Monday, December 8, 2014

a first time for everything

I've never actually had someone point and laugh at me before— even when I had pink hair and dressed a little differently. There is always a first time for everything, and here in Erzurum, that time had come. First, I would like to mention that neither Pedro nor I were wearing anything odd, revealing, or noticeably "foreign." As we passed three young women sitting on a park bench, one of them glared at me, then looked us up and down before bursting into laughter with her index finger thrust toward our faces. It was perplexing to say the least, and perhaps I would have forgotten it, but later while looking for a room to spend the night in, a receptionist at a hotel gave us a glance and claimed that there were no rooms available.

We then headed to another hotel, but this time Pedro stayed in the car while I went in alone. The receptionist assured me there were plenty of rooms, but when I mentioned that there would be two of us, his spine stiffened. He asked me if I would be staying with a man, and when I said that I would, he grew a little flustered, and politely announced that the price would be doubled. As he explained it, a "man-woman" stay is "harmful" to the people of Erzurum. This was the first time in our entire trip that we ran into trouble staying in a room together. No one here seemed to believe we were married, and I'm not sure why. Was it because we are foreigners? It took us a while, but eventually we found a nice place where we were welcome.

I really don't know what to think about Erzurum. There are some beautiful examples of Seljuk architecture and some very nice hills, but the odd interactions we had with some people and the blatant anti-Armenian propaganda in the city's archaeological museum, made me feel uncomfortable. I know I can't judge a place on a few hours of experience, even though I felt judged on sight. Still, I did love the architectural attractions, and the Yakutiye Medresi had a wonderful exhibit of the nation's postage stamp designs and women's clothing from the Ottoman era.

And then there's this:

I do appreciate a good sense of humour!


Julia Kelly said...

Intriguing post but sorry you had to experience the unwelcome-ness of the culture

szaza said...

Thank you Julia— it happens. Still, I am glad we experienced it!