Instead, we took a wonderful two-hour nap, brought home two huge 10 liter waters from the store, and studied Turkish.
By five o'clock, I was feeling fully myself again, and I volunteered to go on the previously "intolerable" march to the top of a hill in 100 degree heat. In typical Jena style, ponytail, t-shirt, walking shorts, and athletic shoes, I was ready to face the adventure. Alan, thoroughly slathered with his ever-present sunscreen, wearing all black, including black jeans (I guess people with less body fat don't get as hot?) set off alongside me with our water bottles in his backpack. We rode bikes for the first leg of the trip in order to save our energy for the climb.
We ditched the bikes at Konak, the place famous for its old clock tower. Fighting our way through the masses (sidenote: it's a holiday called Bayram here, the end of Ramadan) like salmon swimming upstream, we finally made it to the base of the enormous hill, which, in true Turkey style is covered, every square inch, with houses and other buildings. We followed the winding roads and steep alleyway staircases up and up and up. Cats, dogs, and beautiful plants lined the streets. The houses, built precariously close to the street, were painted in every tropical color. Not deeply saturated hues, but instead, the mellow sea foam, tangerine, and sky blue type. I love how every house is completely different from its neighbor--the Turkish houses have so much character. Mysterious little doors and peppers strung on twine begged for me to take pictures, but instead I just observed.
As we climbed higher and higher through the winding, narrow streets, I noticed that the beachfront of İzmir I have come to know is a far cry from how most people in this city live. The higher we climbed, the longer the women's hemlines became. I don't think I saw any women's bare arms or legs once we started climbing past a particular intersection. More of the women covered their hair, and some even wore the full black abaya and hijab characteristic of Saudi Arabia. In my shorts and uncovered hair, I became all the more conspicuous tripping over uneven sidewalks and dodging errant cars, catcalls, and motorcycles. I tolerated my own discomfort in favor of reaching our goal--the castle.
|HUGE flag flying at Kadifekale|
What remained of the castle was impressive, mostly because I'm still not used to really old things. I mean, in the US, something built in the 1800s is old. Here in Turkey, buildings from before the time of Christ are everywhere! It's cool to have so much history underfoot, even if it's pretty much just ruins.
|Swingset at Kadifekale|
|The view of the highways leading out of Izmir.|
The carving of Ataturk is just left of center.
Not long into our dizzying route, we became the attraction for EVERYONE who was in shouting distance of us. They yelled very polite English phrases that they knew, such as: "HELLO!" and "MY NAME IS ASLI!" and "WHERE ARE YOU FROM?" in hopes of gaining our foreigner attention. Children ran alongside us, asking for money (this is a Bayram tradition somewhat similar to trick-or-treating). The chatter and hubbub reached a fever pitch in the narrowest, most congested area of the hillside. I started to freak out due to the winding roads and unsolicited attention, and two teenage boys came up to me and started asking me questions. Instead of snapping at them, for some reason, their presence really calmed my frayed nerves. They asked if I was going to the Izmir Fuar (a.k.a the Kültürpark) and politely gave me directions (not that useful due to the incredible maze of streets) as they walked with us for a few twists and turns. They asked me about New York and Miami, and told me how old they were and where they went to school, etc. They left us to our own devices just as abruptly as they had approached us, and we easily navigated the rest of the way.
Talking to the boys would later be a point of contention between Alan and me as we discussed possible outcomes of this sort of random interaction. The fates of victims on the TV show "Locked Up Abroad" came up in our heated discussion, as did past run-ins with would-be muggers in various cities. Basically we decided that I might work on my street smarts and Alan might work on challenging his assumptions about all strangers in foreign countries being opportunist thieves. Marriage = lots of difficult conversions about compromise.
|Lora, the kedi guard dog. |
My favorite cat, Michael " Jordan" Jordan is photobombing.