Saturday 7th June
Today we travel to Kuşadası via the iconic calcium terraces in Pammukale. These are the only ones in the world after our very own in Aotearoa were destroyed after a volcanic explosion in 1886.
Along the way Shaggy’s spiel is of Turkish culture. All things mentioned below tell of a traditional marriage. Like modern day western marriage, the customs, particularly in big cities, are a lot more relaxed than in more rural or conservative areas.
- The legal age for marriage is 18.
- There are several steps to marrying. Firstly, after the couple has met each other’s parents they must meet each other, that is, the boys parents must visit the girls parents.
- The girl must make Turkish coffee for her potential husband using salt instead of sugar. And he must put a brave face on and pretend to like it. Actually.
- Provided this meeting goes well, the boys parents ask the girls parents for her hand. They aren’t meant to respond with a yes straight away as that would appear too keen. A few days is customary.
- Girls have a henna night with lots of singing and dancing. It is customary for the girls to sing sad songs to the bride-to-be and if she is meant to cry. If she doesn’t it means she doesn’t like her parents and she isn’t sad about leaving home, which she should be.
- Henna is like a temporary tattoo. She has a pattern drawn in her palm and her fiancé has one drawn on his little finger.
- At the henna night, the mother in law is said to present the bride to be with a coin in the palm of her hand. Sometimes the bride rejects it if she considers that the coin isn’t big enough.
- It is not unusual to have 700 people at an engagement party which is relatively similar to our engagement parties.
- You must invite all relatives to the wedding, even the ones you don’t know or they won’t speak to you. It’s common for weddings to have 1000 guests.
- Girls expect to receive a sizeable rock on their finger. During the engagement the ring is on the right hand and changes to the left during the wedding ceremony.
- Everyone must have an official wedding first and then if they want, a religious one afterwards.
- There are no weddings at mosques. They are often in public spaces.
- During the wedding reception there is a tradition that while the couple are sitting down they try and stamp on each other’s foot. The winner is said to be the dominant half. Shaggy says that the most sensible men let the woman win.
- The mans family foot the bill for the wedding and the house (although it’s becoming more common for the couple to share these responsibilities). The woman is only responsible for decorating the master bedroom.
- The divorce rate in the Islamic world is lower than that in western countries.
- It is bad news if you put your parents in a retirement home. There are very few of these facilities for this reason. Everyone is expected to look after the old and by not doing so you risk the relationship with the rest of the family.
- There is no such thing as cremation.
- All gravestones point to Mecca.
Back in the moment, the white terraces envelope natural hot spring pools of light blue water and they are VERY popular with Russian tourists with thousands coming through every day. I had a beautiful bikini-clad Russian probably about 17 years old approach me and not so much ask me to take her photo but rather pushed her camera into my hands and proceeded to strike a variety of poses for about 10 minutes that would not have been out of place in a playboy mag.
The calcium terraces are also the site of Hieropolis, one of many Ancient Greek cities, of which there are 200 in Turkey and 89 in Greece. I knew we would be seeing many more on the trip and it was a really hot day, not even two icecreams gave me the motivation to explore the ruins trail.
In Kuşadası we check into Tatlises Hotel which is the best yet. Me and Lu are on the second highest floor along with most of the group and we have a phenomenal view over the swimming pool (which is my first destination after check in) to the beach.
Because this is the first of two nights in this hotel and it is Saturday night, tonight is party night. We dress in our best party wears and jump into the party van sent to us by the club. Free shots on entry kicks off a memorable night. While most of us have left a special someone back home, there’s no holding back the single ones with Emma and Lu both scoring a taste of locals Abdul and Mert (yes, Mert) who will forever be memorable souvenirs for them, and for the rest of us that had to watch. This great night inevitably ended up at a kebab shop, apparently. I wouldn’t know because I was asleep in the back of the van – it was 3:30am which is a late night for my nana standards I had become accustomed to before leaving Australia.