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Turkey my sweet sunset

by Zimmygirl (9/7/2009)

Turkey Teaching me about love for family, love for children and love for life

Turkey has always lingered at the back of my dreams and imaginations of a country that would be great for me to go to. Prior to my visit to Turkey I have been to Canada for 3 months, so it would only be fair for me to be in Turkey for 3 months.

My idea of exploring a culture, a language a way of life is not to see it from the outside, but to actually live it with its people. I decided to live and experience this culture with a Turkish family that could accommodate me for 3 months. Neither of family or friends has ever visited this part of the world, so many of them had ignorant anticipations about Turkey. However, I, the adventurous and motivated one decided to leave all my minds and thoughts home. I wanted to enter Turkey clean with no biast thoughts.

When I arrived at the airport, I had a big black bag which had my life in it entering a world of unknown. My lovely Turkish family awaited me at the reception area with my name on it in bold "zim". I saw a woman with beautiful blond hair, a man with black hair and a cute little angel awaiting their guest. I realised at that moment that they are going through the exact thing that I was going through...a bundle of nerves and not knowing what to expect. We greeted each other with a hand shake and it would be the last hand shake that I would ever experience in Turkey.

The air was cold and the sound of traffic was piercing my ears. The smell was somewhat warm and echoes of an unfamiliar language floated in the air. In my mind the only big printed words were "oh my gosh, I am in Turkey. I can’t run back home now, I am here and I must live with it". While crossing the road and walking to the car, I was holding the little boy´s hand which was so small. I looked at him and I already adored him even the fact that we have not shared any words or lines with him. In the car we drove off and the billboards of Istanbul were spectacular. Fashion words I have never heard before "koton", "mango". While looking at the outside, inside I was captivated by the traffic of my thoughts. With only the electronic dictionary in my hand I realised that "this is it".

When we arrived at the friends of the host family, I soon caught on that they don’t speak English at all. It was true; they did not know much about English. Only the father of the other family could speak English, although broken, it was good enough, comfortable enough for me to feel familiarity.  When we got home there was not English. I was thinking in my head "what am I going to do? how is this suppose to work if we cant communicate" However, I decided it is a great idea that they don’t speak English because now I am going to learn how to speak Turkish.

With my body going through jet lag and really tired, my mind was not. I was sitting with my host parents the whole night trying to have somewhat of a conversation. The first thing they asked "Do you have a boyfriend?" Shocked, I was, I said no. Then I realised that romance is always dramatic on that side of the world.

The next morning, I played with minik Demir, he didn´t understand English and I didn´t understand Turkish but we understood how to play and run around the house. The biggest shock was when we had to take him to school.  We lived in Mecidiyekoy, so there are little shops along the way on the road to school. My hair was braided and long. As we walked on the streets, there was a small coffee shop/pastry shop and older Turkish gentlemen were sitting there drinking their tea and talking about the "bad economy". As we approached near them, I realised the clinging of the spoons stirring the sugar in the tea cups were suddenly silent. At the same time, I and Demir are "talking". All the heads were turning my direction. I did not understand that moment.

When I, my Turkish mother and her friends went to a beautiful market (mall) I realised as we walked everything just became silent. Eyes were staring at me continuously. I started thinking that maybe my glasses were not sitting right or my hair was funny. But it was none of that, my Turkish host mom looked at me and said "zim, cok guzelsin, kara kizim". I realised, that African people are like 0.009% visible in turkey.  However, the warm welcoming feeling only got bigger and bigger. Everyone would come to me and first touch my hair to ask if it is my hair, then they would touch my skin to see how the texture is of African (only to realise it´s actually the same).  Children would always come to me when I go and pick Demir up from school. Some children would be scared, but eventually they would come and play and kiss me a lot. The most amazing thing was that Demir said to his friends in school "I have an older sister at home, her name is Zim, she wears glasses and has black hands":) I thought it was the cutest thing ever.

The things that I have learned from Turkish people in the 3 months I stayed are how important family is.  The taught me love, fellowship and the love for ones country. They taught me about me, things that I did not know about me. One day a girl´s mother came to our house, she asked me when I am finished with my 3 months if I don´t want to come back and teach her daughter English. It was fulfilling at all times.

Not once did I ever fear for my life in Turkey. Everyone is always so helpful, and most people are really living the Muslim lifestyle, which I find amazing and absolutely peaceful.

My host parents were extremely protective over me, because I was part of the family. My host dad would tell me before he goes to work "zim kizim, erkekler bakma tamam mi, toprak sadece bakirsin tamam mi. kendini iyi bak. " He drove me crazy, because he was soo protective, but I thank him for that, because he really cared. My Turkish mother always wanted to have a daughter, so the fact that I was there; she really enjoyed our times together. She felt like a real mother to me, and I was like a real daughter to her.

She told me to marry a Turkish man and told me to stay in Turkey forever and be part of her family. Being from a country like South Africa, where families are either close or not, I got experience the deeper meaning of it.

I fell in love with Turkey; I fell in love with the language which I started speaking after a month being there. I felt the love of the children that are so well loved and protected. I fell in love with people that I never thought I would ever meet in my love.

When I had to leave Turkey, my heart was so sore, I cried so much and wondered if I will ever see these amazing people again. My host mom cried too, she said "zim gitme, gunay afrika bosver, otur sana!" My host dad tried to be all tough like, but he also shed a tear. My little boy Demir was crying too, telling me I must not leave.

Now a days we call each other, e-mail and send pictures. My host mom has another baby boy... MASHALLAH!! And I am planning to go back. My host mom told me 3 days after I left, Demir kept running to my room to wake me up, "ziiiiimmmm GOOD MORNING. ZIIIIMM GOOD MORNING dedim". But I was not there to be woken up; he cried and cried and cried. I also cried, because he is my little brother I never had.

Inshallah I will go back to Turkey and see them again this year, because I miss everything and them too. I think my dream has been fulfilled and I want to spend the rest of my days there. Inshallah


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