The wheels on the bus

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I apologize for missing my post last night…the need for sleep was greater than my need to write!

Let’s start by announcing who were the first to correctly answer my contest questions.  The first question asked the source of the “posh, posh traveling” song posted on September 3rd –the song is from that classic musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and the winner is my sister-in-law, Janet. She was the first respondent and had the correct answer.  The second challenge was to name the book and author that had the line “Please sir, I want some more”.  Several folks answered very quickly and accurately, but the winner was my cousin Lawson. Of course that quotation is from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round…”  Now that you have that annoying children’s song in your head (you can thank me later) let’s see if I can make yesterday’s 6+ hour bus ride interesting.
Our travels from Istanbul to Ankara was not only relaxing but also wonderfully informative. Our guide, whom I’ve completely neglected to mention, is Ender. 
Ender is incredible! His information about his country, the sights, culture, the history (which, in Turkey, borders on eons of history) is amazing. But, even more impressive is his ability to relay this information in an understandable way. My favorite aspect of Ender’s openness is his ability to draw us into dialogue and provide thought provoking discussions. In my guided tour experiences, this has proven a rare quality and is one in which he excels.

Along our route we stopped for tea (and to pee) and for lunch (and to pee) – you get the idea.  Below is a photo of a Turkish rest area    – totally modern and not a camel in sight.

Upon reaching Ankara, which is the capital of Turkey, we visited the Ataturk Mausoleum. General Ataturk was the founder and first president of Turkey and was the dynamic force that designed Turkey more as a European, as opposed to Islamic, city-state.  Ataturk is very highly revered in Turkey. His emphasis on the secular state, on Turkey becoming a multi-party democracy. In an effort to distance Turkey from the Islamic influence he not only designed a new language, he eliminated the Ottoman script and adopted the Latin alphabet, and also changed the calendar from the Islamic calendar to the Julian. Can you imagine attempting any of these changes, much less accomplishing them??

The Ataturk Mausoleum is imposing to say the least. It sits on a high hill and the walkway up to the structure is flanked by 24 stone lions.The building sits on a vast courtyard that enhances the feeling of grandeur.  
When we were visiting, a short ceremony took place and if I could remember how to use the video on my camera I would have had some great footage for you. I have 3 cameras and never seem to have the right one at the right time. Alas.

A small group  began in the center of the courtyard and walked toward and into the mausoleum carrying a large flower wreath. There were swarms of people on the courtyard and not much notice was taken with this procession. But, a short while later, the sound of two bugles playing Taps floated over the expanse and to my incredible amazement the hordes of people fell completely silent and everyone stood straight up, statue-like with their arms down at their sides. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve experienced. 

The tribute paid to and respect garnered by this past leader was moving. I think those wishing for Ataturk’s secular vision to continue and to thrive may be worried about the growing Islamic influence in law that is creeping into their society.  Next year’s elections may signal a new future for this young Turkish girl. 

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