My bus is late and I decide to collect my luggage from Nari, my couch surfing host, tomorrow. So when I get to the otogar I get down the bus through the middle door, to avoid the large crowd engaged in what seems to be a loud celebration at the end of the platform area, and I head to the tram station. My right knee hurts so bad that I now have a limp and I know I have an infection.
When I get off in the city center I ask this tall, pudgy young guy if he can speak English. Yok, he replies smiling. I don’t give up and I take out my phone to show him the address of my hotel . He checks it out and then takes out his phone and shows me the route on Google maps. We try hard to have a conversation, I’m using my hands a lot and make all sorts of faces, while he just smiles impassibly and speaks Turkish. When the scene gets crazy enough, we both stop and sigh, smiling powerlessly to each other.
Then his face lights up as he takes out his phone again, opens Google translate and we start passing it between each other. He decides to come with me the whole way and walk me to my hotel. We pass this small group of young, thin, gay guys, looking gratious and cautious, we discuss the weather, how old I am, how old he is (19), his favorite place in Turkey (Istanbul), if I like Turkey, why I am here, where my parents are, where I come from, where he has traveled (Turkey), how far the hotel is, why I stay at the hotel.
Suddenly he stops and grabs both my shoulders, puts his head close to mine so I can feel his tall hair brushing my left temple and points somewhere ahead of us. I squint and, on the right side, across the road, I can see the name of my hotel in bright pink letters. He then takes me across the street, carefully telling me to stop or walk as he checks if cars are coming, as if I could not see for myself and I am grateful for all the care. When we get in front of the hotel, he opens the door, gets in and I follow. He stops next to the door on the left, straight and tall, looking down at me and smiling as the two dark haired men in the lobby, the receptionist and the bell boy, are watching us, waiting to see what happens.
I position myself in front of him, look up straight into his green eyes, smile back, stretch out my right arm and we shake hands. He looks proud and handsome, like a sultan. Daniela. Fatah, I believe he replies. Tesekkur ederim, I add. Rica ederim, he retorts a bit disappointed as he releases my hand and heads for the exit. Gule gule, I add and turn to the receptionist. Merhaba.
The bell boy takes me to my room. I am so tired I don’t mind anything anymore. We get to the door and the boy follows me in, kneels on the side of my bed and then stretches, pressing his palms on the white sheet, reaching for the remote control and, despite my faint protests and repeated sighing, he insists to show me how it works. It takes him a while because it doesn’t really work. I have to tell him several times “yok TV” and start making desperate hand gestures to help him understand before he finally stops and leaves the room.
I take a hot shower and attend to my knee. Just as I’m getting into bed, at 00.00 sharp, there’s a loud knock on the door. I get up and open. The bell boy has brought a plate of fresh fruits and a steaming coffee. I swallow my comments because my Turkish is not that bright and colorful yet and his English is as illusiory and volatile as democracy in his country, so I know I shouldn’t rely on it. I let out my ‘oh’ and watch him as he walks past me into the room and finds the best place to put the treat: on the chair, over my cardigan.
Tesekkur, I blabber and he follows immediately with the right lines and leaves the room. I say something in Romanian about drinking coffee all the time and start missing my place. The room feels cold and loud and the street noise and the noise coming from the neighboring rooms make me uncomfortable. The silence in my cave house hotel was truly wonderful. I want to go home…
PS I wrote this last night and am posting it today. My account on my last day in Goreme is postponed because of the political situation in Turkey. I see myself forced to live the day. By the way, I have no access to Facebook, and WhatsApp anymore, as they are not working in Turkey today.