We were going to get up early but I think somewhere the plan changed and they let me sleep in. I woke up just in time to say goodbye to Dayi Nejat and Yenge Emel. They went back to their other home in the country. A beautiful home I hear and we were made to promise we would visit there next time and for longer. Damla, Suha and I were going to an island to meet some of her friends from high school for breakfast. We took a taxi to the port and caught a ferry to Buyuk Ada (Big Island). It was stunning. The architecture was different yet to everything we have seen to date! There are no cars on the island (supposedly, I did see ONE). People take a bicycle or horse and carriage up the hill to an ancient monastery and Orthodox Church. There are wishing trees everywhere with all sorts of things tied to their branches. There was string that stretched from the bottom of the hill to the church at the top that you put your ring on and if you make it to the top without it breaking then you get your wish…etc…and a wish box in the church. It was hilarious. We found her friends and had a full Turkish breakfast at a great little spot outside near the main square. The chef even made me an egg white skillet!! Afterwards, we found a couple of carriages to take us to the top and loaded into them. We passed wooden colonial style homes, some for sale, others were more 1960 modern era architecture, ALL of them had amazing gardens and interesting landscape designs. We saw quite a few brides around taking professional pictures in their dresses. On the way up, the clouds got black and for the first time in 5 weeks the sky drenched the earth (and us) with rain like I had never seen before. In a covered carriage, I was soaked through! While it was pouring there was a carriage coming down that it’s horse lost its footing and fell down the other horse was doing it’s best to stay up and the entire carriage was skidding right into ours. I had a perfect view of the whole drama unfolding before us. I couldn’t hardly believe it when t the last second the driver somehow straightened his carriage out and missed us by inches. I could have sworn he hit the next carriage (which would have been our friends) and when we arrived at the top, we waited and waited and waited…finally we called and there HAD been an accident but not with colliding carriages. There horse had slipped and fallen as well but since they were headed uphill, their carriage started rolling backwards and there was no stopping it: horses down, slippery first rain in forever, mixed with curvy road and steep slopes with lots of trees, they bailed, all of them jumped out of the carriage as it slid back down the road. (I giggle now but at the time, I swore I wasn’t getting back in one of those things.) Suha promised we would walk down which made me feel much better. (even though we did take a carriage back which was uneventful!) As I walked through the horses to start up the hill to the church, I noticed that many of the horses hips were showing as well as their ribs. It made me sick to my stomach. No wonder they couldn’t keep their footing!! They are starving!! Some of them looked really healthy and I couldn’t figure out why some were and others weren’t. We found a healthy looking set for the ride back down. We stopped for a round of Efe (a Turkish beer) before heading up to the church. The climb was cobble stone and pretty steep, it was so beautiful with its views of Istanbul and a harbor below. There are other islands around that dot the sea here and there. It was altogether breath taking (literally!!) We took our time and had coffee at the top. There were 8 of us, one couple was married, there was a set of twins and one was dating a girl that he met at the first couple’s engagement party. There was a lot of teasing going on because she was ready to get married but he was reluctant because he felt they were too young. (28!!) It was cute and they kept calling her the bride. I was ready to bring the other twin home for some of my single friends. He was cute and kind and funny as well as extremely smart and educated. It was fun watching them all tease each other and genuinely openly enjoy each other’s company. I felt like one of the family immediately. The bride was good at telling Turkish coffee fortunes so we all swished the grounds around our cups and then turned them upside down. She placed her ring on top of her cup and asked me where my ring was and Suha piped up, “It’s in America.” He passed me a coin to put on top of my cup instead. They laughed and had a good time ribbing the other twin, “look at these two, they know how to take the next step” and on and on it went. When we finally turned over our cups, they passed them around giggling and telling each other their fortunes. They even had a phone app that you could take a picture of your cup, send it out into cyberspace and someone would read it and send you your fortune back!! Hilarious!! Needless to say, Damla was looking at mine and she got all excited and then passed it around to get confirmation, yes it seemed that there was a proposal in my future! You can see for yourself here:
I laughed and said, “See, Suha, You ARE going to ask me!!”
