Trials and Tribulations

I had a horse on which I used to go riding on Friday evenings and return the next night. The horse was a small wiry animal, like the horses we breed in our mountains in the west. It was very sure-footed and wore peculiar iron shoes with a hole in the sole. This horse used to run instead of gallop; ran like a dog runs, and the way it kept itself from stumbling or falling while going over the loose stones of the dried river beds which are used as paths, is amazing. We used to ride up the side of the steep mountains and down deep ravines and the declivities of the hills until we reached the plain at the head of the Gulf. We would arrive there about nine o'clock in the evening at a true Turkish Inn.

The Inn was made of mud walls and straw on a wooden framework with a back door way at one end which led into a large room with a central aisle. The room had an earthen floor which extended to the door way from the opposite end of the room. Individual ojaks (fire pots) were given to each traveller. On each side of this aisle, which was from six to eight feet wide, was a wooden platform which extended to the side walls about two feet above the floor of the aisle. This constituted the Inn. The horses were stabled at one corner of the same hall, close to the doorway on either side and the warmth of the animals helped furnish the necessary heat on cold nights.

Each traveler brings with him his own bedding and I was always accoutered with a blanket. The innkeeper rents to each traveler a portion of the platform. If the traveler is lucky he will have a section up close to the horses and fireplace and his saddle bags and blankets on the portion which has been rented to him. For the ojaks we would be furnished live coals from the recess of the fireplace.In this way the traveler could cook his own meals. Charcoal kept burning in the big open fireplace. I used to carry with me rubber pads to put over my ears because the night sounds which consisted for the most part the deep snorts and snores of my fellow travelers were very disquieting. I also carried with me constantly a bottle of menthol, with which I would annoint my hands, face, neck, ankles, etc. before retiring. Even this was not sufficient at times to keep one from being molested by the night insects. One might be fortunate enough to have nothing more than fleas bother him, but huge bed bugs were ordinarily very much in order.

Robert Chambers main page ęCopyright 2000