Nina’s Travel Rule #11: Say YES to Cherry Vodka from Cowboys (or, how I single-handedly started a 30-person bar-fight in rural Turkey)

Horse Dude and the fairy chimneys

So, I’m like, somewhere in the middle of Turkey, and I haven’t been back to my hostel in a couple days. It’s partly cause I’m being stalked all over Europe by THE DANE (see Travel Rule #5), but mainly cause I’ve been drunk in a cave with some Turkish cowboys for some time now. Oh, and clubbing. And also night motorcycling with licorice liquor. And smoking lovely local products? Oh, and also starting a giant bar fight involving a German Sheppard, thrown tables, and some off-duty cops. You know, the regular ole disaster…

Hot Air Baloons over Cappadocia. Also my pool 🙂

Cappadocia is a lovely place. There’s fairy chimneys (giant penises), hot-air balloons, trekking galore, blah blah blah. I managed to spend 3 nights (4? Who can remember…) there and did nothing except take a horse ride through the canyons (which was awesome, btw). I didn’t go with the dude the book says to take (aka- The Turkish Horse Whisperer), but it’s cool cause I met him the next day, in his cave.

As far as I am willing to recall, it went like this: got up one morning, gorgeous sunrise, needed some more bottled agua. Thought: “ah! I shall walk myself to the little town and purchase water. And that will be an exhilarating, yet eminently achievable plan of action for the small portion of my day not previously booked as pool time.” I hadn’t had a pool in a while, you see. Also this bullshit about “Mediterranean climates” and how bloody hot everything is is just that. Total bullshit. Istanbul may be hot at some point, or so they tell me, but not in fucking June, I can tell you. Cappadocia was like, almost pool weather. If you’re not actually in the pool, that is.

So, down to town (Göreme, if we care), needless to say I don’t even make it to the water purchasing. Run into some dude, he knows some other dude, turns out I’d met dude #2 in Istanbul, cause he knows a dude who was running my hostel near Ephesus? Cause that’s how Turkey rolls, apparently. I think what I’d decided is that, while the country is bloody enormous, much bigger than most people realize, the hostelling industry is fairly new-ish, and everyone in tourism knows everyone else in tourism in the whole country? I’ve got proof of this actually…

Flashback: Walking down the street one day, see this giant mural thing on the outside wall of some carpet shop near the Ayasofya in Istanbul, and I’m staring at it with my friend (love you, Danny!) cause it looks just like this book I’d picked up at the hostel in Selçuk run by Atilla (yes, that is his name. Also he’s awesome). Now I’d only read a page of the thing, but I swear this is the same carpet shop that the Aussie dude who wrote it was squatting in. Low and behold, out comes a Turk who bears a striking resemblance to the devil. Just like in the book!

Devil-Turk, in English somewhat cleaner than mine: “oh, so you know Brandon?”

Me: “uh… no? I think I read a page of his book”

Devil-Turk: “ah, of course. I am Hussein. You read the book at Atilla’s. You will come in for tea.”

Well of course we will, we’re in Turkey! How could we not, really? Hussein, it turns out, has had a somewhat BFF / contentious relationship with Attila for the past… well, forever. So my friend is like, what the crap is going on? And I was like, we’re calling Atilla! To say hi 🙂 Also there’s coffee and an adorable puppy and a tour of the carpet cave! I love this country.

Me at the grape-less canyon. Note the bathing suit. Bc I should be at the pool, dammit!

Flashback forward: So there’s this guy, Murat, who also sells carpet (no coincidence, it’s just that every single person in Turkey sells carpet, is all. Fucking miracle from Allah I made it out that country carpet-free…), and we’re chatting, cause him and his buddy who sells carpet next door are sharing coffee with me. And clearly he knows Hussein, cause they used to throw giant 1000-person raves together in the canyons surrounding the town?? Clearly. So the three of us take a drive out to see the views, it’s lovely, they own some grapevines that refuse to produce anything edible and serve only as a nice spot for… well, nevermind that, that may not be legal in… well, not here, anyway. So I’m happily buzzing now, and decide I should in fact accomplish what I’d meant to accomplish today: POOL.

Me and My horse. I love this horse, he did exactly what I wanted and did not throw me off. Also more fairy chimneys (giant penises).

Tough! I get sidetracked in town, clearly, cause I run into the dude who took me and some lovely Korean girls horse-riding the day before, and we go to meet some of his friends? In a cave? Cause they’re cowboys and that’s where their “office” is? Oh, I see, this is the Lonely Planet horse whispering dude, right. Turns out he’s a cherry juice / vodka fiend who gets high as crap and then shepherds tourists along cliffs and canyons all day. Really nice guy, btw. Keeps some falcons, more dogs, a parrot, chickens, etc., in the cave?  Also many carpets.

So I’m drinkin my cherry vodka, and it’s nice and all, but we’re kinda hungry. So up we head up to “the farm”. It’s like, in the hills somewhere out of town, and it’s where these guys go to hang out. Which was super awesome, actually, until I looked around and realized I was eating raw lamb off a lettuce leaf, washed down with straight homemade still vodka, while the Kurdish native sat explaining to Turk #3 how to load the automatic machine gun he’d just acquired from “somewhere”, and Turks #1, 2, and 4 took turns scaring the shit out of the couple lost tourists who’d occasionally wander through their gorge. Apparently this is what passes for fun in the country. Reminds me of the great state of Texas, actually. Oh god, what happened to my day of NON crazy??

