Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ephesus or Selcuk or the Place I Thought I'd Never Get To See

The smell of coal smoke is thick and sweet in the warm spring air of Selcuk tonight.   I am happily ensconced in a very pleasant room overlooking a lovely courtyard at the St. John Hotel in Selcuk.  I had planned to come here for quite some time but it seemed at points as if I was being thwarted in my attempt.  Even up through today this trip seemed as if it would take some herculean effort to accomplish.  The last long weekend we had available at our school, I had made reservations to come here, but I became quite ill, and on top of the flu, a man (who turned out to be a bit of a disappointment in the end) encouraged me to stay in Istanbul and help him navigate the city.  I obliged, like a good hopeful "girlfriend wanna-be" ...and stayed home, cancelling my plans for Ephesus.  That turned out well after all because that flu laid me out flat.  The man on the other hand... well, he can go fly a kit.  Or a plane for that matter.  Nuff said.  Anyway....

It's spring break for our school this week, and I made plans again to finally visit this area of immense history and biblical weight.  You know, the book of Ephesians... well Paul wrote it to the church here after he had visited them.  I am not the biggest fan of Paul but I don't think he would care much what I think.  Peter is more my style... brash, jumping before he looks, shooting his mouth off before he thought about things clearly.  Yeah... I definitely identify more with Peter, but Paul was HERE.  HERE where I am visiting.  He spoke here and stayed here and I can scarce comprehend the age of this place and the fact that a man (John) who walked with Christ.... most likely walked here as well.  According to legend and anecdotal history... the mother of my Lord Jesus actually was brought here by John (St.) to live out the end of her life.  More about that next post.  I jump way ahead of myself before I've even had the chance to explore and dissect this area.

Ok... so I woke up early for me on a Saturday... 7:48.  Good I have enough time.  My flight leaves at 11 AM, I can do my morning thing, take my time... hit the 30D by 9 and be at the airport by 10 easy.  Right.  Traffic.  No 30D.  Taxi to Kabitas... slow tram even.  Transfer even slower.  By the time I arrive at Turkish Airlines counter my plane is no longer boarding.  I haven't missed a plane in  many years.  (Kim....?)   Well darn it.  Turkish Airlines will re-issue a ticket for 259 TL at 3:00 PM.  What?????  They were kind enough to send me over to Atlas... who in turn sent me to Pegasus.. . oh you don't want to read all this.  Long story short...Pegasus took off and landed late.  I missed the train to Selcuk.  I tried their "free" shuttle sitting and conversing with a nice Chinese family from Jersey also flying on Pegasus, who eventually decided to exit the shuttle because it hadn't yet left, but I waited for another 40 minutes.  The driver then disappeared and I was stuck in Izmir.  I marched back into the airport (like only I can march.... ask my children) and some poor Pegasus employee tried to sort my transfer out.  I was near tears, reminding myself to stay calm, don't panic... he put me finally on a train he said would take me to Selcuk.  The problem with that was the legend on the train didn't indicate a Selcuk stop.  Hmmmm.  I phoned the hotel and fell apart over the phone.   Mind you this is St. John's whom I cancelled with before when I got sick.  They told me I was on the right train.  No... maybe not.  Well maybe...I kid you not... I got on and off that damn train 4 times before I finally figured out... with the help of a security guard... that the real train was down a flight, back up a flight, and over to another station.  THEN... it turned out the station was closing, but.... the last train would come in an hour and I could pay on board.  I sat down on the bench and put my sunglasses on because I didn't want anyone to see me cry.  Then... this old toothless man, in his standard old man Turkish garb... suit jacket, sweater vest, cap... comes up to me and hands me two sprigs of greenery and smiles.  Cok Tesekuraderiz is all I can stammer out twice.  This small sweet gesture changed everything in a moment.  Suddenly I remembered where I was...on an adventure in Turkey....  heading to a place I have only ever dreamed of visiting.  I have a week to explore to my heart's content and I am NOT in a hurry.

The ride is pleasant.  Scenery shifts my perspective.  All is green and spring is evident.  Purple cabbages... a donkey foraging...many children flying kites.  Sun and trees and a land still resting in time.  Hold the world at bay... please.

The train slows and I exit at my destination.  My hostess is lovely and sweet and she commiserates about the journey with me as she drives the short route to the hotel.  St. John's castle walls loom above and while I won't really have time to explore much tonight... I am aware that I am walking upon many many layers of change and civilization.  Such triumphs and such sorrows this land has seen.  My hosts at St. John's prove instantly their Trip Advisor reviews are well deserved.  They are lovely hospitible people who welcome me with tea, sweets, wine, and a recommendation for dinner, which is actually a restaurant someone in the family owns.

  It turns out to be a wonderful spot, and the tavuk is fantastic.


On my way back to the hotel, I wander just a bit past the bars and shops and then down a street past very old columns and walls.  As I stop to take a picture, I don't notice, until it flies over me in protest... a stork on the top of the column.  It's mate still sitting on what must be eggs.  The sight takes my breath away.

 From another angle I get a shot of the arch in this picture with a bit of street light coming through.  Tomorrow I will try and gather more information about these structures... their age and significance.

All and all... the day worked out ok.  Upon arrival back at the hotel, my hosts insist that I not go out again when I ask for the nearest store for wine.  Instead they prepare a tray of cheese and a nightcap.  I am blessed.  Tomorrow is Sunday.  I am looking forward to exploring this ancient place and realize as I finish this sentence... the hassle, the difficulty, the requisite patience... it will all be worth it.  It is a lesson I must learn, if not now when?  The world can slow.  All things change.  What seems so important today will meld eventually into tomorrow.  All things will yet be well.

Contentedly yours.

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