Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kurban Bayram and a Vacation

This week is Kurban Bayram or Eid al-Adha, the second religious holiday after Ramadan.  It is a festival of sacrifice, and charity.  Animals, usually sheep and cows, are sacrificed to represent Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son.  After the sacrifice a certain percentage of the meat is donated to the poor.  The rest is divided among the family.  Usually during this time your time is spent doing family visits and memorial visits.  Usually the first or second day of Bayram the family visits the cemetery and pays respect to their dead. 

The visits start out at the oldest relatives home, and progress down the line.  At the visits tea and snacks are served, usually one salty and one sweet.  You can not refuse.  So Bayram becomes a time of visiting and eating, and eating and visiting.  And then later feeling slightly ill due to the amount of sugar and tea you have consumed. 

But not this year!!!  This year the calendar aligned so Bayram started Monday at 12pm and ended Friday.  The government decided to give us all of Monday off which means we have the whole week off! YAY! 

We decided to drive down to Marmaris, a 10 hour drive and spend the week at the summer house.  It has been great.  It is cool, about 60 and a little rainy but incredibly gorgeous.  During the summer it is usually about 100 degrees so it is so nice to take walks along the sea or in the mountain without seriously worrying  about heat stroke and death. 

As I write this I am sitting in the garden, under a lush canopy of green, smelling the jasmine in the air moist and rich from the rain. I can even hear the crickets and frogs.  A vast difference from sitting here in the sweltering heat listening to the loud techno music from the bar down the streets and the drunk tourists swearing while they stumble on the road behind me after a night of clubbing. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trip to Niğde

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Niğde, where my husband’s mother is from. Niğde is know for its apple production, and his family owns a small apple orchard down there. We were going to watch the harvest. We drove down Saturday and were greeted by chilly weather and rain. We did manage to see Kapadokya’s most intact and well preserved Byzantine Monastery, Gümüşler Monastery. After trudging around in the freezing rain seeing the historical site for several hours, we had a lovely dinner with some extended family.

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In Niğde in mid-October there was already snow on the mountains. Niğde is nestled into the plains surrounded by inactive volcanic mountains.


When wewere there we were supposed to go to the apple orchards and watch the harvest, but we ran into some trouble. We spent the afternoon in a small village looking for a mechanic, then for a tow truck.


While we were waiting I took a look around the village.

We saw puppies…we always do.


Plums drying in the sun.


Farmers harvesting cabbage.


That last photo was taken from inside the car on the top of the tow truck. We needed a new radiator and by the time it was fixed it was time to head back to Ankara. It was a whirlwind trip. While we did have some fun we have since decided that we will save trips of five hours of driving or more for long weekends only.