Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead


This is the 10th in a series articles about a trip to the interesting country of Turkey


By Charles N. Stevens

Near Pamukkale we go for lunch at the Hotel Ergur. At the entrance we walk by the evil eye symbols used to protect the place from malevolent spirits and into a smoke-filled lobby full of cigarette-smoking people attending a conference on cookware. We file into a huge, glass-windowed banquet room where hundreds of place settings, glasses and bottles of water line ranks of tables. We are directed to one table near the back of the room far away from the windows and the view. Waiters bring us bread then a lettuce and carrot salad with a light vinegar and oil dressing. This is followed with an “appetizer” of spaghetti dressed in a pale tomato sauce. Our main dish is cubed lamb with melted cheese served with mixed vegetables and diced potatoes, all rather bland. As we eat, the pots and pans people file in, this time without their cigarettes. I am surprised that a number of women are among them, perhaps because cooking is involved. Most of the group dress well and appear enthusiastic, a good sign for Turkey. The highlight of the meal is the dessert, a lovely rice pudding sprinkled with crushed nuts.

After lunch we begin the trip home through the snowy countryside, stopping soon at a place they call a “red water spring”. Actually, it is a hot mineral spring where the bottom is tinted slightly with rusty iron deposits, giving the clear water a “reddish” look. Steam curls off the water, and drifts away. We bend down and thrust our fingers into its warmth, sometimes feeling the moist breath of the steam on our faces. A huckster selling bird whistles near the spring’s edge fills the place with a monotonous tweeting. Nearby, several of the local boys slide down an icy hill on sleds fashioned out of cardboard boxes and gallon cans cut and spread out. They tumble into the snow at the ends of their runs, adding their happy squealing to the “birdsong”.

On the main road back to Kusadasi highway police stop our bus. Stern-faced and obviously proud of their authority, they ask for the driver’s license and look over the bus. Because the driver does not have the right stamp on his papers, he is fined. While stopped, I spot another hunter walking near the feather grass at the edge of the road. Since we have seen so many hunters, I believe that they hunt for food, not sport. I notice too how well old birds’ nests show up in the naked branches of the poplar trees, like black clots.

On the way home the lowering afternoon sun lends a peach-tinted glow to the haze over the snow-covered mountains. Slow gray clouds wallow in the glow. I’m reminded again of the contrasts in Turkey when I see loaded donkeys and horse-drawn carts among the modern cars and busses. A train rolls by on the track paralleling the road, its time-worn passenger cars followed by a string of swaying, four-wheeled box cars and a caboose.

We pass more towns with attractive Spanish orange trees lining the streets then stop once again at the same roadside station where we had stopped on our way out. We soon pass through the narrow streets of Soke and on to Kusadasi.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 49 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

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