Trip Start May 22, 2009
197Trip End Feb 16, 2010
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Arriving in Killis is a different story though. Right on the border it’s an easy cycle for us. However, most tourists go to Antakya and cross the border there, so Killis doesn’t get a lot of tourism. I can tell this because there’s not a postcard shop in site and prices are maybe a quarter of what they have been everywhere else (and they may still be bargaining high with me…).
Also, the people are very different. Foreigners are still quite a novelty. Upon first arrival, Brian wanted to stop for a bit of a rest and I decided to scout out the Otel scene. He was instantly mobbed by high school kids out of school for their lunch hour. Group after group passed by trying to talk about the bikes and such all while attracting more people. Eventually some old guys at the barber shop near by chased them all off so Brian could have a bit of a reprieve.
After being spoiled by westernized pensions offering French toast and muesli every morning, we were on a mission to find some food since our Otel doesn’t offer any. The main street is lined with dozens of doner shops (only 1 TL each), baklava to die for, and old men pushing carts and selling various forms of produce. Not exactly breakfast, but really nice to look at. The drive for coffee was beginning to overwhelm Brian and we thought he was going to have to settle for cay. There is an old boys tea house across from our Otel, but it’s not the kind of place that welcomes women so we had to keep looking.
A few minutes down the street we saw a huge market of fruits and vegetables and we met
Tea - check!
Breakfast - check!
New friends (bonus) - check!
Spent the next hour or so with our new friends having some great laughs and exchanging as much information as we can. Before leaving Canada, I put together a few little photo albums of us, our home, our jobs, Canada, family, etc. These have been invaluable! Also, one of the best things I bought in Turkey was an Atlas. I ripped out the Europe and Middle East as well as the World pages so we can talk to people about where we’re from, where we’ve been, where we’re going, and hear other travel stories. I’m actually glad that I bought it in Turkey rather than bringing it from Canada, as many of the countries have different names and this way we can pronounce them in the local language.
Went for a little walk around the Sehir Merkezi. In this town there are all sorts of tiny little off-shoots which lead in and around back alleys filled with so many different things. Brian actually found some pipe tobacco which he hasn’t managed to find for the last month or so. Wherever we went there was pleasant conversation and offers of tea. We felt badly, but we had to start refusing for our guts were full and we did have a couple of things that HAD to be done today.
But even little errands are becoming an adventure. I went in to mail a parcel home and
News travels quickly in a little town. Walking down streets we’ve never gone down before we could hear mutterings of ‘Canada’ and ‘bicyclette’ coming from various shop owners and patrons. We seem to be the talk of the town today.
But the most special time came when we passed by a nut and spice shop. I stopped for a moment to look at some new seeds I had not seem before. In Cappadocia they make a lot of pumpkin seeds. (Actually, the fields are piled with empty husks as they leave the fruit and only eat the seeds. Even the animals won’t eat them.) But these seeds were different.
With a curious look, the shop owner immediately thrust handfuls into both of our hands to try. I started looking around some more and we saw the un-roasted version of the seeds as well. A strange little seed that looked like peppercorns - only green - was quite curious to me. Finding a container inside I was able to read that it makes a thick molasses like substance that is made into coffee to cure coughs and phlegm. Well that was just the beginning of a fun evening in the spice shop. More and more items made their way into our hands and mouths as we looked at things we couldn’t identify.
Had some very nice conversation with Meslek Nedir, his son, and his grandson Zafer. It’s amazing how much you can get across with hand gestures and a few pictures in a book. One topic of conversation that keeps coming up as soon as they know we’re married is that of children. Families are so important here it’s a very frequent topic of conversation. But as for us…Inshallah. Before saying goodbye, we were honored when Zafer bid us farewell with a kiss on the hand and a touch from his forehead.
A little overwhelming for one day, but wonderful at the same time! I’ve been wanting some good human interactions and it seems like we made up for lost time in Turkey. Perhaps it’s better that we’ve been in touristy areas, I’m not sure we could take this day after day - nice as it is. But if all I’ve heard is true, this is a mild introduction to what we could experience in Syria.