In recent years, a large amount of new small (family run) guesthouses occur due to the increasing number of tourists. Many local families who have a few small rooms available, decided to make them available to travellers. For an additional charge, you can usually also have breakfast and dinner at these places, which is a perfect way to taste local homemade food. The meals are almost always eaten at a common table, making it also a great way to get into conversation with other travellers.
This is also the way we meet Mehmet. Mehmet is a very special traveller. He is of Turkish origin and travels with a backpack. And that is indeed special, because this is a combination we haven’t seen before during our entire travel history. Turkish people like to travel, but not with the backpack. Mehmet is a very young and friendly guy and he tells us that he lives in Germany, that he was even born there, but that he only has a Turkish passport. That sounds strange to our ears, so when we ask him why he has no German passport, he answers that his parents never decided to apply for it. But the German passport didn’t seem to interest him that much because he feels that he is absolutely not German. In his opinion the Germans (Westerners in general) are very cold people and the only few Germans who he knows pretty well, are the guys he grew up with. And also with them, it doesn’t seem to click very well.
And while Mehmet gives the dog of the host family a pat on the head, he continues: "Some people believe in a multicultural society, but it does not exist; we are not liking the Germans, and they don’t like us". In Germany, it's all about money and a big car, is his opinion. A few months ago he decided to quit school because everyone learns the same things, making everybody the same kind of people. That makes no sense to him. We take the plunge and ask Mehmet whether it would be better for him to live in Turkey and start to build up a life in a culture that is closer to his heart. He shakes his head resolutely. "I will not be accepted in Turkey because I'm a rich German Turk in their eyes; they even try to rip me off when I'm on vacation there.
Ivonne gave Mehmet another Armenian tea while he concludes that travelling is good. "Travel brings people closer together because they get a better understanding of each other's culture," he concludes. Then he asks what our next destination is. We tell him that we plan to go to the remote village of Shatili on border with Chechnya. "Can you cross into Chechnya easily from there?" is what he wants to know. We do not know because we have absolutely no intention doing so. Mehmet tells he would like to go, and also to the neighbouring autonomous region with the similar extremist Islamic problem: Dagestan. Ivonne and I look at each other in despair when he mentions the name of the capital of Dagestan (which is Makhachkala) without even having to think of it, while he asked us ten minutes earlier if The Netherlands is located on the sea (which is something you definitely know if you live in neighbouring Germany). "Does he want to go to Chechnya or Dagestan for an Islamic military training camp?" is what we think simultaneously. Mehmet drinks his last sip of tea from his glass and stands up because he has to call his mother. "She is concerned about me and I have agreed with her that I call her every two weeks, because she thinks I'm going to war."