I’ve been on the ship for 5 days now but had been too busy with training and such to go ashore until today. This is my first time in Turkey and the 54th country I’ve been to. Kusadasi seems to have a lot to offer, from a breathtaking array of art, water pipes, spices and food. However, the shopkeepers here are very pushy, to the point that even when I looked disinterested, they insisted on approaching me with awkward ice-breakers such as “Hey, you must be from either Jamaica or Morocco”. “Why not.” I replied, walking by.
For most people, travel makes one more tolerant. However I find the more I travel, the more suspicious I am of random strangers who attempt to strike up conversations with me. I used to love chatting with random strangers until a few years ago in Bangkok, when I fell for the Lucky Buddha scam. In short, a friendly stranger stopped me and we had a conversation for about 10 minutes. He then convinced me that the Grand Palace I was headed to was closed because of a public holiday, so I should instead visit the Lucky Buddha exhibit. Conveniently, his friend was a tuk-tuk driver and was nearby. His friend took me down a small alley way and I immediately sensed something was wrong. He stopped in front of what seemed like a shed where the “Lucky Buddha” was on display. It was small and dull-looking. It was probably the unluckiest looking Buddha I have ever seen. A monk immediately popped out and asked for a donation, to which I replied “Sorry no, it doesn’t look so lucky”. I got back into the tuk-tuk (as I had no idea where I was) and demand that the driver take me back to where he picked me up. He started driving but said there were “a few more things to show”. I realized that my only out was to play the crazy card. So I shook the driver violently while he was driving and screamed at him. He started trembling and apologized, returning me back to where I was picked up. I managed to escape with only a bruised ego.
Kusadasi reminded me of Bangkok. People are friendly but beneath that friendly exterior, it seems like everyone is looking to make a buck. It was almost like they were undressing my wallet with their eyes. I think I prefer the customer service philosophy in Eastern Europe, where they ignore you until you are absolutely sure you need assistance. And even when you’re eager to spend money, they are still annoyed. At least it’s sincere.
I went to buy an ice-cream and the vendor inquired about my marital status, where I was from and what I did for a living! If it wasn’t so hot, I would have had some fun with him and said that I was gay stripper from Morocco and that he had a pretty mouth. But I just wanted a fucking ice-cream, not to be Facebook friends (and even Facebook is slightly less intrusive). I finally got my ice-cream and despite that little drama, it was worth it. It was creamy and chewy, like chocolate mixed with cuddles.
I realized that it’d be too exhausting to deal with any more pushy sellers, so I just walked around the bazaar and oriented myself. It’s my favorite thing to do in new places anyway – walking around and observing the new sights. I like Turkey so far and look forward to coming back. I just hope they won’t have anything against gay Moroccans.