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Exploring Turkey part 1: From Elazig to Kayseri

by Trudy (1/18/2009)

Exploring Turkey part 1: From Elazig to Kayseri

This is the first part of my 43 day travel in the summer of 2007 throughout Turkey. I want to say ´çok teþekkürler´ to Lady in Red, who corrected my mistakes in English.






With only a few minutes delay the night flight of Turkish Airlines leaves, heading for Ankara. Almost directly the cabin lights are dimmed and I suppose the heating has been turned off as well, it is instantly freezing cold. A blond flight attendant gives me a blanket and a small pillow and a couple of times I doze off for a few minutes. When I told family and friends I wanted to go to Turkey again, not all the reactions were positive: ‘Again? Haven’t you seen that country enough?’


My students only grin suggestively; they still think I have a boyfriend in Turkey. So many times to the same country without having a lover there, that is not possible according to them. Some of the reactions I got were stereotyped: ‘What is that interest for that country? All these men with large moustaches!’ The most common misinterpretation I have heard is that all women in Turkey wear headscarves. A friend tells me that ‘they all wear chadors, just like in Iran’. Most of the time I react quite snappily to this type of remark. Like all people from one country or religion are the same. Sometimes I only shrug, and then I know it is spilled energy to protest. My reasons to go to Turkey again are enough for me. I have fallen in love with the country, the nature, the culture, the many historical places, the hospitality, the food. It is a country where, even as a woman travelling solo, I feel safe to do that in all freedom. It is a country that makes me feel at home. Strange maybe, to feel that way in a country with so many Islamic characteristics because with the religion itself I don’t have any ties. Still it feels safe and special. So many things to see and to do, I have not seen everything I want.


The passengers on this plane make many stereotyping come true. It looks really like Turkey only consists of men with beards and moustaches and obese, headscarved women. Just a few passengers without. Even being one of the non-Turks here, it does not make me feel less comfortable. It just raises the question if the destination of the plane influences the type of passengers. Ankara attracts different passengers than Izmir, it seems. Would that be because Izmir attracts more tourists? Or are there other reasons I do not know?


In Ankara I have to collect my luggage and check it in again in the domestic terminal for my connecting flight to Elazýð. At that airport there are no customs and according to the Turkish travel agency where I bought my ticket, Turkish Airlines therefore is not allowed to redirect my bag. Looking for a cup of coffee to stay awake, I find a little coffee bar in between the gates. It is still early and even so quite busy. Suddenly I hear a voice behind me asking in Dutch ‘Is that chair free, madam?’. I turn around and I see a young man with dark hair, probably around 25 years who looks at me enquiringly. ‘You look so very Dutch,’ he says apologetically, ‘I thought, I’d just ask.’ ‘My name is Hamdi,’ he adds quickly. ‘Of course, please do sit down,’ I say, ‘but why do you think I am Dutch and not from Belgium or Germany?’ Hamdi smiles. ‘You are looking so freely around you, curiosity on your face, most women from other countries don’t do that.’ I feel my face redden a little. ‘I am going to get myself a coffee,’ I say quickly to change the subject, ‘can I bring you one as well?’ A confirming answer follows. Like many other people I have met before Hamdi is very surprised to hear I will go travelling solo in Turkey. ‘How brave of you to do that,’ he says, ‘are you not scared or feeling lonely?’ ‘Scared I am very rarely,’ I say,’ and lonely, yes, sometimes. But mostly just for a short time. I have almost instant contact. People are, just like you, very curious.’ This time it is Hamdi’s turns to blush a little. ‘Do you mind that I started talking to you,’ he asks. I laugh and say: ‘Of course not, but you see how it works, I am not alone very often.’ Hamdi tells about himself. ‘I live in Delft, a city in the west of the Netherlands; there I work in a supermarket. I was born in Iraq, in the northern Kurdish part. I am now going to visit my family because my grandfather is ill. First I have to take a domestic flight to Diyarbakýr and from there I will grab a cab to go to Iraq,’ he says. ‘That is not cheap but there is no flight directly to Iraq because of the situation there and there is no airport closer to the border as well.’ It seems to be the first time Hamdi has drunk Turkish coffee. When he takes a sip after having stirred it, he pulls a face because of the coffee grounds in his mouth. ‘Sorry,’ I say, ‘I thought you knew that you should wait a little after stirring your coffee.’


