We are back in Turkey after walking where Jesus walked in Israel. Before we left for Israel, we had tried to get a package that had been sent to us through Fedex. I had no idea how difficult this would be. We traveled for over three hours to a FedEx office on the European side of Istanbul but could not get our box. The custom’s office was open, they said, but it was too late in the afternoon. Then we took buses and trains back — defeated.
Now we are trying again.
Here is the view from our balcony in Pendik (Asian side of Istanbul).
After waiting in office after office, traveling around to various offices (each one difficult to find), paying for three Xerox copies of our huge collection of paperwork, getting special stamps and signatures, it was determined that we owe no duty but we must pay over a hundred dollars in storage fees because they had held the package for so long. So….more waiting, stamps, signatures, and after six or seven hous, we got the package.
Strange karma — I found that the rain coat inside the package had been slashed (probably at the factory). The boots fit okay — so all was not lost. The stuff inside was not worth that much but I have big, wide feet and could not find boots that fit in Turkey.
We visit the beach at Pendik, watch the wind blow, see the waves. A guy is trying to sell roasted chestnuts in the wind. The February wind is hard and cold.
We get up early to catch the train east.
I traveled by bus through Turkey in 1975, on my way to Kathmandu, Nepal. Now, I’m an old guy and Turkey has become more prosperous — with industry and middle class.
We arrive in Ankara.
Here is the Ankara station, where we get on the night train to Erzurum. I talk with a man who speaks little English.
We do what we need to do — roll along toward eastern Turkey – toward Erzuram.
Erzurum is 5766 feet above sea level, with population of about 367,000. It is said to very religiously conservative.
It snows during the night and we watch the mountains through the train window.
We are in Erzurum, Turkey, walking down the cold, icy streets. I have been reading about this place. During the massacres of Armenians, this was a key deportation and execution center (1894-1896; also 1915). Ninety percent of the Armenians perished.
We climb to the Citidel of Erzurum and look around.
The walls date from around 1000 BC. The mosque dates from 9th century CE, the minaret dates from the 12th century CE. People here have been overwhelmed by various invaders.
We climb to the top of the citidel and look out over the city.
Karen descends down the stairs.
We hear the call to prayer as we pass the citadel walls.
The next day, we catch the bus to Hopa, a city close to the border with Georgia.
Lao tsu writes (chapter 79):
Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.
Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and expects nothing of others.
The bus passes through a deep winding gorge, past a giant hydroelectric dam, (Dariner Dam, third highest dam in the world), and past Artvin, a city perched on the side of a mountain.
During family therapy sessions, I have heard hundreds of people blame others for their problems. I hear “he said, she said” stories. I hear “somebody done somebody wrong” stories. I hear “I’m not crazy and should not be here” stories. I hear “I did not want to kill myself, I only wanted to sleep” stories. “I’m the sane one. They’re the crazy ones. They should be in here, not me.”
Here is what I say: “Figure out where you want to go and what you need to do to get there.” You can’t make other people change but by changing your own attitude, your whole world changes.
On the night train, I talked with a Turkish guy in the clumsy way that I have developed. I can ask “What is your name?” “Are you married?” ” How many children do you have?” — things like that. He said he was a lawyer and was visiting his family. In the morning, he got off the train and I saw him walking through the snow. No one had come to meet him.
I did not catch his image in my photograph. I though to myself, “I wonder what it was like to grow up in this place.”