Some might think that America came up with the democratic government system we use today and that the founding fathers were the first to have that brilliant idea about how to run a country. But think again. Today as we hiked along the coast of ancient Lycia and looked down at ruins below, I learned that more than two thousand years before America became a county, people here were experimenting with representative government and were developing a similar government system as ours today. An ancient port city by the name of Patara, this country Lycia was located on the Asia side of modern day Turkey down on the Mediterranean. All that is left today is a theater, a couple sarcophaguses, a few pillars, and what I am assuming was the gate into the city. This city, very much like Ephesus, was destroyed by the very river that made it possible. All that is left of the old harbor is a marsh full of grasses and turtles.
Now this city is under excavation, and when walking past the ancient site it is quite obvious, but excavation isn’t very easy when the soil is wet. So instead of excavating, the team of archeologist have begun a new project: the reconstruction of the ancient parliament building. Cenk (“Jenk”), our guide, explained to those of us around him on our hike to the beach that Patara was like the Washington DC of Greece and that, most likely, the reconstructed parliament building would be used for presentations and such.
While buying food for our next day’s hike, we came across a magazine with an article titled “Americans, How Dumb are They?” We flipped through the pages to the article and read through it, thoroughly amused, and then we got to the part where it said that 38% of Americans given the citizenship test recently failed it. The questions ranged from what ocean is on the West Coast and who did we fight during WWII, to who is the name of our current vice president and such, all of which we got right as Bobby read the questions to us as a group outside the little store to test our knowledge.
While shopping, we had attracted two men who were making a documentary about Patara and had asked us with German accents to not look at the camera and to walk through the store for a few more minutes before checking out and such. They now stood next to us, holding their equipment and running around us with their camera. They asked us some questions, while filming, about if we knew where our government structure had come from, which we were also able to answer thanks to Cenks’ previous talk and the impromptu quizzing. They asked if they could film us at breakfast the next morning, did a quick interview, and then took an into-the-sunrise shot of us leaving the city that began it all, in terms of the government being of the people and for the people: Patara. You never know on any given day what you are going to get to learn about. Oh yeah, and then we hiked all day along the coast of the Med!