This post was originally posted on Tuk-tuks, chicken bouquets and bicycle bells on 18th May 2014 @ kerrytolsontravels.com
I’m a great believer in Karma.
She hides around the corner to surprise you on the actions you have done, and she’s not always subtle in her rewards to you. Give Kizmet a jab and Karma’s return knock can be a mighty great kick that’ll send you sideways and unhinge those plans you'll have made. So why didn’t I heed this line of thought as we continued our journey and rambled across the stones of time.
We left Kas early in the morning aboard a bit of threadbare carpet wrapped in shiny metal we’d got at a bargain price from a real life Ali Baba. This magical zippy little car would whisk us around the tight corners of the Med coastline and squeeze us into the tightest of spots within a breeze, and it tickled Mal to no end to know he’d rented from a chap whose name was actually Ali Baba.
We hadn’t planned for a long-term car hire while in the south-east of Turkey, especially after the duck and doge we’d experienced two days earlier but after an evening of impulse buying we now had two enormous boxes to add to our luggage which was growing each time we left an area. In Capadoccia a carpet bag filled with trinkets, rugs, dolls and woven fabrics joined the ranks of four backpacks. And now I had no longer been able to resist the glitter of Turkish lights (which will probably need a bank loan for the rewiring and installation into our house when we get back) nor could I ignore the vibrant colours of Anatolian ceramics and thus we decided to hire a car instead of trying to lumber all these goodies onto a dolmus (a minibus).
The name Dolmus comes from the definition of “apparently stuffed” and one look at these little minibuses with their cramped possies is enough to entice me into renting a car.
In the early morning sunlight the Turkish Mediterranean sea sparkles like a turquoise gem, but we only get a fleeting glance as we drive into the hills and the sea we later encounter is once again an ocean of plastic poly tunnels filled with tomatoes and other crops. The tunnels spread out for as far as the eye could see yet it is far from an ugly sight as orange and mulberry groves infuse the shining plastic with flushes of deep green.
Our first stop of the day is the town of Myra, an ancient city of great importance during the Lycian era. I’m not sure if the town is still called Myra today, as I'm a little confused by the the maps we have as they seemingly give it a number of names – Kale, Demre and Myra. Either way, it has a lovely village atmosphere once we turn off the bustling highway and drive down wide cobbled stone streets which in turn lead into dusty narrow lanes to the site of ancient Myra and the Lycian Rock Tombs.
A magnificent and very well-preserved theatre sits below the tombs. It's still used today for festivals, concerts and wrestling matches. In stark contrast to the theatre of Xanthos where I could imagine without any trouble the stoushes of gladiators, this theatre appears to be where you came for comedy and theatrical drama.
captains of ships carrying wheat to stop at the port of Andriace and each ‘lend’ 100kilos of wheat to the people of Myra during a time of famine. Apparently this deed became a miracle, for when upon arriving at their final destination; each of the ships had overflowing holds of wheat, more than they originally started with. Thus the compassionate deeds of St. Nic gave origin to the loveable jolly fellow who generously gives gifts to the kids at Christmas.
Upon his death the people of Myra built a monument in honour of the Saint, this monument then became a basilica which unfortunately suffered destruction in 8th century from earthquake and invasions. A smaller dome church was later built to house the saint’s tomb. Then in 1087 merchants from Bari robed the tomb and carried off St. Nicholas’ bones to Italy.
There is no mistaking the intense venerating of Saint Nicholas as the complex where the little church sits is overflowing with pilgrims and tourists. It's shuffling room only as we all squeezed into the small ‘bee hive’ domed building which sits under a massive tent like awning designed to protect the church from the weather and elements. The fervour of the pilgrims stuns me as we are pushed and shoved, stood upon and elbowed as people try to view the site of the tomb and photograph the peeling frescos. There's so much ‘sign of the cross’ waving and kissing of certain areas in the church that I muse to Mal that I think "we've wandered into the Vatican and not some rural little church".
The naos’ (corridors) of the church are incredibly crowded especially near the ‘sarcophagus' so I wander towards the Atrium, a beautiful room tiled extensively in floor mosaics with intricate brick domed ceiling with contrasting incurvature lines. At the very end of the room is the sanctuary featuring a small semi-circled stone bema and four pillars.
The room is crowded, a large tour group swamps the area making it almost impossible to see it, more people wander back and forward from the arched doorways of the corridors. And then, as if by miracle, the room empties. I grab my camera to capture the room in its completeness and then just as I go to click, a man walks into the centre.
“Please, one moment, may I take a photo, please” I say to him.
He looks at me, smiles, takes out his smart phone, holds it up, checks his face in the screen and clicks his photo. Then, he smiles back at me. I wait for him to move, but he doesn't. He just looks at me.
“Please, I take photo, see no one in room, please could you move” I ask, making hand gestures towards the side of the room.
He smiles again. Then to my absolute astonishment turns to his other side, holds up the phone and looks into it. He smooths back his hair and takes another photo. I wait, feeling the frustration growing inside me. He doesn't move.
“Please, sir, please” I plead.
I can see more people approaching the room and I want desperately to get a photo of that room in an empty state. I begin to wave my hands. He smiles; a smarmy smug smile before turning his back on me and proceeded to ‘view’ the bema. The atrium is now filling and the moment is lost. Anger boils up and I growl under my breath.
Now, the reality is with these sites, gaining a photo with no other person in it is near impossible, and with the amount of ‘sights’ we now snap on our digital cameras and phones, if you were to ask me “will you actually look at the photo again once home, or in a years time… what about in ten years time” the chances are I’ll answer “No”.
So, I don’t know why I am being so dogmatic about photographing this room in an empty state and of course I’m not thinking about the absurdity of it all when I do something I would never, normally do. I stalk up to the chap and snap out “I hope that’s a really ugly photo of you,” to him and end it with “you stupid horrible man.”
He gives me a look of confusion and it doesn't occur to me that he probably can't even understand me. I walk away, but not before being bumped by more devoted pilgrims wanting to get up close and personal to the pillars.
“Don’t these people realise the contradiction of their actions to the compassion and generosity of the man this place is all about?” I grumble to Mal as we leave the complex.
Of course, I’m totally oblivious to the irony of my own words and actions but karma however has taken note and later she will give me a swift little reminder.
To be continued. . .
This blog on Turkey originally appeared on my blog site: Tuk-tuks, chicken bouquets and bicycle bells at kerrytolsontravels.com in 2014
Hello! I'm Kerry
. . . a plan-nothing, have no idea where I'm going travelholic.
A daughter of the gypsies and the wife of a workaholic, I'm forever wondering 'What's over there?' and devising ways to squeeze through the barbed-wire fence of small-business ownership responsibilities and every-day life tangles to discover it.
. . .and this is my book