The Aegean seaside town of Oren is not the sort of village that would register on the must-see lists of many travelers, but when our gulet dropped anchor there and we set out to explore we found a slice of Turkey as old as its traditions - with a modern overlay, of course, of cell phones and calculators and vehicles to transport goods. We arrived on a Wednesday, market day, when merchants from miles around roll in to sell their wares. And they sell just about everything: seasonal produce of all sorts, housewares, handcrafts, saddles for donkeys and cloths for the table, essential oils, farm goods, clothing.

Business was brisk but the pace unhurried, as if everyone knew that the point of the market was to socialize and enjoy themselves even if the motivation was to convert goods to cash. Most women wore traditional dress: loose headscarves in striking colors, long patterned skirts. Ages ranged from young to ancient. Their faces projected a deep calmness, as if settled like the sea on a windless day. Same with the men: their lined faces with bristly mustaches formed quiet portraits of time, but their sudden smiles burst like sunrises revealing a mischievous appreciation of the moment.

We strolled among the stalls, made our purchases to contribute to the commonweal, then returned to the beach with its straw umbrellas in many colors that fellow sailor Judy said looked like parasols in fancy cocktails. The sea reflected the tranquility of the village, its calm surface disturbed only by the dingy coming to collect us and return us to the ship.

Filed Under Cruises, Sailing, Turkey


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