For the last two days we have been driving through Turkey. The countryside looks pretty much like what I had imagined. We have seen many fields of vegetables, olives and different crops. These seem to be cultivated manually by groups of women in peasant looking clothes with hoes and hand implements. Near the towns we see people on old tractors and carts driving along the road with a gaggle of-people-in the trailer. The tractors are an obvious form of transport in rural areas Every now and then we see a flock of a few dozen sheep, or goats, each of which is attended by a shepherd.
In the larger valleys, there was a lot of drip irrigations used. Plants that looked like melons have been planted in some of the region through which we have driven.
Turkey doesn’t appear to be a wealthy country – in fact it looks more third world than anything. We have been told- that the average income is just $US 9200 per year. Petrol is high (approx A$2.80 per litre so we don’t see too many cars on the open road.
Somewhere on our first day (from Kusadasi to our overnight stop at Cannakale, we stopped at a cooperative where women made carpets. It was interesting g to hear about the various plants and natural materials that they used for dying the wool; Chamomile for Yellow, Indigo for blue and walnut pods for a tan colour,- for example. We were treated to lunch and wine over a display of various carpets. Jill & I had a look at a few, but couldn’t find one with the correct colour and size combination. Oh Well, back to our friend Majid at home!
We had one stop at Troy and saw the rather ridiculous Trojan Horse. It was overrun by Asian Tourists who had climbed up into its belly and were being photographed through every possible opening. The horse actually never existed – it was a fictitious story in Homer’s Odddesy. Just near the horse was the old city of Troy. Archeologists have unearthed nine levels of development, the oldest of which dates back to 2900 BC. There really is nothing much to see except for a series of rocks that were Ponce the city walls.
We stopped overnight at a nice little resort at Canakkale which had great view over the Dardanelles to the Gallipoli Peninsular. This morning, we were bright and early fr a visit to- Anzac Cove. Anzac is very significant to us Australians as it was the first military action in which we had become involved after Federation in 1901.The Anzac Legend is abased on the tough fighting that took place here from April 25, 1915 until the evacuation in December 1915. This action had three significant outcomes. Firstly, it galvanised-Australia into one identity. Secondly, it created a significant bond between Australians and New Zealanders. Thirdly, it enabled the Turkish Commander Mustafa Kemal (Attaturk) to show his leadership aned strategic strengths that enabled him to lead Turkey into a modern secular state. He became the founder of modern Turkey.
Our visit started with a stop at Anzac Cove and a visit to Ari Burnu Cemetery. It was a very emotional place. Just recognising the hardship of the landing at this rugged and lonely place was one thing, but then seeing graves in the beautifully kept cemetery of soldiers as young as 17 years of age was another altogether.
We were all affected by the memorial near the cemetery on whyich Ataturk’s words were recorded:
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives . . .you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets. To us they lie side by side in his country of ours. You, the Mothers who sent your sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well”.
From there, we went on to the memorial at Lone Pine and the cemetery there. For a couple of our group this was a significant place as they were able to find the names of their relations on the memorial wall and could take home- the first ever photos to their families at home. It struck me as being a bit ironic that we were walking around graves of young men that we didn’t know, yet the mothers who had lost their sons had never sen the memorial to their own son’s death.
Finally, we stopped at the New Zealand memorial which is high on the hill at Chunuk Bair. This gave us a god view-of the Anzac area from the heights and gave us another perspective of the battlefield. There are a number of preserved trenches near the memorial and these enabled us to imagine something of the proximately of the two forces and the way that the battle was structured.
Nearby is a very impressive monument of Attaturk. This was being visited by many busloads of Turkish people who were making just the same kind of pilgrimage as we were.
Our day finished with a four hour drive along a rather rough four lane road (freeway?) to Istanbul.