One should always be careful what one claims. Especially when one is young and cutting edge, free from home’s familiar restraints, able to reinvent oneself, desperate to be someone. Open one’s mouth once too often, too wide, make claims that may bring you down.
My first real trip abroad was a last minute invitation to join a group travelling across Europe to Iran and Turkey. A £50 limit on money which could be taken out of UK meant definitely living as the locals - exciting or what?
I had a moment to decide,
a moment who need a moment?
a dream come true,
six weeks wandering around.
Camping where and when.
I gave no thought to the fact I would know only one person in the group. I bade farewell to my holiday job, grabbed my passport and with nary a look backward set off.
A glorious six week adventure. I look back with the fondest memories.
Food. Well we took tins and tins of spam and corned beef - no wonder I eschew them now:) We weren’t sure, you see, what we could buy but vegetables and fruit we ate in abundance, all day, every day. Fruit we had never heard off, fruit which was expensive back home. It was on that trip that I discovered that capsicums, in all colours, were delicious eaten as one would eat apples. I would buy them by the kilo and munch my way through them. Delicious.
Another new fruit for me was the water melon. The UK had been introduced to melon a few years back. I liked it okay, served in slices and daringly sprinkled with ground ginger - oh it all seems such a long time ago:)
Watermelon though - probably didn't travel as well. Watermelon really needs to be eaten under the sun, walking over dusty paths with the chatter of exotic language in the background. One could buy thick slices from any of a hundred wayside stalls.
Spit out the seed.
Never in my life had I spat anything. It wasn’t done. It wasn’t nice. But freed from middle class rules, under the sun, surrounded by everyone else spitting out the seed I spat. Guilty pleasure. Walk along eating - unheard off - not done( well sweets and fish and chips was okay:) again I wasn't at home and I ate as I scuffed along in my flip flops. Watermelon is exceeding good accompanied by unsweetened dry biscuits - don't ask me why?
I got quite a reputation for the amount of water melon I was happy to consume and that was my downfall.
Istanbul - camped right on the edge of the sea. Starlight and free wine from the local restaurant,a foolhardy tipsy swim in the Bosporus at night. Awaking in the dawn with a leg which had been stung by jelly fish!! I could not walk as the sting had temporarily paralysed my leg, from hip to knee.I couldn't feel my leg. It would pass the locals assured me - so there I was stuck in the camp. My fellow travellers said they would fetch me some provisions to while away the day.
A watermelon? I asked. The largest they could find, please.
I wouldn't be able to eat a whole one, they warned me. I had though seen the size of them in the markets, do-able I thought and hey I had the whole day.
I can eat any size, I boasted - bets were laid and of they went to find the largest watermelon in Istanbul.
Foolish, foolish moi.
What kind of soil did they grow the fruit on in those parts? When travelling companions eventually turned up it wasn't a watermelon they had found, it was some mutant fruit, no melon could grow that large surely!
It had taken them two hours of searching but with delight they produced the mammoth of all melons. It was difficult to carry, its girth was so wide. The weight was staggering. They had been followed home by a curious gaggle of small children who had somehow grasped that this was to be eaten by one person. They squatted at a discreet distance chatting quietly but excitedly to each other.
It was the entertainment of the day - nay probably of the week, month. Oh dear, me and my big mouth.
I ate slowly. Pace yourself I told myself, often.
The fruit never seemed to diminish however much I ate.
I ate and
Everyone around me settled into easy relaxation as they chatted, offered encouragement and the betting changed many times.
I am also known for my pig headed stubbornness. And come what may I was going to eat that melon.
They watched like hawks, in case I tried to tip the juice away. For to be sure the juice was filling me up quicker than the flesh. It was a beautiful juicy fruit no doubt.
I grew to dislike the redness the flesh, the blackness of the seeds and as for the green of the rind. Not a shades I had ever been fond of, come to think of it red and black were never colours I sought out, and green had been the colour of school uniform:(
When would the eating finish.
I ate for hours
I finished the melon.
I ate nothing else all day except that confounded watermelon.
I felt sicker than I had ever done for a long while.
I wasn’t deemed as having won unless I could keep it all down.
I am not good at being sick. I will lie in agony for hours rather than bring anything back up. As my leg recovered and my stomach took its place in my experience of self pity, I lay in the fading sunlight and then through that next night.
I could walk the next day. Well stagger anyway to the back of our transport where I lay prone and wished the day over and done with while my companions laughed,talked and toured the sights.
Guess what? I am not so keen on watermelons anymore:)
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