We just got dropped at Meşeli, the village where we would be spending the day, in the morning, all eleven of us, at the mosque, one of the only two public buildings in the village – the other one being the village hall. A few seconds of confusion as I watched the kids decide on what they wanted to do. They had been assigned to survey all the houses in the village and despite it being a small one, with less than 300 people, it was still quite a challenging task to complete everything by 3 pm, which is when we were getting picked up. I ended up jumping on the surveying wagon as well since walking around on my own in a half empty village wasn’t going to be much fun anyway.
We climbed, half like goats, to the highest peak we could find to get a bird’s eye view of the side we would be survey, halfway during which we were told by an old man that we could have taken the path on the other side for an easier climb. Nah, we just wanted to make things as hard as possible, else where’s the fun in it. He also invited us down to tea “when we were done with whatever it is we were doing”, much needed after the climb we had.
By the time, we did make it back down to his place, the tea has been brewed and was ready to be served. There truly is nothing better than a cup of tea. We ended up sitting with the man and his wife for about 45 minutes – a little set back in our schedule but worth it. They told us about their lives, about their children – who were visiting the next day with the grandchildren –, about the village in the old days. The old man was born in the village but moved to Ankara for work, which is where he got married and where their children were brought up. However, now that they’re both retired, they usually come to the village during spring and would stay here until mid-Autumn, after which they would be returning back to Ankara as winter in the village can be quite unforgiving. Although it did tend to be worse back in the days. That’s what most people in the village did. His wife took to me and told me that since she didn’t have any daughters of her own, she jokingly (hopefully) said she would be my Turkish mum. As I always say, Turkish hospitality never disappoints.
We left and were welcomed by another villager who was waiting for his turn to greet us. We were invited for tea again but given our schedule, we had to refuse this time. He walked with us for a while answering our questions – we got similar replies.
Our next break was at the house of a quite… tyrannical teyze (aunt, term used to refer to old women in Turkey) who was cute in her own way. She literally ordered us to come sit down. She wouldn’t have it any other way. She brought out ayran (salty yoghurt drink) for everyone but when I explained that I couldn’t have any, she didn’t mind and asked me if there was anything else I could have since it would be ayıp (disgraceful) to not serve anything to guests. I think everyone had been waiting for the moment when my veganism would trigger a diplomatic feud between Turkey and Mauritius but nothing of the sort happened. I opted for water instead. We didn’t spend as much time with her as we did with our hosts but it was quite nice to chill for a little while after being on our feet all morning. She told us about her (I think) organic bee-keeping business, about her family, her life in the village and the city. The villagers definitely liked having a little chit chat. For such a small village, it must be nice to see some new faces once in a while.
There was afternoon tea for us since we were really lagging behind and had to rush through the remaining houses. We did stop for a while to talk to this old man who told us about the bureaucratical problems he’s been having with his house. When his grandfather moved to the village back in the days, he didn’t register the land where the house was built. Now despite his father and him having been brought up in the village, it’s been a pain to just get running water or electricity in his house. It does show you how hard it is for these small villages to keep up with modern society and the problems that they encounter.
After a small visit to the village hall, where preparations were being done for an upcoming event and where we realised we had already met half of the people in the village, it was time to say our goodbyes. I promised to come back, so I’m hoping I do get to fulfil that promise at some point during my time left in Turkey.