First Impressions of Turkey
You sit in the Bodrum bus station making Turkish flashcards and keeping an eye on the luggage as the Greek passenger ferry that brought you here heads for home.
A hulking woman in drab dress haphazardly slings a bouquet of peacock feathers over her shoulder like a quiver of arrows, inadvertently tickling the faces of waiting travelers as she passes.
A jumpy bus attendant shifts his cell phone from pocket to pocket like a hot potato; it’s not yet noon, but the press on his white short-sleeved uniform shirt has already lost its edge. His dry-browed manager, in jacket and tie, hovers in the doorway, blowing smoke rings.
A spry grandmother – you can still see the little girl in her movements and features – not even close to reaching the ground from her seat, twirls her dangling feet in alternating circles.
You open the abandoned newspaper on the seat next to you and discover a double page spread dedicated entirely to geometry skill-building questions.
A baby boy, weeks from walking, climbs up his exhausted mother’s chest, clutching her blouse and breasts for balance, and getting his sticky fingers tangled in her hair. He wants down. She can’t set him down. They’re not even on the bus yet. It’s going to be a long day.
An idling bus honks twice, indicating its eminent departure. Last minute passengers finish their cigarettes and jockey for position to be last on board.
So far, men seem to fall into one of three types here: the stringy kind whose jeans hang over their narrow hips from their belt-cinched waists, the kind whose seams strain across their rounded rears and wrestler’s thighs, and graceful older men in loose, shimmering dress trousers, hemmed to break with one perfect fold of fabric resting atop each loafer as they saunter.
A bus company worker returns from the market with a flat of fresh strawberries. All work stops as his colleagues cluster around the crate, shoulder to shoulder, and dive into the fruit.
Turkey, it seems on first impression, is a perpetual motion machine.
First stop: Cappadocia.
On the edge of my bus seat,
My first impression of Turkey was a beautiful red sunrise through a cloud of brown dust out the front end of a C-5A as the nose cone lifted in Diyarbakir. It made a strong first impression. It seems like it made a strong first impression on you too.