|Overnight bus to Selcuk. Oh, there goes the screaming and yelling again as I type - that means it's prayer time again 7:37 pm. That means it's some specific time in Mecca, but I'm not sure exactly what. You see, at this time of day, it kind of grows on you - it's really great to listen to, even enjoyable. You feel "immersed". Can't wait for 4 am...
"Excuse me!" "Yes, Excuse me sir!" I really don't like that one. You see, for westerners, that one is a killer. If someone comes up to you smiling and says excuse me in a polite way, most of us always say something like "Yes, can I help you?" unless the person looks like they're packing a Colt 45 or if they smell of 16 bottles of Lysol or something. Well, in Turkey, the carpet sales guys have polished their act very well, and they unleash their copious politeness on unsuspecting westerners regularly. It bugs me because I like to be polite and the conversation always carries on something like this: "Where are you from?" "Oh yes, which part"? "Ah, I see, my uncle lives near there, very nice country indeed"! Everyone in Turkey has an aunt or uncle living near every western city in the world. From watching the streets, I am absolutely positive of this fact.
As you have guessed, behind all of this is the carpet pitch, which if you are unlucky enough to get sucked into, will cost you a minimum of one day's travelling, perhaps even more. It's so darn friendly! The sale is based on quickly forming a relationship akin to having been your neighbour for over 25 years. You get free tea, free food, a nice cushy chair, it goes on and on. Fortunately, we have learned how to be polite while keeping our feet in motion. We picked that one up a long time ago, and we seem to be able to get away without causing too much offence, if any at all. But man, those poor suckers from the crusie ships. They can barely carry all the junk they have back to the port! I just think it's really nasty to take advantage of someone's kind heartedness to push the sale. There's really no need - lots of people come to Turkey and buy carpets, so the sales will be there. Maybe the start of slow season makes them more aggressive. I don't know.
Anyway, word to the wise, this is everywhere in Turkey. Back to Selcuk, The reason for coming to Selcuk of course is Ephesus, one of the best preserved Roman settlements on the planet. The park certainly lives up to its billing, with fabulously preserved columns and facades along with an excellent, and noticeably well designed theatre in terms of acoustics. People were standing in the centre singing and yelling, and the volume was loud and clear way up at the top. The Romans knew what they were doing in terms of engineering at least. Although it was a bit of a funny visit (There were a lot of cruise ship people around and every 10 minutes there was a quirky little roman performance given by a few actors for all of the cruise ship people), the site is so extensive and the ruins so interesting that it was easy to get lost for hours. The "piece de resistance" is the instantly recognizable "Bibliotech" or library complete with it's secret doors leading to the brothel immediately adjacent. Got to hand it to those Romans for taking care of all of the important design aspects :)
But, even after all this; the two coolest parts of Ephesus had to be the sign for the toilets and the cool cab we took back into town. I have to admit, that even though I despise having to pay for toilets, especially after having paid an entry fee to the park which ought to include the toilet costs, the sign above almost sucked me in. I mean who could resist "Only 50 cents to feel the magic atmosphere". I couldn't help wonder whether or not they meant atmosphere in the technical sense or the figurative sense, in which case there must have been some sort of mood lighting and soft music. In the technical sense, who knows - maybe there was extra oxygen in there like at the casinos. Ultimately, the day was nicely rounded off with a ride back to town in a cab yellow 1964 Chevrolet Impala, not unlike the red one we used to ride to and from high school in back in Prince George. This was a real treat, right down to the starting problems, and when I told the guy that sometimes he should get out and bang the starter with the jack to get it going, he said "Yeah, I know all about that man". Ah, those were the days...
We also went out to Pamucak beach which is nearby and finally got our swim! Yeah! The Aegean is a lot warmer than the Black Sea, but I still wouldn't call it all that warm - more like lake temperature at home. I'm sure it's warmer at the peak of summer, but it was just warm enough yesterday. This is really great because the sun is out and we are the only ones around, except for maybe a few other straggling backpackers like ourselves. On the negative side, is the fact that I got sick for the third time on the trip the day after, so we had to take a down day. I ate some leftover pork chop stuff that we were carrying, which in the end was a big mistake. Kristine tried it and said, "Yuck, I'm not eating that!" But I went merrily along and by 4 am I had my first round of toilet prayer. I followed this up with chapters 2 through 5 at 6,8,10, and 12 o'clock respectively. By then the needle had hit empty and it was time for the re-hydration salts (yummy), tonnes of water, and the inevitable Cipro to kill whatever else might be lurking in the quagmire. Fortunately, by this evening, I was feeling much better.
Tomorrow we make our Turkish exit as we board the ferry to Samos, one of Greece's westernmost islands. This is the place where Pythagoras was born. I am expecting everything to be in multiples of 3, 4, and 5 with at least one right angle contained therein. But that's another boring story for another time...