The flight to Elazýð is not completely sold out but the row of waiting people is quite long. Amongst the other passengers are two Dutch-Turkish women with little children on their way to their grandparents. Via them other passengers ask me if I am going to Elazýð as well, I am obviously the only westerner waiting here. Patiently the women translate all the questions and my answers. ‘Yes,’ I say,’ I am going there and I will stay there for two nights.’ I see approval on many faces and a few people advise me to be certain to go to Harput because of the beauty of it. I also get the hint to go to the ice caves in the area, these are very impressive.





At the airport of Elazýð is an official delegation waiting for a passenger. A band plays and I see a couple of women with flowers in their hands. No, they are not waiting for me, I’m not that special. They wait for a business class passenger. While I and other passengers have to fight us a way though the narrow exit filled with many boxes, he can use a separate exit solely for himself. It is a politician the driver of the service bus tells me later. I have no idea which politician or which representing party.


I wander for hours through the town. Little streets in and little street out. The many restaurants I pass by release an overdose of smell. Grilled meat, fresh baked bread, I get hungry from it. Then I am at the bazaar. Inside I see an enormous number of market stalls filled with fruit, vegetables, white cheese and nuts. Still it isn’t the same as the markets we have in my own country. The food on display is slightly different, colours more bright, scents stronger. At one of the stalls a man is trying to stack onions, thin long green paprikas and oranges in nice heaps. A few times an orange rolls away causing the heaps to collapse. No problem, he picks it up and starts all over again. I take several pictures until positions are changed and I become the photographed object. Several sellers want a picture of themselves and me together and their friends take them. They pose stiffly; one brave guy puts his hand around my shoulder, making bystanders laugh. Why not? The man is not dangerous.


Suddenly I am in front of the Saray Camii again, the gorgeous mosque I visited last year. I want to look inside one more time and I enjoy the beautiful inlaid mosaics, the walls with tiles, and the Arabian calligraphy around the sides of the high walls. The marble of the mosque is made up of several pastel colours, light pink, light blue, beige and the common grey. The combination of these colours gives the building a friendly view. Through the enamelled windows filter out the sunlight. The balconies of the women’s department on the first floor are made from carved marble. Very precise, like it is refined Bruges lace-work, they made decorations in it. I love these types of buildings. At home I do not like too many colours and ornaments; I would rather have it more simple. Here I like it so much. The sweetness of the range of colouring is not too sweet but it is just relaxing.


I start my journey the right way with a hammam visit in my hotel. During most of the time I am the only visitor to the hammam. In my hand a metal bucket I find myself a place next to a fountain, a little outside of the view from the entrance. I do not need to attract more attention than I already do. Wise from earlier experiences in a hammam, I keep my underwear on. First I rinse, thoroughly rinse, dozens of buckets with nice warm water I throw over my body. Then I get rid of the peshtemal, the blue-red chequered cotton towel, and put it on the hot stone in the middle of this room. Without the peshtemal the stone is too hot to lie on. I start sweating, lots of it and I rinse again until I am clean. The masseur enters the room to give me a scrub. During his treatment with the kese, a wash cloth that looks a little like a loofah, I have the idea my whole skin gets renewed. Now the masseur is rinsing me. Then he takes a kind of pillow cover with soap. He circles it a few times which causes a lot of foam. That foam is being squeezed out of the pillow cover and hits my body. I am not only clean now but I do smell like a rose garden. The final treatment is a sports massage. Delicious, it makes me very lazy. Back in my hotel room I look in the mirror and see my body is covered with red stripes and spots. The masseur was not very mild in his treatment!


On the terrace of the eighth floor of the hotel I enjoy the lights and the view of Elazýð by night for a while. Murat, the waiter of the opposite restaurant, speaks very good French and points me at several spots: the Saray Camii, Harput, the central square. He asks the usual questions: my marital status, my age and if I really travel solo through Turkey. Sometimes it seems that all Turks use the same questionnaire. ‘If you like, I can be your guide to Harput tomorrow,’ he offers. ‘That is very kind of you but I’d rather travel by myself,’ I answer. He is a little offended with my refusal. Pity, I do really like travelling solo and besides that, to accept such an offer from a strange man on my first day I do not think is a good idea. It turns out that he will not be the only man to offer to be my guide. Mostly it is just being friendly but in a few cases I suspects the man involved of less noble motives… Dinner in the hotel ends my day. I am still tired and I want to have a long night rest. The meze, biber sos, tavuk salata and peynir söyüs taste delicious. A good holiday start, this first day.


