Last night was seriously so much fun! It was Turkish Night in Cappadocia and I was very impressed with everything there! We started the night out with free drinks and free appetizers then they dimmed the lights and the magic happened! The first act was the Whirling Dervishes. Their grace and beauty was mesmerizing. Watching them spin over and over again in such an elegant pose almost put me in the same transcendental state as they were in. Then they stop…and immediately bow…and not a single one of them stumble or wobble, they stand up and walk out. Everyone in the room was beyond words and the crazy thing is they would stop and start all over again and spin for a good 5 minutes and they did this 3 times in a row! Then they came out and did a traditional dance that was beautiful, but the girls didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as the boys. The boys were very believable because it was a love story about two guys being in love with the same girl and the other girls were jealous of this one girl, but the girls looked like they were tired of doing this dance. Which I’m sure they probably are and they probably perform it a lot but being a dancer myself I know that you perform better when the crowd is into it, but the crowd can’t get into the dance and relate to it if you have a blank stare on your face and you look miserable. That is all I could really think about during the dances, which is a shame because the dances were truly beautiful! Then they grabbed everyone in the crowd to learn the dance too. We were in several giant circles just going around in circles having the time of our lives! The lady next to me was Turkish but didn’t work there, she told me that we were doing a traditional dance that they would do at a wedding. Even before that I could feel the culture all around me but once I knew exactly what we were doing I was blown away. In America a traditional wedding dance is the Chicken Dance and this was far from the Chicken Dance. We all glided across the floor occasionally bumping into the people next to us because some of the people were a little uncoordinated, but it was an amazing feeling to look around and see literally everyone with huge smiles on their face sharing with me my own passion, dance. The free alcohol could have had a lot to do with that but still it warmed my heart. Then we all sat down and the belly dancers came out. I related most to the belly dancers, being a dancer myself. I loved watching them and I have said several times I want to learn belly dancing. I mean who doesn’t want to put on a cute outfit and dance and jingle! I would be the first one in line to sign up for that class!! I was talking to my teacher, who has taken belly dancing classes, and she said that every time she would leave after class she would feel so much better about herself and her body. She said that everyone did no matter what size they were and I just think that is amazing. When you dance you want to feel beautiful and sexy and belly dancing does just that, because they say it is better to have some meat on your bones because then you can truly see the isolation of the body. It is also a really good core exercise and actually in Turkey the government pays for girls to take belly dancing classes as a part of their wellness plan. I think that is absolutely amazing and I wish the government in America would do that, not even just for belly dancing but for exercising since we are such an overweight society. I would totally work out if I didn’t have to pay for a gym membership! After the belly dancing they did some more traditional dances and then it was time for everyone to get out and show their best dance moves on the floor. It was so funny to see how other nationalities danced but in that moment they didn’t care what they looked like. I found myself also not caring and I pulled out the cabbage patch and a few other moves that even shocked me! It was seriously the best time and I really enjoyed seeing the culture because it wasn’t just tourists there, Turkish people from the city came too and enjoyed themselves.
Today, May 21, was the longest bus ride of my life!! We stopped at the Mevlev Order or the Museum of the Whirling Dervishes. We went to Rumi’s museum and for the first time in my life I felt like an outsider. The Turkish women there made us all feel very unwelcome and awkward. Whirling Dervishes spin in circles in order to reach an ultimate state of prayer. The Whirling Dervishes are very religious and have to focus to reach this highest power of prayer. Usually the museum is full of tourists but today was not that way. As we walked in we looked around and immediately saw we were the only ones not covered and very underdressed. As we continued to walk through the museum we continued to get several dirty looks and many elbows to the stomach, arms, and legs! Although, at the time I didn’t really think anything of it and I wasn’t feeling discriminated against but then again most of the time I am oblivious to negative things around me. I tend to always focus on the good of everything so in a way me being so naive saved me from ruining my experience at the museum. All I was thinking about was how crowded it was, and it was very crowded! Afterwards when other people started saying how they felt discriminated against there is when I finally realized that maybe I was mistaking their desire to see the tombs of Rumi and other Whirling Dervishes for discrimination. The old women weren’t elbowing me because they wanted to see the museum that bad, they were elbowing me because they didn’t think I was worthy enough to see what they came to see. They were truly disgusted with us Americans. Sevim said that these women were not true Islamic for two reasons. The first one is that in Islam you welcome everyone and even Rumi himself, the founder of Whirling Dervishes, said all religions should come and see this. The other reason why they couldn’t be true Islamic followers is because they were praying to headstones of graves of specific people who passed away. In Islam you don’t pray to the people or physical things, you pray to God always! In Turkey though Sevim has said is very modern and not all women or men follow the belief literally. She has said that when women come over from Iraq or Iran or any other really dedicated Muslim country they feel more relaxed and take down their hair and unveil because they can. They feel that freedom. So maybe that had something to do with the way we were treated. I’m not totally sure, but I now know how it must feel to truly be discriminated against and it is not fun! The bus ride after that museum was very quiet as people were reflecting on what they had just experienced or sleeping! Then 5 hours later we arrive in Antalya! I honestly cannot tell you how much I slept that day on the bus. When I was actually awake I did see beautiful picturesque sceneries with the mountains coming straight up from the ocean. We also drove through the mountains so see the mountains and then the valleys was breathtaking, and I didn’t get carsick! Thank you Dramamine! Once we finally got to the hotel, it wasn’t quite as nice as our previous hotel. The staff was rude and our triple was really a double with a cot and we paid how much money…needless to say our teacher was not very pleased with this hotel, but that is ok. I mean are we really here for the hotels? I know I’m not! There was a really cool bird in the lobby and I was trying to teach it how to whistle. I felt kind of sorry for this bird because it was off in a corner by itself and it acted lonely. I really wanted to take it home with me just like the million other stray cats and dogs. P.S. Mom I’m in love with all of these animals so I might come home with a few! Just kidding but I really do want to take all of them home!
