A former stranger, a new friend
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I met Hanife Çelik prior I stepped on Altinkaya's ground, a hamlet of very difficult access although it is placed about 70 miles away of Antalya and its golden beaches in the south of Turkey. I asked her for the main parking place and she told me I could park wherever I wanted to. Of course, they have neither paved streets nor traffic signs. In fact, as far as I could see, they don’t have motored vehicles in town and the closest gas station is quite far away. Hanife speaks besides her mother tongue just a bit English and German but communication between us was so much easier as I could think at first. Language is just an insignificant inconvenience when you have the will to understand and being understood.
She offered herself as local guide and I found it to be such a good idea. She gave me full detailed explanations about the ancient town of Selge I could never find in any book and I was lucky as she remained with me all the time showing every single inch I was interested in.
From time to time, I saw her bending down picking some different herbs. Later on, she kindly asked me if I wanted to go to her place in order to have a nice tea she would be happy to brew with those green leaves she was gathering all the way. I felt honored with her invitation, and of course I accepted in a quick response. Once we were on our way to her house, she showed me the most visited place in the village, the public fountain as in Altinkaya no running water reaches homes. This fact is contradictory since there are remains of ancient aqueducts spread all over the adjacent areas. It seems to be that water supply was paramount in roman times but nowadays it is not.
Nonetheless, citizens must provide themselves the precious liquid. In fact, there were three women carrying water using large vases on a wheelbarrow at that moment. Fortunately for Hanife it only took five minutes by foot to get to her humble house. Once we get there, she made for me one of the nicest teas I’ve ever drunk while our conversation turned to be more intimate. She told me about her only son and how she hardly make ends meet since her husband abandoned her and how she would like to travel because incredibly, she was never out of Altinkaya. Finally, she showed me her most precious material possession, a 24 inches Beko TV set, complemented with an outside satellite antenna. She called it her little window to the world. It is kind of strange for me that she owns a full satellite TV set while she lacks running water system.
After more than an hour of a nice conversation, Hanife regretted I had to leave that moment and she kindly wish me well as she invite me to visit her in again, showing me another proof of her hospitality. I promised her to send by post all the portraiture I made for her. I hope she liked them as much as I enjoyed in her companion.
In the Living in Altinkaya, Turkey photo essay.
Also by David Rocaberti
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