Hell and the Hookah Bar

 

Image from Cindy
Sailing toward Turkey

Hell is the nickname for Helena and she met up with our group on the Greece trip and tagged along. She’s from Bristol and a geologist, but I think of her as a gypsy, for her lifestyle is devoted to traveling and she’s been all over the world. At 32, she has a free-spirited attitude and a zest for interacting with everyone she meets. I remember feeling invincible at her age. I don’t feel much like that twenty years later. When we stopped at the port of Kusadasi, Turkey, I was a little nervous getting off the boat. The bazaar wasn’t my idea of fun because I dislike being accosted by the salespeople who try and steer you into the stores to buy jewelry or expensive trinkets. She suggested leaving the bazaar and exploring the streets of the city. I thought it might be dangerous. I imagined dark alleys and hearing onlyΒ a strange language I had no idea how to interpret. What if something went wrong? Jim and Hell thought it would be fun to walk around the main streets. I went along with them out of peer pressure, but I wasn’t happy about it. The rest of the group was fine and busy, so I had some free time. Do I stay safely behind or venture out and explore? What a silly question!

Image from Cindy (1)
A Kusadasi pedestrian street

We didn’t go far. Just a few blocks down the main avenue which was still touristy, but it was quiet and bright at noon. I was fearful a bomb would explode or we’d be attacked by rioters. I believe the media’s constant spewing of atrocities is creating a culture of fear; it had its hooks in me. It was hot and Hell wanted to sit at a cafe and watch the people go by.

Image from Cindy (4)

Jim selected a cafe in cool shadows, and before I knew it, Hell had ordered peach flavored tobacco for the Hookah. The owner and servers were generous and friendly. With broken English, they waited on us as we sipped beer and smoked. It was something I never thought I’d be doing, smoking the hookah. This two-hour respite from herding the group was a highlight of the trip. I wouldn’t have done it if Hell hadn’t been there. I studied her as we three talked about our lives, politics (2 minutes only), and traveling exploits.

The digression from my comfort zone was a reminder how important it is not to hide behind imagined fears. My personal saying is, “Nine out of ten things you worry about don’t come true.” I let my worries get the better of me, almost. Looking at Hell as she animatedly talked reminded me of someone I once knew. I saw a younger version of myself. Where did that fearless woman go? Who is this older woman today who recoils from spontaneity?

So we smoked. We laughed. We created a memory. My morals weren’t compromised. The day remained sunny and calm. Strangers were friendly and courteous. Thanks, Hell!

22 thoughts on “Hell and the Hookah Bar

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  1. Cindy, I am very pleased that your overcame your concerns, and went off to enjoy ‘normal life’ wandering around a tourist town. It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by media reports and to understandably allow that to spoil your trip. As you discovered, there is usually nothing at all to fear. Besides, these attacks are so random, there is no chance of planning to avoid them. You were right to follow your instincts about your younger self.
    After all, who didn’t consider a walk along the seafront in Nice to be a safe thing to do?
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Right you are, Pete. I was surprised at myself how anxious I felt. Sometimes I wonder where the heck I went, the old me. Like watching too many horror movies and becoming scared of my own shadow.

  2. My old man has a similar attitude to Hell, even in his 70s he still has no qualms about straying from the tourist trail. As he says, you’re more likely to get mugged in Manchester than Marrakesh.

    1. Ha! I like your Dad’s attitude. Quite true. We looked up crime statistics for Athens because we heard it was “bad” and discovered you are more likely to get mugged in Phoenix. πŸ™‚

  3. What an experience. Maybe not with the grandest view or most beautiful scenery but one that I bet with stand out whenever you reflect back on your vacation.

    1. You got that right, Keith. A calm, cozy corner for animated conversation can trump the best landscape shot any time. Still, wait to you see my Santorini and Mykonos shots! πŸ˜‰

        1. Aww, you can go there! Just takes a little planning. You can take a direct flight from Philadelphia to Athens. Then board a cruise ship ($800) that takes you to the popular islands, or I have heard positive things from bloggers who swear by Airbnb. I want to rent a flat or cottage at one of the islands and park myself somewhere for a few weeks. πŸ˜‰

  4. I enjoy the backstreets of cities but don’t let the tranquillity and beauty of the east fool you. When you least expect it someone in close proximity to you will get shot in the knee, robbed at knife point, or you can really do the tourist thing and find yourself in the middle of a riot. I wouldn’t be put off thinking about it though. Do your thing, but have your running shoes on in case the unexpected happens. The media does like to build up excitement, but just remember while their shots may be cleverly done, they did photograph something happening and usually it isn’t good! I guess the hookah would have had a calming effect. lol

    1. Hi Ian, yes, there’s a balance. The innocent get preyed upon. Bad things do happen. But when one is afraid to try something knew for fear of all the images and stories they have heard and read, well, then that’s the danger. The unexpected will happen, but who wants to hang out with a Negative Nancy? I don’t. I dislike myself when I become her.

  5. When you are travelling and don’t know the territory, caution can be wise. Unfortunately, it can also rob us of some joyous experiences. You were lucky to find somebody who opened a wonderful experience for you. Nice going!

    1. Worryimg can be habit forming. Another reason why I like group travel. Alternate personalities can coax and alter you. I think it is healthy to get out of one’s comfort zone.

  6. What a wonderful post Cindy. The older I get the more I want to avoid crowds or tyring new things. Karen gets me out too sometimes when I’m anxious about something only to rejoice when I’m actually having the experience. Great stuff getting out there and living life. The town looked wonderful and very peaceful too as it turned out. P.S. I’ve always wanted to try me some hookah.

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