I stayed in Antalya for two days prior to venturing to Olypomos. As I related to a friend, Antalya has the similitude of Miami in many ways, save of course for Antalya being a Turkish city and along the Mediterranean Sea. I didn’t travel throughout the city; I stayed in Kaleiçi, the old district of narrow cobbled streets of historic Turkish and Greek homes, since it’s adorned with hostels, pensions, and restaurants. To be honest, once I reached Antayla, I kinda got tired of viewing city-scapes and excessive tourism, having stayed in Istanbul for two weeks.
In Kaleiçi, I took to climbing some rock formation along the harbor, something which, yet again, Black people don’t typically do on a regular basis. The heat was sweltering, and I think I just about died from a heat stroke and dehydration, as I was climbing the rocks for a good five or six hours without any water and with little protection from the sun. The result of that perilous trek was some good pictures though. You only live once, right? Well, I guess if you believe in the After Life, as I do, then this question is pretty moot, but hopefully you get the message I’m trying to convey here.
Afterwards, I treated myself to Turkish ice-cream, despite being lactose intolerant, mostly as an attempt to cool myself down. Let me say this: the Turks must put crack-cocaine in their ice-cream because I found it absolutely irresistible, even as someone who doesn’t eat ice-cream at all. I think I had more ice-cream in Antayla than I’ve had for past couple of years, no hyperbole intended.
I also had some interesting discussions with the local merchants in Kaleiçi. While on my way back to the pension from praying in on the masjids nearby, a Turkish leather salesman named Adam stopped me when he saw my black 99-bead tasbih dangling from my wrist.
“What is this?” he asked
“Tasbih.” I replied, unraveling the beads, showing them to him. “I’m Muslim.”
“Where are you from?”
“And you are Muslim? Where are your parents from?”
I laughed. “They are also from America, as are their parents, as are their parents, as are their parents, and so on.”
Disbelief on his face. “Are you serious? There are Muslims in America?”
I replied in the affirmative and then recited Surah al-Fatiha to him, to which he exclaimed, “My God! As’salaamu ‘Wa’Alaikum!”
He then said, “I thought America was Christian?”
I said, “America is mostly Christian, around 70% or something like that, but there are Muslims in America. Many Muslims in America look like me, Blackamericans, siyah (Turkish for Black). We have Arabs, some from Pakistan, some from Hindustan (what Turkish people call India), some from Africa, some White Americans and Hispanic as well. I haven’t seen to many Turkish people in America though.”
We talked for a good bit about Islam, namaz (“prayer” in Turkish, as well as in Urdu and Farsi). He and some other merchants, two young and hilarious Kurdish people, shared their breakfast with me – ekmek (bread), cheese, watermelon, and çay (tea) – the following morning before I left for Olympos. I chewed the fat with them for at least two hours. Subhan’Allah, I can say the best parts of this trip have been in speaking with the locals, as best I can communicate with them and as best they can communicate with me.
Say: “Go all over the earth, and behold what happened in the end to those (sinners) who lived before (you): most of them were wont to ascribe divine qualities to things or beings other than God.” Set, then, thy face steadfastly towards the one ever-true faith, ere there come from God a Day (of reckoning – the Day) which cannot be averted. ~Surah Ar-Rum (The Romans or the Byzantines), 42-43
I could think of no better way to begin my assessment of Olympos than with the aforementioned verse from the Qur’an, coincidentally enough, dealing the Romans and their inevitable fall. I only stayed in Olympos for two days, but two in those days I walked upon the body of a dead civilization all the while seeing once magnificent structures reduced to ancients ruins and rubble. Civilizations, professed Arnold Toynbee, don’t die, but rather they commit suicide, and perhaps the Romans were victims of their own suicide. Time and sin settled their affairs to gravel, rock, and dust, and now all that’s left are mere vestiges from a bygone grandiose civilization and tourist attractions. Seeing those massive, ancient edifices in such deteriorating circumstances provided a humble and chilling remainder to the destiny that awaits all nations. God grants victory to whomever He wills. God debases whomever He wills.
After viewing the ruins, I then went to the beach, which was unlike any beach I’ve been to in the States. The rocks and pebbles superseded sand for much of the coast. I took some nice pictures from atop of some crags near and old castle. I swear the waters of the Mediterranean are some of the bluest waters I’ve ever seen: they remind of Berry Blue Kool-Aid or Blue Frost Gatorade. (Leave to a Black man to draw Kool-Aid and Gatorade metaphors).
Olympos is touristic but not in the same way as Istanbul or Antayla: it is bucolic and nestled in the mountains. Since I’m somewhat of a country boy, I appreciated this scenery more so than either Istanbul or Antayla. While there, I stayed at the Çamlık Pension. I quickly made friends with the operators of the pension, a local Turkish family, and one of them, Fuat Karataş, a coeval of mine, even attempted a conversation with me. His English is broken – and my Turkish is non-existent, save for a few words and phrases – so we resorted to Google Translate. Though the tool is imperfect, it gets the job done, al-hamdu’ilah. We “spoke” for quite some time about life in Olympos, Israel, tourism, electronics, girls (what twenty something heterosexual dude doesn’t speak about girls?), racism, the HBO series A Game of Thrones (which I haven’t seen yet) and stuff like that. If I ever find myself in Olympos, I’ll be sure to visit them once again.
As for the slideshow, the first nine pictures are of Antayla and the remainder are of Olympos.