We took a little afternoon trip up to a small ancient Greek village out in the country. The village was situated right in the steep hills, quaint, charming and picturesque. Its main produce is wine and olives, so wine tasting was on the menu! We tried a large selection of fruit wines – Blueberry, Strawberry, Quince, blackberry and even Kiwi-fruit!
The village people were beautiful, however tainted a bit by ‘tourism’, taking whatever chance they had to sell something! I was walking through the little back lane ways with a couple from our group – Kristin and Bob, excited by the building decay, peeling paint, cobbled alleys, old wooden doors falling off hinges, and the view of the surrounding hills. We all had our cameras out. A little old lady spotted us and called out to us ‘photo’ with a ‘come follow me’ gesture. We resisted following, not really sure about her ‘intentions’. However, she persisted with such eagerness that we decided to follow her. She lead us up to her very humble abode with a tiny stable next door and a donkey braying inside it. She stepped into her tiny house, inviting us to come in and indicating we could take a photo inside. We felt a little awkward, however she was very insistent, so we removed our shoes, entered the room and sat on cushions on the floor.
It was a tiny kitchen with the huge stove taking up most the room. Our little old host offered us grapes, and then put the kettle on for tea. She had a gorgeously weathered face with a crooked grin and bright eyes that had seen many years. After handing us our tea, she then pulled out lace shawls with the intention of selling. We felt ‘snagged’â€¦ as Jess had mentioned this happens quite a lot. We admired her lace, and politely refused, attempting to divert her sudden saleswoman tactics back to some sort of conversation. (Slightly difficult when we our Turkish was limited to hello and thank you!). With the help of a Turkish dictionary, we discovered she had 2 kids (adults) and had lived there all her life. Kristin and Bob showed her photos of their children, and I showed a photo of my family. She was interested for a little while, but then eagerly picked up her shawls again. We refused again, but didn’t want to take her hospitality for granted. We ended up ‘buying’ a little woolen-made cat.
It is amazing how quickly the Turks transition from heart-warming hospitality to the ‘wanting to get something out of you’! I find it unfortunately taints the experience of ‘culture sharing’ as you are always expecting this ulterior motive! I suppose we are an opportunity for them to gain a bit more.
Apart from the hard-sell, we all found the whole experience uniquely special.
Originally written for Intriguing Abstractions and Curious Diversions