Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

Our second-to-last night in Olüdeniz my mom and I ate dinner at a table decorated with fresh rose petals. Nehire, who does reception at Mellis Hill, entertained us with belly dancing and…. tried… to teach us a few moves.

Things were going great until I tried to show off that, yes — I, too, can bend backwards and wave my arms and shoulders seductively while shimmying upside down, when I promptly lost my balance from the half-glass of wine I had consumed and fell on my ass. I was two feet from the pool.

* * *

Awoke the next morning to deep resonante, far off booms that I slowly realized was thunder, and not the days first call to prayer. Bright flashes of light lit the room, and when I pulled back the curtain multiple lines of fire zagged across the sky. The heavens broke: rain following us from Istanbul.

I fell back asleep and finally woke at 6:00 for yoga on the deck outside. The air was fresh and warm, the ground velvety with water. I met Özcan, who had already awoke with the thunder, to have him “try to yoga” — he teach me Türçee (Turkish), I teach him yoga, tamam?

He asked a lot of questions about the philosophy behind yoga (“is it only about the body, or do you disconnect your mind from here and … go somewhere else?”) and I did my best to answer (“Yes. No. Özcan: more than body, but about re-connecting the mind with Here.”

* * *

Bayram has taken my straw hat hostage (“I want a cowboy hat like in Cal-ee-for-nai-ay”) and stuck a long fern, a rose, and some richly-pink bouganvilla that hang like grapes — now I have a Robinhood-meets-Carmen-Miranda hat I wear through town and everyone thinks I’m from Sweden… (?)

* * *

I stayed up late that night practicing Turkish with Nehire and talking with Selda, the wife of the couple that own Melis Hill, about women in Turkey and her view of motherhood, being a wife, and how that fits with a modern Turkish woman’s sense of self.

I am pleased to have met these friends in Olüdeniz. Everyone truly has an open heart and are warm without a feeling of ulterior motive. True, there’s the random carpet salesmen one meets who tells you he’ll give your mother 100 camels to be your husband as part of his sales pitch, but most people I’ve met so far have defied my expectations and have gone out of their way to be accessable and show me their rich character. All the guidebooks love to mention how charming Turkish men are, and that many Western women fall in love.

When I first read this I imagined it was the TallDark&Handsome Rico-Suave types, slick and smarmy with flattering words. But I see now it has nothing to do with that; the charm comes from a genuine kindliness and respect, a slighty properness that is likely derived from tradition, culture, and religion. But the guidebooks have it wrong — it ain’t just the men who are charming. From the littlest bit I’ve seen, I’ve fallen in love with this whole damn country.

§333 · June 21, 2007 · Couch-hop, Location-Location · · [Print]

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