There is an unwritten rule among travel companies to limit long drives, but we like to include at least one "road trip" that takes us overland traveling among local people through small towns, diverse landscapes and rural environs. Although we are moving 30 times faster than ancient camel caravans in Anatolia, we are traveling precisely along the same routes used by traders and travelers of ancient times. Along this route we take from Cappadocia across the Anatolian plateau where Christians dug underground cities for refuge from marauding thieves and infidels through Konya, over the pine-forested Taurus Mountains and on to Antalya on the Mediterranean, we pass by and stop to see numerous caravanserai, the road houses built by the Ottomans to protect travelers from marauding Arabs and foster trade in the empire. Konya was at the center of trade connecting east and west along the Silk Road, but also connecting travel and trade from Africa north across the Mediterranean to Asia and the west.
In the spring, people are plowing and planting their fields and this time of year we found them harvesting crops everywhere. One of the things I enjoy most, wherever in the world I'm traveling, is when our guides make impromptu stops along the roadside to engage local farmers which is exactly what we did this day: we stopped to lend a hand picking up potatoes that had been plowed up for harvest. It turns out the migrate field workers that move around Turkey this time of year had not arrived yet to these fields so we actually lent a hand to the local women whose families farmed these stark fields and had to do the harvest themselves to get their potatoes to market. Although we were all laughing and smiling, some members of our group took the work pretty seriously and tried to move as fast at the locals sorting among sizes, filling up buckets, and then depositing them into potato sacks. Of course, we took lots of pictures and were delighted when the local Turkish women pulled cell phone cameras out of their blouses to take pictures of the crazy westerners who surprised them this day innocently just trying to lend a hand and get a better sense of local life in Anatolia!