It All Starts With “Merhaba”

We wander aimlessly around the small village of Urunlu in the Taurus Mountains early in the morning. Smiling, making eye contact, saying "Merhaba" and "Gunaydin" (Good Morning) was like saying "Open Sesame"! It literally got us behind closed doors and connected to so many people in this tiny Turkish village. We had no guide, no one to translate, only curiosity about village life knowing that everyone here is friendly and is just as interested in us as we are of them. Sure enough, Anne approached a few men sitting around the small plaza by the mosque having chai and before we knew it, the 6 of us were whisked off among small side streets by a gentleman who took us into his yard shaded by dense grape vines hung with big ripe bunches of grapes that he proudly shared along with delicious ripe figs.
Then we were waved hither through another open wooden gate where an old gentleman was stomping grapes in rubber boots, the juice pouring out a wooden funnel through a sieve into a container. Two heavy-set women in baggy shalvar pants with scarves neatly tied around their necks signal to follow them around the corner as they carry the grape juice and deposit it into two huge boiling vats in the street where the grape juice condenses down into a delicious molasses they call pekmez.  They let us sample fresh pekmez made the day before. We purchase some from them for the forthcoming boat trip to mix with tahini and fresh yogurt in the morning…yummm!

 Then two women who were somehow related to him dragged us out of the yard, down the winding cobblestone street and insisted that we see their lovely old wooden home. Leaving our shoes outside they proudly gave us a tour room by room, always one step ahead of us tidying up tossing loose items out of sight for their unexpected foreign visitors. They were all giggles and smiles and although we couldn't say much (other than "hello", "good morning" and "beautiful"), we spoke the same language of hospitality and appreciation for the moment sharing our lives, if only for a short time.
Keeping wild,
Kurt Kutay
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