Goreme Travel Blog

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Daren and Osman

Just as we got used to the life and noise of turkey, to drinking teas all the time and just as turkeys good food started healing our somewhat battered and malnurished bodys things were about to change again because Ramadan, to our big surprise ended in September, not began as we had thought! Instead it began now.

There was something peacefull about the last night before ramadan. Afterall it had been a normal day giving us no clue about the significance of this day. But just before sunset life stopped and the streets became empty. No men sitting about, no women poking at vegetables arguing the price and no potentially rude pre teen boys. Only a few cars travelling fast , late for whatever was about to happen. Then the silence was broken once more by a horse galloping along the normally busy road; its hoves casting their echo between the highrises whilst its rider pressed for more speed.

Again the modern and the ancient side by side, oblivious to the oddness of it. Just the hooves, silence and then the call to prayer and a massive bang from a lonely firecracker.

Two hours earlier we were still happy in the belief that we would miss Ramadan. İts not an easy time to travel in a muslim country: Tempers run high, we at times feel awkward about eating infront of the hungry and in Morrocco two years ago, we ended up going hungry ourselves, which is annoying when trying to ride a long way. No more free teas, no more lunch time kebabs...only hidden pikniks because the muslims won't eat or drink between sunrise and sunset for a whole month!

Hassan was a young buisness teacher who stopped to talk to us through one of our supposedly hidden pikniks.

Faıry chımneys
Daren fired questions at him as we were trying to understand this month of what to us looked like incredible hardship: Girls start around the age of 9-10, boys start a little later, all depending on maturity. Some shia muslims have a different time of the year for their faste. He didn't know weather people in certain jobs were extempt from fasting but in general in turkey it is voluntary. However most people follow it. Its hardest in the beginning.

The last line was confirmed by the large amount of ambulances we saw durig the first days of Ramadan.

Then we talked about the ottoman empire, EU membership and the language. Again: Most turks are a fountain of knowledge and Hassan was no different.

A group of young teenagers in a shop told us more: They too were all fasting and no, Ramnadan wasn't in the way.

Inside one of the many many many caves...
 They are proud and looked a little miffed when we told them we didn't fast. İ showed them the little wodden cross i am wearing around my neck. (Not for particularily christian reasons but because it was given to me by some very kind gerogian women.)  A 12 year old boy beamed with pride as he told us it was only his second ramadan. No food or drink for 16 hours! His older cousins, all between 14 and 16 were more used to it and let him enjoy the limelight. They were clearly proud of him and proud of their own determination and they too had never heard of people being extempt because of their job...Then the conversation drifted towards football, marriage and so on...

That evening we were invited to eat with a family: A farmer, his wife, their one adult son a teenage daughter, (another son worked in Libia.) and about 15 small cats apparently all with their own name. The meal was delicious but simple: A soup, stewed aubergines and bread and traditional baklave (honeycake). No one ate fast or very much. They didn't behave in any way like they had just starved for 16 hours. No guzzeling gallons of water...? Left overs were given to the cats. Here we had almost no common language, but what the husband mostly wanted to know was why europe was so racist. Hm... fair point but difficult to answer... We do meet many many turks who have been deported...

On the way home we walked past the mosque. it was filled and people were kneeling in lines outside praying. Again, like it happens mostly when i see this complete devotion, may it be orthodox people, people worshipping in a chinese temple or muslims, i feel a lump in my chest and wish i too was religious. To be so devoted and shure must be good. But you can't make yourself religious. And the treat of safety and security through religious communities has a backside too...Unless offcourse you actually listen to the message of acceptance, love and peace that the bible, the koran and buddah all agree about.

As we rode on the landscape seemed to move backwards in time. No more highrises, just small red roofed villages, small cottages and vast vast wheat fields. İ imagined it to have looked the same in byzantine times and loved the rıde. We spent our nights in these vast fields, cooking gourmet food on our stove and lying star gazing on big matresses of hay. Here it almost reminded of China... Big space seems to bring big freedom feelings.

And then we meet Osman. one-love-Osman.

We got lost in his 4 squre km garden amongst grape vines and fairy chimneys. He found us on a steep slope and waved us in for tea.  Tea? At midday?! He greeted us with fresh cucumbers and went to put the kettle on. Then he lit a smoke.  This was his shead. A small wodden constructin in the middle of the big garden where he did what ,daren ashures me all men do in their sheads: All that his wife wasn't supposed to know about or disapproved of. Osman smoked and drank tea whilst his wife fasted a solid 16 hours at home. (Or so he thought!) She wouldn't come here but if his friends came for tea he would hide hide cigarettes. Osman was shure that many made up their own rules for ramadan. 'The men come and drink tea with me a lot'....  'Were all the same'  He says as he notices my cross: 'All people. Just different traditions. All this war!!! ..' Hes angry,  then adds 'But the french DO kiss to much' I agree: Why kiss in chefchauesns square in Marrocco??? Why wear see through trousers in the middle of Hong Kong (appart from the trail of puppy like men) and why kiss in the middle of cappadocias busy main street?! I can be SO conservative when it comes to it. But that isn't Osmans point. He says again: 'We are all people, all the same!' 

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Daren and Osman
Daren and Osman
Faıry chımneys
Faıry chımneys
Inside one of the many many many c…
Inside one of the many many many …
photo by: spocklogic