Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Oh So Friendly

Our dear friends Steve and Kristal came to visit us recently. I loved almost everything about their visit. Wonderful conversation, good food, playing games, seeing the country. They jumped right in and loved, played with, and took care of our kids as if they were their own. Kristal even babysat all three of them so that I could take a nap. That act alone will make me sing Kristal's praises until the day I die.

One thing that I loved about Steve and Kristal's visit, though, surprised me. I wasn't expecting their visit to make me love Turkey more. But it did. Somehow seeing my home through fresh eyes reminded me of what an amazingly beautiful part of the world I live in. Turkey is gorgeous. It just is. Not only that, Turkey is full of super friendly, super helpful, super nice people. Sure, not everybody is friendly and nice, but a lot of them are. And today I want to take a moment to remember a few of the examples of people who put a smile on my face just by taking the time to be friendly to a stranger.

While out on our whirlwind tour of Turkish sites, we went through a little village whose claim to fame was an underground city. In the Cappadocia region of Turkey, these amazingly huge matrixes of ancient caves are sprinkled all over. Apparently they could hold 2-3000 people during times of war. Hopefully a future post will tell more about it.

This particular village wasn't on the main tourist route, so although they have a huge amazing underground city underneath them, they aren't swamped with hoards of people coming to see it. That was good news for us because it meant no crowds, and cheaper prices. Some of the local women were trying to capitalize on the trickle of tourists who wander through by making and selling traditional dolls. At only $1.50 a pop, the dolls were a steal.

Kristal and I took the girls across the street to check out the dolls and when the ladies found that I knew Turkish they swarmed us, asking questions, taking turns holding baby Clara, and of course trying to convince us to buy more dolls.

Once we successfully picked out a few dolls, we let the ladies know we were waiting for our husbands who were out buying some bread, cheese, and tomatoes for our picnic lunch. One of the ladies who had been holding and rocking Clara for me under a shady tree looked up disappointed and asked, "But I live so close by. Why didn't you just come over to my house for lunch?"

See, didn't I tell you they were friendly?!

The next morning we walked into a pottery shop where we interrupted an old lady as she ate her cucumber and cheese breakfast. Not only did she insist on showing us how her husband made the pottery and how strong it was by making Kristal balance on a wobbly clay pot (which I'm still kicking myself for not getting a picture of), she also insisted that we split her cucumbers with her.

Later that day as we were driving back from our Cappadocia adventures, our tire blew out. We had just passed by a creek and a couple of little restaurants, but the area really looked like a ghost town. We pulled to the side of the road only to see a completely shredded front tire. James and Steve stood there looking at it deciding what to do when a few men came out of the deserted restaurant across the street to see if they could help. Word spread and pretty soon every male in the area was crowded around our car chatting away trying to come up with a solution.

Kristal, the kids, and I meandered over to the empty restaurant (which happened to have a little trout pool and a play area for the kids) and were served free glasses of Turkish tea while the guys across the street finally decided to put James in one of their cars and take off down the road (actually way down the road, the nearest tire selling town being a 35 or 40 minute drive). Eventually they came back, a few guys gathered around, and a couple of them got down in the dirt and changed the tire while James looked on. Finally, James shook hands all around, came over to the restaurant, ate a nice fish lunch, and we were on our way again.

Thank you friendly guys! You made what could have been a big headache into a really pleasant experience! And your fish tastes good too.