Perfect Day.. The Turkish Editýon

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, October 20, 2006

For those of you that read Kelly's blogs, most of what I'm about to type will be a repeat. But in the interest of maintaining my individuality I'm going to type up my own story anyway. We arrived in Pammukale after a long bus ride from the coast. After switching to a minibus (Dolmus in Turkey) we ended up in Pammukale. To be honest, it didn't look like much as we cruised into town. And we figured that we might just spend the night and get out of there. As the bus rolled to a stop, the usual cast of bus/tourist chasers swarmed us and asked us to consider their hostel or pension. One of them rolled up on a bright red scooter and spoke to us in clear English. He explained that he had a pension and that if and if the one we were booked in wasn't up to par, that he would love it if we would check his out. In a country where the hard sell is the rule, rather than the exception to it, this was a refreshing change of pace. We didn't even look at the other hotel. We just went to the "Venus". Abraham, the guy on the scooter had crazy surfer like blond hair and wrap around sun glasses. He didn't look very Turkish and upon getting to his place, the first person that we met was his Aussie girlfriend Karen. She showed us to our room and we were stunned. It was awesome. Clean, new, and had a nice comfortable bed. The rate was reasonable and included breakfast and free Internet. Not bad. For the remainder of the day Kelly and I just hung out as rain seemed imminent. Since we weren't doing much, it allowed us to get to know some of our fellow guests. We met some interesting folks. But one was downright strange. His name was David and he was from the UK. He described himself as a Pagan-Atheist and has attended every solar eclipse for the last 20 years. He goes to Druid festivals and celebrates the changing of the seasons. He was riding a motorcycle around Turkey, something that he's done many times, but usually he rides his BMW all the was from the UK. That's a long ride. After dinner on the first night all of the guests got together in the "Ottoman Corner" and had some tea and smoked a water pipe with apple tobacco. It was kind of nice as the smoke tasted good and didn't burn your lungs. We sat around and spun the yarn as another couple from the UK told us about all the places in Asia that they have visited and that we are going to. Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, if we weren't fired up about these places before, we are now. They loved all of them and were confident that we would enjoy ourselves. After a while people started to turn in and that left me and my new Druid friend as the last people up chewing the fat. David explained to me that he likes Turkey so much because he is into ancient civilizations, in particular, the Hittites. So he told me stories about the Hitties and I have to admit, this dude knew his shit. He then told me about how he was excited to get home and harvest the ten pot plants that he was growing in his garden. So... it goes to show you that you meet all kinds on the road.

The next morning after a typical, yet tasty, Turkish breakfast, we headed towards the glacier looking mass on the hill over looking the city. As we turned a corner off of our road, what should we see, but CAMELS! Holy shit.. I felt like it was my lucky day. I proceeded to go and pet them all the while giggling like a little girl. I couldn't believe our good fortune. After I got a good ten minutes of camel time in we came across a tiny puppy next to the road. This little guy was straight off the cover of a Trapper Keeper folder. So Kelly and I had puppy photo shoot, something we've done an embarrassing amount of on this trip so far. I guess we better get while the gettings good as the dogs in Asia tend to be lunch. This particular little guy was so cute, that I honestly thought about hanging on to him and finding him a home as we didn't see a mama dog in sight. Later, we found his mom though.. so another happy ending on our lucky day.

The whole reason that we were in Pammukale was to see the Travertine Pools. These pools are really just calcium deposits that have formed over thousands of years from the mineral rich thermal water that springs from the mountain. The result looks like a glacier with aqua marine pools and water falls running over the top of it. People have been coming to these strange and beautiful baths since the beginning of time. After we paid our admission fee, we had to take off our shoes and start the long walk up to the top of the mountain. While it looks like you are walking on cotton or snow, the calcium deposits are actually quite sharp, so the walk up was a bit of a painful one. Upon getting to the top we started exploring the ancient Roman ruins of Hermopolis. This was MUCH more pleasant than our trip to Ephesus. While the ruins weren't quite as impressive, the crowds were nonexistent allowing us to explore at our leisure. Exploring these ruins for me reminds me of being a kid again. You get to climb all over cool stuff and use your imagination. It's a shame that the older that we get the harder it is to get that excitement of discovery. We checked out this town. I actually climbed into a tomb which I felt a bit weird about once I was in there. So I found myself talking to the ghosts, that may or may not be there. I figured, better safe than sorry when you are climbing around inside of ancient tombs.

