Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013 in Texas

As always, click on any image for larger view.
Tree top Yoda
We arrived in Houston late afternoon Thursday 19 December, after a full 31.5 hours of travel from BeBe in Fethiye to our son Aaron's home in Houston.  Bill had several doctor appointments the following morning and again on Monday.  All medical tests were passed with flying colors!  His physical condition is perfect so we have much to be thankful for this Christmas season.  Another exciting (to us) announcement is that a new granddaughter will be welcomed to our family in early May! 

Bill is in middle.  Guess who is our son
and who is the nephew!

Lynn and Sebastian

Our family Christmas gathering was held in Aaron's house this year.  We thought it was time to give older son Trey a break since he and Kristina have hosted the family gathering at their home for so many years. 

Judy & Elisabeth baking cookies

Colson, Lauren & Teresa

 I recruited granddaughter Elisabeth (BeBe) and grandson Zachary to assist me cooking deserts for a couple of days.  We will have sweet snacks for days!  

Helene and Judy
Damien covered himself in Batman gifts

Ready to go visit Santa

Bill's sister, Helene, drove down from Dallas accompanied by her son, daughter and grandson. His brother, Theo, drove down from College Station accompanied by his wife and 2 grown daughters.  Another brother, John, lives in Houston so he had a shorter drive.  Add in Trey's mother-in-law and sister-in-law with her family and our Christmas family gathering totaled 23 people!  

Practicing with Papa for
what she will tell Santa

Niece Kristin with her new
scarf from Turkey.  All
the women got scarves.
The only people missing were my brother, Boyd, and wife Cheryl, who opted to visit others in Florida for the holidays this year.  Between the dining room and breakfast room plus a card table and a long folding table set up in the living room and a supply of folding chairs, everyone found a place at the table(s).  That is no mean feat!  I doubt most homes have sufficient space to seat 23 people for dinner!

L-R: Colson, Lauren, Teresa, Duane, Donella, Krystal,
Kristina, Helene, Bill and Theo

It was nice to have the 4 siblings of Bill's family, together with all their children and grandchildren, all together to visit for several hours.  Brought back memories of Christmases more than 4 decades ago since Christmas is usually the only time that everyone gets together anymore.  Years ago our individual families were smaller and younger and getting together was easier.  

L-R: Theo, Kristin, John, Aaron, David and Lynn.
With Daniel and Zachary in front.

Today the extended family is somewhat scattered although all remain in Texas (so far!!) except for us.   I think it is also important for the youngest generation of cousins to remain in contact with one another at least once annually.  If nothing else it at least makes them remember each other's names and where they fit in the extended family.  I screwed up and forgot to get a photo of all of us together.  Maybe next Christmas.

Our older son Trey with our 13-yr-old grandson Zachary.
In background to right is our younger son Aaron.
Our 2 sons look nothing alike.  Zach has a long way to grow
to reach his dad's 6'6" height.

On the evening of 28 December Bill and I attended a small gathering of sailors in Kemah.  I belong to a Facebook group called Women Who Sail, and one of the women hosted the gathering so those of us who happened to be in SE Texas could actually meet in real life.  We now can put faces with names!  At least for 7 or 8 women out of the 1,530 members of WWS.

Even when we are not on our boat in far away places we still manage to meet up with sailors.

Aaron's opinion of Christmas prep
The remainder of our time in Texas will be spent visiting with friends both in the Houston area and a couple of rural places.   Will be returning to BeBe in Fethiye on 8 February 2014.  

Wishing a Happy New Year to everyone!  May only good things happen for you in 2014!  

Oh, and just for comparison; here is a photo of the family taken Christmas 2000.  We all have aged and a few new members have been added.  And next Christmas we will add another baby girl to the photos.

L-R front row: Kayla, baby Zachary, Judy, Teresa, Helene.
L-R middle row: Kristina, Kristin, Lauren, Donella
L-R back row: Trey, Aaron, Duane, Theo, John, Bill
Taken at our house

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Almost time for our holiday trip to Texas!

Weather this autumn has been warmer and drier in general as compared to same time last year.  There have been a few weather systems blow through but nothing severe or that has lasted more than a day or two.  Today and tomorrow we are experiencing NNE winds in the 35-knot range; temps 40F daytime and 34F overnight.  Man!  When that wind blows over those snow covered mountaintops off to the north and east of Fethiye then it feels icy!

As the mantra goes: this, too, shall pass.

I count our blessings where we can find them.  And today I am thankful that the sun is shining brightly as that cold wind blows.  Far better than the recent blowing rain.

Sunday December 7 was my 65th birthday.  Yea!!!  Now I am on Medicare and thus am able to avoid all the Obamacare requirements.  Turned 65 just in time to make the deadline and not have to deal with those insurance exchanges and exorbitant prices.  It was a wet and dreary day.  It was a surprise when a woman I know from an online women's sailing group sent an email suggesting that she and her husband and daughter drive down from Marmaris and all go to lunch.  I won't reveal her name here because she and her husband both avoid publicly posting about their private lives.  She brought a selection of 6 deserts to celebrate my birthday. 

We went to the Iskele Restaurant which Bill and I have walked past hundreds of times but had never stopped.  We were the only people in the restaurant for a late lunch.  The owner kindly lit a fire in the fireplace to chase out the chill of the rainy day.  Lunch was very good; I think Bill and I will be returning there this winter.  A lot of local Turks eat there each evening and it is only about 6 blocks from our dock.

