Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A long day's travel to Pamukkale

Continuing with our whirling dervish theme, the next morning we drove towards the city of Konya to the Mevlana dervish museum. The countryside was very flat with every piece of land, as far as the eye could see, cultivated with wheat or other cereal crops. Anatolian shepherd dogs were a common sight in the towns, and even out in the country with nothing else around we would often spot a lone dog.

Finally we reached the museum. Rumi, or Melvana as he was known, was the founder of the whirling dervishes and is regarded as one of the Islamic world's great mystics. The museum is an enlargement of the original dervish lodge. The mosque contains the gilded tomb of Rumi  and a mother- of- pearl case said to contain the beard of the prophet Mohammed. Inside the mosque was an array of beautiful tiles with different shades of blue and lovely glass chandeliers.

The dervish museum had mannequins posed to illustrate the various stages and facets of the dervish life, along with many artefacts, and their kitchens and sleeping quarters. The training to become a dervish took 1001 days and for much of that time the initiates did a lot of fetching and carrying. After that time they had to remain in their cells for three days to make their final decision that they wanted to become a dervish.

Back on the road again, we were pleased to see mountains. However, we were driving in the vast valley between, where once again evidence of cereal crops, olives, vines or market gardening filled the landscape as far as the eye could see. Turkey certainly could be the breadbasket of Europe. Every field was well looked after, whether by tractor or groups of people working in the fields. As we passed through some old villages we wondered if much had changed. Backyards filled with chickens or goats, dirt roads, groups of women hunched over rows of crops, a woman raking the vegetation growing on the roof of a small barn. On the other hand, every dwelling seemed to have at least one satellite dish, so some things have definitely changed.

After a very long day we were relieved to arrive at Pamukkale. Even though it was dark we decided to go for a walk after dinner. The town totally caters to tourists with lots of hotels and restaurants lining the streets. We reached the little shopping area where we looked around the shops trying to dodge invitations to come and look inside. Everyone was very friendly but at one store we made the fatal error of becoming involved in a conversation. These conversations usually begin with, "Where do you come from?" We went into the shop and Seamus appeared interested in a jacket. In reality this takes just a glance at something. We were offered and accepted apple tea. It is bad manners to refuse the welcoming tea but then you have to wait for the tea to cool, while still not wishing to buy anything. Luckily for us, we did escape without making a purchase.

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