Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"Speaking the same language is not as powerful as speaking the
language of the heart."
Heading to Eastern Turkey we were in search of the giant carved Iranian, Greek, and Armenian stone heads of the gods, on top of Mt. Nemrut Dag. Another time. The border with Syria in that area was a hotspot and so we set our sites on the southern and western coast. Since our visit to Turkey there has been a terrible bombing at the Istanbul airport, a questionable attempted coup, and the suffering of thousands of Turks rounded up and imprisoned as possible dissidents. The turmoil continues. Sad to say, Syria, one of the cradles of western civilization is being obliterated. Innocent refugees, families just like yours and mine, flee for their lives. We shared bus rides and stories with many. We saw them trying to eek out an existence, selling knick knacks along the highways, even cups of coffee in hopes of making a few pennies to survive. Large tent cities line many borders. Their plight is real. Their plight is genuine. They escape with just what they can carry, their lives destroyed. As fast as these poor souls are being driven from their homeland so are the lies surrounding Muslim refugees being generated. As with any world affair, do some research and discover what truths you are able to uncover.
In our travels through the Middle East this year we were often the only Westerners in a village or area. We were welcomed into the lives of the Muslims around us. Invited into mosques and homes we were treated with utmost respect and kindness. They never tried to convert us, even though they assumed we were Christian. Sound a little different than what you hear on the news or internet? At this point I would like to ask you, "When is the last time you spent several months in the Middle East" If so what is your opinion? If not, through what means did you formulate your opinion of Muslims? Do you have any Muslim friends? If not, have you tried to build a bridge between your bubble of beliefs and a Muslim near you? Seems we all like an enemy, maybe so we can feel superior. Backed into our corner, surrounded by people with similar beliefs, we look out at the world through the eyes of love or through the eyes of fear. What is the lens through which you view the world? How's that working for you? Remember what each of us looks for, we usually find.
We have talked with hundreds of foreigners who were lucky enough to be granted a travel visa to the U.S.A. (not easy these days). They flew into New York to taste the Big Apple, flew down to Disneyworld for a visit with Mickey Mouse, took a bus to New Orleans to hear some jazz at its best, flew to Los Angeles to see what California was like and if everyone really lived liked they were portrayed on TV., then back home. Two weeks of enjoyable holidays, Facebook 'selfies', souvenirs and an opinion of the U.S.A. and her people, that may last a lifetime. A start, but was this a true view of this great country called America? Had they been mugged in New York or Miami would those thieves or criminals been the typical Americans? Would this unfortunate incident have portrayed the millions of great, warm, creative, outgoing Americans? Only 5 per cent of the world's population, and their respective dastardly deeds across the globe, monopolize 95 percent of the stories in the media. These stories interspersed with accompanying falsehoods help to shape the majority of people's opinions. When the KGB was disbanded in the former Soviet Union, they stated something to the effect that they were no longer needed to enforce compliance by force, all they need is a powerful, persuasive media like controls the minds of the rest of the world. Are they talking about you?
Stay open. As we said before, we heard over and over from the Muslims we spent time with, "Who are these supposed Muslim terrorists? They are paid soldiers. They are criminals. They are not like us. They are not Muslims. There was even a report leaked that stated these paid mercenaries knew nothing about being a Muslim so they created a handbook with short Cliff notes on Islam. What's the truth?
Generalizations are always wrong (even this statement!). Separate the real refugees from the criminals. Maybe it is time we each examined the generalizations we hold as the basis of our beliefs. Might be enlightening.
And so we continued our look at the rich, colorful tapestry called Turkey. Heading south to the coast we tried to choose more remote beach areas, considering it was summer and high season. It hit us immediately that we had left Asia behind and were experiencing the high costs and influence of neighboring Europe. Picking a random beach on the map we jumped off the bus at Cirali. After a challenging search we hit on a small family run guesthouse just across from the beach, much less than the $100 a night common options. The beach was lined with lounge chairs and umbrellas. We had forgotten what a really busy beach looked liked. We swam along the coast then walked through an amalgamation of basking sun tanned seals, then a forest of thatch umbrellas, to the next village of Olympos. Along the coast Turkey actually boasts some even better Greek ruins than Greece. Here were columns and ruins, and even strange blasts of blue gas that come shooting out of the side of the mountains at night. A strange phenomenon that excited the hearts of the gods in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Further along the coast in Kalkan we discovered a lovely little Mediterranean type village hugging the cliff. We stayed in a stylish, friendly pension half way up, with a sweeping view of the bay. Everyday we would wander the cobblestone streets getting to know the locals and in search of some of that great Turkish food. We found a little restaurant where Mom made up 5-6 dishes and served them until they disappeared. Only better was a sunset dinner down on the water and a starlit walk back home.
