Turkey and Man Overboard

Trip Start Jun 27, 2005
Trip End Jul 12, 2005

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Tuesday, July 5, 2005

The first hint that anything was amiss was when we returned from our half-day excursion to Turkey. The room two cabins down had the door open and yellow tape (the kind they put at crime scenes and for caution) was stretched across the door. A security guard was sitting on a folding chair, just watching and a lot of tool kits were open and scattered around the door. It didn't ring any bells for me - I just assumed there was some plumbing problem (we had trouble getting cold water - showers were fun). Peg, however, assumed something was up.

Turkey was a nice surprise. I'd expected more hot weather, but perhaps because of the mountains ringing the town, it wasn't that bad. Took a shore excursion to the Temple of Artemis (although, with the exception of a couple of pillars, part of the foundation, some loose marble, turtles and storks, it isn't there anymore), St. John's Basilica and what is believed to be the final home of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus.

The legend of Mary apparently has Church sanction. Popes Paul VI and John-Paul II have both traveled there and it is very inspiring. The original home was destroyed in an earthquake, with the exception of the foundation and you can see the difference in color between the original stone and the reconstructed part of the building. It's a small two room, flat-roofed house made out of mud and stones at the top of one of the mountains around Kusadasi (pronounced KOOSH-uh-daz-ee). It was very cool and shady and there was a nice breeze.

Inside the house it is dark and the line moves quickly and quietly. In the second room is a small shrine set up on what is now used as an altar, with a statue and votive candles. Very quickly you are outside again. There's also three fountains that're supposed to bring health, wealth and happiness. You drink at the one which you'd like to benefit from. So of course, everyone was drinking from all three. (My brother tells me that I blew it - the trick is to pick one only.)

The Church has sanctioned it for a few reasons: first, St. John is buried there and the Basilica was built in his and Mary's honor - they only do that in that part of the world if the people are locals. Also, the descendants of the people native to the area have the stories of Mary. Finally, there's a handicapped nun, Catherine somebody, from Germany in the last century who claimed to have conversations with Mary in her dreams. Although she had never left her convent, she was able to describe the house and the location accurately and spoke in ancient Aramaic, which she didn't know. Authentic? Who knows?

Coming down into Kusadasi, we had a rug demonstration at a local rug merchant's store and although I can't afford a rug, at least I know which ones are good quality now. They explained the difference between cotton, wool and silk and showed us the quality of a silk rug. There was a young lady there demonstrating the process of hand weaving and knotting the rugs. They also served us some apple tea and local pastries, which hit the spot. (I'm a firm believer in snacks.) The salesman from the store knew that I couldn't afford to buy anything, but very graciously answered my questions. I took a card - maybe I can send some business their way someday.

The attitude we got from the locals was very friendly. One vendor at the Temple of Artemis was horribly rude to the people in front of me and very sharp with me until I spoke in English. "Oh, American?" he said. His manner changed completely. "We like Americans. Those Russians think they own everyplace they go." He gave me an extra flute (I'd purchased two for my nephews) for no charge. Later at the port, we tried to do some local shopping, but every time you looked at something, a sales clerk would glue themselves to you and watch your every move. So I didn't buy anything for myself in Turkey.

Later that afternoon I found Diane, Ed and Lee in the Windjammer Lounge. We were talking about our excursions, when Peggy came in bursting at the seams. "I have news! There's a chance that someone may have gone overboard!" It was a little hard to wrap my head around that, so she explained that she had questioned the security guard sitting in our hallway, who told her that a young man, an American, age 26 (all true, as it turns out) had gone overboard last night between Mykonos and Turkey. So much for confidentiality - Royal Caribbean security really bungled this one. He also told her (not true) that he and his girlfriend has just gotten married that day.

The security guard was still sitting in front of the cabin (whose door was now closed) when we went down to dinner that evening, so we figured something must be going on.

Changing the subject, Peg and I went to the movies that night, seeing "Wimbledon." Very cute.
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