Religion · Travel

Day Four: In which I watch Derviches whirl, and shock our tour guide’s cousin. Also, I get mistaken for 16.

Today has been a very full day.
It began at 8am with the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Anit Kabir/Hittite Museum, which was very interesting. It was in an old house, in of course an Arabic style, with domes and arches and etcetera. It was built on the side of a mountain, and was therefore made in multiple levels. There was a lot of artifacts that centered around the evolution of the Mother Goddess, the beginnings of swastika, the mythology of the bull, burial practice and lifestyle of early life, as well as early examples of written language, pictorial history and jars, jewelry and carvings. The gardens were beautiful, as well; all around them, there were flowers, ancient statues, and jars, as well as a lovely view of Ankara.
After the museum, we were supposed to visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk first, upon entering the area, we had to go through a metal detector – and then get back on the bus. Which makes no sense, but one day a Turkish man said, “I am Turkish and I need to go through to see the resting place of the founder of Turkey; they are tourists. Why don’t they have to go through?” and so now we do. Even if it makes no sense.
So, as we were arriving, an official car drove up to the Mausoleum.
The minister of education had some sort of ceremony, and do we were not allowed in for almost an hour. Our guide, Daghan (pronounced “Dahan”) therefore gave us free time in the Museum of Independence. He told us you need a day to go through it, and I disagree. You need a few days. It has the history of the country’s shift to its current state, with – unsurprising since it is by his mausoleum – a heavy focus on the words and life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey.
This man inspired – and still inspires – millions of people, myself included. He is, of course, just a man, but a man that changed the path of an entire people.
Strangely, he makes me proud of my heritage.
The museum has dioramas, paintings, photos, facts, audio plays, historical documents and artel acts, and so much more. No photos allowed, unfortunately, because I would have gone camera happy. Of course, it wouldn’t have been nearly the same, but it was still pretty fabulous.
After the museum, we explored the mausoleum, which is gloriously. Seriously, see: photos below. It is spectacular. It overlooks Ankara on all sides at the top of a mountain. Legit.
Fun fact: the first female fighter pilot was one of Atatürk’s nine adopted daughters.
Fun fact the second: Atatürk was engaged to be married, but kept putting it off. He fiancée got annoyed and asked him why; he said he was first and foremost married to his country. They eventually broke it off.
After this, we headed off towards a Sufi cultural centre which was once a shrine to Haci Bektas. It was delicate and pretty and peaceful. The fountains, trees, gardens and lofty rooms with small doors all added to the lovely charm. It is the kind of place one could easily lose theirselves praying.
On our way to the above, just FYI, I had Turkish pizza for lunch. Oh, my god. It was so good.
At around 5pm we made it to our hotel, we booked our balloon ride for Friday (!!!). The gentleman that does the balloon rides is Daghan’s cousin. Daghan told him my name, and the man started a bit and looked up at me, and stared. It was rather funny – the look on his face. Asked me if I am Turkish. I am, and told him so. Daghan asked me if I was named Farrah as in the Turkish Farrah. I informed him I was named after my grandmother. He seemed impressed. And especially impressed that i actually knew what it means (bringer of joy, in case you were wondering).
And then at six was the Whirling Dervishes.
The concentration and the focus and the trance-like absence is beautiful. Faith has always interested me, and here, these men have fasted and prayed and practiced for years to become Dervishes. They pledge their lives to Allah, and you can not only see it, but feel it as they spin. Their prayers and accompanying music is haunting, and the resonance of what I believe are Quran verses (I will be asking Daghan in the next few days) is magical. Also, afterwards we were given cinnamon tea, and I broke down and bought a souvenir to hang on my wall. Very tasteful.
What? I may be Turkish, but I’m still a tourist.
And speaking of magical.
We left the cultural centre where the Dervishes had their service and it was just coming on to sundown, so Daghan brought us to a cliff where we could overlook the valley of Göreme, as well as Mount Erciyes, which is a dead volcano and 3916m. The sun was setting over the mountains, and the Rick houses were bathed in red light.
Absolutely breathtaking.
Also, I made a wish on a wish tree, and a lady we are traveling with asked me how old I was. I told her I was 22 and she was shocked. She had thought I was sixteen.
I’m pretty sure I do not look sixteen. I’m still not sure if I should be insulted or flattered.

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