5 Minute Adventures
Oct 11, 2007
|As travellers, we often seem to concentrate on the big events. A four day cruise. A visit to the Acropolis. A 16-hour boat ride. And yet, we are finding that most of the memories that we will have come through little unexpected snippets; things that crop up out of nowhere. A great haircut for Nick. A madcap Amazing-Race style trip from a ferry boat to a taxi to a bus. So with that in mind, we will try and capture some of these "5 Minute Adventures" as we go.
(Nick writing - I was quite excited when Kyla mentioned this observation and likely a good element to add to the Trogue, since it reminded me of a childhood reading "5 Minute Mysteries" and Encyclopedia Brown stories. Hence, I will try and title my recollections accordingly. Some of you may remember Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, but I'm willing to bet no one remembers "5 minute mysteries". Like many of the civilizations we have encountered on our journey, those books have faded into legend, without leaving a trace for future generations.)
Midnight Passport Control - Kyla writing
The bus ride from Antalia to Goreme was 10 hours so we decided to do it overnight. We could simply sleep through most of it and wake up in the morning far away from the coast surrounded by exciting new scenery. I found it odd that aside from a couple of tourists, the bus was mainly full of men.
Anyway, we bunkered down for the evening in our seats. Our bandanas kept our eyes shielded, our adventure towel became a blanket, and the low music on our MP3 player blocked out the loud television. Nick soon was snoring gently beside me, and I guess I followed not long after. In the midst of my sleep I kind of woke up. My enviroment had somehow changed so I thought to take off the bandana to see what had changed.
My! Was there two men with machine guns now walking in the aisle of the bus? What?? So many Turkish headlines ran through my head. I won't mention them now as I believe a mother or two may be reading this website. Thankfully the young man next to me whispered "Passport control".
Passports? Weren't those for international travel? We weren't leaving the Turkish border though. Somehow we found our passports in time to hand to the armed men.
Then the waiting. My heart pounded. I missed home. How silly I had been to think that this travel thing had been a walk in the park. So many things rushed through my mind - the border issues with Iraq , the Kurdish situation, the monument we gazed up to earlier in the day in memory of the Turkish soldiers who had lost their lives to internal terrorism - there were SO many names and just those from Antalya were listed.
More waiting. Nervous glances were exchanged between Nick and I. We were certainly awake now. Where were we anyway?
Finally the bus host returned and he now had the documents. He handed out what looked like identical identification cards to all of the Turkish men and then fumbled through the several passports. To help him along, I quietly noted "Canada" when it was our turn. He returned our passports and the man beside us at hearing "Canada" quietly repeated it to be and gave me a very warm smile. Instantly I was put at ease by his friendly gesture and returned to feeling safe in Turkey. I wanted to ask him if he had friends or family in Canada but it just didn't seem right to do anything other than be quiet.
Throughout the rest of our journey that night there were many stops - we believe a mix of bathroom breaks, and prayer breaks. At each stop the gentlemen beside me translated the driver instructions. As the daylight broke he asked where we were going, and made sure to advise us as we reached our stop.
(Addendum - Nick writing - we learned later that this stop was likely to be checking up on the military status of the Turkish men. Men in Turkey have to do 16 months of military service, and those that shirk their duty can be ferreted out while they are on long haul bus trips.)
I DO have a husband... somewhere - Kyla writing
One of the stops along our moped journey was to a touristy lookout point with a fabulous view of the mountains and country side. After parking our mopeds just past the lounging camel in the parking lots (seriously!) we made our way to the lookout to grab some photos and some much needed drinks. It was SO hot in this spot. I decided I needed shade and randomly walked into shop tents to look at whatever was being sold to avoid the sun. Some shopkeepers were nowhere to be seen, some were praying out the back, some were napping. I just assumed Nick, Tyrone, Sarah and Amanda were happy in the sunlight, taking photos but that they would soon be by my side in the shop area. I later learned that they were all wishing to keep with one of the Ramadan ideals of caring and providing for stray animals by buying lots of water and feeding that to each and every stray dog (which is A LOT in Turkey) in the area.