So I make it back to the hostel for about 6 minutes, decide I’d rather be dead of random Turk interactions than put up with my offensive neighbor, THE DANE, for one second longer, and head back to town for dinner. Call my mom, yadda yadda, end up going for beer with horse dude and his dog, Aslan (who is awesome, yet not really a lion). Bump into his friend, cause he’s the bartender, and some PSYCHOTIC girl from Chicago, who’s sponging off the bartender for free drinks. Before I know it we’re stopping for vodka and raki at the package store, so we can motorcycle to the top of some mountain and build a fire and get drunk? And it’s fabulously fun! I’m peeing off a canyon, woo….

Now I swear this next part isn’t my fault, cause I really thought this was where the night would end but, apparently I had misinformed myself. Actually, we’re going clubbing. Wait, you ask, clubbing? In Göreme? The town where a crazy day involves… the pool? And some raw lamb?


Interjection: That lamb was the best damn thing I ate in 2 months in Europe. Fucking AMAZING. Spicy as hell, deliciously flavorful, homemade by the Kurd, really just lovely.

Back to my evening: Now it turns out this town is really bangin in the summer, though obviously, as per Turkish time, FUCKING JUNE is not considered the summer. So yes, there is indeed one club in Göreme, and I am in it. As is horse dude, PSYCHOTIC chic, bartender man, and…. Aslan. Because really, I too would bring my dog to the club if I lived in Turkey. So we’re dancin, we’re dancin, Chicago’s about to puke she’s so drunk, there’s like 5 people in the club, but it’s cool, we’re dancin. Coffee guy from the morning shows up (who loves small towns?? I do!), and now we’re dancing on the speakers! And we’re pourin beer on each other! And it’s aweomse and I’ve no idea where my shoes are! And there’s a dog in the club! At 3am!

At some point, things appear to get more crowded. I find out later, via horse guy, that these people who’ve walked in are all cops, from the town down the way. They’re off duty, and they’re here to dance. That’s sure nice, think I, how lovely that we’ll be all safe up in here. Not so much. It seems Turkish guys don’t really like when other Turkish guys dance with white chicks (although seriously, the hoochies they brought in with them automatically disqualify any of those cops from gettin all upitty about whatever the crap we four were doing pouring beer on each other in a corner).

So next thing I know, horse dude’s gettin all snippy with some cop man cause cop man was callin me something that I assume is quite rude in Turkish, and I’m like, yo! Don’t have a fight over lil ole me, I just wanna pour beer on Chicago anywho… They are having none of this, I’m shoved out the way, and now punches are being thrown? I guess fights are common in this town, cause coffee guy made it down off that speaker in about half a second flat. You know, so as to better smash a table over Cop #1’s head.

Somewhere in my cherry-vodka-befuddled brain, I am thinking: “huh. I don’t really like fighting. I’m more of a peaceable drunk, you know? Some vodka, maybe some beer pourin, I’m really good with that, y’all. FUCK! Too close to my face there, time to get the f outta here.” So I grab Chicago, who’s crawling around on the floor unable to find her own body (or, it turns out the next day, her wallet), and somehow reacquire my shoes. Oh, shit, and the dog. I feel that it is not Aslan’s fault his daddy has taken “gentlemanly standing up for a lady” and turned it into “face punching a cop in a small enclosed area where he is outnumbered like, 30 to 3.” So thanks for the thought and all, but I am sooooo outta here.

By the time I get the three of us un-discombobulated and out the door, things have degenerated. Yes, that is correct, like they weren’t crazy enough. It’s literally 35 of them in this melee now, and it’s spilling into and down the road. Horse dude has made it out, but is basically getting his ass kicked at this point (Seriously. Precipitating a 30 to 3 fight? Just say NO!). And this is where I decide we’re leaving. Just exactly when horse-dude calls his dog, and this previously perfectly pleasant little Aslan (that’s a lie, he’s really very sweet, but is also a like, 120-lb German shepherd) turns into the Angel of Death and descends in a fury. What had been a pretty one-sided scuffle is now a bloody mess of wounded, drunk-ass cops, scattering to the wind before what I could swear was an entire pack of Aslans. I seriously believe Turkey woulda gained independence and / or conquered the world much faster if they had more of this dog. Exit Nina, stage right…

To summarize: by the next day, the entire town is aware of the events of the previous evening, (did I mention I heart small towns?) and the upshot was:

• Aslan will be sent to a friend in “the hills” for a while. You know, to avoid the local cops, this being the third time he’s joined a bar fight and all.

• Horse dude is lookin like hammered shit, but remains fairly pleased with his performance.

• All 30 cops are in the local jail (inter-town rivalries being identical the world over), with no bail, except of course the two currently in hospital in comas.

• And I never saw Chicago again.

Cappadocia: 1. Nina: 0.

The Canyon That Will One Day Produce Grapes

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