Tag Archives: culture

Zeus – Master of Olympos

1 May

Photo of a carved face within a ruin in Olympos

Olympos, Turkey

Today I headed down the beach by foot towards the Lycian Way, a series of trails that have been the “roads” of ancient civilizations dating back earlier than 350 BCE (pre-Hellenistic era).  Just a few kilometers past Cirali is a small river with crystal clear water flowing from a valley nestled within the Taurus Mountains, which are mostly covered in a blanket of pine trees & rock formations.  This whirling little stream, that is seemingly uncontaminated as there does not appear to be any discharge of grey or black water or any garbage, flows out into the Mediterranean Sea.  The mouth of this little river is the entrance into the valley, and the ancient lost city of Olympos.  Little was known, and much still unknown, about the city of Olympos until about 1990 when the government of Turkey began to explore.  Along the banks of the river are the remnants of civilizations lost over the past 3,000 years – and still granite arches stand tall and tombs remain untouched.  Young tree saplings, ferns, and vines have managed to find elements of life (water, soil, & sun) in the cracks and crevices of the ancient building blocks.  The power of nature, in this case natural succession, is quite remarkable.

Ancient unearthed sarcophagous

As I meandered through the forest, I could hardly believe what was before more.  On the ground lie pieces of fallen columns intricately carved with scrolls and other decorative design, all weathered by time and the elements.  It could almost be a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, but it’s not – what lays before my eyes is real, I can touch it, feel it, and smell it.  I stumbled by a pre-Hellenistic stone sarcophagus resting on the forest floor.  It had a hole in the front of it, as most that are unearthed do, from grave robbers long ago.  Maybe it was the pirates? Or the Greeks? Or the Romans? In these bits of unknown history lies the mystery.  I continued on and found the ruins of one of the first Christian Churches (Byzantine) known in the region, and still this dated back to the 5th century CE.  I walked along the “floor” inside this ancient house of worship and it came to life in my mind – these walls held a place of devotion for many people.  I could envision people walking around the church, wearing sandles and simple clothing.  And next thing I knew I found my way to a Roman Temple, and quite possibly even pre-Roman era.  Hidden among trees and other flora, was the towering entrance way to this even more ancient spiritual place.  This “temple” pre-dates nearly all known recorded history of religion.  I couldn’t help but stop and marvel in its grandeur and intelligence.  Yes, intelligence.  The Romans, and pre-Romans, were truly masterful in how they cut, created, and assembled each of the massive marble blocks into solid structures.  And their refined building skill actually reminded me of the precision and detail held by the ancient Mayas in Tikal (2000 BCE to 900 CE) and the Incas in Machu Piccho and other sites (400-1500 CE).  Could this temple be the house of Zeus – Master of Olympos?  I will never know and that in itself is the magic in this place.

Color photo of an ancient temple with the Taurus mountains through the doorway

After several hours exploring Olympos and the Lycian Way I continued on wards into the “modern” village of Olympos.  And to my surprise it was a haven for young Turkish teens escaping the cities for the weekend – in a very rustic way I might add.  Along just one side of the small dirt road were a few tree houses, pansyiones, and basic traditional eateries – yes tree houses and how cool! much like the kind we build for our kids in our backyards.  I crossed over the river by foot to check out the less accessible ruins and came across a lot of bright red poppies, croaking frogs, and a myriad of unearthed ruins.  I couldn’t help but think that someday our modern cities that we know so well may somehow not withstand our civilization, or perhaps the opposite – that perhaps we will not withstand ourselves, and in effect will become lost cities to future civilizations.  I picture history made in my own “backyard”, the Capital of the US – Washington DC.  Much of our buildings are made of marble & granite, grand with architectural detail borrowed from the pre-Hellinistic era, Greeks and Romans alike.  I do not see this in the near future, and even if I did, It is not necessarily a bad thing, afterall evolution is a natural process – much like succession in the forest.  The real question is, what lessons will we ensure are carried forward from this life & era to the next?

