Saturday, September 04, 2010

Tarsus

Today was a historical day for our family. We made our first real historical trip today. We've done Adana, and it's fantastic, but one of the reasons we came to Turkey was to witness Biblical history. And today, we did just that! We joined in the company of our good friend Nick whose wife and son are back in the States for a few months as she prepares to deliver their second child. While Nick had previously been to Tarsus, he was more than happy to take us a return trip there!

Tarsus' history goes back nearly 2,000 years. It has long been an important stop for traders, was the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and most important to us, it was the birthplace of Saint Paul.

First of all, doesn't Isaac look so grown up here? But the real "picture" in this picture is the road behind him which dates back to the 4th of 5th century AD. It was only discovered in 1993 and was most definitely walked by Saint Paul, Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar, just to name a few.

Next we stopped at Saint Paul's well where an underground building bordered this historic well.


Saint Paul's well is a well he used. Here is one of the guides getting us some water from the well. They let you touch it and everything. We got to touch a well that Paul touched. How fantastic is that?

While drinking water isn't recommended, we both had to take a sip of water from this well!

A street dating back thousands of years. I don't think we as Americans are able to comprehend how long ago two thousand years is. The oldest things we can see in our country date back only hundreds of years. This is thousands. This is a road that Paul most definitely walked!

Nick took us to a little coffee shop. We ordered cheese bread and then watched as the owner's wife sat down to make it in the cafe! How amazing is that? We also ordered milk for the boys which they served us warm. And, the owner informed us that Elijah looks just like his Daddy and Isaac just like his Mommy. Ha ha!

Coffee in Turkey is very different from America. (So I am told. I am not a coffee drinker.) It is served in very small mugs and is very strong. You don't drink it all as the last sip is straight grounds.

Despite the heat of the day, JB and Nick both had a coffee. After a stop to refresh ourselves, we passed through a market. I need to learn how to say: Sadece bakiyorum. This means "I'm just looking." Nick has this phrase book that provides the basic conversational bits you may need while out and about, and we ordered one as soon as we got home. I am working feverishly on Rosetta Stone, but it is slow-going, and I fear that as soon as I have a handle on the language, we'll be leaving. Anyways, if you stop for a moment in the market, you will find yourself surrounded by wonderful people wanting to sell you things. I remembered Hayir (no) and Evet (yes) and also quickly recalled etek (skirt) and elbise (dress) from my Rosetta Stone lessons. I ended up buying two beautiful skirts! I've been wanting some flowing cotton skirts to wear in the heat here. I'll be sure to post pictures soon. While I shopped, Isaac was carried around by all kinds of different people, and did not want to leave. Seriously, there must have been seven or eight people helping me! Talk about pressure.

By this time of the day, the heat was nearly overwhelming, and the boys were getting tired. While Elijah took his only nap of the day (just thirty minutes long), Nick and JB toured St. Paul's Church. While it was not used by Paul as it only dates back to the 18th century, it is the only church in Tarsus still around that bears his name.


Isn't this beautiful?


Ceilings fresco style.


The main gate to the church.

Buganvilias.

After the church stop it was time for some nature! We visited a gorgeous waterfall in the city.
The boys did so well. It was only about 1pm here, but I think you can tell how tired Isaac is in this shot. When Elijah gets tired, he gets very cranky. When Isaac gets tired he gets a little defiant, unable to follow directions with his normal tenacity. We used this trip today as a practice trip for future trips. We packed a back-pack and tried to be minimal in what we took. We confirmed that our boys are not capable to do a full day outing. Half a day is all they have. So we have to consider day trips or overnight trips where we can spend half the day touring and half the day relaxing. Today went very well because we took it slow and didn't pressure ourselves to conquer. We also know that once the heat dies down, we are going to be able to go for longer.

Here is one of the waiters entertaining the boys while we eat. Seriously -- it's like free babysitting when you go out to eat. What cracks me up is that I thought Isaac would be the shy guy, intimidated by the strangers. But he is eating up the attention and loving being taken all over the place by complete strangers. Elijah on the other hand, doesn't quite appreciate the love showered on him nearly as much. And his poor little cheeks have gotten pinched to oblivion. I can't stress enough how different the relationship is with children in this society. Grown men hover around children with love and appreciation. If grown men were hovering in the States, I'd be quite nervous.

Our spot at lunch, overlooking the waterfall. Once again, there was no menu. We speak very little Turkish, and the waiter speaks very little English, so we are basically at their mercy to bring us a selection of food that they choose. :)

We didn't get to see as much of Tarsus as we would have liked, but it was all the boys could handle. We plan to return with my mom and Joan when they come to visit together NEXT MONTH! (I'm so excited!)

I know that many of you will never get to experience the places we are visiting, and it is my hope that I can paint just a bit of the Biblical history we are experiencing for you on the Blog. I am taking pictures and recording notes that I truly hope will bring it alive, or as close to alive, as I possibly can. I look forward to continuing to share the history we are experiencing over the next two or more years.

6 comments:

Joia said...

This is all soo cool! What an experience!

Question: How do they know that Paul walked those roads?

Jess said...

That is awesome, awesome, awesome! I love the pics, keep them coming!

You guys are brave to drink from the well. I'd have touched it and the water and called it a day! lol

Flakymn said...

Great question Joia. The very old roads (that are dated to Paul's time) would have been major city roads and therefore, Paul couldn't have been in Tarsus without walking them. Based on dating, they can assume who walked on them because there weren't a lot of roads to choose from. (That's what the map said!)

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness Wen...i cried reading this and seeing the pics. I'm not a "jealous type" but I will be so jealous of your mom seeing this! I have to get there! and besides all the stuff thinking of Paul as we translate the NT -the MEMORIES of dates w/ Oom Ed with waiters etc babysitting was so amazing! Here is one of the waiters entertaining the boys while we eat. Seriously -- it's like free babysitting when you go out to eat. What cracks me up is that I thought Isaac would be the shy guy, intimidated by the strangers. But he is eating up the attention and loving being taken all over the place by complete strangers. Elijah on the other hand, doesn't quite appreciate the love showered on him nearly as much. And his poor little cheeks have gotten pinched to oblivion. I can't stress enough how different the relationship is with children in this society. Grown men hover around children with love and appreciation.

Flakymn said...

Someone asked if this was a catholic church. It is Armenean.

Rachel and Hans said...

I am loving seeing your experiences in Turkey! Great post!! So fun to skype this morning...let's do it again soon! XOXO rach