I find myself once again sitting in the red and cream snakeskin booths of mambo café. The walls are lined with some sort of cottage cheese wallpaper splattered with embossed silver coffee beans next to the words espresso and café. Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” blares in the background while the screen on the wall adjacent to the booth shows off less than classy music videos awkwardly singing to a song no one can hear. I’m still not sure how I got so attached to this singular café, its shares the street with at least 15 other cafés on café row. Upon first arriving I thought I would perhaps settle in at the ironically named, “Save Our Souls Café” or that I would try a different café every day, but I must admit I feel like a traitor going anywhere else. I may not be a fan of the unrelenting Turkish techno and perhaps I wouldn’t have chosen pearly snakeskin for the decor, but it has captured my heart nonetheless.
We don’t just have a café, in the course of 5 weeks our team has found itself a haircut man, a baklava man, a midya (mussels) man, a fruit man, a laundry lady, a karpuz man, a bread man, a dessert man, and the taxi drivers near our apartment know us well enough to know that we are probably on our way to Kucuk park. I love this. Truly I do. The closest I have ever come to this sort of lifestyle was in 6th grade when my mom would take me to Baskin Robbins and every day after school at 3:30 my mocha almond fudge kid scoop on a sugar cone would be waiting for me. If only it weren’t so hot here in Izmir, then I do believe I would walk each morning for a few fresh figs and warm loaf of bread. I hardly enjoy walking around in the unforgiving and apathetic heat, it cares nothing for my fatigue, but the evening walks tempt me to pack up my bags and move to a city where I can become a regular for some fruit and bread vender. The nights are something along the lines of seductive, the moon cradles us in the reflections of the sun, the leftovers of the searing and scorching day. It’s in the evening that I savor the songs of the city, the sights, sounds, and smells of a this far off land. The days are much too warm to savor such things, the sun blisters my conscience, I work up a sweat trying to think beyond “Jesus help me take the next few steps” or “Lord just a cool wind please.” But the evenings, the evenings beckon me to a love that seems lost in the midday hours, the moon reminds me of the sun’s redemptive nature. I will miss the Turkish crescent.