Underneath 10,000-foot peaks, my information and I pressure up onto the burnt, barren, 5,000-foot-high Anatolian plateau to Erzurum, the primary town of japanese Turkey. Existence is tricky right here. Blood feuds, a holdover from justice underneath the Ottomans, are nonetheless a number one reason behind imprisonment. Winters are below-zero killers. Villages unfold out onto the plateau like brown weeds, each and every with the similar economic system: geese, dung, and hay. However Allah has given this land some delightful surprises. It’s a harsh land, however delicate on the similar time. The parched undeniable hides lush valleys the place rooftops game colourful patches of sun-dried apricots. You’ll be able to crack open the candy, thin-shelled hazelnuts along with your enamel. Teenage boys choose women who get dressed modestly, and shepherd kids nonetheless play the eagle-bone flute.
Getting into a village, we go underneath a banner saying, “No love is healthier than the affection on your land and your country.” The city takes us warmly into its callused fingers. A person with a donkey cart wheels us on an impromptu excursion. Every area wears a tall hat of hay — meals for the livestock and insulation for the iciness. Mountains of cow pies are smartly stacked, promising heat and cooking gasoline for the six months of snowed-in iciness at the approach. Veiled moms pressure to seem thru my digital camera’s viewfinder to peer their kids’s mugging faces. The city’s yearly elected policeman brags that he assists in keeping where protected from terrorists. Youngsters scamper round girls who’re busy beating uncooked wool with sticks — a rainbow of browns that may at some point be woven right into a carpet to melt a stone settee, heat up a mud-brick wall, or function a daughter’s dowry.