But I really could have used Nick's company. I walked into one tent. The shopowner was not only awake, but rather interested in having a customer. My guess is that I was his first customer of the day even though it was after noon. I had been looking at Pashmina's since Greece and had intended on picking one up in Turkey for those long evening bus rides, trips to mosques, and as something new to contribute to my wardrobe. The shopowner had many to look at. I was happilly browsing and had my head down looking at the selection. I looked up and the owner had selected one for me, was 5 cm from my face and was about to tightly wrap my head with one of the scarfs. What to do? I guess...comply !? Before I knew it I was thrust in front of a mirror and saw my reflection. I was looking exceptionally non-Kyla ! My look was not yet complete however. Before I heard "eyeliner" or "make-up" I heard "hypoallergetic" which I guess meant that whatever was about to come was okay... right? Before I knew it I was being made up like a bride on her wedding day (the last time anyone had put eyeliner on me). Again, the man was 5 cm from my face telling me to "look up", "close your eyes" and then again thrust in front of the the mirror. I was really taken aback. Nervous. Not quite sure what to do. "You look beautiful, beautiful, beautiful" . Where was I again? How did I get here?Thankfully the shopowner soon asked the question I have been asked a number of times in Turkey - "are you married"?
Married? Oh my... now that you mention it, why yes I am married! In fact right now would be a perfect time for me to be with my husband!
I ran out of the shop into the laneway yelling for Nick. Other than the time when a group of us believed that our friend Ali was about to be run over by a yacht while she was swimming back to our boat, I had not once yelled anything during our travels. It just didn't seem like an appropriate thing to do.... unless there was a real need to do so. There was need. I think I had left my glasses in the shop so you can imagine the state I was in. Nick feeling like a good samaritian was perhaps a bit put off by having to leave the mangy dogs - until he set eyes on me. He recognized the voice but... Kyla?
With Nick by my side we bought the scarf, were given evil eye good luck pins and rejoined our friends.
And THAT, is a 5 minute adventure!
The Adventure of the Unexpected Pool Game - Nick writing
After we returned our mopeds in Goreme, Tyrone and I chatted with the owner for a while. He invited us for drinks later that night, and we kindly accepted his hospitible offer. Later that night, as the group of 7 of us sat down at the Paradise Cafe, Tyrone and I walked next door, to the Pasha Cafe, to join the Moped Place Owner for a drink. The Pasha was a cool place, but empty except for our new friend, and the two bartenders, who were all playing pool. The bartender was a good player. Actually, he seemed like a fantastic player. We were brought two Efes beers, and watched them play another game. Tyrone doesn't drink beer, though, so I had to drink from both bottles surreptitiously so as not to appear ungrateful. They finished their second game; our friend from the moped place took a phone call and had to leave; and we were invited to play a game. "Uh oh", I thought, "this appears to be right out of a Things to Watch Out For section of our travel guide". Tyrone played first, and won, with the bartender not actually sinking a ball. Then I played and beat him as well. Then, before the 50 Lira notes started coming out on the next game, we said "we should get back to our wife and girlfriend" and left, shaking hands all around. The 5 minute drink turned into a half-hour abscence, which puzzled the rest of our group.
(Note: actually, I'm sure that no betting would have taken place, no scam was being run, and they were just bored employees with no customers who were excited to have some company. They were really nice, and we enjoyed having a beer with them and playing pool. It was just ... another slightly weird out-of-the-blue experience.)
The Case of the Bad Street Meat - Nick writing
Not really a very good adventure, and while the initial phase lasted about 5 minutes, the second phase was much longer! I was taught a very good lesson. We were wandering around Göreme on our first afternoon, before a 3 hour hike through some of the fantastic valleys. We needed a quick bite of food - Kyla wisely bought some bread and a banana. I stopped at a chicken doner stand, which was tempting. Even though lunch had been a few hours ago, and the fire surrounding the meat appeared to be out. Still, chicken doner is hard to resist. As soon as I ordered, and started eating, I had that feeling that this was not a wise decision. Chicken shouldn't be left to sit out that long at a stall at the side of the street. Those doner spits were made for roasting and turning, not sitting still. Anyway, long and not-pleasant story short, two days later I was laid up in bed with ... stomach cramps, to be polite. 8 hours later, things seemed to rectify themselves, and I was able to head out to the bus terminal and say goodbye to our new, and old, friends (old in that Captain Matt had showed up a few minutes earlier to travel with a friend to Mount Nimrut in the east of Turkey).
