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Five Senses on the Road

My Travel Writing Scholarship 2011 entry - Journey in an Unknown Culture

TURKEY | Wednesday, 23 March 2011 | Views [767] | Scholarship Entry


“Look at your left hand. That’s your map of Turkey!” said proudly our Turkish guide. Maybe…

I became determined to go to Turkey, and I didn’t know what’d made me feel so focused on this trip. I was expecting to find stunning sceneries, good food, see something different from my culture and routine, make friends and come back home with nice photos and stories to tell. Since nobody could join me, a young woman, I departed alone from Brazil to this unknown country a little bit afraid, but proud of my decision.

After a perfect first impression of Istanbul, I joined an eclectic group which whom I would explore Turkey. Our first stop was in Gallipoli, where I’d learnt about the honor and respect between Turks and ANZAC’s, despite 9 bloody months in a WWI battle set just where we were stood. At the highest point of that National Park, surrounded by forest, blue sea, Dardanelles, memorials, old trenches and cemeteries, I saw our tour guide dropping tears while telling us the History of his country, his heroes and their suffering and conquests. I started to realize myself more sensitive while I learnt the passion that Turks have for their country.

As days were going by, I was feeling myself more thoughtful, yet finding my contemplative side too. After hiking around Hierapolis and walking barefooted on the really white floor in Pamukkale, seemingly to be so soft, but actually so hard, and then relaxing with my foot submerged in that so comfortable warm water going down the hill, observing the scenery being colored in orange shades by the sunset, I noticed two beautiful foreigner girls in bikinis, just beside a Muslim lady covered according to her beliefs – each of them in their own worlds, all of them being bathed by Pamukkale water. Surprised, I understood that different cultures cohabit peacefully in Turkey.

Already having a mysterious peace inside me, we reached Urfa. I don’t doubt that the view up from the Castle had changed minimally since hundreds of years ago. The terra-cotta color scattered homogeneously in small buildings melted into hills on the horizon only contrasted with the cloudy sky and few dark green trees. This sacred city houses the cave where Prophet Abraham was born, and with him Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Turkey is a Muslim country, was virtually cradle of Christianity and part of the word brings a little of Turkish history in its beliefs.

Nearby Ephesus is Virgin Mary’s house. She’d lived her last days in that place up of the hill, whose atmosphere makes faithful people, from all over the world, feel peace and reflect. Being Catholic, I lighted my candle and asked her blessing.

I really felt blessed for I had lived such inspirational experience. Serendipitous. Each moment, each person I’d met, each single thing done in Turkey helped me to find my own self, my happiness, my peace, my balance. Turkey will be always in my heart - also in my left hand.

Tags: #2011writing, travel writing scholarship 2011


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