What a fantastic trip it has been. I know it’s not over yet, but the length of time that we have already been here has just been amazing. The sweet tastes of the different food, candy and drinks leave a memorable taste on my tongue. For example, my favorite candy so far has been chewy Turkish delight, especially the orange flavored ones; in Turkish they are called “lokum.” Everyone loves gözleme, a very thin tortilla that is bigger than two feet across that you can fill with a mix of cheese, spinach, meat mix or potatoes, and then they are fried over a very big upside-down wok. I also love the Nescafe they serve in the morning with breakfast, instead of regular American coffee. Eating is something the entire Link School has had the opportunity to do, a lot, tasting all these delicious things.
Everyday while we are here, we get the honor of hearing the call to prayer. This is something that we definitely do not hear in Colorado. It echoes out from the mosque like church bells do in Christian countries. We get to hear this five times a day. So while we have the chance to hear it, we might as well enjoy it.
Motorcycles whiz by everyday, roaring as they go, up and down the narrow, stony streets. Children laugh and play with us because they want to know what we’re like and how we play. For example, we play soccer out in front of the hotel in the street with Link students and local Turkish kids. I shared my jump-rope with them too, which I don’t think they’ve ever seen. They giggled and laughed when they saw it and had a lot of fun with it. I showed them how to turn the rope fast and how to jump forward and backward, and even how to hop on one foot while they jumped.
One Turkish tradition I have learned about is how the people here drink tea everyday, morning, afternoon and evening. It is very strong and comes with two cubes of sugar and never any milk in a very small teacup or glass. The color is not too dark or light, a deep brown-red. The taste of warm Turkish tea, slowly going down as each sip puts a smile on your face. I like Turkish tea better than tea in the US because I have the chance to enjoy it; it’s so strong I have to drink it slowly.
Yesterday we all had the chance to visit the İsabey Mosque. İsa Bey means “Mr. Jesus” in Turkish. A type of priest, called an Imam, talked to us about the mosque and Islam. He told us about the Five Pillars of Islam and what each says. The first pillar, for example, says that there is only one God (Allah), and Mohammed (Mehmet in Turkish) is his prophet. This is my favorite one because we believe the first part just the same in Christian Science, that there is only one God. He showed us a picture of the Kabbah in Mecca and explained that all Muslims pray in the direction of this important place. He also read (sang) to us from the Koran, which made me feel really warm and peaceful. It was so different than being in a church. He also read the story of Mary in the Koran and I could get an image of what he was reading in my head.
Turkey definitely invites you in with open arms.
The day in brief: Today we hiked up to the ruins of a Byzantine castle, called Goat Castle, and had a some reflective Bible study time. Then some students went rock climbing and some students had free time in Selçuk.