This means I now have to explain that while we were sick and had a lot of down time on our hands we had a bunch of time to talk. A couple things had happened during the trip that confirmed all of your comments before I left that he was thinking about our future. When we left Denizli, Ebru said she expected us to visit next year around the same time. Suha said, “I think you guys will have to come our way next year for a wedding!” and winked at me. Later in Konya, Suha left me for 4 hours with his mother and her best friend. Even though we had no common language, they had me educated on Turkish weddings, married and with 4 kids before he had even bought a ring and asked me! I told him when he got home and he felt bad because he had not wanted me to feel pressured or uncomfortable but yes, he had wanted to bring me to Turkey, see how I fit in with his family and friends, see how I felt about the other part of his life here and then we could talk about our future. He didn’t want to try to pick out a ring for me and to ask me formally because it was so canned and unnatural. He wanted it to be a natural decision and wanted me to pick out something I liked and just plan things together and without the pressure of needing to say yes or no at some surprise moment in time. I appreciated his thought process and I wished we had talked about that before the women got ahold of me, BUT it was natural to talk about it with them and I didn’t feel embarrassed or pressured at all. We were both on the same wave length and I was relieved to know that for sure BUT I told him, he still had to ask and I wanted to look for a ring in Turkey. (Unfortunately, sickness got the better of both of us and we didn’t have time to go look.)
So if the tea leaves are right, or coffee grounds in this case, he will ask me whenever I get around to picking out a ring. But, in the words of Suha, rings aren’t important, in our hearts WE ARE ENGAGED!!!
We made it back down the hill to the carriages and picked the horses with the most meat on their bones to carry us back down to the bottom. We ate AGAIN, but this time it was waffles with nutella and fruit piled high!! Then boarded yet another ferry that carried us back to mainland.
Damla, Suha and I went back to the house then back out for dinner and hukka. We were walking around looking for a restaurant but all were full and what I mean by full was that every restaurant had re-arranged their furniture to look like a cinema and they all had a crowd outside their windows all watching the Galatasary game. Galatasary was winning and there was 5 minutes left when we finally found a seat. We watched two minutes and then the crowd became so unruly that they charged the field and the police had to escort both teams to safety and then tear gassed the crowd on the field. It was INSANE!!! Suha looked at me and said, “are you sure you wanted to go see a live game?” (Food was amazing, but I’m sure you are tired of hearing that) When we got home the plan was to take a nap…INSTEAD, a mutual friend from PSU that happens to live in Istanbul came over to visit. EFE!!!!!! I adore Efe. It was so good to see him again! We chatted until about 12:30am then called a cab. We picked up the rest of our luggage and I rearranged till the weight was even while suha looked for a cart since we had too much to carry by ourselves. It took us so long to check in for our flight that we basically walked up to our gate and walked onto the plane. At security, they took away my wooden dowel that Suha was going to use to make phillo dough!! Said it could be used as a weapon but it the flight attendant felt that it was safe they could come get it. We walked up to our gate and all the attendants were busy boarding so no such luck. We pulled away from our gate and the pilot came on to say that we would be sitting here waiting for 50 minutes due to fog in Amsterdam. I wanted to push my little red attendant button to ask them to go get my dowel!!
Neither of us remember the flight; it was 3.5 hours of blissful sleep. Amsterdam was just long enough to get from one gate to the next. Suha promptly fell asleep and I was stuck awake for the next 10 hours, 4 movies, 3 meals, 2 glasses of wine, long. Arriving in Portland, they took my dirt from Baba’s garden but the cheese and sauce and molasses was all left alone. They lost two of our bags in the exchange at Amsterdam. I crossed my fingers that they would make it to Portland by the next morning or be re-routed to Denver somehow. Brenna picked us up and made me dinner and helped me repack. Then she woke up early and took me back to the airport for my next adventure to Denver…It was an incredibly long 48hour day.