Aloha dear Blog. It’s been a long time. I can’t really explain why I haven’t been blogging, except to say that I’ve felt like someone picked me up and threw me into a very large blender and turned it on. So many places, experiences, people and events have gone by so fast; and I feel like my inner voice was caught off guard, and unable to catch her breath even.
I am now in Istanbul, Turkey where I’ve been for a week and just today it feels like my spirit has caught up with my feet. I am in the middle of deciding whether to go on to Lebanon, as planned, or change my plans and go to Fetya on the coast of Turkey where my group is having a convention. There are several very good reasons not to go to Lebanon. The US Government has a standing warning for Americans not to go there, and right now they have had some violence on the news. The problem is changing my flights, which I am waiting to hear about. I think if I cannot get Airtreks to change my flights, I will just have to pay extra for the flight to Fetya (which I would have to pay on my own anyway), and a new flight from Istanbul to Dubai. If I do have to do that, I still think it’s a better option because I will be safer. I
When I was in Lebanon before, I was in Baalbek valley during a very dangerous time; they were at war with in Lebanon, and at war with Syria. There was fighting in Baalbek, and when I returned to Damascas there was bombing going on there. I was young, and fearless or very stupid , so I just continued on doing what I was doing despite the very dangerous situation. I am no longer young or stupid, and have no desire to put myself in that situation as part of this trip, which is mainly for my enjoyment!
Istanbul has been a wonderful experience overall. I’ve been with new friends from my group here, and am staying in a very warm and friendly hotel. The food is so good, the people are so friendly, and the sites are amazing. I have visited the mosques, gone on the ferry over the sea to Asia, shopped in the Egyptian Bazaar, and had incredible dinners with my new friends. Being here has settled me down a bit, and helped me get my breath back.
Yesterday I went to the Hamami, and walked into a place a thousand years back in time really. I was shown into a wood dressing room where I took off my clothes and wrapped in a thin cloth. I then walked through a room with a fountain and women sitting around also wrapped in cloth. The floors were all wet tile, and then I walked into a large room, very hot, with a large marble circle platform in the center. Around the room were washing places with women at separate fountains washing themselves. I washed myself and then laid down in the heat on the platform. I didn’t realize this was the place that the attendants washed you, so they asked me to move. For some reason, I was upset by this; probably a combination of the heat, and feeling so vulnerable there. The attendant then came and laid me on the platform where she scrubbed me all over with a rough glove and water. She did this treatment back and front with hot water. She then had me sit up and rinsed me with hot and cold water. Then she poured really sudsy soapy stuff all over me and scrubbed me back and front again. She massaged my body, and especially my feet which was out of this world wonderful. At some point, I felt so sad missing my husband, that I started to cry. I was crying, and the attendant noticed so I tried to explain to her that my husband “was finished”. She understood, and was so kind. The Turkish people I’ve met have been very warm and friendly. I didn’t feel embarrassed about crying there. It was all women, and several women smiled at me. After the attendant had soaped and rinsed me, she walked me over to the sinks and washed my hair. She then took me out, wrapped me in a towel and walked me to my dressing room. I sat on a stool in the room with the other women, still a bit tearful and for some reason now I felt more self-conscious. I sat there for a while, then got dressed and went to tip the attendant. She gave me a big hug. Afterwards, I drank chai and then went to the bank to get some money. On the way back to my hotel I started to feel very sick, like I was going to throw up. When I got to the hotel room, I did throw up the tea. My friend at the hotel (I’ve made friends with the young men who work at the hotel, and have all been to American) said that often that happens after the Hamami because of the heat, and maybe when I drank the tea too fast. I laid down for a bit, and felt much better.
Last night I went to meet my friend and go to a meeting. The meeting was in a hospital near the University in SultanAhmet. At the meeting we had four visitors from Japan. It was so incredible that we were translating the meeting; the man from Japan was translating the meeting from English to Japanese, and my friend was translating from English to Turkish so we all could share together. That also made me cry with joy, that our fellowship is worldwide and sharing with everyone.
Yesterday was an emotional day for me, and it seems as if something in me stopped and caught up to my feelings. So that is why I’ve felt like writing this morning, I believe. Honestly, I think I need to try and write more not only to share my experiences, but to express how I am feeling and stay in touch with myself better. I have a tendency when I am overwhelmed to shut down, and just let events roll over me. That is now how I want to do this trip, but I seem to have been powerless not to do that the past few months. Which is not to say that I haven’t been very present and had an incredible time, because I have through all my travels so far. I just think I was starting to be overwhelmed, and it’s good that I stopped here in Turkey with friends and had time to catch my breath. I think of my family and friends often, and although the internet has been sporatic here at best, I am grateful for the contact I have with everyone.