Saturday, December 27, 2008

Malatya Day 6

The next morning at 6am, Canan, Mert, and I got up to catch the tour bus to Urfa. After waiting at the designated spot for 30 minutes, the owner of the tour company came by and told us that due to the accident the day before; everyone else had pulled out of the trip. She offered to allow us to accompany the two-day trip and have a car bring us back that night. We would be leaving for the return trip to Malatya at around midnight and getting in around 3am. We all decided that this was not a very safe plan, as we could be stranded by an unreliable car. We told the woman that we would not be taking the tour, and that we wanted our money back. She said that we should come by her office later in the day to claim it. So, we went back to the guesthouse and slept for a few more hours.

When I finally woke up, Mert turned on the TV in our room. There were military parades on most of the channels. August 30th is Victory Day in Turkey. It signifies the Ataturk’s victory in the Battle of Dumlupinar, which signified Turkey’s independence from Greece, who was supported by the allies in World War I. It is celebrated by several hours of military parades at Ataturk’s Mausoleum in Ankara and televised throughout the country on government TV channels.

We, finally, woke up and ate breakfast. As Canan and Mert had not seen the museum in town yet, so we decided to go see that. The streets were lined with red and white streamers and balloons in celebration of Victory Day. Lots of street vendors were around from the parade that happened earlier that day. Although we never witnessed the parade, the decorations were evidence of the importance of this day to the Turks.

There was a vendor selling these white pods from a plant, which are a naturally type of chewing gum. Mert bought a small bag, so they could try it. It was apparently good that I didn’t want to try them, as they were apparently somewhat awful.

When we got to the museum, the security guard recognized me from the other two visits. He asked Mert if I was a journalist as I had carried my camera with me all three visits. He told Mert that he could arrange for me to meet with the archeologists who work at the museum if I come back in two days, or Monday. Mert told him that I was an American who was visiting, and the guard laughed. He told us that we could take pictures of whatever we wanted, as long as I didn’t use my flash. This was the third set of rules regarding my camera in as many visits. By this point, I had seen everything; so I focused on taking pictures of the more intricate pieces, particularly glass vessels and gold coins.

After leaving the museum, we went and got lunch. Still eating bread, I started to find mealtime being the least favorite part of my day. Afterwards, we went to go get some dondurma, Turkish ice cream, so they could have some before we left the next day. We were meeting up with everyone else for dinner, after they all returned from a trip to a waterfall nearby, so we had lots of time to kill. At this point, we went to go pick up our refund at the tour agency office. Mert and Canan were surprised that we got a refund at all. Apparently, refunds are a rare occurrence in Turkey. I was rather happy that we received one as the trip cost over 100 lira.

We ended up walking around the bazaar again. I ended up buying a few hand made copper dishes to act as sugar dishes for my tea sets that I had purchased earlier. We went for dinner at the same restaurant we had been going to for the past few days, so I could have more potatoes. I really have to say how much I appreciate everyone for accommodating to me to such a degree. I know that everyone felt somewhat guilty that I got so sick in their country, but everyone really went above and beyond to make me as comfortable as possible.

Since we had gotten up so early, we turned in early. Although it had been a relaxing day, it still was quite tiring with the extreme heat.

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