Saturday, July 17, 2010

Feeling far away

this is village life

I have been both physically and mentally away from Sicily (and the blog) for 42 days and counting! For the second time since becoming a mama who lives in Sicily I have survived and for the most part thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working on my hubby's excavation in south eastern Turkey while bringing the adaptable little 3 year old along for the adventure. It is much easier to say that now than a few days ago since the hard work is over and we are vacationing at a you-can-find-absolutely-everything-you-could-possibly-need-right-here-so-please-don't-step-out-of-this-paradise-for-one-minute kind of beach resort. Not our usual choice for relaxation, but living in a tiny rural village in the Tigris river valley can push you to new extremes, and this 'unwinding' ritual is one of them.

Even though I am now sitting in a perfectly air conditioned room after having indulged in a longer than normal hot shower, I already miss aspects of village life. The houses we live and work in are just specks on a vast patchwork of agricultural fields that stretch across the entire region. During our time in the valley the fields are mostly the dull yellow color of wheat that is itching to be harvested. That harvesting will eventually take place all around us as we sit in our hot, crumbling, abandoned until we arrived houses, working away. Nothing but fields all around interrupted by the dusty brown of mudbrick houses, now used for storage or animal pens as the families that can afford it (and our village is a well-off one) prefer the modern feel of cement houses that they erect right next to the former ones.

There are a few green patches thanks to leaky irrigation pipes and the mosque's garden that invite swarms of swallows and an ever increasing number of tadpoles and croaky frogs that, once we get used to them, become our bedtime music (rather than headache) each and every night.

The stillness of village life is only interrupted by the five times a day call to prayer, and the dirt road that passes through, a way to get somewhere else for mini-buses and occasionally cars, but most definitely primarily used by the tractors driven by the family members who own and work the land all around.

All throughout the region amidst the low rounded hills, unusually large, flattened mounds can be spotted. One of these is our village's backdrop, lookout point and prime location for cell phone reception until a few years ago (reception has improved) These are the tepes or hoyuks, the accumulation of centuries of ancient occupation, layer upon layer of human existence that make this region so exciting for archaeologists.

Further in the distance, when the eyes are really sore of the endless fields, the Turabdin mountain range comes into focus. They frame the endless fields and remind you that not too far away there is something else (the beautiful town of Mardin and Syria beyond).

But the best time of all is when the sky is black. That means temperatures have dropped and the gentle evening breezes allow the mind to finally clear itself of sweaty thoughts, that during the day care nothing more than if the electricity is working so at least I can sweat while sitting in front of a fan. At night the cans of Efes beer come out (sometimes raki), laughter echos, and the walk through the village to the little house where we sleep is a magical journey through glittering starlight, and how do you explain to a three year old what the milky way is and why he can't touch the stars? While I love my hot showers, I will miss seeing those stars and saying good morning and good night to the owls who live in the chimneys of our little house.

freshly squeezed juices taste better in Turkey

the beautiful town of Mardin, a quick escape from village life


  1. A wonderful description, Lost and great photos.

  2. Sounds like an amazing experience. Welcome back!

  3. What a glimpse into such a different life!

  4. Hi - hope you are doing well. Miss you -


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