I was up early waiting for Huysen and his driver. I had the feeling this day would be a continuation of the magnificent day before. And I was right.
They picked me up at 9:30 am and off we began on our journey to the ancient city of Ephesus. It would take about an hour to get there. On the drive, we talked about our morning. He explained the difference between tea and coffee drinking here in Turkey. One can drink Turkish tea all day however Turkish coffee has its time and place. Traditionally it was reserved for special occasions. “A man comes to a ladies house to ask for permission to marry her. Before the discussion begins the woman asks how they would like their coffee… she asks everyone except her suitor. Then the man says some religious words like ‘with the permission of the gods we want your daughter to marry your son’. The man eventually gets his coffee but the woman gets to use her imagination to put whatever she wants in the coffee and they all stare at him. He has to drink it all despite what is inside. It is a demonstration of his commitment to her.” “What does she put inside?” I ask. “It depends… could be salt or hot pepper…whatever she wants.” Oh, I think. I could get a lot more creative than salt and a pepper. But then I am still single so…
Coffee is also a gesture for “the sake of something”, he says. “For 40 years you will not forget them if you share the coffee”. I eat these rituals up. We first made our way to the sacred home of the blessed Mary. Many people were lined along the path in prayer. He asks if I believe in God. “I am more spiritual I would say. I think of god as a verb, not a noun.” He laughs and says, “I am like 30 percent of muslims here… lazy Muslim. I believe in god but the rest is not important.”
He showed me the wishing wall of the Virgin Mary which is a wall where visitors can come and write their wishes on paper and attach them to the wall with a ribbon for them to come true. And there amongst all the wishes of those that walked before me, I scrolled my wishes and tied them with a red ribbon.
After, Huysen and I went to the cafe to share some Turkish coffee.
He explained that some people read the mucky residual of coffee similar to what we do back home with tea leaf readings. He tips the small coffee cups upside down, waits, then turns them over. “Here” he says, handing me his cup while taking mine.
“You read mine and I will read yours, shall we?” I look at the shapes of dark shadows along the edge of the cup that seem to resemble the head of a man, then space, and then legs. Another looks like a man with wings hanging off a cliff. “Well it seems you lost your center and you are feeling stuck and need to spread your wings.” Boom. How’s that for a first-time oracle reading?! “Wow” he says “that is very interesting, I was not expecting that.” He looks at my cup and tilts his head. I look with him. One side is completely empty of anything. “Hmm”, I say, “that looks ominous… it’s empty.” He says “no it is full because your heart and your energy is full and beautiful. And over here is the shape of a man who seems to have a crown; he is protecting you or maybe he is coming for you?”
“Wow… I was hoping for an Italian farmer but a king will do.” I laugh.
And with our futures now clearly sorted, we made our way to the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus was at one time the most powerful and prosperous trading center.
I had listened to many commentaries describing its origin but with further reading on my own, I discovered that Ephesus was thought to have originated from the tribe of great female warriors of the amazon and the name of the city is thought to have been derived from “Apasas” meaning the “city of the Mother Goddess”. And on I strolled along this ancient city of the mother goddess with its large columns, impressive Amphitheater, and other interesting public spaces.
In one area, he informed me that selected young girls were taken there to serve the church and god and could not leave until they were 40. Only then could they live their lives as they wished. “Life starts after 40.” He smiles. “Ya… it sure does.” I say.
It was a full day and we were all hungry. Huysen asked if I wanted to try something very different and authentic to Turkish people for lunch. “Of course.” I replied without hesitation. The restaurant appeared to be out of the way of any city hub. It was a dusty and dry road. As I walked towards the main door, I could see women preparing the flat bread over a wood fire.
He escorted me to an open space adorned with Turkish carpets on the floor and walls, and seats of cushions and pillows encasing the tables.
Mosaic stained glass lamps hung from the ceiling. I melted in the corner of the cushions while Huysen ordered a plethora of Turkish food. There were three types of Gozleme (which are similar to flatbread or stuffed pancakes), chicken kebabs, vegetables with yogurt, and thin slices of meat with tomatoes and peppers.
I see now why there were bed-like seats. It was delicious. I laid in the bottom of this genies bottle, drinking my Turkish tea rubbing my belly. What a memorable day. I could not have asked for anything more.
Huysen drove me straight to the airport because I was leaving that night to Cappadocia. I was happy to meet Huysen. It is days like this that drive my wanderlust. The people, the stories shared and created. And, of course, the food. This is what I live for. I feel so blessed to live the life that fills me in all the ways.