Archive | January, 2013

we all fall down

3 Jan

I knew I was falling as soon as I shifted my balance from one foot to the other. There was no time to catch myself, and during my very short transition from a vertical position to a horizontal one, the only thing I was aware of was a Japanese lady screaming. Then I was lying in a pool of warm water in front of approximately one hundred tourists to the Pamukkale World Heritage Site. I picked myself up as well as the pieces of my shattered pride. Unable to think of anything else to do, I bowed to my audience and, soaking wet, began walking as quickly and carefully as possible towards the exit.

To be fair, there WAS a caution sign... (foreshadowing)

To be fair, there WAS a caution sign… (foreshadowing)

I had arrived in Pamukkale just that morning, the first destination on my four-day solo trip to southwestern Turkey. All semester I had been planning to visit Ephesus, a place I have been hearing about in church for my whole life. None of my friends were able to go (understandably, money is running low at the end of the semester), but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from taking this trip. So, I made my plans and after my Turkish final last Friday, I caught an overnight bus to Pamukkale. Traveling alone as a girl is often discouraged because there are some creeps in the world, but I have found that it can be a rewarding experience as long as you are constantly aware of your surroundings and make smart decisions.

Other than busting it in the water front of a hundred people, I had a lot of fun in Pamukkale. I had successfully made it to the top of the calcium carbonate hill (which looks exactly like snow, but is actually just hardened minerals) without falling and spent several hours walking around through the ruins of the Hierapolis, an ancient Greco-Roman city. Then as soon as I took off my shoes and took about five steps in the hot spring water, I hit a slippery spot and you already heard that story. Luckily, my camera and phone both survived, but I had worn my warmest clothes that day, which included my only pair of jeans. I returned to my hostel and tried to dry my jeans, but the sun was already almost down and the room I was staying in had no heater. I changed into some leggings and a dress I had stuffed into my bag last minute and ended up wearing those for the next two days until my pants were finally dry. That evening, since I was confined to the hostel by my wardrobe, I made friends with several people there, including a British chemistry teacher and the old Turkish woman who owned the place (she ended up helping me get a discount on my next bus ticket- success!)

The tomb of Phillip (as in the disciple)

The tomb of Phillip (as in the disciple)

Wet and cold but happy anyway

Wet and cold but happy anyway

The next day, I went to Izmir, a city on the Aegean Sea and not far from Ephesus. On my first day there, I met up with a Turkish friend from one of my classes and she showed me around the city, and then took me home to have dinner at her house, where I ended up spending the night. I woke up early the next morning to head back to the bus station, where I found a dolmuş (a kind of minibus) to Selçuk, which is right next to Ephesus. I then got on another dolmuş which brought me right to the city gates. Ephesus was amazing. A lot of the stone pillars and carvings are still intact, and it was easy to imagine the city as it was hundreds of years ago.

Library in Ephesus

Library in Ephesus

After Ephesus, I went back to Selçuk, back to Izmir, and to my lonely little hotel room (I wasn’t able to find any hostels), where I immediately fell asleep. When I woke up, it was dark and cold and pretty close to 2013. Not having enough motivation to leave the bed I had warmed with my body heat and wanting to walk alone in the darkness at midnight, I turned on the TV and found a Turkish New Years show, and at midnight I counted down with them in Turkish (beş, dört, üç, iki, bir, AAAAAH!) and reflected on my year as well as thought about what the upcoming one will be like. I know that in 2013 I will probably not spend time in five different countries like I did in 2012, and I know I will be spending at least nine months of next year in Waco, which is a little less exciting than New Delhi or Istanbul. But ultimately, 2013 will be what I make of it… And I think it could be pretty cool.

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