Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Tails From Buyukada
Yes, of course, the view from the shores of Buyukada, quaint port on the small island of Adalar, is gorgeous. Yes, the food and the minute shops crowded with wine and shampoo and jars of Nescafe are good and fascinating. The moon over the sea, the dancing palm trees tucked here and there, the cascades of purple flowers dripping from balconies; yes, of course, they catch my breath and light my eyes with fascination. But the tails, the plethora of tails wagging and waving, are what have stolen my heart in Buyukada.
To my delight and worry, the Turkish islands are brimming with stray cats and dogs. They lay on sidewalks, street corners and the very middle of vehicle prohibited lanes of tar. (Need a ride to the far reaches of Adalar? Hire a horse cart.) The cats, especially, are everywhere. If you dine at an outdoor cafe, you will also dine with cats. Dine indoors and you will dine with cats as well. They are each on the prowl for tasty possibilities. And dear God, did they find a sucker in me.
Each cat is more precious than the last, and stand back when I've spotted one with goopy eyes or fresh-scarred nose or half a missing ear. I'll give them most of my lunch. Taking my nutritional needs into his own hands, the Gypsy King bought extra lunches so I could not only fill my own belly, but cut chicken kabobs into baby-sized pieces and feed the troops at my feet.
Because the cats and dogs are meant to entice tourists to stay longer and part with more of their tourist dollars, the shops sell bags of pet food. So, me being me~ boldly stamped with 'sucker for animals' across my forehead~ I trolled the streets at nightfall with the ever protective Gypsy King and a 5 kilo bag of "Alice Snob" cat food, feeding all comers. Let me tell you, they came. Each mewling furry face got a handful and a "just look at how cute you are" and a "bless your little life" before bed. Even as we left the island behind this morning, a cat food trail marked our way to the ferry.
I worry for the animals of Adalar. But I needn't. Each dog is tagged in its ear and water is found in bowls along the lanes. They disappear at night to what I hope are safe places. The cats, for the most part, look fed and like cats, they argue on the streets at 2am. But it seems that the good people of Buyukada have agreed to care for these charges. They are a part of life on these Turkish isles. And a sweet tale to carry in my heart.