Tuesday, December 1, 2009


By Claire
November 30
Merhaba! (hello!)
If you’ve seen the heartbreaking movie, Gallipoli, starring a 21 year old Mel Gibson, you will understand the importance of this peninsula. We spent two days here visiting several of the memorials. The small museum and memorial in Kabatepe, 1 km from our campsite was really fascinating and moving. They had many displays of artifacts from the battlefields as well as uniforms from the Turks, the British and the French. I can’t imagine enduring the scratchy wool in the heat and the “heavy duty” boots in this rocky terrain. Technology has come so far when it comes to gear.

Mustafa Kemal: Attatürk

Fused bullets—“the chances of this happening are something like 160 million to one, which gives a chilling idea of just how much ammunition was being fired.”

Gallipoli veterans, Australian Jack Ryan and Turk Huseyin Kacmaz, honour each other during a ceremonial exchange of World War One uniforms at the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day luncheon hosted by the Turkish Government at the Kaba Tepe Information Centre, Anzac, 25th April, 1990.

“What land were you torn away from
What makes you so sad having come here”
Asked Mehmet the soldier from Anatolia
Addressing the Anzac lying near

“From the uttermost ends of the world I come
so it writes on my tombstone”
answered the youthful Anzac “and here I am
buried in a land that I had not even known”

“do not be disheartened mate”
Mehmet told him tenderly
“you share with us the same fate
in the bosom of our country

you are not a stranger anymore
you have become a Mehmet just like me”

a paradise on earth Gallipoli
is a burial under the ground
those who lost their lives in fighting
lie there mingled in friendly compound

Mehmet then asked an English soldier
Who seemed to be at the playing age
“how old are you little brother
What brought you here at such an early stage”

“I am fifteen forever” the English soldier said
“in the village from where I come
I used to play war with the children
Arousing them with my drum

Then I found myself in the front
Was it real or a game before I could tell
My drum fell silent
As I was struck with a shell

A place was dug for me in Gallipoli
On my stone was inscribed Drummer age fifteen
Thus ended my playful task and this is the record
Of what I have done and what I have been”

NOTE: Mehmet is a common Turkish name and Mehmetҫik is the endearment epitomizing the common Turkish soldier—corresponding to “Tommies, or “Johnnies”.

The Turkish original of the poem is entitled “Ҫanakkale”, but the name “Gallipoli” has been preferred for The English version because that war is more commonly referred to as the “Gallipoli Campaign” in English after the Gallipoli (in Turkish “Gelibolu”) peninsula on the western embankment, where most of the bitter land fighting had taken place, and where most of the innumerable well-tended and flower covered cemeteries are situated.

Anzac Cove

Anzac cemetery--so peaceful and beautiful and terribly sad

Today was a very sobering day. Why do we realize the pointlessness of war only after it’s over?

We drove on to Eceabat to catch one of the hourly ferries to Ҫanakkale on the mainland.

Tickets to Canakkale

We enjoyed our 25 minute crossing eating lunch at our dining table in Homer with a view of the Dardanelles on either side. As soon as we arrived, Chuck pulled over and I jumped out to run to the ATM machine I had spotted from the ferry. When I got there I noticed there were 8 ATMs lined up right next to each other. We drove on to a supermarket but couldn’t get into the parking lot and the traffic in town was murder. We headed south in search of some groceries and a camping spot.

Yogurt—now you’re talking! Some of these are the size of one gallon paint cans. If only they would fit in our tiny refrigerator.

We drove and drove, finally reaching the town of Güzelyali where we hoped to find a campground. Alas, passing several campgrounds closed for the season we decided to turn back. Chuck thought he had seen the word “camping” in the middle of a small billboard advertising a hotel back in town but we had passed it too quickly to be sure. We drove back and sure enough, it had a camping area and we pulled in, got set up and were given a tour of our own bathroom inside the hotel. Electricity, friendly atmosphere, hot shower and all for only 20 TL or €8.70.

We walked down the street to town and went into a tea house and ordered tea, which is called ҫay and pronounced chai. We were seated out on the deck overlooking the water. A very kind and friendly man offered to take our picture when he saw me taking a photo of the glass of tea. It’s not the best but it certainly was nice of him. He asked where we were from and excitedly told us he had been to San Diego. His English was quite good.

Tea in Güzelyali

Walking back, we noticed a line of huge posters promoting a housing development. Note the Buddha in the living room.

No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back ~ Turkish Proverb

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