Explorer’s Journal: Hello Dolls in Damal


Phrase from Field: Village after village, we are graciously ushered in by the resident village Alevi imam, who sits us comfortably among patterned pillows and plastic dolls, filling our heads with stories of prophets and human rights, leaving us questioning about women beekeepers and local livelihoods.

Memorable Meal: freshly curdled ayran (a traditional yogurt drink) and tangy throat squeezing honey.

Location: Damal, Turkey

Altitude: 6,100 feet

Date: August 15, 2012

Hello Dolls – little dolls, bright paint, and colorful posters of the twelve imams are a few of the decorations in the otherwise dark earthen stone homes of Damal.

*****

About Explorer’s Journal: From April 2012 – December 2012 I am exploring the Caucasus through the lens of honey and bees as a National Geographic Young Explorer grantee. My mission is to use the living history and culture of small-scale beekeeping to help connect global travelers to local food traditions. The Explorer’s Journal is a daily snapshot from this adventure, giving you a very small taste of the more-than-complex life of the honey road. I am joined on parts of this adventure by story-teller Claire Bangser and navigator Suat Celik. To learn more, find me at my National Geographic Explorer page or read about the adventure here.
 
Would you like to read a story in your local magazine? Do you have an idea for an article? We are producing extensive visual and creative material on the region’s food, culture, and history. Send us an email to brainstorm how you can bring our young perspectives into your publications: balyolu@gmail.com.
 
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About Cat

Catherine de Medici Jaffee is a National Geographic Young Explorer, a Fulbright Scholar, a Luce Fellow, the Founder of Balyolu: the Honey Road, and a lunatic about honey culture in the Caucasus. Raised on a farm in the Colorado Rockies, Cat grew up loving animals, dirt, and altitude. Her dedication and passion for animals, agriculture, and women leaders has launched her across the world as a Luce and Fulbright scholar: to raise Aigamo ducks in Japan, to research yak trade caravans in Sikkim, and to study rural women’s migration in Turkey. In particular, Turkey - with its fish hung like laundry from windows, its 9,000 species of flowers, and its delicious honey - continues to lure Cat back to its borders. Cat’s love for Turkey, the mountains, agriculture, and women’s leadership blend together sweetly in her new venture Balyolu and her blog Inspired Beeing. You can most frequently find her jumping on a mountain, running from angry bees, cooking in villages, hitching on dirt roads, or joking with Turkcell about her internet woes. Cat is joined by her partner in crime Claire Bangser, artist, photographer, writer, and globe wanderer who believes in creative storytelling as a way to powerfully connect people across mental and physical borders. From working with small-scale women farmers in Mali, to documenting peoples' lives along a 2,000 mile bike tour in the US, she finds that every person (and bee) has an important story to tell and much wisdom to share (speaking of Wisdom, Claire just published her first book, Ride Somewhere Far. Check it out on our Link Roll). These days, you're most likely to find Claire upside down, yodeling from a mountaintop, making tragic mistakes in Turkish, or eating meat for Cat.

Posted on September 29, 2012, in Environment, Explorer's Journal, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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