Day s?x and the pace ?s st?ll one of hect?c travel, s?ght-see?ng, eat?ng and ?ntercultural d?alogue.
I need to f?n?sh a descr?pt?on of what happened last n?ght f?rst. After gett?ng about an hour’s sleep, we went out “on the town” w?th Esra, a m?crob?ology student from Izm?r who was act?ng as our gu?de and ?nterpreter ?n Canakkale. She ?s a br?ght and sparky young woman whose Engl?sh ?s perfect and w?th a great sense of humour.
She took us to the Bazaar ?n Canakkale wh?ch was really just a large tour?st shop, where we could buy souven?rs. Outs?de, however, was a street of jewellers, and I found myself w?ndow shopp?ng th?nk?ng how n?ce ?t would be to get some gold jewellry for Cathy. I spotted a part?cularly ?ntr?cate necklace and ear?ngs and was th?nk?ng how lovely ?t looked when a hand clamped down on my shoulder and a vo?ce beh?nd me sa?d “Hullo, my fr?end!” I spun round to f?nd Dr Murat from last n?ght beh?nd me. “Th?s shop belongs to my fr?end”, he sa?d, “Come ?n and he w?ll show you what you want.” How could one refuse? Ins?de I met the staff and owner of the shop and he brought out the p?ece I was look?ng at. It turned out to be ?nd?an rather than Turk?sh wh?ch d?scouraged me from the start, but ?t was very beaut?ful. “I w?ll do you fr?end-pr?ce”, sa?d the jeweller, and started to do h?s calculat?ons. I ?mmed?ately formed a f?gure ?n my own head that was about double what I would even th?nk of spend?ng and thought ?f ?t was near that pr?ce I would buy ?t. But the pr?ce turned out to be even tw?ce as much as that aga?n–almost the complete amount I was pa?d recently for some lectur?ng that I d?d for An?ma, and regretfully I had to decl?ne the transact?on. However, another member of our tour had come ?nto the shop and was show?ng ?nterest and made a s?gn?f?cant very purchase, so I d?dn’t feel too bad about decl?n?ng what was obv?ously a very generous offer.
On the way back to the hotel, Esra and I fell ?nto talk?ng about the ?mportance of gold ?n M?ddle-Eastern soc?et?es. I expla?ned that we do not attach qu?te the same s?gn?f?cance to own?ng gold ?n our own country. “Well, how do you show your apprec?at?on for a woman ?n Austral?a?” she asked. “Well, we m?ght do the d?shes, or cook a meal, or do the vacuum?ng,” I answered. I went on “I know that that ?s probably not normal ?n –” I was go?ng to say “?n Turkey”, but she got ?n f?rst w?th a very qu?ck and str?dent “ANYWHERE!” A good laugh followed. Today, when we f?nally farewelled her, we gave her an Austral?an tea-towel for her to g?ve to her husband when she gets one to teach h?m how to do the d?shes!
The meal that n?ght was back at Ra?nbow College. It was very spec?al because ?t marked the s?gn?ng of an agreement for a s?ster school relat?onsh?p between Ra?nbow College and Meadow He?ghts Pr?mary School. The MHPS pr?nc?pal, Kev?n Pope (you w?ll now understand the t?tle to th?s blog) had come to Turkey w?th perm?ss?on from h?s school board to put ?n place such an agreement ?f he found a school that shared the values of the?r own school and had suff?c?ent s?m?lar?t?es to make the relat?onsh?p mean?ngful. Ra?nbow College f?tted the b?ll. A school of about 300 students, that ?s just the same number of Turk?sh Students that MHPS has among ?ts 700+ students. S?nce the LOTE at MHPS ?s Turk?sh there w?ll also be a poss?b?l?ty for an exchange of teachers and many other shared programs. We could not get over how s?gn?f?cant–“fate” thought Kev?n–the date was on wh?ch th?s agreement was made. On Apr?l 25th on the 92nd ann?versary of the land?ng fo the Austral?an forces just a few m?les away from here.
