Leaving a lively party in the Turkish village of Güzelyurt, I walked down the street. The town seemed cluttered with ugly unfinished concrete buildings bristling with rusty reinforcement bars. While I love the Turks, I couldn't help but think, "Why can't these people get their act together and just finish these buildings?" That was before I learned that in Turkey, there's an ethic among parents — even poor ones — that you leave your children with a house. Historically Turks are reluctant to store money in the bank because it disappears through inflation. So instead, they invest bit by bit by constructing a building. Every time they get a hundred bucks together, they put it into that ever-growing house. They leave the rebar exposed until they have another hundred bucks, so they make another wall, put on a window, frame in another door...and add more rebar. Now, when I look at that rusty rebar, I remember that Turks say, "Rebar holds the family together"...and it becomes much prettier.
At the edge of Güzelyurt, I came upon a little boy playing a flute. Just like in biblical times, it was carved out of an eagle bone. I listened. And I heard another eagle-bone flute, out of sight, coming from over the hill, where his dad was tending the sheep. As they have for centuries, the boy stays with the mom and plays the eagle-bone flute. The dad tends the flock and plays his flute, too, so the entire family knows that all is well.
I hiked up the shepherd's hill and sat overlooking the town. On a higher hill, just beyond the simple tin roof of its mosque, I saw the letters G U Z E L Y U R T spelled out in rocks. Listening to the timeless sounds of the community, I thought how there are countless Güzelyurts, scattered across every country on earth. Each is humble, yet filled with rich traditions, proud people, and its own village-centric view of our world. Güzelyurt means "beautiful land." While few visitors would consider it particularly beautiful, that's how the people who call it home see it. They'd live nowhere else. And for them, it truly is a güzel yurt.
About This Entry
You are reading "Turkish Village Insights in Güzelyurt, Part 2", an entry posted on 28 December 2009 by Rick Steves.