The Turkish gentleman who cleaned garbage cans in tent city was, for the most part, invisible. Most residents of tent city didn't pay much attention to the Turkish workers. My tent mates warned me not to trust them and the rules in tent city didn't even allow us to have them in our tents.|
Then came Christmas, and my office sent me two large boxes of things, mostly children's toys. I had asked them many times not to send anything, because I didn't need anything (except love, as in the emails they sent me), and I had to carry everything back with me on the flight home anyway. So, seeing Mustafa cleaning garbage cans, I asked him if he had children. He said yes, and I gave him the toys. They were all brand new and still in the boxes. After that he called me 'brother' and talked to me often, wanting to buy me coffee and be my friend. We were pals!
Then on February 7th he asked me to come spend some time at his house in Adana and meet his family. I'd said no before but this time I said yes. We piled into a Del-Mouche (Turkish taxi), which was a small mini-van but packed tighter than Jack Benny's budget. We sped down to old city Adana--at that time, off-limits to military after dark because of terrorists. I didn't know I was actually in it until much later that night when it was TOO LATE!
On the way down there, we visited the Sabanci Mosque. It was reported as the second largest in the world. Look closely and you can see Mustafa standing in front of it smiling (arrow).
After Mustafa (age 43) and I went flaunting our love around Adana and meeting all his
friends, his favorite restaurants, watching sheep in the streets, we went back to his crib and met his humble family (L - R) Khadi, Hulia, Mehmet-Ali, Hadya, and Mustafa,
the man (Daaaaaaddy). They were fascinated with this American specimen, dressing me
up, putting bunny rabbits on me, straw hats, lingerie, and I think Hulia
was sweet on me. Ahhh, just 17 she was--it had been a long time since I'd had a woman with teeth smile at me|
Mustafa brought his buddy's family over (just wife and kids--she was blonde) and we did shots of some unidentifiable alcoholic beverage, and had traditional Turkish food, I think. To be honest I don't know what traditional Turkish food is but it was something unlike what I was used to eating. I remember some eggs and some kinds of vegetables, and lots of pats on the back. The main room was about 12 x 12 feet and had a large crack in the wall. There was a television with rabbit ears but we could barely get any reception. Mustafa insisted I stay overnight.
His 'house' consisted of a room (the one in the picture with all of us sitting) while the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom (wooden frame in courtyard), were pretty much open.
The bed I slept in (they all slept in the room on the floor and gave me their oldest son's 'room') was a hole in the wall with a curtain opening to the courtyard. There was no wall, no door--just a curtain to the courtyard which was opened to the street. I was the lucky one.
| I had a bed.|
In the middle of the night, Mustafa's oldest son, who was in his late teens, returned to find me in his bed. Embarrassed, he politely excused himself. They were all very polite.
To the right you see Mustafa in the 'courtyard' between the room and the street. Below that, you see the kitchen, which was basically a porch.
The amazing thing to me was the deplorable standard of living which was everyday life to this family, yet they made no apologies and no complaints. They seemed as happy as any middle-class family in the U.S. who lived in luxury by comparison. I was very impressed by the humility and hospitality of this family.
Mustafa and I packed into the Del Mouche that morning and headed back to Incirlik where I welcomed my cozy tent. I'd not brought any contact lens cleaning fluid to Mustafa's place, so I had to pry my dry contact lenses off my eyeballs. Then I worked on my puzzle ring for three hours and finally...finally figured how to take it apart and put it back together again! I ran out of my tent and told Mustafa (attending to his duties in tent city). He gave me a high-five!