Harput is six kilometre west of Elazýð. Harput used to be an educational and cultural centre and it was a stop on the Silk Road to China. Due to severe earthquakes in this area most of the people moved to the nineteenth century Elazýð. That is also the reason I always thought that Harput was nothing more than ruins and a historical place but it turns out to be a small village with about eight hundred inhabitants. The kale from the eleventh century is prominent on the hill at the end of the village main square. All forlorn I wander around the castle grounds, I climb on the castle walls and watch Elazýð that is in the valley beneath me, silence all around me. I enjoy places like this so much. No crowds of tourists, just me, back to nature or history. From very far away I hear pieces of music and nothing else other than the humming of the insects flying and crawling near me. At the foot of the castle there is a çay bahçesi where I drink tea. I look at some brochures I brought with me. ‘Tea is on the house,’ says the owner of the çay bahçesi, ‘happy travels: Güle güle.’


Looking for the other ruins in this area I follow the directions I got from the owner of the çay bahçesi. The road first goes down and then steep uphill. Soon I arrive at the Meryam Ana Kilisesi, the Mother Mary Church, but no matter how thoroughly I search; I cannot find an entrance door. The building looks like a very secure bunker. A little further they say is the Fatih Baba Turbesi. That little turned out to be a lot longer because after an hour walk I still have not found it. I do not like to end up in another village after the next curve in the winding dirt road so I decide to go back. Besides, the sun is shining intensely and the road keeps going up and up, two things I would rather avoid. At the next road turn I see three parked cars, three women getting out. I say ‘Günaydýn’ to them and they greet me as well. Immediately one of the women asks if I speak English. My answer makes her smile broadly. Her name is Elis, a 24-year old woman of Bulgarian descent who is married to a Turkish man. Her husband is now in Bulgaria for six months to obtain a Bulgarian passport and she and her fifteen months old daughter Nazar lives with her large family-in-law. Elis does not only speak quite good English, she also speaks some Dutch, she has lived in The Hague for five years. Together with her family-in-law she is here in the mountains to have a picnic. ‘Can we offer you a drink?’, Elis asks. ‘Yes, please,’ I answer, it is warm and my throat is dry so a cup of tea or some water will be nice. That is the start of a wonderful day. I feel like I am ‘adopted’ whole day by this to me unknown family. I must sit on the thickest cushions, I get food, drinks and I am absolutely not allowed to do anything. Even putting aside my empty tea glass is not permitted; someone else does that for me. First I want to say ‘Thank you’ and leave after a glass of tea but also that is not ok. ‘You will stay for lunch, won’t you?’, Elis asks, ‘that we would love very much.’ I hesitate a few seconds but around me are only smiling faces that look at me with expectation. The father of the family nods to show his approval and the mother taps on a pillow next to her, in a way she wants to say ‘just take a seat.’


The family is extended. There are six women (Elif, Fethiye, Semra, Sevim, Yöznur and Elis), four men (Necatý, Sükrü, Selçuk and Ismail) and six children (Fetihahmet, Hamza, Burak, Zeynep, Yömer and baby Nazar). To me the father seems a quite inflexible man. Two of his daughters-in-law smoke but only when he does not see it. ‘He is not allowed to know that I smoke,’ Semra tells me, ‘my husband knows, he does not mind, but my father-in-law….’ She shakes her head. The father is also the most religious man of the family. The midday prayer is only done by him and while he fulfils his religious duties kneeling on one of the carpets they brought with them, the rest of the family talks, plays and screams continuously. The mother is a matriarch, a quite obese woman whose body shows she had many children. All women in this family wear head scarves, most of them loose but she wears it up to her chin. Once in a while she lowers it a bit to say something or to have a drink. On her chin I notice blue tattoos, a tradition I have never seen before. These tattoos are seen mostly in elderly Kurdish women, the younger generation does not have them anymore. Later I ask my Turkish friends what the meaning of these tattoos is, but they don’t know, they think it has to do with marriage ability and fertility. Mother orders, sitting on her pillow, all other women and the children. The men only take care of the meat for the barbecue and they do not do anything else at all, it seems. All the work is done by the women. ‘How old is your mother-in-law?’, I ask Elis. She shrugs: ‘I think between 55 and 60 years, she does not know herself for sure.’ Of course in this area there is no toilet, no problem, a tree or some bushes will do fine. When I walk away to find myself such a place, I got stopped. I have to wait for Fethiye, she accompanies me to a place a couple of hundred metres further. ‘We have to take care of your safety,’ she says, ‘you are our guest.’ She brings me to a large rock, out of sight of everyone while she keeps guard. The hospitality here reaches even to the toilet!


