Emrah picked me up, and I was sure that we were heading to his home for a super chill night, however, that was not exactly the case. We headed straight to some family friends’ house to celebrate the New Year! The funny thing was that Emrah did not mention any of this to me, so I spend the first two hours trying to figure out where I was and who lived in this house. I met his parents and his “second parents,” as well as their daughters. At first, I was wondering if they ALL lived in this apartment, and where in the world I would be sleeping if that were the case? It was all rather confusing because Emrah had asked me what I wanted to do for NYE and I had told him that after such a long travel, I will probably just want to shower and so something chill, which was certainly not how the night turned out!
Of course, all of these people were extremely kind, welcoming and hospitable. Since shoes are not allowed inside, they gave me a pair of slippers to wear and I came inside. First, they fed me an amazing slice of decedent cake with some tea. Then they served me a dinner of soup and a carrot yogurt dish. In addition to this, they also served me some red meat, which was somewhat confusing because I had already told Emrah that I do not eat beef. Although I felt a little bad about not eating it, I just have no desire to eat the flesh of such animals, especially after having avoided meet in ARGENTNA of all places! After dinner and a night of Turkish conversation that I hardly understood, we finally ventured back to Emrah’s parents’ home. Finally by 4:30AM, I was able to go to bed. This is when I discovered another surprise. Much prior to my arrival, I had asked Emrah if there was a second room, and he said that there was indeed a room for me, which there clearly was not. However, I was able to sleep in a bed in a living room, and I was so exhausted that I passed out in a matter of minutes!
Although they had told me that I could sleep as much as I wanted, however, that was also not the case as his sweet mother came in to wake me up and serve breakfast. Another funny thing happened while I was eating breakfast, when his mother brought me a pair of yellow socks that she insisted on me wearing, even though I was already wearing the slippers she gave me. I am a total fan of no shoes in the house, as I have always followed this rule in my own homes. It was of course nice and all of her, but I am just a barefooted hippie at heart, so it is a little strange to wear so much on my feet, but what can you do?
Later, a family friend and her son came over and I can’t even explain how incredibly elated I was to learn that he speaks French! Wow, is it fabulous to communicate with someone who actually speaks the same language! Yes, Emrah speaks some English, but there were obviously some serious communication breakdowns due to the level of conversation. It was comforting to have someone understand me, especially after spending hours around Turkish only! After eating some delicious dinner, we went out with another friend of Emrah’s and went to a few places for coffee and tea until nearly one in the morning. Again, this is a serious cultural difference because after being in Argentina, this is the first three days I have gone without even a glass of wine in quite some time! Now I am getting a serious tea education. Turkish tea is called “çay” which is pronounced chai. So of course this confused me immensely the first night as they kept offering me what I thought was chai tea! Another tea that I tried was called salep, which is more sweet and creamy, made from the tubers of orchids. It was absolutely delicious! In addition to this, I also tried some jasmine tea, as well as sage tea. Of course when I told the guys that I used to burn sage to clear the energy of my home, they looked at me as if I were crazy!
So yes, here in Istanbul, there is an abundance of tea! Of course I love tea, but I also love water. What is really funny is that my water glasses keep disappearing around here. I suppose they just think I need more tea instead of water! Overall, it is great! After eating and drinking so much in Buenos Aires, I am really looking forward to getting back to a nice normal diet to complement my exercise routine so I can feel totally healthy again. So here I am in Istanbul taking on that challenge to refocus my priorities and begin a new, exciting chapter of Cristin’s Adventures!