Note: As 2015 had just ended, I decided to pick my most favourite travel moments of the year and write them down in “2015 Best Travel Moments” series. They will be in no particular order of some sort, as they are equally beautiful to me. Enjoy!
Goreme, Turkey – February 2015
Goreme was freezing cold that morning! The fact that I jumped out of bed and took a shower really early proved that the cold did not bother me at all. It was because I would do something I had wanted for so long that day. It may be my main agenda for visiting Turkey: I would fly on a hot air balloon to watch sunrise over Cappadocia stunning landscape!
I was beyond excited. Too bad that hot-air-balloon thing did not happen.
The weather was so bad that all the balloon companies had to cancel all flights. That day was actually the best chance for a good flying-weather until at least another week. Yep, I had to live with the fact that I would not have the hot-air-balloon experience whilst in Turkey. I was broken hearted 😦
Alright, travel must go on! I have arrived safe and sound in Turkey so let’s celebrate that!
Finally my friends and I decided to spend the morning by strolling around Goreme and take a lot of pictures. The balloon company dropped us off at our hostel at around 7:30 am. Still so early! Goreme is a small tourist village and most business were still closed at that hour. We still do our walk anyways. We had the whole afternoon planned but until lunch time there would be us and the streets and alleys of Goreme.
We were walking down the street just couple meters from our hostel when an old man on a motorcycle passed us by. He seemed so nice. We greeted each other with a hello. 10 minutes after that just so happened he passed us by for another time, only this time he stopped. There was another helloa and we were then conversing.
He asked us where we came from and looked interested when we answered that we came from Indonesia. We then introduced ourselves. His name is Mustafa, he was in his mid 60s I suppose. We insisted to call him Uncle Mustafa. He said that I looked a lot like his granddaughter. We had a good laugh about that. We also talked about the cold weather. The next thing I knew he invited us over to his house for tea. We said yes and followed him home.
It turned out that his house was just across our hostel. He invited us in. It was not a fancy home of some sort, but it is warm. I knew by the moment I was there. Uncle Mustafa lived with his wife, we call her Aunt Fatma. He was then conversing in Turkish with his wife. I bet he was explaining on how on earth he could come home with us, three young women coming out of nowhere. At some part of the conversation I also sensed that he told her what he thought of me looking a lot like their granddaughter. She glanced at me and smiled in agreement.
Fragrant Turkish tea was served a moment later. Little did we know that it was just a starter. Aunt Fatma then served us breakfast. A big one. She generously filled our plate with gozleme (Turkish flat bread) and put some side dishes on the table. There were olives, raisins and strawberry compote. Once everything’s on the table Uncle Mustafa said, “Eat up!” and so we ate. They were so delicious! So authentic and homey!
We chatted a lot over breakfast. Uncle Mustafa spoke good English, whilst Aunt Fatma seemed to only speak in Turkish. Uncle Mustafa knew some facts about Indonesia. He knew about Tsunami in Aceh and the fact that Indonesia is home to the biggest Muslim population in the world. He asked us about our religion. My two friends were Muslim. He stated that he and his wife were Muslim. He then asked me if I were a Muslim. I answered no and told him that I am a Christian. Then he said something very beautiful:
“All religions are the same, teaching (us) good things. The most important is the heart”
He then smiled as he said that. I was so touched that I almost burst in tears. I managed to keep myself together and return his smile. It restored my faith in humanity. I felt welcomed. They were once strangers but that morning my friends and I made new family on the street of Goreme. We sat and talked for about two hours. We talked about Indonesia, Turkey, families and exchanging language lessons. Aunt Fatma then taught us how to wear head scarf, Turkish women style. Uncle Mustafa then sang a rendition of Sufi song. Glasses were refilled with Aunt Fatma’s tea and we were so full of delicious gozleme!
As we talked, snow fell. My friends and I were so thrilled for that was our very first snowfall ever! Uncle Mustafa and Aunt Fatma just laughed at us as we explained that we had never seen snow at where we lived, let alone experiencing a snowfall. We were then busy with our cameras. I really enjoyed that moment. Good food, great talk, beautiful people. I will cherish that forever.
My plan to watch sunrise from a hot air balloon may be cancelled, but I was given a once in a life time experience like no other. I considered myself lucky, blessed, rather, to be able to experience that. A simple gesture from Uncle Mustafa and Aunt Fatma showed me the true value of Turkish hospitality. I was welcomed in the country. I am forever grateful.
My days in Turkey were incredible. I fell in love with the country. 7 days were not enough to discover all the beauties. I pledged myself to come back. I promise I will.
As I am writing down this story, I wish Uncle Mustafa and Aunt Fatma nothing but the best. I pray that they are forever blessed for their kind heart. Their kindness will forever remains in my heart.