Cappadocia, Turkey: Gifts Between Strangers

Some of my best travel stories are how I made a connection with someone from another country; someone who I may never see again. My favorite story of this kind is when I was taking a tour in Cappadocia, Turkey. At the beginning of the day, the tour guide taught us that the Turkish word “Cappadocia” means “Land of the Beautiful Horses.” Later that day, the tour guide took us to an onyx jewelry store, where he gave us a “quiz” to see who could remember what the word Cappadocia meant. I remembered the meaning, and so I won a prize, an egg-shaped onyx stone.

On this tour there was a Turkish family traveling together. There were the grandparents, three out of four of their daughters, with their husbands, and two of the daughters had four small children between them. I decided that I wanted to give the onyx stone that I had just won to the children as a gift. I had the tour guide be my translator, telling the one of the mothers of my intention. Out of kindness, though, the mother wanted to make sure that maybe I would want to keep the stone as a memory of my trip to Turkey. I had the tour guide tell the mother for me that it would be more memorable to me if I knew that I gave this stone as a gift to the children. And, so she accepted my gift for the children, and I felt good.

The Necklace
The Necklace

But, the story did not end there. Less than a minute later, the mother gives me a necklace. What?! For me?! I did not quite understand. I did not expect any gift in return for the gift I gave to her children. But the tour guide explained to me that she wanted me to have this beautiful piece of jewelry. I was amazed. I just about cried. The mother did not have to do that. But she wanted to give it to me! I must have thanked her a thousand times, saying “te sekur ederim,” each time putting my hand on my heart, as a symbol of my gratitude for the gift the mother gave to me.

What I really think about this necklace was that the mother had just bought this necklace for herself at the onyx jewelry store, because had I noticed a matching ring on her finger. The necklace she gave me was round with a larger red stone in the center and several smaller stones on the edges. Her ring looked like it had nine of the same smaller stones, in a three by three pattern. So I feel that now, even though we will probably never see each other again, and even though we are worlds away, we will forever be connected. Especially if we both happen to be wearing our jewelry at the same time.

Sweet Travels!

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