Turkish hospitality

Riding up a mountain in the early hours it is still hot when we approach a tiny village. Hoping to buy the days supplies we are only able to purchase sweet biscuits and soft drink. No problem as I am feeling more positive than the day before and my body , my mind adapted to the first major climb. We will find fresh produce elsewhere, worst case scenario, eat pasta and jam, spice it up with pepper, why not sooner than later?
“Ekmek?”….bread….do we need bread?
“Ahhhh….yes please…..tesekkurler”
A bag is presented….bread, cheese, olives, tomatoes, red and white onions, garlic, bottles of water……I go to pay……
“No…..no……gift……ice cream?”
I explain the best I can that I can not eat ice cream in the village during Ramazan. We are encouraged to choose an ice cream to take with us and eat just outside the village….the day’s supplies and a treat done…….ok……actually that is many treats done! “Tesekkur ederim”…kind laughter at my pronunciation…..then shouts! Mother, many children, father in the backgtound. We have gone the wrong way…. So we coast back down the mountain after a brief stop eating ice cream under the shade of a tree.
Another day I select tomatoes from a market stall…..No! I think I am not allowed to buy them…..actually he will not allow me to pay. Another day a truck stops, then another…..tomatoes…..apples. A man on a tractor stops as we search a place to camp for the night. Silently he hands us some cucumbers and then is on his way.
Flat, maybe more undulating as it is still hard, still so very very hot. In the baking heat we find the only tree visible on a vast horizon. Soon…man pulls up on the side of the road. A watermelon! We have craved these melons for months but the weight makes it impossible by bike…..with the exception of home delivery! We eat the entire thing, sweet, crisp and cold. Maybe we are delirious, giggling as we caterpult seeds from the spoons used to dig deep into its flesh. Our Stomach ache, 4Kgs of divine watermelon each,so much but so good, we still giggle. Later the man pulls up again…..ekmek, bread…..and again later….cold water in bottles. We sheltered for 6 hours that day, the middle of nowhere, isolated if not for the home delivery man.
And of course there is cay….we have followed farmers by car into petrol stations at the invitation of tea, or pulling up unannounced cay is always proffered. We can not drink it all, accept it all, we would travel nowhere. The Turkish hospitality is generous, un conditional and un relenting.


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