Traveling through Turkey, one may think of all the religious wonders one might see...the mosques, the hidden cave churches, the palimpsest-like commingling of religions produced by the appropriation/usurpation/alteration of one religion's artefact by another. And, indeed, there were more than a few awe-inspiring monuments Moon and I laid our eyes on as we traveled from Istanbul southeast to Goreme, then west to Konya (aka Rumi’s land), then to Ephesus, currently home of the largest archaeological excavation site in the world.
(What remains of the Temple of Artemis, outside Ephesus.)
But another facet of our travels that consistently inspired awe, and quite a few giggles, was derived from all the stray cats whose paths we crossed on our daily adventures. At first, it was delightful—we both love cats and animals in general, and, missing our own respective furry companions who were staying with friends stateside, we took pleasure from the interaction.
(At the great Suleyman Mosque in Istanbul)
But then seeing all the stray cats in addition to more than a handful of even more grossly malnourished-looking stray dogs, which seem to exponentially multiply in number as we ventured more deeply into the heart of Turkey, became disheartening, upsetting, and infuriating.
(Just a few of the dozens upon dozens of kitties at the Ephesus ruins.)
I’ve made it no secret that I value nonhumans more than humans—the former never break your trust or your heart. So seeing all these poor, starving and clearly suffering animals (no pictures, I promise), was terribly unsettling. In Goreme, the epicenter of the Cappadocia region, I asked our hotel’s manager why no one took care of the stray dogs, which overran the small town (population 2,000; with tourists, 6,000). “Is there a vet in town? Is there a way to get these animals fixed?,” I asked him. I had just bought and fed three sausages for a bone-thin dog (along the likes of Patrick the Pitbull) and was hoping to run down to town to take it to the vet if at all possible.
“At least no one beats them,” was his rejoinder.
A week later and still feeling slightly jet-lagged but happily sitting at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn (shoutout Susie Q!),