July 19, 2014

Adventure to Çeşme, Turkey

Today Alan and I visited a beach area near Çeşme (Chesh-may) Turkey. Start building your mental image: quaint beachy town, palm trees, well-groomed beach with lounge chairs, clear turquoise water, soft vanilla sand, sea breezes, etc. Our adventure marks a turning point for me in terms of letting go, in a lot of ways. Many of you will be relieved that this is not another tummy-bug or food-poisoning tale in which "letting go" has a dubious meaning.

Today, I let go of a plan to take a city bus to the major bus station. We waited at the supposed bus stop for our #250 bus for at least 45 minutes, but never saw it. We saw 255, 63, 70 each at least 3 times. Then, we hired a taxi to the major bus station were we were able, somehow, to find the right bus, board and get to the perfect stop, pretty much without knowing what we were doing. "Follow the guy in the swimsuit," I told Alan. My plan was genius.

Today, I let go of some of my "things." In order to both swim at the beach at the same time without worry of theft, Alan and I decided to pack no valuables. No camera, no iPad, no Kindle, no iPhone. Not even our Turkish textbooks! We packed only the necessary money, one credit card, and our IDs in a triple bagged ziplock bag. Alan secured this little pouch into the pocket of his swimsuit. Save for a little damp cash, this trick not only gave us peace of mind on the beach, but also lightened up our backpacks! I will say that I regret not having pictures of the most beautiful beach I've ever been to, but the freedom of not feeling like I needed to capture the moment helped me actually enjoy the moments more.

Today, I also let go of some anxiety about being a foreigner. I am, darn it, and I'm going to make some awkward mistakes. On the way back to our place in Izmir, we were dropped off by the regional bus at a different bus station, very far from our neighborhood. I had a reasonable solution to take the ferry back to our neck of the woods, as we were ironically back near the ferry station were we had mistakenly ended up on a previous adventure. It was only after a long-ish, hot walk and after I had gone through the turnstyle with my city-wide ticket that the dock worker asked Alan, still behind the turnstyle, were we were going. Basically, no boats from this station were going anywhere we wanted to go, and we weren't even really at the ferry station, but at some other boat station next door to the ferries. Some versions of Jena would have been very embarrassed at this point, but today's Jena just went back through the turnstyle, smiled, and headed back to the drawing board. Alan and I rented some free city bicycles instead and rode about 45 minutes (on a coastal bike path) to our apartment.

Side note, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and strollers in Izmir have trouble staying off the very well marked bike line. Annoying, but we got through it.

Today I learned that letting go of failing plans, "valuable" stuff, and anxiety about making mistakes makes for a much more enjoyable trip. I don't have any pictures, but I have renewed energy for minimalist adventure--way better.