The Case of the Missing Okey Tile - Nick writing
This isn't really a 5 minute adventure, but I just wanted to highlight a really fun game that is played all across Turkey. It's called Okey, and it's basically like Gin, or Gin Rummy, or possibly even Rummy, but played with tiles. I would highly recommend anyone checking the game out - we will try and buy it and send it home at some point.
The Mystery of Turkish Haircuts - Nick writing
We spent 3 wonderful days in Koycegiz with our friends Aysel and Suzi, sampling local food, visiting different sites, and generally having a great time. But I think the one event that will stay with me the longest will be the haircut I got on our last day there. I had been whining about my hair for about 2 months at this point, but Kyla had convinced me that the curls, waves, and weird wings that had appeared helped me blend in while in Greece. The hair, along with the 6 day stubble, seemed to convince shop-keepers in Greece that I was also Greek, which occasionally was a problem when I would great them with a hearty "Yassas!", only to then have to explain that I don't speak Greek, in response to their rapidfire Greek welcome.
But the hair didn't help as well in Turkey - most Turkish men keep their hair short, and I definitely didn't look Turkish. After hearing my whines about my hair and stubble, Suzi suggested that I visit the barber that her dad goes to when he is in Turkey (she was spending a few months in Turkey, attending a Turkish school, but would be returning soon to the UK to be with her father). So we walked down to the local barber, and Suzi explained in Turkish that I wanted the full haircut. The babershop was family owned, and the son sat me down and started with the haircut. I've never had a barber who was more exacting and precise - each hair was almost individually measured and cut, then compared to his scalp-mates, then evened again. Halfway through the haircut, he paused, and asked if I wanted some tea. When I said yes, a man from the tea shop next door came in and delivered 4 teas (one for each of the people in the store). As soon as I finished my tea, though, the barber put his barely touched glass aside and jumped back into cutting my hair.
After the haircut, he gave me a scalp massage and a shampoo, then started applying various different liquids and gels to my face, rubbing each in with his fingertips. Some burned, some were cooling, but all were preparing my beard for the shave of its life. Out came that old-school lather, out came the long straight-edge razor. He shave once with the grain, then lathered me up again for another go at my stubble against the grain. Never have my cheeks been so smooth. Then, he rubbed more stuff on my face, gave me a forehead massage, washed out the shampoo, cleaned out my ears, trimmed my nose hair, and brought out the flames.
Yes, the flames. He lit some sort of candle-like device, and used the flames and heat to singe off the little transparent hairs across my cheeks, the back of my neck, and in my ears (Kyla has assured me that I did not have any noticeable ear hair before the treatment, and I will believe her on that).
He then motioned for me to put my head down on the counter top. I wasn't really expecting the industrial sized back massager to come out, but out it came, and he gave me a fantastic 15 minute back and neck massage. He asked me to sit up (which was getting harder and harder, since I was starting to fall asleep), and he gently took my head between his two hands from behind, and then ... CRACK! He snapped my neck to the side farther than it has ever moved. CRACK! the other side. Then he took my arm, massaged down the length of it, and proceeded to crack each of my knuckles. Then the other side. In the end, my haircut lasted about an hour and a half, and cost ... 15 Lira. Which is about 12 dollars Canadian. Which is less than I pay at home for a 10 minute haircut at First Choice Haircutters, where they won't even wash the little bits of stubble out. The only negative to the haircut experience (and this is a tiny, tiny negative) is the meticulous way he arranged the hardest, most severe part down the side of my scalp. He spent 10 minutes combing this gleaming white part, and fluffing the front into a very detailed wave. Not normally my style, but I wasn't about to stop a master in the middle of his craft.
So the mystery (this is how I tie it all together, referencing back to the title. This is called "competent literature") is why don't we have this sort of thing in Canada? Why will no one burn off unwanted hair? Why will no one pause in the middle of haircutting and deliver free tea? Turkey is so much more advanced than us in the art of men's haircuts.
What is this 1.5 hr hair cutting story doing here under 5 minutes mysteries? Well you see, back home my haircuts take 5 minutes!