2009/09/09-10: In Konya
The fellow in the cafeteria sold us tickets to a Sema ceremony, which we went to in the evening of the day we’d arrived. This is apparently what one does in Konya. This dancing is typical of the mystic Sufi branch of Islam, also known as the Whirling Dervishes, which was founded here by the poet and prophet Rumi. It involved traditional music and singing, while three white robed dancers in tall hats moved and whirled. The spinning or whirling, with heads tilted and arms held just so, was slow and solemn. The robes splayed out dramatically due to the weights I noticed in the hems.
The next day, we visited the Mevlana Museum for more about Rumi and his order. Pausing outside, I found myself watching nervously for groups of boys. We looked over at two lads who responded by smiling at us and saying, “Welcome to Konya!” So much for my fears.
We’ve discussed between ourselves and theorized at length as to why some local kids feel we are targets to be harassed and asked for money, while many more are so pleasant. Also, we have yet to meet an adult who has not been prepared to go to extremes to be helpful. Will the yobbish youths suddenly become civilized when they turn twenty? What shocks us most is well-dressed well-fed boys, often on shiny new bikes, who simply ask us for “Money?” Perhaps the view that anyone from “The West” has pockets overflowing with valuable currency stems from having grandfathers who worked on road crews in Switzerland and Germany, and who returned to Turkey with full pockets. We find Turkish prices approach Canadian ones, and the exchange rate is far less favourable to us than it was in that era. Most of all, I find it insulting to be viewed as an ATM, and know full well that handouts teach nothing of value. We are waiting for thoughtful conversation with an English-speaking Turk to solicit his/her viewpoint for improved cross-cultural understanding of this behaviour.
The Tourism Info people directed to a book store where we found a more detailed road map. We still had slowly leaking tires, and were fed up with constantly pumping, so we bought and installed four new tubes, discarding all but one of the old ones after inspection in the sink.
As we were on Skype with our daughter in the evening, we felt an earthquake. The power went off and we were disconnected just as I exclaimed “Earthquake!” – leaving our daughter very worried. The Turks all ran outside, while Chris calmly stood in the door frame as he had been instructed to do in California. Sirens blared and people talked outside, then everything gradually settled. It all happened again at 5:00 a.m., this time with sounds of breaking glass but fewer sirens (this was a 4.8 earthquake and the epicentre was “near Konya”) . These were bigger quakes than either of us has ever felt, but were probably minor for here, if we can judge by people’s reactions.
2009/09/11: Beyshehir 95 km
2009/09/12: In Beyshehir
The ride out of Konya involved climbing 550 m in 40 km, surrounded by rugged scenery. The descent to Beysehir was very gradual for the next 60 km, which was lovely. For the first time in a very long time the weather was cloudy, actually a welcome respite from constant baking. We found a modest pansiyon in this lakeside town, and in the evening it began to rain.
In the morning it was raining, so we slept in and spent the day researching the route ahead and going for a gentle walk. As we followed the canal that leads away from the lake, Chris muttered, “If Attaturk were alive, he’d make them clean this place up.” Although Turkey is nominally a developed country, they haven’t yet learned to use litter receptacles.