|Today was another long day. We left Cappadocia early, stopping in the small village of Guzelyurt to vist a mosque and meet with the imam (Muslim counterpart to a minister or rabbi). Tour members asked him questions about Islam, the separation of mosque and state and a variety of other topics. One woman asked him what he would like Americans to know about the Islamic faith, he answered "tell people about what you saw in Turkey, so they will know that we are just like people anywhere". There is this air of "Islam-hysteria" today in the U.S., which is fed by what we see on the news. Many people view Muslims as radical fundamentalists and terrorists who hate the west. In reality, this is a small minority. After all, not all Americans are like fundamentalist Christians. One of the best things about this trip has been seeing that most Muslims are just like us. I feel like I learned a little something about Islam and lost a bit of my own preconceived notions and prejudices.
We then stopped at a large "Caravanserai" - one of largest in Turkey. These were medieval rest stops, built as fortresses all along the silk road, a days camel ride apart from each other. Travelers could spend the night in safety, store their trade goods here, get something to eat, buy supplies and rest before continuing on their journey to and from China.
Our final destination was the conservative city of Konya, known as the home to Turkey's rednecks. It's famous for being the 13th century home of Mevlana Rumi, spiritual leader of the whirling Dervishes. We visited the Mevlana Museum, site of his tomb and considered a Muslim holyplace. It's filled with priceless treasures on display, mostly gifts to Rumi from various Sultans. After dinner, we went to see some of the Dervishes 'do their thing'. It wasn't really a performance, but instead people are allowed to witness them praying. They chant to soft music while spinning in place, going into a trance-like state. We aren't allowed to take photographs in the museum or while they whirl, so no pictures. The shot I have here is a photo of a poster outside the museum.