Saturday, May 17, 2008

Turkey Saturday May 17


These last three days have been very different from the previous week and a half. First, we've driven more each day. Today, we drove 560km. As Shenai described it, "The first 150km will be like Kansas, the second 250km like Colorado, and the last part like Southern California".

Second, the days have been filled with evening activities - which have cut down on the time I have available to do the work of uploading photos and writing the blogs. I have felt myself falling behind in the work, and have lost out on recounting the memories and fixing them in my mind.

Finally, the period has been a transition for the group. Not only has there been a change on the leadership and the groupmakeup, but coming from Eastern Turkey to the edge of Western Turkey has been a bit shocking to us. There are far more tourist busses everywhere we go. The cities and highways are more modern and familiar. There is a feeling that we may have left some of the best of Turkey behind us.

We stopped at another caravan saray today. This on had a much bigger church structure, and the ceilings were higher and more architecturally impressive. We've all probably seen movies where the camel caravans stop in what appears to be a collection of merchants in a small village with high walls. These sarays were established every 20-30km in the 13th century by the Selchuk sultans in order to encourage trade and insure the safety and well-being of those who carried the culture and goods along this section of the silk road. It was like building Ramada Inns with inner courtyard bazaars, for which they didn't charge and provided security forces.

The other stop today was at the shrine of the leader of the Sufi - the poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Balk (Rumi)in Konya. Donning headscarves (the ladies) and medical booties, we entered the grounds and domed cathedral housing tombs, rugs, clothes, manuscripts, poems, and boxed goatee hairs of the leader of the Whirling Dervish sectof the Shia Muslim sect. We mingled amongst those who had made the pilgrimage to the shrine, and obeserved the daily crush of women (and some men) used the site to obtain spiritual support, and physical relief, for their lives.

For a look at the day's photos, click on: Turkey Saturday May 17

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