Turkish coffee with Turkish delight. Turkish cuisine is regarded as one of the most renowned in the world. Its popularity is largely owed to the cultural influences of the Ottoman Empire and partly because of its major tourism industry. It can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines.
The country's position between the Orient and the Mediterranean Sea helped the Turks gain complete control of major trade routes. Turkey's deal climate allowed plants and animals to flourish. Turkish cuisine was well established by the mid-1400s, the beginning of the Ottoman Empire's six hundred-year reign. Yogurt salads, fish in olive oil, and stuffed and wrapped vegetables became Turkish staples. The empire, eventually spanning from Austria to northern Africa, used its land and water routes to import exotic ingredients from all over the world. By the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman court housed over 1,400 live-in cooks and passed laws regulating the freshness of food. No GMO's here! Since the fall of the empire in World War I (1914–1918) and the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, foreign food, and now packaged food, has found its way into the homes of Turks but the rich cuisine remains.
Every once in a while when traveling you come across a spectacular photo in a brochure, on a postcard, or on a poster. At that moment you know that, "I will go there someday!"
So it was with Pamukkale Springs. The brilliant turquoise water is held in the bright white calcium pools then cascades down the side of the hill in a breathtaking display. We started at the North Gate and walked a couple of miles through the Roman ruins with 2 theaters, baths, the Hierapolis, the gates, tombs, and a museum; all the way to the Ancient Pool or Cleopatra's Bath. By then we were ready for a dip in the dazzling turquoise pools. Luckily it was late afternoon and the crowd was starting to thin. By sunset, a brilliant display reflecting in the water, we had the place to ourselves. What we didn't know was that we had to walk sometimes slippery paths, often balancing along the edge, for about 1000 ft. back down the mountain. Keeping to the inside pools we would have only gotten wet if we fell, but our daypacks would have fared much worse. Arriving at the bottom we realized our hike had worked up quite an appetite. Off to our favorite rooftop restaurant for spinach stuffed pita bread, or 'gozleme'/Turkish pancakes cooked in a brick oven before our eyes. Gazing across the lake to the mountain we saw what a long way we had hiked. We made friends with students from Zambia waiting on tables, catching up on the latest news in Africa. One had even used some of the e-text Joseph had shared while driving around Africa a couple of years earlier. Truly a small world.
And so it goes.........................................Next Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a quiet mountain area still recovering from the agony of war. Until then let's remember to put aside the fear and to be kind and compassionate to people of different languages, cultures and beliefs around us, speaking the language of the heart. Take care and Keep in Touch!
Love, Light & Laughter,
A reminder of what a little kindness can accomplish:
"Dear Joseph and Nancy,
First, I am sad that keeping up the travel log is becoming burdensome. Your fabulous ability to befriend others is so important especially now that we are being inundated with the media getting us to fear and hate Muslims. Your travel log is a PRICELESS learning experience of how to drop your bias and fear of anyone who is different from you.
1 US Dollar equals 2.84 Turkish Lira
email: firstname.lastname@example.org , Super clean, well maintained. Most important friendly, helpful staff. Great views. Smallish rooms but very comfortable. Call for a discount before coming. Higher rates through www.booking.com
Fener Cafe Bistro: Down on the waterfront, on the marina. Perfect ambiance at sunset and good food, reasonable prices
Just up the street on the right is a small good restaurant with seating upstairs. Good portions and fair prices. The vegetarian plate is a deal at 15 tl
Don't miss the Wed morning bazaar if you are in town! Locals at their finest. Fantastic.
Teras Restaurant: the best pita/gozleme/Turkish pancakes in town. We asked for lots of spinach and potato. Comes hot and fresh. Enjoy the view from the rooftop of the Springs and park across the street. Across the street from the lake, and the hot spring mountain behind.
Bus tickets to Istanbul. Pumakkale company provides free shuttles this end to Denzali and also once in Istanbul.