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


This is the 11th in a series of articles about a trip to the interesting country of Turkey.


By Charles N. Stevens

Only a few stars twinkle in the moonless morning as we pack for an early departure to the distant city of Antalya. At breakfast I select the same meal from the same choices, as always. By 8:00 we pull away from our hotel in a larger bus than we had been riding. This time the bus contains all our belongings.

We detour through Kusadasi, taking an early morning spin by the harbor, the mall, the marina, and the old castle before we move on to Selcuk. Two men on a motor scooter, each with a rifle, cut through the morning air on their way to the fields for hunting. Two other men lead their donkeys at a slower pace, each beast loaded down with baskets of we know not what. A tractor pulls a wagon load of older women, all wrapped, swaddled, and draped against the cold morning, all on their way to the olive fields.

At Aydin we pass the smoke-shrouded statue of Efe again. Several women in shalaras, the baggy pants that successfully disguise the feminine form, walk through the haze. The village of Aydin suffocates in its own coal smoke, the smell of burning coal filtering into the bus. On the outskirts, women already pick up olives from a tarp spread on the ground, olives they have dislodged from the tree with a long pole.

At Nasili, noted for its cotton and cotton gins, trucks loaded precariously high with bloated sacks of cotton pass by us on the road. They look top-heavy and menacing as we approach them, and we hope they don’t lean into us. Near the road, a whole animal, probably a lamb, turns on a roasting spit.

Out of the smoke of the city, we come upon a group of men leading a camel decorated with brass, bells, and red bunting. We stop by the haughty camel and its proud owners who pause to talk to us. The guide tells us that they are taking the camel to the city of Denizli where it will wrestle other camels. Wrestling camels is a great sport in Turkey, often done for charities. The men walk on with their camel, its bells jingling at every movement, and its bright decorations contrasting with the dull brush and dirt around it.

As we near Denizli, patches of snow lie scattered on the flat ground, and deeper snow covers the low hills. The sun disappears behind a layer of clouds largely masked by the coal smoke of the city which invades the bus. As it is Sunday, the potholed streets remain relatively empty. Mud adds to the disorder at the side of the road. Our guide tells us that the city is famous for cotton textiles and rooster fighting. The bronze statue of a proud rooster adorns the center of a traffic circle. Bundled crowds of Sunday shoppers jam the fruit and vegetable markets while others gather at a car market.

As we travel eastward into the highlands, snow covers the valleys as well as the

hills. We roll over the road near Gurleit about 25 kilometers west of Cardak. Again, the cut reddish stalks of the cotton plants contrast with the whiteness of the snow. The tawny grasses and feather grass also lend beauty as they protrude from the snow. A shepherd leads his sheep across a snowy field, the birds silhouetted darkly in the same field. Suddenly snowflakes begin to drift down out of the gray skies. Undaunted, boys with rifles charge out into the snow to hunt while excited younger boys follow them. The railroad cuts through the snow like a sharp, black line on a white sheet of paper. Shrubs capture the snow and hold it in their twigs and leaves like cotton fluffs. Snow settles over the roofs and on the tops of stone fences. The feathery flakes swirl toward the bus’s windshield and streak past the windows. A train speeds along the tracks near us, stirring up a fog of powdery snow along the dark rails. Even though the sun shows weakly through breaks in the clouds, the flakes still drift down. Finally, the clouds part, and the bright sun reveals a dazzling white landscape that hurts our eyes. We drive on a long flat section of the road that our guide tells us can be used by government authorities for an airport in case of a civil emergency.

At Cardak children run and sled in the fresh snow as the snow once again begins, lightly this time. Oblivious, small birds with top notches scrape around by the side of the road looking for food. To our right is a huge lake, Lake Aoigoi, an industrial plant at its edge busy removing valuable sulfates from it. Nearer the road the fresh tracks of animals and the larger ones of hunters run through the snow like aimless dotted lines.

Near Dazkiri children frolic in the snow and throw powdery snowballs at each other. Far across a white field another hunter, his rifle swinging in his hand as he walks, looks for rabbits.

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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