Expat Magazine

The Expat and the Cow Lady

By Miss Footloose @missfootloose

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.  ~Caskie Stinnett

Dear readers, I may live the expat life in Moldova, but I keep footloosing it across its borders. I was in Italy in February, and here I am in the land of döner kebabı sandwiches, Mediterranean beaches and smiling people: Turkey.

Turkish market vendor

Smiling people everywhere!

We’re on the southwest coast in the small town of Çalış, with its stony beach, beautiful views and cows munching grass along the roads.

Sunshine, you ask? Well, yes, but some stormy weather and downpours as well; it is April after all, even in Turkey. The rain is said to come from Greece. From what I gathered, other unpleasant things are blamed on Greece as well, but I may have misunderstood the smiling man who spoke to us in a fabulously entertaining mix of English, Dutch and German.

This is my first visit to Turkey. I’m gobbling up the sounds, the sights and the food. My mate and I were lured to this place by Julia whose blog Turkey is for Life is a delicious mélange of posts about all the delights found in this area. Thank you, Julia!

From our rented house, I hear the waves of the Mediterranean wash ashore, doves cooing their love songs, and the call to prayer from a mosque. It’s all so peaceful and relaxing. Oranges hang like light bulbs from the trees. Mimosa is in full bloom. I’ve never seen mimosa before. Clearly I’ve been deprived.

Mimosa in Turkey

This morning I watched a woman pull a cow on a rope through the street. She was dressed in long, loose bloomers (salvar) and wore a headscarf knotted under her chin.

Turkish village woman

A few days ago I saw her sitting by the side of the road near our house, two cows munching the grass on a bare patch of land behind her. She was sitting on the ground, knees apart, knitting something bright pink. We exchanged a friendly merhaba and she offered a beautiful smile as we walked past her.

It occurred to me (being so profoundly philosophical for a weekday morning) that only the accident of birth separated us. Had I been born here in this small spot of Turkey, instead of Holland, I’d be wearing bloomers, tending cows and knitting something pink. I’d be going to the mosque rather than not going to church. Possibly I’d be perfectly content with my life as the woman seemed to be, but I would not have traveled the world, lived in many places, have the footloose life I have. I’d not even own a pair of jeans. Imagine that! I find these little thoughts humbling, don’t you?

As I look around me as we wander the streets or drive through the villages, I notice that everywhere in the coffee shops and outdoor cafés, groups of men are socializing, playing cards, drinking coffee or tea. Not a woman among them. Possibly my husband would be sitting there if I were a cow lady. Then again, he might be fixing the barn or plowing a field.

As always, the local market draws me like a fly to sugar. Mother Nature’s offerings appeal to me so much more than, say, the snack and soft drink aisles in a supermarket. The produce in the Fethiye market is stunning, the displays a delight to the eye. Nuts and spices make a work of art. The place is clean and cheery and no, not a fly in sight.

Turkish market

I love sitting in the pancake place in the market, eating a spinach and cheese gözleme while watching the women produce them one by one from scratch. Their efficiency and skill make a great show.

Turkish pancakes

Turkish pancakes, spinach and cheese filling

And then I’m thinking, I could have been a pancake lady rather that a cow lady if I’d been born here. Rolling dough, or making the filling or cooking the gözleme. And instead one of these women could be sitting here in my chair, a gawky tourist taking photos.

And if I were a Turkish pancake lady, or a cow lady, what would I think of Miss Footloose? Probably nothing at all. After all, she’s only a tourist.

(Yes, I’ve got more. Come back next week.)

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