Mother, Mother Ocean

Traveling, done right, is a great adventure and I had my very own adventure last night. Let me preface this story with a little background. Somehow I have become the one in our group to whom stuff happens. For example, in Cappadocia I missed a step going to dinner and fell down a small set of marble stairs. Ouch! The next day while exploring Goreme’s Open Air Museum of rock churches, I slipped and ended up on my butt; of course, I was up pretty high and in full view of folks when I made my ungainly descent. Golly, I need to learn to fall gracefully. So, it didn’t seem to shock anyone when I got locked in the bathroom of our hotel  room. But it wasn’t my fault…

I was leaving the bathroom and the door handle, the whole plate of the door handle, came off in my hand. I shouted for Mary who was getting ready for bed. “What are you doing in there?” She asked me, which, when you think about it, is not something you generally ask someone who is in the toilet. “I’m stuck in here; push on the door!” Mary shoved and I yanked on the towel rack which promptly broke off in my hand. Okay, now I’ve got a door handle, two screws, two hexagonal bolty things and a broken towel rack.

We decided our next best course of action was to go get Leroy – he’s strong and could probably put his shoulder against it. Leroy got out of bed, dressed and he and Eve came down to our room. While waiting I decided to brush my teeth again and to ponder that  if I had to sleep in the bathtub would I have enough towels for a comfy pillow?

Leroy peered through the hole and saw that the door was latched, not just pushed tight. We were going to need tools and my Swiss Army knife  was not going to be enough.

Do you have any bolts in there?” Leroy shouted through the door. I gave him a litany of the hardware littering the bathroom floor. “Put one of those bolts into one of the holes.” Okay, 2 bolts, 2 holes = 4 combinations. Leroy was able to turn the bolt (who in heaven’s name travels with pliers but Leroy??) and I was freed.

Now though we have a bathroom that looks like Aerosmith partied in it.  Eve called the front desk – thank goodness their English is better than our Turkish. Soon we had 3 Turkish men in our bathroom, drilling and hammering . I’m sure our neighbors were not at all pleased with us as it was nearing midnight. I looked at Mary and burst out laughing because she was in her pjs, but had run to put on a scarf when the maintenance men arrived. We laughed until we cried. 

Today we travel from Cappadocia over the plateau to Konya, which you may remember as the birth and death place of Rumi, over the Taurus Mountains to Antalya.

It was a long day on the bus. We left Cappadocia at 8am and arrived here in Antalya about 6pm. We did stop, of course, but only for food and rest areas. This is the only day of our trip that is solely travel.  I was thrilled though because today was my day to sit in the front seat of the bus.

SmarTours  ( (that’s the group we’re travelling with) usually has groups of 38-40 people on their tours, but ours is only 27 (and I think we are fortunate that SmarTours went ahead with the trip given the small number of participants).  

 Anyway, because there are so few of us we all get seats to ourselves on the bus, and two days ago, Ender instituted a seating chart. Each day, we move up or back 2 seats ensuring that everyone gets the front seat sometime during the trip.  The first day he posted the seating chart chaos ruled.  We couldn’t decide if the numbers were the seat numbers or the row numbers; honestly, it was like a bunch of third graders trying to do long division.  All good humored, of course, though I do think Ender must think we are a bunch of lunatics. It’s a very nice group of folks; various ages and nationalities which I enjoy a lot.

Ender is an amazing guide. His professionalism and knowledge simply cannot be adequately described. 

 Several times during our travels he has shown us Turkish newspapers and demonstrated how the news is reported in different ways. Just like in the United States, where you know which newspapers have which political biases.  Ender is presenting the information in a non-judgemental and non-biased way – he reads the headlines from each and we draw our own conclusions. It is wonderful to see this aspect of ‘real’ life.

So today we rode the bus…I had fellow travelers asking what I could possibly write about today and here’s what I’ve some up with.

Did you know that Turkey’s 2 top industries are automotive and textile? They do not have a car brand of their own, but make parts, etc., for all of the major car companies (including Ferrari). Textiles didn’t surprise me as we all know about Turkish towels and rugs, that sort of thing.  Part of the area we drove through today had a few cotton fields, but that industry has dried up because of competition from China.

Here’s another tidbit. The Turkish language is not an Arabic language but is more a combination of Hungarian and Finnish. Isn’t that interesting?? Also, the Turkish language has no exceptions to it’s rules, so no “I before E except after C or when sounded as “a” as in neighbor or way. Once you know the rules, you’re good.

 We passed through Urgup, the ancient name of which is Assiana. Up until WWI, 25% of the population was not Muslim, but Greek speaking Christian. After WWI, due to political strife particularly in this area because of the war, the Greek and Turkish governments decided to swap minority populations. The citizenry had no say in this process. About 1 million Christian Turks were moved to Greece and approximately 500,000 Muslim Greeks were sent to live in Urgup. Some of these families, most of these families probably, had centuries deep ties and were uprooted to help restore peace to this area.

Though this is a traveling day, one of our rest stops this morning involved a little sightseeing. We stopped at the Sultan Han, a spot in the middle of nowhere on the ancient Silk Road. This was used as a caravanserai (caravan-sir-rye) in the Seljuk period. Trade was flourishing in this area and the Silk Road was the main corridor. Caravans, walking and with camels, could travel maybe 25 miles a day and the caravanserai  were the equivalent of today’s rest areas. There was room to bring in your camels, your goods and there were inns or rooms for the travelers. There was also, naturally, a mosque.

Imagine the excitement when the camel caravan lumbered through this gate.  The crowds looking to buy or sell…goods going back and forth and perhaps greeting friends that you had not seen since the caravan passed through maybe 6 months ago.

Here are a few of the things used in Sultan Hai. 

And here’s a modern day caravan!

We drove on through the Taurus Mountains. Those of you who are Christians will remember St. Paul of Taurus and his walk to the end of the world. The belief back then was that the earth was flat. On the other side of the Taurus Mountains is the Mediterranean – no land to be seen, so the end of world. 

It was a gorgeous mountain drive and Ender told us a funny, apropos story. God decided that the bus driver would go to heaven, but the priest wouldn’t. The priest protested. “WHY was this lowly bus driver who has done nothing important going to Heaven, when I, who have dedicated my life to God, am not?”
The angel answered, “When you preach, people sleep. When the bus driver drives, people pray.”
And that about sums up our ride down the mountain.

We have arrived in Antalya, a beautiful city on the Mediterranean. Our hotel, the Marmara is GORGEOUS and the decor is so up my alley!! Here’s what door numbers looked like. Pretty cool.

 A shot of our room (with a lovely working door handle in the toilet).

 Downstairs there is an area to freely use computers, a 50 foot tall 4-sided book shelf, and outside a double Olympic length pool. Ahhh…

Dinner outside was very good and the Mediterranean weather with its warm breeze is wonderful. There was live music, a man and a woman singing, and they sang two of my favorite songs back to back: ABBA’s “I have a dream” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. The Cohen song just seems especially significant in this setting.

Tomorrow is a full day at our leisure and I have been planning to spend it by the pool or in the sea but  Ender described an optional tour we could do in the morning and it sounds too good to miss. We’ll get back to the hotel around 1:30 so there will still be plenty of time for the sun and water. It was, though, the only day to sleep in!

The Mediterrannean Sea…

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