Have you ever tried Turkish Delight, the treat so beloved by Queen Victoria and the Pevensee children in the Chronicles of Narnia? Turkish Delight, or “locum”, is a sweet cube of gelatin dusted with powdered sugar and often imbedded with nuts. It’s ubiquitous in this part of the world, a little on the level of salt water taffy in coastal areas of the US.
Our time in that beautiful country (Mike calls it our “Turkey Trot”) truly has been a delight in so many ways, and we’re now writing from the Greek island of Rhodes just off the SW coast of Turkey. We’ll be meeting our “Footsteps of Paul” tour group (sponsored by the Gordon College Alumni and Friends Association) in Thessaloniki this weekend.
As we rest and explore on our own here in Rhodes, Mike has been reflecting on the factors that most delighted, and also disappointed us, in Turkey. His list follows.
As first-time visitors, we were surprised and pleased to discover:
- The prosperity of this modernized country
- The genuine friendliness and hospitality of the people; even the airport screeners behave as if their jobs are a privilege
- How orderly and neat everything is; we saw very little graffiti or disorderly behavior. We drove extensively through the western part of the country, yet never saw a single traffic accident
- The beauty; the land is green, fertile, and capable of growing all the food the population requires
- The magnificence and majesty of the ancient cities
- How ingenious the ancients were with their brilliant city layouts, construction, sanitation systems, creature comforts, and theater designs (Maggie’s note: as a dramatist I was impressed with how very important theaters were to the daily lives of the people.)
- The willingness of our guides to listen as we explained Christianity
- Turkish baths and mud baths! And those wonderfully thick Turkish towels!
- The deep sense of national pride in their democratic way of government and in “Ataturk,” the father of modern Turkey – a truly impressive figure
- Christianity, so evident in the ruins, is almost totally absent in the modern culture. We never saw a single church.
- Mary is highly respected as the Virgin Mother of Jesus but they hardly reference her Son, even though they consider Him a “prophet”
- The confusion: our guide talked about “Theotoka, Mother of God” while not connecting the dots that point to her son.
Some of you reading this blog have visited Turkey many times or have actually worked here cross-culturally; your list would be far more extensive. Our observations are only those of new arrivals to this part of the world. But when Turkey appears in the news, we will read it with far greater interest and knowledge than we did previously.
We have left a piece of our hearts, and a few footsteps of our own, in Turkey.