Elif is the only one who speaks more than just a few words of English but it is not a problem. Mother Elif gestures I have to sit next to her, she stirs the cushions. The T-shirt I am wearing is too short in her view I guess, because several times I feel she pulls it downwards at my back when just a millimetre skin is visible. Elis joins us, she loves to speak English. She tells me the story of her life. ‘I married in the Netherlands,’ she says, ‘then I moved to Turkey and after a couple of months I was pregnant. That pregnancy was not the best time of my life. I was in the hospital for four months because I have hepatitis.’ Her clothing, a salvar, a loose shirt and a head scarf she wears because her family-in-law likes to see her that way. In Bulgaria and in the Netherlands she was used to other types of clothing. ‘It is not my own choice,’ she says whispering, ‘but if I wear other things they will comment all day. To keep peace I do what they like, especially with my husband not around. But when we later live just with the three of us, there is no need for that anymore. My husband is not that traditional. Elis is in my eyes sometimes a little obstinate. She plays a lot with her head scarf, puts it off even when there are men around and turns her back openly to her father-in-law. Still nobody reacts to that behaviour; apparently the family accepts this from Elis.


Before we start with the barbecue, we get salad, bread and a meze. I think it is açili esme and yes, it is. It is just spicier than I have ever eaten before. My mouth feels to be on fire, I start coughing. The others laugh, on their faces a look that says ‘she is not used to our food.’ ‘Ateþ’, I say with tears in my eyes, ‘fire, hot.’ Mother Elif takes a piece of bread, puts a lot of the açili esme on it and takes a bite. Than she starts coughing as well. ‘Evet, ateþ,’ she agrees when she has stopped coughing. This time it is me who has to smile a little. We continue with ‘the real work’: several kinds of meat for the barbecue, several types of bread, a salad, a dish in a earthen pot that is called guveç, melon and lots of fresh made tea.


Everyone is very curious to find out what a tourist like me is doing here alone. ‘What are you looking for here in the mountains?,’ Ismail asks. ‘I came to see Harput,’ I answer. ‘Yes, but that is four kilometres from here.’ ‘I was also looking for the Fatih Baba Turbesi, but I could not find it.’ ‘That turbesi is further up in the mountains,’ Ismail says. ‘Does one of you know where the ice caves are? I have heard they are gorgeous,’ I continue asking. A quick translation is what follows and several heads nod. Then there is some whispering. In the name of the family Elis says to me: ‘After lunch we like to take you there, than you do not need to take a dolmus.’ Again such a great offer, I do not refuse, I say I am very happy with it. When we all finished eating and the dishes are done – no, I am absolutely not allowed to help – we go in two cars to the Fatih Baba Turbesi. A few family members have said goodbye, they had to go home. The tomb is very small and full of praying and Qur’an reading people. Next to it there is a mini mosque where the father and mother go praying for some minutes. We continue in the direction of Buzluk Maðaralarý, the cave that is ice cold in the summer and nicely warm in the winter. On the way we see the car of a cousin, he has some technical problems with it. Not a big deal, the men start helping to repair the car and the women make themselves comfortable on the road side. Within a few minutes there are chairs and a kettle with water for tea is boiling. After two glasses of tea Elis asks if I join them walking to the caves, they are only ten minutes walking from here. Together with her sisters-in-law, one brother-in-law and all the children we go there. Mother is staying behind with the tea and the men are still bowed over the open bonnet. It is really cold in the caves; I see glistering ice crystals at several spots. A strange idea, knowing that outside it is over 35 degrees! To get a good view of the cave, I have to go down a narrow ladder with steps as bars, completely covered with ice. The exact origins of this nature phenomenon I do not know. Fear of height stops me going down, I will look at parts of the cave from the banister.


