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Bright spots in the dust

In a village with a shrinking water supply, one couple's cheer perks up the drab landscape.

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Melanie Stetson Freeman - staff

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The lakes in central Turkey are disappearing, so a Monitor correspondent and I decided to investigate. We came to a tiny village, Tashkopru, which used to be a paradise. A huge lake lapped at its shores. All the buildings in town had roofs made of the tall reeds growing along its banks. Locals made their living catching fish. Tourists came and stayed at the little guesthouse. But because of climate change and unwise water use, the lake is now gone.

Emine Karaoglu was the first person we met there. She cheerfully showed us her well, also dry. Now her water was pumped from deep underground. Flowers she carefully watered brightened her front yard – the oranges and yellows stood out against the dirt. She talked about the good old days, but that now, the young people were all leaving town. Soon her husband, Arif, came back from trying to work the dusty fields.

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We chatted for more than an hour through a translator. As we were saying our goodbyes, they started asking questions about me. Apparently, they had a son living in a nearby town and thought I would make a good wife. Their ability to see beyond our huge cultural differences and the obvious logistical problems made me laugh – but their open hearts had cleared any hurdles. I was incredibly flattered but told them I was already happily married.

Back home, I look out my window onto a salt marsh filled with water. I often think of Emine and Arif in their village where everything is dust.