We had f?sh for the f?rst t?me ton?ght (a welcome change from lamb)–sard?nes and mackeral. Yummy. We were shown around some remarkable projects by the ch?ldren of the school on “The Future” and the var?ous env?ronmental problems we face. They d?splayed great creat?ve talent and lateral th?nk?ng–just the sort of th?ng that ?s needed ?n a young country wh?ch ?s fast develop?ng ?ts educat?on ?n the sc?ences. On the way out, I was go?ng to use my usual goodbye w?sh to folk that we meet here: “May God bless your work”–but I asked Emre how to say th?s ?n Turk?sh. So I surpr?sed our new fr?ends when leav?ng by say?ng to them “Allah m’barek ets?n”!
R?ghto, now we come to today’s events after all that. We met a new tour gu?de who was w?th us just for the day–Bar?s (?t means “Peace” ?n Turk?sh). Bar?s was a young man who works as a gu?de and ?nterpreter for Engl?sh and Japanese tour?sts (he sa?d that Japanese ?s actually part of the same language fam?ly as Turk?sh). He too was a man w?th a great sense of humour and soon p?cked up on the fact that among our group Dav?d was a good target for jokes! At th?s po?nt I should put ?n a :-) to say that I meant that as a joke. We have dec?ded several t?mes w?th our var?ous commun?cat?on d?ff?cult?es that we could each do w?th a “sm?ley face” s?gn to hold up to let folk know when we are jok?ng!
Bar?s took us stra?ght to the museum of archeology ?n Canakkale–an amaz?ng place where there were many art?facts that would have made out f?rst year class?cs teacher at Adela?de Un?vers?ty swoon. We were the only people ?n the ent?re museum and Bar?s compla?ned that ?t ?s qu?te underrated by the tour?st gu?des who come. I would say. There were many p?eces from the d?gs at Troy ?nclud?ng the w?der Anatol?an area. The great centre p?ece was a sarcophagus that was excavated ?n 1994 ?n a “rescue excavat?on” (wh?ch I took to mean an excavat?on that resulted from construct?on work and d?gg?ng turn?ng up anc?ent rel?cs). Th?s huge stone p?ece from about the 6th Century BC actually had the story of the sacr?f?ce of Pr?am’s Daughter carved ?nto the four s?des of the box–the earl?est known example of the dep?ct?on of a story on an sarcophagus.
I started to get myself ?nto trouble today at th?s po?nt. I was exc?ted to be able to read some of the s?mpler greek and lat?n ?nscr?pt?ons, but hav?ng started th?s l?ttle game they were ask?ng me “What does th?s say?” and “Can you translate th?s?” and I soon found my ?gnorance exposed.
Then ?t was back onto the bus and off to Tro?a or Troy. Th?s was truly amaz?ng. I have been told by people that there ?s “not much to see” at Troy, but that must only be because they d?dn’t know what they were look?ng at. These were the oldest human construct?ons I have ever seen, let alone walked among and touched–go?ng back to 3000BC. It ?s qu?te poss?ble to make out the outl?ne and shape of the old c?ty.
On the way back we stopped to look at some souven?er stalls. I took a p?cture of a woman who was shepherd?ng goats. She posed for me when she saw my camera and I thought, “OK, th?s ?s go?ng to cost me”, wh?ch of course ?t d?d. “Money?” she asked afterward, hold?ng out her hand. Sure, I thought, and then found that a 1 YTL (=1 dollar) co?n was the smallest I had. An expens?ve photo, yes, but then th?s was not a r?ch woman. Put ?t down to char?ty. The photo looks good though.
We drove on to the anc?ent c?ty of Assos. Th?s ?s st?ll a work?ng town on the shores of the Aegean Sea overlook?ng the mounta?nous Greek ?sland of Lesbos, but the h?ll–the acropol?s w?th the ru?ns of a temple to Athena–rema?ns the centre of attract?on. The road there was a real rollercoaster r?de. Our dr?ver Can (pronounced Jan as ?n the french Jaques) handled ?t beaut?fully. We walked down to the seas?de cafe for lunch. Th?s was l?ke someth?ng out of a tour?st brochure. Imag?ne a br?ght sunny day, the blue Aegean ocean, Greek ?slands ?n the background, f?sh?ng boats, ye olde worlde style bu?ld?ngs, a wharfs?de seafood cafe, and cats thrown ?n
to complete the p?cture. We had cooked whole breem for lunch.
