26 October 2009
Mehmet: Please come in. Have a tea with me.
Jan: Thank you. I was just admiring your carpets. I am thinking: Tea sounds good. I am tired wandering around the cobbled streets of this hilly old town. Actually, Antalya is quite lovely, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Mehmet: Are you interested in hand woven carpets?
Jan: Yes. But I am not considering buying one now. Stay strong, Jan. This guy's a Turkish carpet salesman.
Mehmet: Please let me show you a few. Do you prefer hot tea?
Jan: Yes. It's chilly and I'm a bit wet from the rain. My water absorbent Old Navy jacket is not helping at all.
Mehmet: Since it's now the end of the season, I can give you a special price and ship the carpets at no additional cost.
Jan: Thank you Mehmet. Your carpets are beautiful. Please let me think about it. They really are. I am tempted, but....
Mehmet. Perhaps you will come back after lunch?
Jan: I was thinking about visiting the mountain ruins of Termessos this afternoon. Do you know a reliable driver? Jan deftly changes the subject to the Termessians, a Pisidian people who were fierce warriors. They fought off Alexander in 330 BCE. The Romans accepted Termessos as an independent ally in 70 BCE.
Mehmet: I will call Nezi. He is known as "the doctor." But Jan, I recommend that you visit Termessos tomorrow morning. It will rain this afternoon. You will be miserable walking in the rain on the mountain.
Jan: I am optimistic. I will have lunch now. Please ask Nezi to pick me up here at 2:00pm. I know I am being stubborn but I want to be time sensitive in this town. I need to keep moving west. And I noticed a charming patio-restaurant down the street.
Mehmet. Will you return to my shop tomorrow morning?
Jan: Inshallah, I will return. Everybody knows what that means.
Nezi: I will walk with you to the ruins.
Jan: Thank you. There are a few "older" folks on the trail so I suppose we can follow them. If they can do it, I can do it.
Nezi: I can hold your umbrella over you.
Jan: No problem. I can hold my umbrella in my left hand and hold my camera in my right. How the hell do I keep my lens dry?
Nezi: You are getting wet. Let me help you with the umbrella.
Jan: The rocky trail looks very steep. Steep and filled with loose rocks. The trees block the views. A wilderness. A wet wilderness. Maybe Mehmet was right and this was not such a good idea after all. Didn't the guidebook say something about a massive city hidden high and deep in a rugged mountain valley?
Nezi: The ruins are not very far. You can make it.
Jan: I am getting tired. Let's turn back. I packed very carefully for his trip. How did I forget my poncho? And my walking stick is still in my luggage.
Nezi: The ruins are just up ahead. Just a few more minutes.
Jan: I have seen enough. The ruins are interesting, shiny and black -- hidden away in the glistening forest. I am glad I came. But I am wet. I am cold. I am miserable. I feel like a drowned loon on Lake Winnipausaukee. Can we go back now?
Nezi: The main temple and the theatre are up the hill just a little way.
Jan: Finally we are here. Nezi, this is a great spot! The theatre is beautiful. Thank you for encouraging me. Now I know why they call you "the doctor." The views are invigorating. Majestic. Can we stay a little longer? I see a break in the clouds. Maybe it will stop raining.
Nezi: We can take a different route down the mountain.
Jan: Sounds good. No rush. I don't want to miss anything. Nezi, you are the best guide in Turkey.
The mountain trail is littered with the broken remains of marble columns and capitals. Two thousand years ago, somebody actually took the trouble to carve them. Now, sadly, they lie, miserably, in the mud or beneath a pile of twigs and leaves. Still, they are on display for me, and for other travelers who are willing to come to see them.
I am so happy to be here in the ancient city of Termessos. Where else should I be? I lived in Miami for ten years and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I went to the beach. This is where I belong...trudging up a mountain in the rain looking for age-old ruins.
How come they always put the theatre at the top?