Once we finished checking out the ruins, we headed to the hot springs at the top of the mountain. It cost us $12.00 a piece to swim in these pools (which is a lot for the Cropp's these days) but it was worth it. We were actually swimming in the old Roman baths. We found ourselves sitting on old columns and swimming over and under old statues and pieces of facades. The water had a really strange quality to it. The mineral content made it feel as if you were swimming in warm Perrier with some Epson salt mixed in. Sounds weird but it was pretty cool. In fact, it was pretty incredible, and I found myself thinking as I often have on this trip, "Who lives like this?" It was pretty surreal. Bringing us back to reality were the hoards of Russian tourists that overran the pools after we had been there for a while. Russian tourists are seriously funnier than cartoons. They can usually be identified by the speedo, large sun glasses, and in the case of the women, very bad dye jobs. Sufficiently prune skinned, we got out of the pools and went to an old roman theater. There we discovered more Russian tourists. These could also be readily identified by the fact that they were wearing speedos. Don't worry, I took lots of photos.

On our way back from the pools we found ourselves walking through the town. All of a sudden, this little shriveled old lady pokes her head through a window and starts motioning towards us. At first, I think she's motioning to some one else, but no, it's us. Contrary to my seemingly harsh report on the elderly tourists at Ephesus, I actually really like old people and have a soft spot in my heart for them. So, if this old lady wants me to come over to her house, who am I to argue? So like a moth the flame, I walked over towards this old ladies house. Kelly is hesitantly following behind me. Before you know it, I'm in this ladies house with my shoes off. Kelly is standing by the door and looking at me with a "What the hell are you doing?" look on her face. This little lady was so cute that I was powerless to do anything but what she wanted. Kelly eventually succumbed to her charms and there we were, in our socks sitting on her living room floor. The little old lady (heretofore to be referred to as LOL) then smiled a jack-o-lantern smile and reaches into the cracks in between her couch cushions. I think that she's going to pull out a remote for the TV, but no.. she pulls out an old blanket. Okay. Then the LOL proceeds to unfold it. Inside this blanket was some old food. She then tears off two pieces of this bread with spinach stuff and gives it to us. I do what I think to be the polite thing, and shove a small piece of this couch lint flavored chow in my cake hole. It tasted like a seaweed crepe that someone had stepped on a few times. I kept eating it though and eventually Kelly started gnawing on hers to. The LOL then went in to make us some tea. Kelly and I are stuck there in the living room looking at each other with confused and bewildered looks on our faces wondering how the hell we got in this ladies house. The LOL then comes back with tea and shows us some doilies that she was knitting. We just smile and nod and tell her that they are very nice. She then goes into her bedroom and comes out with another old blanket. My first thought is, "Oh shit, more food." Fortunately, it was just a whole bunch of ugly crap that she had knitted. Now, I saw that we were going to have to buy something. She kept showing us stuff all of which was terrible. Finally, it a fit of courage, I told her as politely as I could that, while we appreciated her hospitality, we didn't want to buy anything. She just stared at me blankly. At first I thought she was going to cry, but she just stared. I felt my heart sag a bit. After a brief stare down, the LOL kept showing us stuff. Kelly and started thinking about who might like any of this stuff and we couldn't think of anyone with this bad of taste. I tried to tell her no again, and again the LOL just stared blankly having, evidently lost the power of speech. Eventually, the LOL took out something that wasn't too bad, so we bought it. But I talked her down by 50% first.

As we got down the road, Kelly and I couldn't stop laughing about how we had just gotten taken by the LOL. We actually ended up going back and getting a photo with her. She's much cuter in person though. I'm telling you, the Turks are the best sales people in the whole world.

That night we had another bull session in the Ottoman Corner and this time smoked Margarita flavored tobacco which was pretty tasty. Kelly went to bed early and I ended up doing some blogging in the living room. Karen was talking to a young Muslim woman who had an American accent. I, being nosey, eavesdropped on their conversation. The girl was needing a shoulder to cry on and was venting to Karen about her Turkish boyfriend. It was weird to hear someone in a head scarf, complain in American English, about her peacock of a boyfriend, in Turkey. And doing so with such an impeccable vocabulary. I was still blogging at around midnight when the girls were saying their good byes. So I asked the girl if she wanted me to walk her home. They started laughing and thought that this would be a great way for her to get under her boyfriends skin. "Please walk me home, then maybe Mustafa will see what a gentleman looks like." I didn't want to be a pawn in this chess match of the heart, but the offer had been made, so I went. On the way home, the girl told me that she had just graduated from Harvard and was planning to go to med school after her time in Turkey came to a close. She was sewing her wild oats, so to speak, as eventually her parents would arrange a marriage for her. I found it a strange contradiction indeed that a young woman who was obviously so intelligent would have to trust her parents to pick a mate for her.

We had to head out the next morning, but it was with reluctance, as Abraham, his family, Karen had been fantastic hosts. If you ever find yourself in Pammukale, Turkey stay at the Venus.
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