Saturday, November 22, 2008

A change in plans and another lesson in Turkish hospitality.

Ş
ahin’s plan for tonight was for us (him, Ersin, Fabio, Virginia, Şahin’s crazy cousin Yaşar and I) to go to the nearby town of Ürgüp and listen to live Turkish music. Turns out Fabio is a music fanatic as are Şahin and I. Lei and I had done the same thing with Şahin’s and Yaşar months back and I really enjoyed it so

I was looking forward to the time in Ürgüp. On the other hand I’m absolutely bone tired and still feeling a bit of jet lagged. Turned out I wasn’t the only tired one in the bunch. When Şahin’s suggested we call it an early night and go to Urgup tomorrow night instead, there were no objections.

Virginia, Fabio and I walked back to the Dream Cave Hotel.

At the moment, I’m sitting on my bed and reflecting on the wonderful hospitality of the Turkish people. As I walked out of Şahin’s shop tonight, I was going to slip Ersin some lira for taking us on the hike today. Şahin motioned for me to not hand over the money and then explained to me that Ersin would have been totally insulted by my gesture as what he did today was something expected – Turkish hospitality. In a town such as Göreme where there is no such thing as a holiday because everyone works seven days a week, I was quietly stunned that a man with a family would take time out of an entire working day to buy food at the market, spend an entire day with three strangers – taking them on a hike, feeding them and not expect anything in return. What a stark contrast to other places I have travelled to where people want payment if you even just take a photo of them or of something they own! I thought about this and then quickly realized that Turkish hospitality is paid in kind. I had bought some movie DVDs with me to entertain myself with on the trip. I decided to give all of them to Ersin. I wasn’t sure how he would accept my gesture and I was pleasantly surprised when he openly welcomed it. I sure do hope my luggage arrives on Monday because I brought along a couple big bags of Halloween candy for the kids. Maybe if I can’t thank the parents, I can at least give some bit of “treat” to their children as here life is all about the basics.