- Today is the
15th, and I think we need to review: On the 7th I was
poisoned in Bergama. By the 8th, I was in Selcuk but was
unaware that my internal organs were slowly dissolving.
On the 9th I was photographing
Ephesus and noticed that my innards were beginning to
ooze from every obvious orifice. Not a pretty sight, but
I am telling it like it was. With a schedule to keep, I
cleaned up and moved on.
- I finished my
work in Selcuk (Ephesus) and on the 10th, drove to
Pamukkale (about 3 hours) and learned more about
Turkish driving traditions:
- Question: how
many lanes are there on a typical Turkish highway?
Answer - depends on who is next to you. If it is you and
a bus - you are on a two-lane road. If it is you, a
tractor, and a Fiat - the road has become a three-lane
highway. If it is you, a tractor, a Fiat, and there is a
bus heading towards you while passing a fuel truck, the
highway magically becomes a five-lane
- I should mention
something here about "right of way." The Turkish have a
clear understanding of who has the right of way where
traffic is concerned. Big, fast, strong = "right of way."
Small, slow, weak = "get out of way." Buses and trucks
always have their way. Tractors, although big, are slow -
so they must get out of the way of Fiats (same goes for
horses and wagons). People are small, slow, and weak -
they must always run when anything larger or faster
charges them. When two vehicles of equal size and
strength face off - he who knows where he is going and
has determination always wins.
- But, I digress.
I arrived in Pamukkale, checked into my hotel (the Hotel
Venus), was sick for a while, and I think I drove to
Hieropolis and conducted research. I do not remember
much about Hieropolis but I know I was there because I
have several hundred photographs that someone took, and I
vaguely remember seeing a camel.
- I returned to the
hotel, took a cold bath, and became extremely ill - you
name the symptom, I exhibited it. I drifted in and out of
consciousness all evening and all night and the next day
my kind host at the hotel offered to take me to the
doctor and then drive me all the way to Kusadasi (about 4
hours). In a previous e-mail I recounted this kind act
from Turkish strangers, and I am more than certain that
it was the generous and appreciated gesture it appears to
be. But, given that I have had a few days to reflect on
the matter, let me try out another scenario:
- A small hotel
whose business has been devastated by the Iraq war
finally gets a customer - They are delighted to find
that the customer is not only a rich professor, but also
an American. Imagine the surprise when the rich American
arrives and is obviously about to die. He will die in
their hotel and what little business they had will
completely vanish. What to do?
- "Obviously we need
to get him out of the hotel and as far away from
Pamukkale as possible - someplace like Kusadasi. But what
if he dies on route? We have no choice but to drive him -
let us send our cousin Abraham, he is young and has no
family of his own. If the diseased American infects him,
he will be able to fight the illness and live." Being
devout Muslims and unable to knowing harm a fellow human,
they must first take the dying American to a doctor.
Besides, Abraham said, "You aren't putting me in a car
with a SARS victim for 4 hours - I want him checked out
by the family doctor."
doctor pronounced me well enough to go away and die
elsewhere, so Abraham took me to Kusadasi and turned me
over to the evil "Cruise Ship on Land" hotel.
- The evil
"Cruise Ship on Land" Hotel in Kusadasi: Imagine if
you will, a hotel on the ocean designed and built by a
corporation that studied the needs and wishes of tourists
who take cruises. The corporation then proceeds to
provide for the wishes of these fat tourists by using the
cheapest methods possible. Cruise ship regulars
apparently like copious amounts of food, many swimming
pools, loud music, and big rooms.
- "But, how can a
hotel provide all these luxuries and still make money?"
you might ask.
- 1. They might
consider designing an air-conditioning system that
automatically shuts down when the tourists are at the
feeding trough" (I am not making this up. The
Air-conditioning system was timed to shut down each day
from 11 to 2 and from 7 to 10).
- 2. They could
make everything out of concrete, the walls, the
floor, the furniture, (especially the
- 3. They might
consider hiring people to run the hotel who know nothing
about hotels and give them no training. This way, if
there is a problem, no one will waste time or money
trying to find a solution. Example: "The air-conditioner
in my room is not working. I am running a high fever and
need cool air." Answer: "Maybe it is broken." Example 2:
"I cannot eat your food, I am sick and need broth."
Answer: "No broth, eat spicy lentil soup." Question: "I
know you have watermelon, could I have watermelon?"
Answer: "We only use watermelon to carve table
decorations - nice statues of palm trees, Mickey Mouse
and Bart Simpson - No watermelon for eating."
- 4. They could
pump the smells of cooking food throughout the hotel
- this brings the tourists out of their rooms so
management can turn off their air-conditioners. They
could pump loud music into the rooms to drive out those
who remain so management can turn off their
air-conditioners. And as a last resort, management can
turn off the air-conditioners - this will drive out those
who still refuse to leave.
- I spent three
nights at the "Grounded Cruise Ship Hotel." At one point
I was hallucinating and thought, "I have died. - I
have died and gone to Hell. My Hell is much worse
than I could have possibly imagined - For eternity, I
will be forced to exist in a 90 degree concrete room - I
will be unable to open the windows because demons are
forever grilling copious quantities of meat around the
pools, and the smoke and nauseous smells permeate
everything - I am separated from not only my family but
from anyone who speaks English - there is no way to leave
and I will be forever trapped in a foreign country
surrounded by old, fat, hairy tourists who relish
sunbathing in the nude. And, of course, I will be forever
vomiting, sweating, and unable to eat."
- I must credit the
"Grand Tourist Buffet Hotel" for driving me out of my
sickbed to do research however. Sick as I was, it was
still preferable to drive to Greco/Roman theatres and
photograph them than to stay at the hotel. During the
three days at Kusadaisi, I photographed and researched
Aphrodisias, Priene, and Miletus. I also got some
shopping completed for gifts in the rare event that I
should someday be allowed to return home.
- On the third
day, June 14, I was released from Hell. This was due,
I am certain, to intervening prayers from Betty pleading
for my soul. I drove to Izmir, returned my red Fiat, and
flew to Istanbul and then flew to Antalya on Turkish
Airlines (very nice, very well operated, and
air-conditioned). Side note: I arranged my travel on
Turkish Airlines in the States but did the actual
purchasing of tickets in Istanbul. This saved me about 50
percent off the published airfare and was easy to
- So, here it is
the 15th of June. I am at a real hotel, the Sheraton
Voyager in Antalya. I am now in Heaven - room
service, soft music, opulent surroundings, young and
hairless naked sunbathers, food that looks so good I wish
I could eat it, and AIR-CONDITIONING on demand. My room
is definitely a four star accommodation, and although the
majority of the guests are still tourists, they are
younger, more polite, and less fat.
Note: For a fun as well as good website on other
accomodations in Turkey, go to NewTravelAge.com.
- Today I drove
to Aspendos and Side and photographed the theatres
there (I now have a silver Fiat with a bigger
engine). Verdi's Aida is currently performing at Aspendos
as part of the Uluslararasi Opera Ve Bale Festivali, but
the two performances were the night before I arrived and
the night I depart so I will be unable to attend. I did
manage to photograph their set however when I documented
- Tomorrow, I
will drive to Perge and photograph my last theatre.
When finised with Perge, I will have over 800 meg of
photos (3000 or so). Since I have a wonderful computer in
my room, I have been able to view, sort, and organize all
the photographs taken to date - I am extremely pleased.
This has been a very successful Trip.
- Your still not up
to full speed but working on it traveler,