Realizing the sun was going to set in about one hour, I started to head back and stopped at one of the little huts serving fresh food and drinks.  Realizing how little I’ve shared with you about the food so far, it’s about time I give you some detail.  I stopped at a place serving Turkish tea and Gozleme.  I sat at a small wooden table and before me was the kitchen.  A wooden platform hosted a large dome-like metal cooking structure (I think it was heated with hot coals or something of the like), 2 wooden circle tablets, and 3 people – 2 women prepared the Gozleme dough and one male handled cooking it on the dome cooking structure.  The two women, one in her 50s and the other one in her 70s or 80s, sat Indian style in front of the wooden circle tablets preparing the dough.  One formed the dough into round balls while the other use a wooden stick to roll the dough out into perfectly-uniform paper thin pancakes.  She carefully placed the filling of choice (in my case fresh spinach & feta cheese) on one half and then closed the extra thin pancake in half forming something resembling a quesadilla but only better.  She then rolled this filled pancake up on the wooden stick and placed it on the metal dome cooking structure.  The man carefully watched my Gozleme cook for a few minutes on each side, turning it with a flat wood tool.  He then cut it up into four piping hot pieces and vwalah!  Divinity on a plate served with cold natural yogurt milk (Ayarn) to wash it down – another typical Turkish beverage – all for less than 5 bucks.  What made it even better? Well from my seat I could see the family’s garden plot where all the lush spinach grew, alongside peppers and arugula, and their goats which they milked to produce the cheese.  Truly and organically from farm to table. What made it modern?  Well they had one refridgerator that kept the Ayarn and a few Coca Colas cold for its customers.  You can’t ask for much more in a day’s journey!

Color photo of the Gozleme experience

And well, here is my version of a modern-day Zeus.  Equally grand in his own demeanor.  Blessings to my animal kingdom at home.

Color photo of my Zeus

Land of Pirates & Fairy Tales

30 Apr

Cirali, Turkey –

Now that I have officially spent 24 hours in Turkey, I can justifiably share with you the adventure over just the past few hours.  I arrived in Antalya on Friday evening, hopped a taxi from the airport and headed into the old town of Kaleici.  I knew I was in the right place when I saw Hadrian’s Gate lit up against the night sky.  After checking into my hotel, which was an old Ottoman house repurposed as a small B&B and museum of a small collection of Ancient Turkish artifacts, I headed out for some dinner.  The streets are very narrow and mostly for walking, as only cars can go down a few of them.  Little bazaars are set-up all along the streets selling everything from clothing to bottled water, apple tea, and souvenirs.  The owners of the bazaar stalls are very friendly, almost too friendly, but egh they are just trying to make some business so they can close up shop for the night.  I found a nice little local open air restaurant for dinner and by that time I was done for so I headed back to the B&B for some rest.

Color photo of the Kaleici skyline at daybreak, just after Fajr.

View of the Keleici skyline at daybreak at the end of Fajr. The Mosque is directly to the Northeast of the tall trees. Just a few moments later smoke started billowing out of a small metal chimney. (Rebecca Harned - Kaleici, Turkey - April 2011)

At exactly 4:28am the sound of prayer reverberated through the old single paned glass Ottoman windows in my room.  The nearby Karakas Mosque to the north and the Pasa Mosque to the West began the Fajr prayer through intercoms that resounded prayer throughout the entire city.  It is the first prayer of the day and is thought to be God’s (or Allah’s or however else you relate to a higher power – all the same to me) most-favored prayer since all others are still asleep.  I also learned that Fajr is the most essential and obligatory prayer requiring that all are congregated at the Mosque for this moment of devotion, as stillness & tranquility resides over the community.  During today’s Fajr, I didn’t know how important and regimented congregational prayer is to the Turkish until I experienced the Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha later in the day.  And each time the sound of prayer is echoed across the city or village it really does make me stop and think to myself what is meant by devotion.  During Maghrib today I paused and noticed a baby porcupine foraging among a grove of lemon trees abutting the turquoise coastline.  At that moment, while most are at the Mosque praying, I saw God in the lemons, porcupine, and orange blossoms.

I am not yet able to fully characterize this landscape – though I see, feel, hear, touch, and taste it.  Breathtaking mountains & ocean vistas, ponderous customs, and vibrant spirituality.  And not to mention the mysterious history of this rich land.  The history of Turkey is as complex as it is ancient, and we are talking about some of the first human existence known to man.  So I won’t attempt to give you a glazed over Turkish history lesson here but tid bits of Turkey’s mysticism and history have already come to life in the last 24 hours and I am sure to share more.

