Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day 7: Turkey

We were up at 4:30 this morning to finish packing, haul our bags into the car and drive to the airport. Tegan flew back to Australia today (sniff) and I flew here, to Cappadocia, another magical moonscape that is blowing my mind. After this, Europe - I won't share where for now. (Suspense!) I am incoherently tired, but as I packed for three different climates and said goodbye to "my room" for the next few weeks, I thought:

It feels like I'm cheating on Turkey. 

The first word I learned in Turkish was "chicken," because when we landed and tried to find dinner, no one spoke English. 

I know. A non-English-speaking country where people don't speak English. The horror of it!

Last year, my 5th time in Turkey, landing in Istanbul after 11 months in Western countries, I had this thought: 

I'm home. 

My actual home in Turkey is another hour and a half by plane from Istanbul. But there is a sense of life in this country, in the noise and the smells and the serpentine streets, in your feet getting wet from melted fish ice when you walk through the market, in the call to prayer echoing through the night, in the erratic driving, the smoke, the yelling, the trays of tea, the weaving, the carpets, the friendliness. And I prefer it, more and more, over my neat, manicured North American origins.

This is not to glamorize Turkey or non-Western countries, because of course they are not perfect. Not even close. Nowhere is, as I have been disappointed to learn. It's just what kind of imperfect works best for you. 

Driving around with Tegan these last few days, we passed trees laden with pomegranates. We stopped a restaurant in the middle of nowhere where we both ordered melted cheese pide because that was the only thing we could communicate to the wait staff, who then ran after us after we left and gave us a bag of candy. This has been my kind of beautiful imperfect. 

Sharing belly laughs when miming to my Turkish neighbours that my corkscrew (different one) had broken in my wine cork and them using their pliers to get it out. 

And arriving here, in Cappadoccia, one of the most famous spots in the country. At home, you'd expect something like Niagara Falls in terms of infrastructure and tacky scale. Instead, I ate lunch at a restaurant with hologram art on the walls, where the owner chopped and prepared my salad from scratch and served up fresh shish tavuk (chicken!) for $10. And then wandering out into the town square, seeing groups of old men drinking tea and smoking, and passing a fish monger selling sardines in the corner of a parking lot. The air smells like paradise. The views have left me speechless.

That's my excuse, anyway. 

There will be pictures tomorrow. I promise. For now: wish you were here.

Love,
Natalie


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