Searching for Sunlight in Sirince

Searching for Sunlight in Sirince

(Merhaba from Turkey! My friend Steph Barnhart and I are currently traveling through Turkey and Greece and want to show you some of the awesome things we see and experience. The writing is Steph's. The photos are mine. Enjoy!)
-Zach

Sirince, Turkey, is a small village town of 560 people. But in the summer, more than 2000 tourists filter through its cobblestone streets each day. Nestled in the hills of wine country, Sirince hosted us for five hours one afternoon. These are the two reasons why.

“Try the black mulberry?” the young man asked. I guessed he was 18, 19 at most. The black glass bottle he picked up left a condensation ring on the wooden counter top at the front of the store.

As he poured us samples of the fruit wine, we introduced ourselves to Hakan. His dark eyes looked older than the rest of him. He smiled when we said we were from the United States. Pomegranate, strawberry and blueberry, kiwi, melon and quince, peach, apricot, sour cherry, Hakan has us try them all. The region is known for its sweet fruit wines, made in the Mediterranean climate perfect for fruit harvest. Ten flavors later, we decided to buy a bottle of the peach.

We’d need it, we decided, since we would be in Sirince for a while. Despite the miniscule size of the town (we saw the whole thing in about 30 minutes) and the fact that the last shuttle bus back to our hostel would probably leave us, we stayed in Sirince all day for a few reasons.

First, it was because Hakan wasn’t the only one giving us free wine. Each shop on the village’s main street invited us in for samples. Thirty-one shot-sized samples each, to be exact. But this was just a side benefit of the afternoon. The real reason we hung around this tiny, tourist-laden town was because we were waiting on the sun.

We had seen a picture of Sirince at sunset and Zach thought it would be perfect camera weather if we stuck around for the low, soft light. I’ve learned, that when traveling with a photographer, sometimes supper plans and bus schedules matter less than the perfect sunlight. It was only 3 p.m. when we had purchased our bottle of peach and so we set out to kill time.

Armed with our wine, our recently purchased backgammon set, and patience, we started climbing up. This village is beautifully situated on a hill - old houses and quaint restaurants sit stacked on top of each other, their white walls, brown trim, and burnt red roof tops decorated by gardens. We planted ourselves on the ledge of someone’s roof, and waited.

Finally, with one bottle and three backgammon rounds finished, the light started to get softer. Sirince was quieter now, as if the city had used a sieve to separate everyone with a backpack out. We remained, and we ascended, Sonys out.

Up higher and higher on the slick stone streets, we passed two women selling doilies and crocheted dolls, a backyard farm with two horses and a foal tethered to a tree, a slow moving tractor and its driver in overalls. The streets turned to dirt roads as we paused to capture close-ups of red poppies, and then we rounded a switch back that put us in someone’s front yard. Two men sat in silence under a string of drying laundry.

They saw our cameras. The one on the left waved me over, pointing at Zach’s camera. We got it. He thought I should be in a picture with them. Quickly we learned they knew no English. I pointed at us and said, “America,” and then made a zero with my hand and said “Turkish.” They laughed, and repeated the same while saying “English.” We thanked them and kept walking.

For a reason I didn’t know, we kept going up. It didn’t look like anything was situated on top of the hill, and we were definitely already late for dinner back at the hostel. But the climb was so peaceful; we had no clue that when we reached the top, we’d find...nothing.

Besides a tree, a few rocks, and some fenced-in electrical boxes, there was truly nothing on top of this hill, except an incredible, vast view of wine country. Though it wasn’t necessarily breathtaking, the moment’s simplicity gave it significance.
We do things on occasion that don’t seem sensical. Missing a bus to climb a random hill to chase a sunset to take a few pictures, for example. But what we gain is perspective. We saw Sirince in a new way - from the top, just as the golden sun sank below the hill. Was it the Blue Mosque? No. Was it beautiful? Yes.

I hope that sometime soon, you’ll decide to miss the bus home to catch a sunset, too.