Earlier this week Danielle, Fabio and myself set out on what we assumed would be a short excursion to Sultansuyu Harası on our university rep’s suggestion. What seemed like it would start off as a few hours outside the university quickly spiraled into a long, drawn out day of confusion, and eventually picture taking and fish.
The first sign that things could get tricky was our reps insistence on giving us scavenger hunt directions: i.e. go to Malatya Park Mall, and then call me and receive further instructions. From the mall, we were told to catch a mini-bus to Akçadağ, a good 20 kilometers outside of the city proper – no problem. Getting off the bus is always the hardest part, and we were told to get off the bus once we started seeing horses close to Harra… or something. After that we would be met by his sister-in-law. It’s around here that things get a little hazy.
On the mini-bus, a good at least 110 degrees, I started talking to the old man next to me. He said he was recently retired, and just traveling around trying to enjoy everything as much as possible. When I told him we were from America and were going to Sultansuyu, his face lit up and he started telling me about all the wonderful things we’d see there – horses, organic farming, tons of fruit, and of course water (Sultansuyu literally means Water of the Sultan, as it was the sultan’s farm back in Ottoman times… I think).
After riding for twenty minutes, the retired man began to enthusiastically tell the driver to stop: “The foreign tourists need to get off here! They’re going to Sultansuyu! Stop the bus!”
Pointing across the street, he showed us a closed off farm with a giant horse gate. The sun was beating down as we walked through the gate and were greeted by a smiling, albeit confused, security officer. “You’re not allowed to be in here,” he said “this is a private farm.”
“Really? We can’t even walk around a little bit?”
“No, sorry. It’s forbidden.”
Confused, we called our rep who, somehow, managed to convince the security officer to let us in – but only on the main road as far as a park. At the park, we were greeted by an assistant director of the farm, who ended up taking us on a quick tour, showing us the horses they were breeding – all championship Arabian horses, the most expensive of which was selling for 600,000 Turkish Lira.
About 45 minutes after we arrived, our rep’s brother-in-law turned up and whisked us away to the family fish restaurant, where we had dinner/lunch over the course of 3 hours in a bungalow type setting overlooking a man-made lake. After walking around in the heat, and the uncertainty of the day, the meal was a welcome reprieve – except for the fact random farm animals continued to walk into our bungalow and beg for food: first chickens, then cats, then chickens along with their babies, and finally some ducks. It was all very unreal…
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Getting home, a different brother-in-law drove us to the main road where he waited with us to help flag down a passing mini-bus. In the meanwhile, one of his friends and his girlfriend drove past. The friend explained he would drive us, but he was a little drunk – in one hand was a cigratte, and the other a tall boy of Efes, the Turkish national beer.
His girlfriend looked just like a pirate.
Just another day in Turkey.