Back at the parking place, the cousin’s car has just been repaired. The cousin and his part of the family say goodbye and we drive on. ‘We will go to a nice lookout point so you can take pictures of Elazýð,’ Elis explains. After that we drive in twenty minutes back to town, to my hotel. It is already eight o’clock when they drop me off. I hear some murmur when they see in what hotel I stay. ‘Is this not awfully expensive?,’ Semra asks, ‘if you come again, you have to call us. You can stay with us. Such a hotel is really not necessary.’ All women hug me, kiss me on my cheek as if I am not a tourist but a well known family member. The men raise their hands to say goodbye.



‘How do I get into the city centre?,’ I ask a bystander at the otogar. ‘Where do you want to go?,’ he asks in return. ‘To Hakan Pastane,’ I answer. He nods at me and points at one of the many dolmusses that are waiting for passengers on the otogar. In quick Turkish he says something to the driver; I think he is asking him to drop me off at the desired place. Their Turkish is so fast I really do not understand one single word. After ten minutes driving a man of about twenty years gets up. He gestures that I have to come with him; he will show me the way because this dolmus does not stop in the street where Hakan pastane is. While the man is walking in front of me, my mobile rings. It is Helen, the woman from New Zealand of Chinese descent, who I have got to know through an internet site and who I will meet here for the first time. ‘Where are you now?’ she asks. ‘On my way to Hakan,’ I say, ‘I will be there in a few minutes.’ Shortly after that the man points out the building to me and indeed, I recognise it from last year. I thank him for his help and he walks away. On the first floor of this patisserie I see two medium back packs but no Chinese woman. I put my stuff next to it; I think she will arrive shortly. One of the waiters tells me ‘PTT.’ And yes, after ten minutes waiting a short Chinese looking woman comes in. ‘Hi,’ she says, ‘I am Helen, I was going guarded by a waiter to the post office to call you, my mobile does not work here.’ Within minutes we have a serious conversation about the route and what to do together. ‘Erm, you do want to share a room?,’ Helen asks suddenly, ‘most of the time that is cheaper.’ ‘Of course,’ I respond, ‘if I did not like that, I would be gone by now.’ She laughs. We pick up our luggage and walk to hotel Çakir, a hotel I know from my previous trip. ‘A double room costs fifty lira,’ the receptionist answers our question. I frown and immediately the price lowers to forty five. Helen whispers: ‘That is quick!’ ‘It does not work all the time,’ I grin.


We visit the city park, in it the Kale Camii, Çifte Minare Medrese, Bürüciye Medresesi and the Þifaiye Medresesi. The first two medresses are both build in the twelfth century and were almost completely destroyed; only the façade is still up. The exact in[[script]]ions are well visible. The Þifaiye Medresesi used to be a hospital, a darüþþifa, for patients with eye and intestine problems or skin diseases. Also patients with psychiatric problems were treated here. Therapies were based on belief, suggestion and music. In this medresse there is the tomb of a thirteenth century sultan who died from tuberculosis. At that time there was no cure for that. Above the entrance there is a stone with the name ‘Ahmed of Marand’ carved in it, an artist from Azerbajdjan who took care of all the tile work inside. Now this medresse contains a small bazar. We go in and are immediately stopped by a Turkish man of about thirty years. ‘You were here last year too,’ he says to me, ‘together with my mother we drank tea in this shop.’ I do not recognise the man though his story is true. We walk inside a store stocked with souvenirs and silver jewelry. The man follows us and picks up a silver necklace. ‘You bought one like this here last year,’ he says. He is right again but I still do not recognise him. He looks disappointed. He walks away and comes back with some touristic brochures of Sivas. He has two of each, one for Helen and one for me. ‘Here,’ he says, ‘you can take them, I have enough.’


Kangal – Balýklý Caplýca

At the otogar we ask for the dolmus to the thermal baths of Balýklý Caplýca, some twelve kilometres from Kangal. ‘Yes, of course we go straight to the thermal baths,’ the bearded man at the desk says, ‘no really, our destination is not just Kangal.’ We get in and after one and a half hour we arrive in Kangal, about hundred kilometres from Sivas. The driver says we have to get off, this is the terminus. Both of us protest, we did ask. The driver shrugs and drives away. We feel tricked, now we have to take a taxi for that part. We have a coffee break at pastane Yeni Þafak, where we eat delicious cookies. The owner brings us new sorts time after time. We must taste this kind and that and that. ‘Do you need a taxi to Balýklý Kaplýca?, ’he asks, ‘I can arrange one for you, it will cost you thirty lira.’ We decline his offer; we would like to see if we can do it ourselves. We are not allowed to pay in this pastane. ‘On the house,’ the owner says smiling. We are surprised again. Finally we get ourselves a taxi for, indeed, thirty lira. We feel a bit ashamed that we refused the pastane owner’s kind offer; the bus company’s fraud is not his fault.


