Gone are the days that I thought college was my liver’s worst nightmare. In Bodrum, summertime is party time. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing until the sun comes up. Foreigners and locals alike enjoy the party scene here like there is no tomorrow. Consisting of tons of alleyways winding and crisscrossing illogically, strewn with shops, restaurants, bars and clubs, Bodrum was a playground. People (and the occasional motorbike) roam the streets like a bunch of honeybees swarming the nest. Men lurk around looking for prey, tossing the typical cheesy pick-up lines at every girl unfortunate enough to make eye contact with them. Intoxicated people dancing on tables, dripping in sweat. Children weaving through the crowds trying to get you to buy their stupid hats and light-up devil horns and cheap plastic flowers. Everyone is infected by the contagious celebratory and fun feeling in the air.
These few late boozy nights followed by torturously hot days in Bodrum were the perfect way to start my travels in Turkey. No more work was cause for celebration for me, and luckily it coincided with a celebration for Muslims as well. Ramazan (Ramadan as you folks back home know it) is what I would call a month of torture for devout Muslims. It consists of about a month of refraining from eating, drinking, and sexual activities. The only time these things may be done is from dusk until dawn. This helped to explain some of the habits of the Turkish for me. People are always up at all hours of the night, drinking tea or having meals with friends and family more often that not. Everyone will finally go to bed around 6 am, just before first light, and sleep through the afternoon. It is the strangest thing! Perhaps it is their way of escaping the heat. I will have to come back in winter to test out that theory.
Once the 30 days of torture is over, there is a national Bayram, or national holiday, which lasts a few days. Everyone eats and drinks as if there is no tomorrow. I am not sure how they deal with the other sacrifice that they had made during the Ramazan. 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim; however, the government here is secular. What most people are surprised to learn is that Turkey is nothing at all like places such as Saudi Arabia, where you have the most devout of Muslims donning the full kit and caboodle. In fact, I have only met two Turkish people who participate in the fasting of Ramazan. BUT, this most certainly doesn’t stop everyone from taking part in the celebration that follows. As one of my friends here said to me, ‘Ramazan is for the Muslims, the Bayram is for everyone.’