The day before yesterday we left Turkey after more than a month. In the last village in Turkey, a really backward hamlet it was, I stopped at the top a small hill to wait for Eveline, and a man, my own age, came up to me and asked, at least that was my impression, where we were from. Then a hand and foot conversation started, with Eveline and another man joining. The man could mention various cities in the Netherlands and as far as we understood he had worked in NL and returned back to Turkey maybe 30 years ago. Such conversations we have often had. And looking these people in their faces and seeing how genuinly sincere and interested they look at us, we only can express our appreciation of the warmth and openess of the Turkisch people. I regret having taken hardly any photos during these occasions, the expression of the faces are only printed in my mind.
How different were my first impressions in Georgia. The customs officer not looking at us and not saying a word before his “Welcome to Georgia” after he had taken all the time to silenty scrutinize and stamp our passports. Policemen and other people hanging around staring at us, silently and with blank expression in their faces. Then, 500 meters past the border, a petrol station with a coffee-bar. Again the staff completely ignoring us, stiff and flat faces. But after my pro-active action (loudly asking if they had coffee) we got it, with a smile, and when we left we didn't have to pay. Difficult to put these things together. Later, when we greet people, they will greet back, but only on our initiative so different from Turkey. We know we are not a daily phenomenon on this road, but very often we were “not seen”.
Our hotel in Akhaltsikhe on the contrary was very nice and warm and it seems that now, a bit farther from the border and lower in the valley, people seem to be more communicative.
So we might getting to like the Georgians as well, but like them as much as we do the Turks remains to be seen. Maybe the Georgians are more restrained in new contacts, whereas many Turks immediately react on your presence with merhabas and hos geldiniz (hellos and welcomes). Remains of Soviet times??