Arriving at the thermal baths we quickly find the women’s public bath. Next to the side and at the stairs about a dozen women stand and sit, in bathing suits, with bare upper body, with their skirts lifted up or just fully clothed. We change as well into our bathing suits and enter the hot water; it has a temperature of 37 degrees. This bath is so special because there are live fish in it. There are two types of fish: the ‘bumping fish’ of about seventeen centimetres long and the ‘nibbling fish’ that are maximum eight centimetres. Both fish belong to the carp family. The first one hits your skin to loosen it and then nibbles little pieces of skin off and the second one sucks itself to your skin thus eating it. For people with psoriasis this is a very good treatment. They claim that after a cure of three weeks the skin is cleaned completely. Patients who come here for such a treatment have their own bath, reserved specially for them. No one will stare at them and other people do not find the water polluted. Though psoriasis is not contagious, it can look distasteful. To us this bathing is just a funny experience. A few of the larger fish bump hard into my skin, so hard that a mole on my foot starts bleeding which attracts even more fish. It is a tickling sensation that ‘biting’, but very fun to do it once.


The women start singing, half in Turkish and half in Kurdish. All women sing out loud, it does sound nice. Pity I don’t know the lyrics and I can’t join them. Something like this makes me really feel like an outsider. A couple of eight year old girls have obviously never been to a swimming pool before. They seem afraid of the water, they can’t swim. After some hours we take the bus back to Sivas. Coincidence or tricking us again: the bus back is more expensive then going here.



We decide to stop in Kayseri today, travelling to Kahramanmaraþ will take at least nine hours and we both think that is too much. Helen is not feeling well so I go into town by myself, seeking out both the new and the old bazaar, visiting a mosque is not what I want right now. After that I pick up Helen from the hotel and together we go into town. In one of the shops we meet Mustafa, who shows us around through the old karvanserai, the bedesten and the wool department of an old han. He knows a lot about wool, weaving and the quality of the different types of carpets. Neck wool is the best and gets number one, belly wool is in the second group, back wool in the third and the worst quality is leg wool with number four. ‘Why these groups, Mustafa?’ we ask curiously. ‘It is simple,’ he says, ‘neck wool is the scarcest type of wool on a sheep and at the legs there is urine so that smells the most.’ It is not that strange that he knows so much of wool and carpets, he owns a carpet shop. We end our ‘tour’ therefore in his shop with tea. Mustafa speaks almost perfect English and he talks a lot, about Turkey, customs and traditions but mostly he gives his own view about these subjects. Partly he seems very modern but in between the lines I notice some traditional ideas. According to him a woman should not work and the travelling alone like we do, is in his eyes very much not done. I find him a little too smooth. I find it strange and so not Turkish that he is very open to us about the roles men and women should have, including his opinion about sex and (his?) visiting prostitutes. It does not sound genuine Turkish, it is too provoking and it only makes me very suspicious. What is it that this man wants? One thing is sure: he is trying to sell a carpet to us. I also have the feeling he has an eye on Helen. I see him looking at her; several times he asks her very personal details. At a certain moment Helen reacts very impulsively. ‘Do you want to join us when we go out for dinner?,’ she asks. ‘Yes, I would like that,’ Mustafa replies, ‘but being a man it will be my treat, not the other way around.’ Quite traditional, that remark. Outside Helen asks: ‘Do you mind that I asked him to come with us?’ I shake my head. ‘No, do not worry, but be careful with this man.’ Helen is startled: ‘Is there something wrong?’ ‘Not yet, but I think he likes you more than you would like him to, he is after more than just being friendly,’ I answer. Her face reddens all over. The three of us go to a restaurant that according to Mustafa belongs among the best of Kayseri. Helen restrains herself and eats only white rice because of her stomach problems. I enjoy an Iskender kebab. When Mustafa finds out I love desserts, he insist I also take something that looks like kadayif. After dinner we go back to Mustafa’s shop – a last attempt to try and sell us a carpet – and then we go by taxi back to the hotel: it is raining cats and dogs!

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