Teşekküler (thanks) for having such nice and generous people. It means a lot to this weary set of travelers who don't (yet) speak Turkish.
It's 2:50 AM, and Alan and I are mid-overnight bus ride from Kayseri to Izmir. I'd say it's been pretty much our worst experience in Turkey so far, but by no fault of Süha Tourism. Alan seems to have caught a stomach bug just as we were heading out town. Alan is one tough burrito, but he did not look good at the bus station, and the first 6-ish hours of the bus ride were miserable for him. I even got a little empathy nausea at one point. At each rest area, I've gotten off the bus to use one of the squat pots and buy a small maden suyu (mineral water) to comfort our upset stomachs. During a difficult moment at a past rest area, a guy approached us, offering to help answer questions. I took him up on that at the last stop while Alan rested in the bus. I ordered a cheese lavoş with my mineral water, and sat down at his table. Turns out he studies at Melikşah in the mechanical engineering department, and actually knew one of my colleague in the Englixh program. Small world! Of course he bought us some Turkish tea, my new life force, and we made our way through a nice conversation using a little of both languages. What I love about Turks in general is that they are assertive and willing to help when they see a problem. By the end of the conversation, I had his contact info for future questions and his help in getting us to our neighborhood in Izmir (free)!
Just another word about Turkish rest stops. I definitely connect parts of them back to those I experiened in Cambodia (squat pots, weird food, lots of carrying my backpack), but in Turkey, there are also very quaint, and beautiful elements, like pyramid of boxed dates or packaged candy for sale. I also saw kolonya, a new discovery from today. At the end of the work day at melıkşah, my officemate Faruk came over to my desk while I was using my new iPad, and doused my hands in a fragrant purple liquid. "Lavender," he said as he doused our colleagues' and bosses' hands. While I was pretty concerned about the liquid nod my iPad, none dripped on it, and my hands were nicely scented for the rest of the afternoon.
On another note, I'm having some issues with jet lag. I guess I could chalk up tonight to being on board a bumpy, crowded bus instead of being in a bed, nevertheless, I was up at this time last night, too. I woke to the Ramadan drums (a traditional wake up call for Muslims out eat breakfast before sunrise), and I was still awake at the call to payer about an hour later. The middle of the night is a time I don't often see, as I am typically a sound sleeper and an early to bed, early to rise personality. From the bus, it's dark minus the soft green glow of the bus's track lighting, the red glare of a digital clock that won't move fast enough, and a few house lights in the distance. The world has a still and peaceful quality as I ride, convinced that this bus trip, while uncomfortable, has much to teach me about Turkey.