So after spending the morning in Kaleici, I decided to head 40 kilometers southeast to an agricultural & fishing village called Cirali.  To get there, I took a streetcar through the city of Antalya to the Otogar (or bus station) and then I found a mini-bus (the typical form of public transportation to surrounding villages) heading in the direction of Cirali, about 40 kilometers through very windy mountain roads.  The streetcar cost about .75 cents and the mini-bus cost about 6 bucks, not bad and very efficient.  I was the only foreigner on the mini-bus except one friendly guy from Morocco, Anass, who was on his way to Olympos to meet-up with his girlfriend.  About one hour into the trip, and many conversations later, the mini-bus left me off at the side of the highway, high in the mountains, and across the way was a little thatched roof stall selling apple tea steeping hot over an open flame and reused water bottles containing fresh honey for sale.  The sign read, Cirali 10 km, and off I went by foot down the road.  It wasn’t more than 10 minutes and a car came by heading that way and I took a free lift to the village.  Barely a few words were exchanged between the gracious driver and I, as hardly anyone here speaks anything but Turkish – more on that later!  And just in case you find hitchhiking a bad idea, it is a perfectly acceptable and typical mode of transportation in rural Turkey and in many other countries I have traveled.  I’ve both been a hitchhiker and picked-up hitchhikers many times and met some wonderful people in the process..  Back to the good stuff…

Little did I know the true splendor that awaited me in Cirali.  And that is where I found the makings for daydreams of pirate ships, lost treasure, pixies and gnomes.  Think white sand & pebble beaches, crystal clear waters, rocks jetting up along each end and behind the beaches, ruins of mysterious ancient civilizations poised above the spears of coastal rocks, snow capped mountains, warm breezes, royal palm trees, and quaint groves of lemon & orange trees.  And at the 5 prescribed daily times, the village Mosque recites the prayers over loud speakers.  How is all this in one landscape?  It’s the land of pirates and fairytales.  Just lay your towel out below one of the palm thatched umbrellas on the beach, and let your mind wander.  Ancient tombs to your back side.  And Mediterranean oceanside caves to your right.  While the sweet pungent aroma of lilacs & orange blossoms captivates your heart.  And in the midst of this beauty, you are sure to find neverland in a dream or two.  Goodnight.

Color photo of beachscape in Chirali.  Mountains landing into the Mediterranean Sea.

This is the land of pirates and fairy tales. These majestic mountains, with rocks & ancient ruins of unknown past jet out of the coastline. There are caves that bring the sea within the coastal mountains, where there must have been pirate treasure hidden a thousand years ago. (Rebecca Harned - Cirali, Turkey - April 2011)

Dicho del Domingo – Dia 100

10 Apr

Quote – Dia 100

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. – Marie Curie

No temenos que tenerle miedo a la vida, solo tenemos que entenderla.  Ahora es el tiempo para comprender mas, para que podamos temerle menos. – Marie Curie

Photo – Dia 100

Brightly colored costumes of traditional Guetamalan festivities

High in a mountain village in Guatemala, the people still practice their traditional dancing and music adorned in costumes. The dances narrate the story of colonization and the fall of the Mayan empire. The masks you can see above represent the Spaniards during the colonization of the 1400s and beyond. Through the dancing, they unraveled a story of torture and massacre on the people, land, flora, and fauna. The brightly colored clothing is very typical of Guatemala past and present. And in this village the only language spoken was Quiche, a language with ancient Mayan roots. (August 2003)

Power of Human Connection

9 Apr

Black and white photo of a young girl in Nicaragua

The aura of this young Nicaraguan girl represents to me the power of human connection, across ages, cultures, economic divisions, and ethnicities. (March 2003)

Current Location: Washington, DC

The single greatest motivation behind my restlessness to experience all the world has to offer is quite simply the power of human connection. Something happens to the soul when we find connections among each other and other people living different lives in different lands, of different cultures and with different traditions. There is no better way to learn who you are than through the power to connect.

In every step across a new culture, and new people, I’ve had many moments that proved to me that we do transfer our energy (or prana) from one to another, in even the smallest of interactions. Every time we make eye contact with a stranger, we are making a powerful human connection and a transfer of energy occurs. Human connections are not just these small instances with strangers. Its also about the human connection that occurs when befriending a stranger. One of the reasons I love being a Washingtonian is that this city is a microcosm of everything the world has to offer. I don’t need to get on a plane and cross an ocean to experience the power of human connection.