Today, May 22, we went to the Perge which was an ancient city from 1500 B.C. It had agoras, bath houses, streets, and shops. It was so interesting to see how ancient cities were set up. Most of it was destroyed by an earthquake but you could still get the idea of what it would have looked like. The frame is still pretty much intact. Walking down the streets I felt as though I were lost in time. I felt like I could actually see the people selling their goods and the pools and fountains sparkling in the sunlight. I could see people roaming from store to store and maybe stopping in to take a nice bath. I would love to see an erect version of one of these ancient cities and luckily I believe we get to and I cannot wait! We also stopped at the Aspendos Theatre, which absolutely took my breath away. I have always wanted to see an ancient theatre where gladiators fought and that was people’s entertainment and I finally got to! I found out that the reason for the archways at the very tip top of the theatre was for acoustics. Which when you have seating for 15,000 people you need to have good acoustics! I loved seeing the view from various seats around the theatre. I sat in the first row where the richest people sat and all I’d have to say is I’d be scared there because there isn’t anything stopping the lions from coming and eating you! Which they did fight lions in there..so cool! I also went up to the very top of the theatre and saw the view from up there. It was amazing I mean not only could you see the entertainment but just over the wall of the theatre were the mountains and it was gorgeous! I also go to experience how hot it was in there with no ceiling and there were few people in the actual theatre I couldn’t imagine sitting in there with 15,000 people baking in the hot sun! When we first got in there I saw a cat roaming around so of course I go and try to pick it up but become grossed out by the fact that I could tell she had just had kittens, I guess it startled me. As we were walking out of the theatre I saw one of the little kittens and so I picked it up because he was lost and an old man pointed to a corner indicating there were more kittens so I went over there and found three more kittens laying in the shade! I loved them all and had to hold each and every one of them! I really thought about taking one home but I wouldn’t know what to do with it in my hotel! Then we went to the Antalya Museum where we saw many marble statues and they were beautiful. I realized that one day I would really like a statue of myself to maybe put in my house or even better at a museum! Most of the statues weren’t of anyone special they were just described as young woman, dressed women, young man, etc. Which surprised me, I’m not sure why but I guess I just though all important people have statues. From there we went to the Kursunlu Waterfalls and I swear the beauty was a slap in the face. I have said just how beautiful everything is and how so many things took my breath away but nothing has like seeing the waterfalls. It was just so natural and peaceful. I really could not believe my eyes, the way the sunlight bounced off the water is how I would picture paradise, honestly. I could have spent the rest of my life in this one area. I got so many beautiful pictures and played a little in the waterfall. I was like a child again exploring my woods behind my house, but my woods do not compare to this jungle of beauty! For lunch today we had fish…I didn’t eat it. I got kabobs, but I did try the fish, it was sea bass, and I wished that I had gotten it. What!!!! I just said that?? Yes I was surprised at myself too! They even served it to us whole…with the head, eye balls, and tail. That was gross and in a way I am happy I didn’t get it because I so would have swallowed a bone! Tonight, we all just hung out in the lobby and talked. It is amazing how much you can relate to so many different people. It is good to see that everyone goes through struggles in their life and sometimes we aren’t sure how to deal with them. But for one night we were all together not stressing over our home life or what we had to do tomorrow, we were just enjoying the accompany of strangers relaxing in Turkey. I love this group!