cloth. This place is a paradise for someone like me who is crazy enough to have a collection of textiles worthy of a seamstress.
After getting back across the street to the vegetable vendors, I couldn’t resist taking more pictures of the stands there. I am not sure if its the colors or the abundance of the array, I am totally fascinated with the displays.
These are the dried vegetables sold by the spice vendors. The dried eggplant is used to make a ‘Dolma’ using cracked wheat instead of rice with ground lamb and red pepper (according to taste, of course), in the winter months when they don’t have the fresh vegetable. The end result is something out of this world, to put a bit of sustenance in to anybody suffering in the cold, dreary winter months.