Returning from our farthest point in the southeast regions of Kurdish Turkey, we used our GPS unit to take us on a route well off the beaten path (if there even is such a thing as the “beaten path” in this part of Turkey).
Agriculture is the primary economic activity in this area (although recent oil discoveries may alter that) and seeing the fields pictured below, I felt like I was back in Afghanistan with its countless stone walls and lush crops:
In case you haven’t recognized it, the primary crop grown in this area is tobacco. I think it is an attractive plant:
These women were busy picking tobacco, but stopped to talk to us and pose for a couple of pictures when we came by:
After enough tobacco has been picked by hand to fill a number of sacks, a tractor is brought out to retrieve the freshly picked tobacco:
Once back in town, it is sorted and hung to dry:
Hard at work sorting tobacco leaves:
She actually was hard at work until I stopped to talk to her. Well, did my best to talk to her anyway:
Below are some pictures of a tobacco warehouse:
Which happens to form the basement of this man’s home… You see, while we were walking through the small village featured in these pictures, the man below insisted that we join a circle of men he was sitting and conversing with for tea. After accepting his kind offer and drinking our tea, he requested that we join him for a meal at his home. Who are we to refuse such a kind offer and miss a chance to have an interesting experience?
The man that invited us was the only one that spoke any English and so he did his best to interpret for everyone. It’s amazing how much nodding and smiling, accompanied by hand gestures, can achieve. As we were meeting his family, a small feast of delicious food was brought out:
One of his brothers rolling a cigarette for a post-meal smoke:
As on my other travels, the camera proved to be a fantastic ice breaker and soon every relative, no matter how distant, was being summoned for a photograph as word of our presence whirled through the village:
I thought these kids were exceptionally cute… And I was intrigued by the blond hair of the little girl on the left:
The little girl in red was quite the ham and enjoyed having her picture taken. I didn’t mind indulging her:
One of the women of the village that came to have her picture taken:
Unfortunately, Kayseri was still several hours away and so, all too soon, it was back on the road for us. By the way, the below is back on the main road… See what I mean about the “beaten path” being non-existent out here?
However, it is still Turkey with its astronomically high accident rate as this common scene reminded me when we flashed past (notice the skid marks leading to the closest smashed car):
But, despite being in Turkey, one is reminded frequently that they are a long way from Istanbul or Ankara by frequent scenes of poverty that continually reminded me of Afghanistan:
And by a heavy military and police presence to keep the Kurds in line:
Arriving in Kayseri, there was still some time to walk around and take pictures as well as meet some of the locals:
Fortunately, there are plenty of bazaars where all of the essentials, such as excellent produce, can be found:
Or quality firearms:
Based on our overwhelmingly positive experiences in Kurdish Turkey, I can’t wait to visit Kurdish populations in Iraq, Iran and Syria. For more on the Kurdish people, click here.