Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family – in another city.
The Global Village moment has arrived: a family that lives less than an hour’s drive from one another in Melbourne, gathers in a small Turkish village to spend more time together than they have since childhood. And it all centres on the marriage of local, Ali Cingitas, to niece and cousin, Ineke Lam. But the dramas that unfold in order for this moment to arrive easily outdo the cultural and language challenges that might arise in transitioning from Ireland to Turkey.
We were woken on the first day by Victor, Ineke’s father, with the news. Caro was still in Melbourne due to foot cellulitis, while Tara was in the local Turkish hospital on a drip. This sudden turn of events is not an unusual occurrence for Lams or Wares, but as is often the way, things turn out for the best. Speaking to Caro in Melbourne, Rob learns that she will fly out on Friday, pending on the Doctor’s okay. This way she would arrive on Saturday for the commencement of three days of celebration and possibly be in a wheelchair as she makes her way round the cobble stones and steep hills of Göreme. Antibiotics begin to kick in for Tara and she makes an appearance in the afternoon after two hospital stays, but spends most of her time recuperating with sister Susan by her side.
Meanwhile, the rest of us enjoy Turkish hospitality and explore the incredible landscape that surrounds us under the guidance of Ali’s uncle, Yashir (Black Snake). We soon learn about Turkish time, which essentially means that our one hour bus tour, mysteriously becomes three.
With a generosity that knows no bounds, Fatima (Ali’s mother) provides delicious Turkish home cooked meals for the extended family at her home (which extends out from the rock cave and has been in the family for several generations). In fact, Ali’s family provide a meal for the whole village, with utter strangers also joining in the festivities. We soon realise that there is little distinction between extended family, invited guests and hanger-ons, which is a cultural difference not emulated at Australian weddings.
Wedding eve arrives and after a huge day of site seeing, extended family, invited guests and hanger-ons, all meet for dinner. Gaby, Ineke’s sister (who arrived from India where she is working as a Myotherapist training the Barefoot Doctors) speculates that her eldest sister, Alysia, might escort her mother on the journey from Australia. The clue is that Henry, Alysia’s husband, joins Viber.
Excitement mounts throughout Göreme as the day of festivities commences. And after days of family drama, Caro arrives with Alysia in extraordinary good form, given they only decided three days earlier to make the journey. Forget the wheelchair – Caro is up on the dance floor at the Henna night which is our equivalent to a hen’s night except that it involves no less than three costume changes for Ineke.
News of the wedding is broadcast throughout the town, via the loud speakers attached to the mosque. There are fireworks and loud Turkish music playing throughout Göreme – and huge discounts at the shops to be had by simply mentioning the name Ali and Ineke. There is speculation that 700 people will attend the Reception – the wedding finale.
It is a joy to see the Lam family united together with the Ware clan, minus sister/aunty Vicki (in Tasmania) and Matt (in Montreal). The whole experience is one of joy and happiness which is only improved by the geological setting in which we find ourselves.
Rob finds the regular Islamic ‘call to prayer’, over the loud speaker, a welcome interlude to the day, which encourages him to spend some meditative moments on top of a mountain that overlooks Göreme.