On our way back up the h?ll, we stopped at the Odeon–the ru?ns of a 4000 seat amp?theatre far below the h?ll on wh?ch the temple of Athena stood. Here I had my Turk?sh operat?c debut w?th a rend?t?on of “O what a beaut?ful morn?ng”. I could not bel?eve the acoust?cs. They were astound?ng. Wh?le there was applause from the rest of the tour group, t?ny f?gures far above looked over the edge of the h?ll and waved also. The sound had carr?ed r?ght up there many metres above us. Walk?ng back to the bus, Kev?n and I fell ?nto do?ng rend?t?ons of the Monty Python scene at the Theatre… I th?nk we m?ght have offended Emre a l?ttle by these references to a f?lm wh?ch he regarded as blasphemous…
As we made our way to the top of the Acropol?s, we passed many poor locals sell?ng the?r wares on the streets. I spotted a beaut?ful table cloth I thought that I would haggle for as I came back, also var?ous other th?ngs I wanted to collect. At the top (almost) was a 14th Century mosque. The door was obv?ously made from an older construct?on as ?t had Chr?st?an symbols (an X w?th an I through ?t for Iesous Xr?stos) and greek ?nscr?pt?ons around ?t. Our gu?de conf?rmed that ?t had come from a church. Emre went ?n to do h?s afternoon prayers, and s?nce I had hardly had a moment to pray today, I went ?n too. Here ?ndeed I was walk?ng ?n the footsteps of the Pope, ?n so far as just as he had shared a moment of prayer w?th the Muft? of Turkey, so I also shared a t?me of prayer w?th Emre.
We then went up to the temple acropol?s. Wonderful v?ews all around. Dor?c columns aga?nst the blue sky. Photo of Dav?d on a pl?nth do?ng a M?chelangelo statue pose! Com?ng back down I bought a few ?tems ?nclud?ng a hat and some dr?ed f?gs, but the table cloth was gone. Someone else had bought ?t. Not do?ng too well on g?ft buy?ng score yet. Emre was do?ng h?s usual “blackboard” ?mpersonat?on (“Hurry up, hurry up”) and tell?ng us to get back down to the bus. Obed?ent as always (not) I actually dec?ded to do what he told me th?s t?me.
When I got to the bottom, I found Can (pronounced Jan as ?n Jaques) dr?nk?ng tea at a cafe w?th the owner. They offered me tea, but I d?d a charade to say that we had to be at the bus because we were leav?ng. The two of them then started push?ng me ?ns?de the cafe–but I d?dn’t part?cularly want to go, as I d?dn’t want to buy anth?ng. Can was ?ns?stant though and when they had pushed me through the door they po?nted to an old p?cture above the doorway: a very young John Paul II shak?ng the hand of the local d?gn?tar?es on h?s tr?p here ?n 1979 (?). The cafe owner ?nd?cated that he had come to Assos by hel?copter. Then I just had to s?t down and have a cup of tea outs?de under the v?nes wh?le wa?t?ng for the others (of whom there was st?ll absolutely no s?gn). When the tea came, the owner ?nd?cated that he was the hoja or the ?mam of the local mosque up the h?ll ?n wh?ch I had just prayed. So we were merr?ly gest?culat?ng to one another as I sat dr?nk?ng tea when the others f?nally arr?ved from off the h?ll–they had been r?ght back up to the top look?ng for me assum?ng that I had not done as Emre had told me…
Then began the long, long road to Izm?r. It was only about 300 km but the roads ?n the area are not ?n the happ?est cond?t?on. But the v?ews were fantast?c–often we were travell?ng r?ght along the shore l?ne. We had deep and mean?ngful d?scuss?ons about the Chr?st?an h?story of the place and the format?on of the canon and the early apostol?c per?od on the way down.
We arr?ved at Izm?r about 5 hours later at 8pm just ?n t?me for our d?nner appo?ntment w?th the Young Bus?nessman,s Assoc?at?on at the Sultan Restaurant wh?ch was owned by an Assoc?at?on member. We d?dn,t have t?me to go to the Hotel f?rst unfortunately. I w?ll have to descr?be th?s ?n my next blog entry as the bus ?s leav?ng now for Ephesus.