Everyday I make sure to “travel” to some place new. So how do I travel in this city that is little more than 63 square miles? Two of my favorite past times, that are naturally a part of my daily life, are 1) doing my grocery, and 2) taking a taxi cab at least once a week. I know what you are wondering… what am I thinking? Let me tell you a story from my trip to the grocery store last week, since it really reflects a similar “travel” opportunity I find in my daily routine. It was Saturday morning and I made my weekly rounds running errands around town. Next stop was grocery shopping I went through the store as I do every couple of weeks, selecting the freshest in-season veggies and fruits along with all the staples. Then at check-out (this is often the fun part) I went through the line and then it was my turn to ring-up my groceries. I had a lot of groceries this time, which meant a good 15 minutes with the clerk. What better way to spend the 15 minutes at the grocery store check-out than engaged in good conversation? His name was Vlad (short for Vladimir), he was lean young man of African decent, and certainly not Russian as his name may have suggested. Vlad had some stories to tell and I was listening. He was a hard working young man, studying electrical engineering at a near-by community college, working part time at the grocery store, and living with his Father and a few other people in an apartment. And he was also very committed to environmental sustainability. His first change making endeavor was trying to get his Father and roommates to recycle. And a struggle it was for him to change the way they all live. But he was committed and wasn’t going to give it up. His dreams didn’t stop there. He was hoping to use his education in electrical engineering on wind energy development. Getting to know Vlad was a refreshing moment in life. He reminded me how much we can have in common with people all around us from different walks of life. It was a simple every day, yet powerful, connection. And I hope that our exchange somehow gave him an extra drop of inspiration or planted a new idea.

Hopefully now you can see what I mean about these moments of interaction with strangers and how the power of human connection can be found in daily life, through trips across this 63 square mile area I call home. When venturing across borders these simple moments of human connection bring us closer to knowing what it really means in that there is only one race, the human race. And no matter how different we see the world, and how we live our lives, we are still so deeply connected to one another in the humblest of ways. As for the weekly taxi cabs… I’ll leave it up to your imagination and share more in a future blog.

Want to go on a journey?

2 Apr

I’m not always going to take you to paradise, but sometimes I will!  I welcome you to join in my personal journey through life vis-a-vis this blog.

Together we will – Go to gritty little niches in the world.  To blissful paradises. To Pandora-like lands. We will face bitter realities of inequality and injustice.  We will try heavenly new foods.  Endure vast new lands.  And reflect on personal moments of fortitude, desperation, hope and triumph.

It’s a candid and honest reflection of the daily life and dreams of one woman – a global citizen, social entrepreneur, wife, daughter, Washingtonian, artist, companion to 3 cats & 1 dog – and someday a mother.

Learning at each step… how to be a better person, make the world a better place, simply striving to live more gracefully.  I will stumble along the way, trip over my own feet, gets bumps & bruises, pick myself back-up and live another day.

The essence of this journey – Vive y Deja VivirLive and to Let Live – The single most important lesson I’ve learned in the thirty years of my life so far.  I am still trying to figure out exactly what it means for you, for me, and for the greater humanity.

I hope you will share with me your reactions, thoughts, convictions, and insights on life throughout this journey.  I want to learn about your perspective – no matter how different from my own.  It’s through your contributions to this blog, that you will help shape the journey, determine the places we go & the things we will do for years to come.  Lets get ready for liftoff!

Dicho del Domingo – Dia 93

2 Apr

On Sundays (Domingos) I am going to highlight a quote (dicho) of the day.  I think of it as “food for thought” on the day of rest and reflection as we head into a new week – and take another step in the journey for life.  I won’t always post a dicho on Domingos, but I’ll try to be consistent.  Sometimes I’ll also post a photo from one of my past or present travels.  So if the quote doesn’t resonate with you, well, hopefully the photo will inspire some good thinking on life.  I always look forward to your comments and reflections on “Dicho del Domingo” posts.  Disfrutalo!

Quote – Dia 93

Años de ineducación apendejan a la gente    – Molotov

Years without education breeds ignorance and fear in the people     – Molotov

Photo – Dia 93

 

 

Children playing outside of a school in the Lares Valley of Peru

Children playing outside of a school in the high mountain region of Lares Valley in Peru. This small subsistent community carry on many of the Ancient Incan traditional farming practices and spirituality. (August 2008)

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