Aloha to all from Santorini,
Kane and Zeus have been introduced and are having a powwow or tete-a-tete or halawai or something for there’s thunder aplenty, lightning illuminating the offshore volcanic crater and rain that pours into my window if I don’t close my shutters. Walked around Thira for about 20 minutes before the heavens opened.
I realized that my Turkey stories need to be separated from those of Patmos, so I include them here separately.
EPHESUS, TURKEY – 18 October
A 20-minute bus ride landed us in Old Ephesus, EFF-eh-soos.
Ephesus dates back to 10 BC, re-established in about 600 BC, and finally re-settled as Ephesus around 300 BC. It is the third of three historical settlements in this area known for the worship of Artemis. St. Paul is said to have sent some important letters to the Catholic church in Ephesus and, although ruled by Romans just before Christ was born, it was an early hub for Christians who co-existed with pantheists. St. John, whom we have recently learned about in Patmos, was from Ephesus, and there are numerous letters to his followers in Ephesus from Patmos during his exile. It served as a turning point as Christianity slowly took hold in this area of the world.
There is healing temple marked with a staff of Asclepius, across the marble way from the pharmacy. Hadrian, one of the first physicians practied in Ephesus and, understanding that disease was being brought in on trade ships, is credited for draining Kusadasi Port 3 times–I think this makes him the first epidemiologist. We saw numerous temples, arches and other memorials. There is the classic relief of Nike, goddess of victory, with the “swish” preserved in her flowing gown.
Our guide was a delightful, innocent-looking Turkish man named Kamber, who invited us to call him Kam. He was full of stories and anecdotes and we let group after group pass us as he regaled us with more history and mythology. I believe he was the only tour guide who took his group to the public toilets.
Apparently this was also a place to meet and to socialize, a place where deals were made, such as the golf course or ‘awa bar today. In fact, there was a corner of this great room where musicians regularly entertained the “patrons.” With up to 30 or 40 holes carved in marble, men conducted their business. A sophisticated aqueduct system washed it all away. In this era BTP (before toilet paper), sponges from the sea were attached to wooden sticks and used where needed.
Kamber particularly liked to quote Heracles: To be a master one must first be a slave.
The piece de resistance was the great amphitheater. Beautifully preserved, it has exceptional acoustics and accommodated 55,000 spectators. It took me less than five minutes to get to the top of the stands.
TURKISH CARPET SALESMEN
The end of this historic afternoon was surreal, a scene out of a Steve Martin skit. We were taken to a fancy carpet shop in Kusadasi, a jewelry store downstairs and a showroom upstairs. Guided by olive-skinned young men wearing collared shirts and gold chains, we were directed upstairs, seated on a large U-shaped couch, and served warm apple cider. A spokesman—perhaps he could be compared to a hired auctioneer—began to tell us about rugs made in Turkey. Again and again he emphasized how superior rugs made in Turkey are compared to those made in Persia and other places. Why? Because, Turk style is “double-nutted” unlike the others’ “single-nutted” methods. This means there is a double knot that anchors the threads to the mat so that the more you pull, or vacuum, the stronger the knot. Carpets that go bald are likely single-nutted rugs that gradually lose their threads with wear and tear. (See video)
With barely time to contemplate the benefits of double-nuts, the spokesman, flanked by two young Turkish men, snapped his fingers and as he described each large rug, the boys whipped out rugs in our direction that appeared as if they would roll right over us, but, indeed, stopped inches away. Carpet after carpet, rug after rug, double-nut after double-nut, they flew at us, in an assortment of colors, styles, designs and quality. And then to fulfill our Aladdin fantasies, the spokesman asks, “Have you ever seen a flying carpet?” and as he spoke his assistants each flew a 3×5 rug into a perfect spiral landing at our feet to a chorus of oohs and aahs. I expected to hear the voice of Robin Williams as the genie.
An excellent and far more reverent article can be found in the NYT.
At the conclusion of the presentation that eventually informed us that Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Euros, dollars or pounds would all be accepted, and that all purchases would be shipped for free, the auctioneer called upon his staff to assist us, rich and hypnotized clients. Out from behind the screen come not two or three, but I’d say 20 salesmen—only men—to assist us with our purchases. Smartly, each homed in on a middle-aged married couple, which freed me up considerably. I could listen to the individual pitches, make comments, and touch the carpets with little hard sell in my direction. But they have to try. As I made my way to the exit admiring this rug and that one, a salesman asked, “Which do you like, Mademoiselle?” I simply opened my arms to the room replying, “I like them all!” Another attempt or two, but I was finally released with a smile and a thank you to make my way downstairs.
One last gelato before boarding the ship.
BYE-BYE Kusadasi…bye-bye Aquamarine
P.S. photos are taking a painfully long time, so will be publishing notes and photos separately sometimes. Keep checking back, if you’re interested in more photos. Or for quality, see those by Kalei & Alohalani.
Kim Ku’ulei Birnie (c) naleialoha.net