I must be getting older. I went to a beach resort, and I didn’t really go for the beach. As a matter of fact, I never even saw the beach. I went to Kusadasi for its archeological significance. I consider myself a fairly learned person and I had no idea the types of things that existed here. Very unlike my typical self, I left Istanbul without a clue really of what I was in for. I just went.
The House of the Virgin Mary
Yes. I mean the house of the Virgin Mary. I had no idea that she ever lived in Turkey. But history tells us, and it is written in the Christian Bible, that while Jesus was hanging on the cross in Jeruselem, he asked Saint John the Baptist to take care of his mother like she was his own.
John, seeing what was happening to Jesus figured that Jeruselem probably wasn’t the best place to crash for a Christian. So, he got out of Dodge and took Mary with him to Asia Minor (present day Turkey). The both lived the remaining days of their lives here.
It was very eerie walking into that house. It was a little place, and it is very revered; considered quite holy, especially in the Catholic religion. It is very austere and you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside. But it was just a couple of rooms. My newly found friend, Ahmet that was driving me, found it outrageous that you had to pay 20 Turkish Lira (unless you were Turkish, then it was free) to visit a holy place. He was almost apologetic. I found it endearing.
Just a few kilometers from Mary’s House is the ancient city of Ephesus (Efes in Turkish). Ephesus is an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city. During the “Roman Period” it was the second largest city in the Roman empire (maybe the world?) just behind Rome itself. Having been to both Rome and Athens, I thought “eh, how good can it be?” Well let me tell you…it can be very good. I was amazed.
Anyone whoever met Ray knew within minutes that he was Italian. Not just “ordinary-every-day-Italian,” he was Sicilian. He was so proud of that heritage that he told you about it rather quickly within your relationship with him. Because of this, and knowing that he would have been absolutely thrilled to be here, chest held high with pride, I decided to leave some of his ashes behind in this spot. I just know down to my toes he would be agreeable with this decision.
Since this is both a Greek and Italian city, I am going to digress and tell you Ray’s favorite joke. It goes like this: The was a Greek guy and an Italian guy talking to on another. Both were very proud of their heritage and the Greek guy tells the Italian guy: “You know it was us Greeks that invented sex.” The Italian guy responds: “Yes, that’s true, but it was us Italians that introduced it to women.” Those of you that know Ray well enough, perhaps already remembering him telling this joke, are also remembering those big, white teeth, and the the viceral guffaw that would quickly ensue. God, I miss him. I miss all of him.
The Church of St. John
Finally, and certainly not least, we visted the chuch built by Saint John the Baptist. As I mentioned earlier, I had not done any research prior to my visit of any of these sites. However this one probably surprised me the most. I was expecting to find a huge basilica…fully functioning. But what is there are the ruins of the church that John the Baptist built over 2,000 years ago. He is buried here. Truly a humbling spot.