Monday, July 21, 2014

wood and stone

We rolled into Akseki sometime in the afternoon when the sun's strength had started to wane and the birds were getting cheekier. The landscape had turned Mediterranean; rocky hills with green pines and shrubs, olive trees and wild thyme. The little town gracefully spilled down a hillside onto a dry valley, and within the boxy concrete buildings stood some beautifully constructed old stone houses. There are stone houses throughout Turkey, but the way in which these were built, with wooden support beams layered between the stones, was quite unique. The exterior walls of some houses were smoothed with a layer of dung or cement, some were painted, and others were left natural.

Akseki is a very small town, but it has two hotels— fortunately the receptionist in the first one turned us off with his brusque manner, and we were able to find (with some help from cheerful, loitering older men) the much more affordable Star Hotel and its charming owner, Yusuf bey. The spartan, clean room was just what we had hoped for, and once we had settled in, we headed out to explore and to find some birds.

We came across a village named Çanakpınar, which though it seemed to be quietly crumbling into the earth, was still inhabited. A handful of children played in the street, and an ancient, trembling lady stared at us from her doorstep. I imagine she had seen the village when it was alive with families, when the wood of their roofs was fresh, and the walls of their homes were not sinking into the dirt. I wonder what that must have been like— when the hunter brought home his ibexes, and hung the curved horns above his window with pride.

We stopped a while to sketch one of these marvellous houses— one that we thought had been forgotten, but as I looked closer at one of the windows, I noticed a hand was grasping the wooden lattice. I strained to see the face to which the hand belonged, but it was too dark inside the house. How long had they been there watching? I smiled, and hoped there was a smile in the darkness too.

1 comment:

Rob Dunlavey said...

Smiles! Seen and unseen. Like birds a little I think: fluttering, noisy, furtive, lingua franca. We send them out beyond ourselves like children.