The Turks have got to be the most hospitable people on earth. I walk into a neighborhood restaurant, the owner sends for his nephew who speaks English, to translate the menu for us. He sits with us while we eat and chats about life here and in America. I mention that I need a dry cleaner. He says he will drive me to his dry cleaner, and translate for me. The dry cleaner doesn't know quite where my apartment is, so he says he will take my dry cleaning back to the neighborhood restaurant. The young man refuses to take a tip for this service. Of course we try to return to his restaurant once every two weeks or so. He also friended me on Facebook.
That same evening, I walked into a pastry shop to use the bathroom. After using the very clean facility (with, thankfully, Western toilets, and toilet paper, not just a hole in the floor for squatting, and no toilet paper but a sink to wipe with your hand), In gratitude for the very clean and modern WC, I feel I should purchase a pastry. So I look for the cheapest pastry, point to it, and motion that I want to buy it. The owner asks me in broken English where I am from, I say "America." He touches his heart and gives me extra pastry and refuses to take money for it.
I have experienced at least a dozen incidents like this.
On the bus coming back from Cappadocia, the fellow next to me struggled to speak English. "America...beautiful!" he said. Then, "Obama....beautiful." He reached in his bag and gave me an apple. "Obama... peace prize!" he exclaimed.
"No more English," he said. Then, another phrase popped into his mind. "I love you," he said, waved, and stepped off the bus.
I have been playing charades with students at a local private school. They love American movies and TV shows, even some that are not worth loving and that are in my view polluting their culture.
I ask the head of the English Department at Alex's school why Turks are so hospitable. "You are a guest in our country. We treat our guests well. In some parts of Turkey, if you go to a village where they are struggling to have enough food to sustain themselves, they will give you their food. It's just the way we are as a people." They take great pride in their hospitality.