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25, photography lover, messy writer, philologist, passionate cook, avid traveller.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Bayram, 1

A glimpse of Lake Iznik.

My mind, as well as my mental health, had both been screaming for rest for the last couple of weeks. My craving for a good night’s sleep had got so big, that a long weekend seemed more like a one-way ticket to paradise. Therefore, I had many reasons to get excited for our first official school break, our first Bayram.

Bayram is the word for either a national or religious holiday or celebration. This year, Turkey, as well as other Muslim countries, celebrated Eid al-Adha (Kurban Bayramı) from Friday, October 3, until Tuesday, October 7. It is a religious 4-day holiday, symbolizing the sacrifice of Abraham's son, Isaac. As is tradition, on the first day of Bayram and shortly after sunrise, families go to the Mosque for the general prayer, and then sacrifice an animal in their name (it can be lamb, sheep, goat, calf, camel…), which can then be divided amongst two or more families, one big part of the animal going, in the end, to the poor ones and those in need. The tradition also states that families should pay a visit to their elders, as a sign of respect. Children, as well as some adults, buy new and smart clothes to wear during the festivities, and bring out with them one or several presents to each visited household.
[I was even invited to the slaughter, to which I politely but firmly said 'no'. I do love meat, but... no.] 

Once reunited, family members gather around a good cup of Türkçe kahvesi (Turkish coffee), a few bits and bobs, most of them being sweets, chocolates and dessert (tatlı), and, obviously, meat.

So, I was quite excited when everyone warned me about the perks of this Bayram: family visiting, back to the roots and lots of eating. Lots. 

They weren’t wrong.

In order to experience a very traditional Bayram, I packed my bags and headed up to my new beloved Turkish Bogotá, Bursa. Being apart from school for a few days was incredibly relaxing. My days started with marvelous breakfasts, which I can’t even describe without daydreaming (not even impressed…), followed by a daily coffee (strong, no sugar, tiny chocolate on top). 

We then headed to the visitings. Being around Turkish-speaking people made me force my brain to work a little harder in order to recognize words and try to understand what was being said around me. 
Challenge accepted, mission unaccomplished. Bu ne?

However, despite me being totally lost in translation (and in the language…), I had the chance to sink in (even more) into the Turkish culture. Family members happen to be extremely welcoming, and being a foreigner doesn’t make the slightest difference to them. I felt at home, once again. 

And we still managed to ramble around town, once again. However, if you want to visit Bursa's city-centre, I wouldn't recommend doing it on a Bayram Saturday. We happened to find the streets - usually packed with people going for a coffee, sellers at the Pazaar and tourists with their cameras and maps trying to find one of the many historical spots, rather empty and lonely. Still, there was a certain peace wandering along the deserted one-way little roads. We then spent the afternoon climbing up the hills to reach the Yeşil Pazaar, eating acıbadem (a sweet, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside almond kind-of-cookie), looking for an apparently non-existent Bursa mug at every Starbucks in town, to finally end up at KoruPark, one of Bursa's shopping centres, eating kumpir and going to the cinema. In English, of course.


I even had the chance of capturing the Ulucamii at night. 

This picture definitely, definitely doesn't do justice to the real thing. I.Need.A.Decent.Camera. 

I’m really happy I got the chance to almost drown in Turkish for 5 days (the sound of Spanish felt actual weird), discover a few traditions by going to small villages lost in the mountains (as a tribute to my wonderful childhood, I felt like being back in Chipaque, my grandad's hometown, looking at the endlessly montainous landscapes, surrounded by gigantic eucalyptus trees) and spend more time in Bursa. Mountains are definitely a sight for sore eyes, a cure against tiredness, an anti-stress therapy…

Ok, I’ll stop here.

Mübarek Olsun!

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