Turkey is one of my favourite destinations. I have been there 5 times over the years and have made good friends with Elif a Turkish lady who is a joy to meet up with each time. I also have a nice friend who is an Iman at a mosque. When I went to meet him, he had to be chaperoned by his doorman, as he is not allowed to remain in a room with a woman other than his wife. We had tea and chatted, his English is about as good as my French, which means about 2nd primary year, but he is learning. His teacher was Shirley Smith a long time resident and teacher of English in Istanbul. The second time I went for tea, my iman friend excused himself with. ‘I must go and sing” I thought this a bit odd, but as he left me with his 3 teenage sons, it was fine, then I suddenly realised what he meant, he had gone to sing the prayers for the 4th time that day. I asked his sons why they weren’t hurrying off to the mosque, which was just outside, but they said that they didnt go to the mosque five times a day.
Another adventure I had in Turkey was when I met up with the two Mohommeds from Birmingham, England. Both were in their early 30′s and were cousins and were married. Their wives were not with them as they preferred a holiday in New York. The boys, I called them that because they wore basket ball shorts, white socks and sneakers and acted like schoolboys on a holiday, were loads of fun and I travelled with them for 5 days. We met in southern Turkey in the lovely old walled city of Diyrbakir. I had seen them on the plane, but as I caught the local bus to the Caravanesari and they caught a taxi (no roughing it for these British lads), we met at dinner. I heard them speaking English and asked where they were from. They said Parkistan. I said, ‘Rubbish not with those accents’. That night there was a wedding at the caravanesari. The women danced in the enclosed courtyard, where we were eating. I danced with the women, when the boys went to dance they were told they must dance outside the caravanesari in the swimming pool area with the men. The bride and bridesmaids looked like barbie dolls, all frou frou frills, net, peddicoats and fluffy skirts and sleaves, purple was the favourite colour, and dyed blonde hair the fashion. The boys and I travelled on together to Mardin. Well it was supposed to be together but they slept in so I went on the local bus, they caught up later at the Mardin caravanesari. But more about DIYARBKIR.
This is a very lovely old city with a high wall (considered not safe for tourists to walk upon because of robbers) I walked a little way, but as I was the only female tourist in town, it was a bit hairy. I stopped at the cheese market to try some white cheese. When I went to buy it the man refused to take my money. Same thing happened when I stopped off in a tea room for a cup of tea and time to write diary. When I went to pay I was told it had been paid for already. This happened a lot in this town, which is quite large, it having a new town outside the city walls. I visited a Syrian Coptic Church and was asked for a donation. There are only 3 families now that attend this church.