Read / lees in : Nederlands
After Georgia Turkey was on my route
back home to Africa, but the last few months tensions between The Netherlands and Turkey were running high. The Turks Erdogan called us remnants of the nazis and accused us of killing thousands of muslims in Srbrenica. So for a moment I considered taking the ferry from Batumi across the Black Sea to Varna in Bulgaria. But just for a very brief moment. Because I am obviously not going to let a jumped-up lemonade vendor interfere with my travel plans. Besides, I drive around with Chilean license plates and speak Spanish fluently, so I could always travel through the country incognito. At the border and during my first stopover, in Trabzon, however I didn’t notice any hostility whatsoever. The Turks were all friendly as usual. But soon after I drove on to Anatolia, where the hardcore Erdofans live.
After a long driving day I arrived in Göreme, the heart of the tourist attraction called Cappadocia. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and ideal for hiking. Around the village you’ll find a number of valleys and every day I went out for a long walk through one of the valleys. The second day I met a couple of Turks that were on holiday too. I struck up a conversation with one of the guys, and after a while he asked me where I was from. ‘I’m from Holland’, I answered to the best of my knowledge. Immediately his face grew gloomy, and he asked me, rather suspiciously, what I thought of Turkey. ‘A beautiful country, great food, good weather and the nicest people, in one word fantastic!’, I replied in all honesty. That was clearly not what he expected to hear, a bit off balance he asked what I thought of Turkish people specifically. ‘Great people, hard workers. In The Netherlands I live in a neighbourhood with lots of Turkish people. I love it there!’ In utter disbelief he looked at me. ‘And what do you think of Dutch people?’, I asked him in return.
According to the media Erdogan has transformed the news coverage in Turkey so it almost exclusively reports the government approved view of the world. Just so his hatred for Europeans can enter the Turkish brains unfiltered. One of the few critical newspapers left published, out of protest, a newspaper with only blank pages on the second day I was in Trabzon. And judging by the reaction of my interlocutor this gag on the press is highly effective. After my question he stayed silent for more than a minute. He really didn’t know what to say, I was probably the first Dutch guy he ever spoke to. At the very least it was clear that he hadn’t expected such a nice, charming, sympathetic and modest personality. After hesitating for a long while he said: ‘Maybe I should travel to Holland one day’. I couldn’t agree more. Like I said: You shouldn’t let somebody that compensates the length of his tiny weener with a house financed by taxpayers interfere with your travel plans.