Aegean Grace

Today is my last day in Selçuk and it’s been a wonderful stay. I had planned to visit Şirince today, a lovely town about nine kilometers from here, but as so much of my trip surprises and the every present suharat were at play with my plans.

I will be leaving tomorrow heading back to Istanbul for one last week in this bountiful country. Muslum, one of the owners of Tuncay Pension where I’ve been staying, had offered yesterday to have one of his driver friends head to Izmir today to buy my tickets. It turned out that none of them were heading to the Izmir city centre today so he encouraged me to catch the next train to Izmir and get the tickets myself as that route sells out sometimes and he thought it best I not wait until tomorrow in case the train was full. That was 11:20am. The train left at 11:30am.

I fast walked to the train station in Selçuk and easily caught the train. The hour long ride was so peaceful, passing fields of cotton, citrus and fruit trees, picture perfect sheep and cows grazing near falling down houses, many of them with satellite dishes perched on their faltering roofs.

About 20 minutes out of Izmir our train stopped and waited. And waited. For 1/2 an hour. No one complained or said much of anything until the last few minutes when the train we had apparently been waiting for passed us and we slowly eased onto the tracks. By the way, trains in Turkey are so clean, so civilized they make North American travel look prehistoric. Each assigned seat was like those on airplanes except wider and with more leg room. There are folddown tables and foot rests. Some have tables between the seats. Lovely.

Arriving in Izmir at 1:10pm I went to the office to buy my bilet, my ticket. After one seemingly unhappy frustrated woman attempted to help me with my ticket she was relieved (and so was I) by a pleasant young woman who spoke English. She not only sold me my ticket, but gave my a hand written itinerary to help me on my journey. I asked to buy a ticket back to Selçuk and was told the next train would be at 3:40pm. It was now 1:30pm.

I was disappointed that I would miss Şirince, but I have learned so much about acceptance these past years and especially on this trip that I bought my cay and found a seat to settle into for the 2 hour wait for my return to my temporary home.

Shortly after sitting an older woman and her husband sat next to me. The husband left for a bit and I noticed their suitcase topple over. Another woman across from the older woman pointed to the upended suitcase. The older woman tried to right it in such a way as it wouldn’t fall again, but without much success. I got up and helped her. Her face lit up with such a radiance and she thanked me.

Her husband returned and within a moment of sitting down offered me the tiny cinnamon rolls he had just bought for he and his wife. Not one roll, all of them. I tried to give back all but one, but he would have none of it.  A few minutes later he returned with a simit, these wonderful large round bagel-like rolls, except softer, covered in sesame seeds. He offered me half, but I declined.

I munched on the tiny rolls and sipped my cay, my tea, feeling a great warmth come over me, glad for missing my day of shopping in Şirince. As I read my book the woman got up and touched my hand. Tears came to my eyes. At 3pm the woman and her husband got up and headed for their train. We smiled at each other and nodded, touching our hands to our hearts. A word was never spoken between us, but a connection far deeper than words had been told.

On the train ride back to Selçuk I looked around at the many ages, the many dresses of people on the train. What an honour to journey with them, these people of the Aegeon, these people of an ancient yet modern grace.

My train leaves at 7:25am tomorrow, December 24, and arrives in Bandirma on the Asian side of Turkey around 3pm. I’ll wait there for a few hours and then the high speed ferry will take me to the European side of Istanbul where I’ll arrive around 8:30pm for my final seven days in this remarkable place.

Wishing you all a joyous  Noel yortusu arifesi, Christmas Eve.

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~ by Tess (Piyadassi) on December 23, 2009.

One Response to “Aegean Grace”

  1. Thank you for sharing your day. I’m looking forward to the day we share a cup of cay here on Whidbey Island. Merry Christmas to you, dear friend.

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