A Morning Walk
We took off for a walk Saturday morning headed for the village just off base to get a Turkish morning breakfast. It's about a mile and a half walk from our house on base to the main gate where we can get off the base; once outside it's only a short three-minute walk to where the street vendors' carts are located. Actually, there are a number of vendors available along the main route but we've settled on the few who frequent the front of our favorite carpet shop.
It's a very pleasant morning; it's about seven and we're in no hurry, so we simply enjoy each other's company as we stroll the distance. The air is fresh and clear so we hear the traffic from the not to far off main highway. We too hear a few cars as they move through the streets here on base and just out of our view. The village sprawled out adjacent to the base is just coming alive and we hear it stretch and slowly rise to meet the day; there are a few cows grazing just through the fence and we can hear chickens crowing everywhere. There are three gentlemen walking just on the outside of the fence and we exchange morning greetings with them.
Just out the gate we cross the through street and make a left, walking toward our favorite carpet store. There are a number of vendor carts here awaiting sales this morning. The first is a meter square tin and Plexiglas box affair with a single bicycle wheel under it and two metal legs giving it a tripod stance. There are two handles on it making it look somewhat akin to a wheelbarrow only waist high. There's a young lad (maybe 10 or 12) minding it. He has come out very early to sell these products and does so every day. His cart has Turkish Simit loaded on it along with some other pastry bun-like things. Simit is a large circular bread stick covered in sesame seeds, a large soft bagel more or less. These are what I've come for. The young man actually has two kinds of simit on his cart; one is quite hard like a bagel and twisted but still circular in shape; I prefer the soft one.
The next cart (quite near the simit cart) is a full size tricycle unit with a massive Plexiglas box with a peaked roof. This looks like a very large doghouse on wheels. This tricycle unit has a single wheel in the rear and two wheels in the front with the box built over them. If you've seen an adult tricycle that's what you have here only the steering is done backward from what you're used to. These units are very common here, you see them on many streets and they are vendors with anything you might imagine. The rider actually steers the unit using the 'house' over the front wheels. The house or enclosure is close to a meter cube, maybe a little taller than it is wide. It contains a gas grill and the small propane tank that provides the heat. It also contains the merchandise for sale. It's called 'su borek' made from filo dough and feta-like cheese. Carol likes this; it is warmed and served with tiny little green peppers. The serving is about three inches wide, eight inches long and about an inch thick; the gentleman cuts the serving into inch pieces with a cleverly rounded knife; he simply places the rounded edge of the knife in the center of the borek and rolls it back and forth. I've tried the borek but I simply prefer the simit. We both have Turkish tea with our choices as well.
There's a similar cart next in line and this guy has more simit and the Turkish drink, ayran. We both drink ayran but choose to have tea this morning instead. This cart is a bit fancier than the su borek vendors because it is wood framed and painted green. The vendor has covered it all around with a green tarp so it appears to have an awning over it with serrated edges. Many of these units are decorated in multiple colors making them very unique to the vendor. The su borek guy has his whole unit painted white, tricycle and all, nothing fancy, simply utilitarian.
Now, the next cart is the one of the tea man; this is a unit with four bicycle wheels under it and about four by six feet with a frame built atop the platform over the wheels. The cart has a tarp roof and sides built again on a house design. The tarps are made to roll to the top and they are tied in place. This guy has chosen to use both blue and green tarps and has exposed three sides of his unit, leaving one side as a windbreak. Along the open side is the business part of the cart, the unit for boiling water and making the tea; this too has a propane tank for the heating element. On one open end of the cart he has a large plastic jug with water (air temperature) for cleaning his glasses. No soap here, he simply rinses the small tea glasses as they are returned to him, he runs his fingers around the inside of the glass and it's done. This is probably a twenty-second process - a little water run from the jug, a swish of the fingers, the water is thrown in the street and the job is done; next customer please! The other end of the cart is for the glasses (these are the little tulip tea glasses very prevalent here) stacked upside down to drain, the ever-colorful hard plastic saucers, the little tin spoons and the tin container full of sugar cubes. This guy also has a good number of stools packed on his cart for patrons to sit on. He has more business than most so he too has more stools than the others; some have no stools at all, no matter everyone shares what they have. I'm sure these guys have been coming together for years.
As we arrive in this collection of vendors one of them quickly scurry about getting us three stools to use; this is done even before we fully arrive because they know we're headed their way. We each sit on one and use the third as a table. These stools are maybe a foot square, have four legs and stand maybe a foot high; very interesting little seats to say the least. However, we are seated and we enjoy our morning snack with tea! We actually have a second tea before we go. Our seating is on the patio in front of our favorite carpet shop right next to the street.
The vendors are all sitting around on similar stools having tea and socializing with each other and with those customers who stop by to get something. Carol is the only woman around. The guys sitting around us are local business people, cab drivers for the alley and employees about to go into the base to work. This is a very social climate and most of the guys are smoking and drinking tea.
We're very pleased to be a part of this scene and we're accepted without question.
We spend about an hour and enjoy the morning very much. We greet and many gentlemen
we know greet us and the hour passes far too quickly.