After a very long lunch we returned to our boat for deserts and coffee and tea.  And what a selection of deserts!  These deserts were all from Mado, a Turkish bakery and ice cream store chain that is prized for their delicacies.  They use goats milk to make all their products.  And everything they make is both beautiful and delicious.  There was a tiny chocolate cake with pistachios; another tiny chocolate cake with chestnuts; a fabulous cheesecake (yes; made from goats milk); a small container of fried milk; and two containers of very traditional Turkish sweets.  One was like a white sticky pudding which contained chicken.  Yep; a desert containing chicken.  Really did not taste the chicken at all and would not even know it was in there if you were not familiar with the dish.  And the final container was some sorts of grains and honey plus every fruit and nut imaginable.  The grains were cooked very slowly and absorbed all liquid to make a firm substance that was not quite like a cake but drier than a pudding.  It was quite good.  Our guest said that this was a very old dish that was used as a traveler's food centuries past.  Providing lots of energy with the fruits, nuts and honey and very filling because of the grains.  Translation of 'lots of energy' really means lots of calories.

It was a very enjoyable birthday and Bill and I hope to meet up with this family again this winter.  The young couple is Russian but they lived in Canada for years and also have Canadian passports.  They consider themselves Canadian these days, although they are teaching their adorable little daughter Russian as her mother tongue.  Gosh, it must be so nice to hold passports from two countries, especially two countries as diverse as Canada and Russia.

Only six days until we leave for our annual trip to Texas for the Christmas holidays.  Plans are to be in Texas for about six weeks; do several medical appointments with the VA Hospital in Houston and follow-up with M.D. Anderson from Bill's cancer surgery last February.  Since the surgery Bill has had three blood tests and all have been negative for any cancer so we do not anticipate any medical surprises this trip to delay our return to the boat as happened last winter.  We are mentally treating these visits as simply routine follow-up.  

Looking forward to catching up with old friends and seeing extended family on Christmas day.

Last Sunday we visited a Christmas Market which was held along the seafront out in Çaliş, a very British part of town just north of Fethiye old town.  It is out where the long sandy beach is found.  We did not know exactly where the market was located so we took a taxi out there at a cost of 40 TL.  We found a dolmus (small van bus) back to Fethiye central for 4 TL and walked back to the boat from there.  We found nothing to buy at the Christmas Market as it was geared to British tastes and traditions, not things we associate with Christmas.  But it was a worthwhile trip because now we know where to catch the dolmus out to Çaliş and I think there is a pork store located out there somewhere.  Will have to do more research on that after we return in early February.

Since we have not done much and I have taken no photos, here is a link to a blog posting by Turkeys for Life, a British couple living in Fethiye.

Turkeys for Life article about Roman theater in Fethiye

I wrote about the old Roman theater here in Fethiye back when we first visited here around May or June 2012.  Fethiye was known as Telmessos back during Roman days.  When the city of Fethiye built or re-built their town quay some years back they used many of the large stones from the ancient Roman theater to reinforce the quay.  Guess that was before they realized what a boom tourism could be for the local economy.  Today they are renovating the theater. 

We will be leaving Turkey before this renovation is scheduled to be completed in September of next year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poor turtle

Turtle in distress; appeared barely alive

One day a large turtle floated up next to a boat moored nearby.  It appeared to be barely moving.  Instantly a rescue mission was on!

Emre from the hotel bar rushed out with a boat hook and began to try to help the turtle. 

Entangled in lots of fishing line

There was fishing line wrapped round and round the poor thing!  Bill grabbed one of boat hooks and went to assist Emre.  Mustafa, the full-time captain living on the boat docked next to us, came rushing out with a good serrated knife to cut away the line.

All this time it appeared that the turtle continued to move his flippers.  

The culprit for killing the turtle -- a woman's bra!

Finally the main culprit of the turtle's distress was discovered.  A bra! 

The 'armholes' of a woman's bra were over the turtle's front flipper and rear flipper on its left side.  It appeared to have become entangled in the bra before it was encircled with all that fishing line.  

By now a couple in a passing dinghy had come over to try to help.  As soon as the bra was removed it became apparent that the turtle was already dead.  How sad that this turtle could live to this ripe old age and be killed by a discarded woman's bra.

Please all sailors, think before you throw things into the sea!

On a brighter note, here is a photo of an unusual mega yacht moored at Ece Saray Marina next door.  I think the bow of this yacht resembles an upside down submarine.  I think it is truly ugly.  It is a miniature version of the super-mega-yacht named  'A'.  

'A' cost 300 million dollars and is something like 390 feet in length.  This smaller version looks almost identical to 'A' and it is named 'M'.  'M' was built in Turkey and is for sale now for the mere price of 8 million dollars.  It is the poor man's version of 'A'.  And just as ugly.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The SXY Day Tour

Taş explaining history
  A week or so after returning from the far southeastern tour we participated in another small group day tour.  They departed from Marmaris and were coming through Fethiye to reach the destinations on this day tour, making it easy for us to be picked up in Fethiye.  

There was a tiny bit of a snafu that turned out just fine.  We were sitting outside the hotel waiting for the tour bus to arrive.  We got there early and had been waiting for about 20 minutes when a friend pedaled by on her bike.  We got up to chat with her and during the conversation mentioned that we were waiting on a group from Marmaris.  At that point a man sitting nearby approached us and said "Marmaris?" and showed us a note with our names written on it.  Turned out he was a driver for the local Fethiye office of the tour company and had been sent to collect us.  We said goodbye to our friend and got into the car.  He drove us through the city and stopped on the corner of an intersection with the main highway.  Less than 3 minutes later the little tour bus from Marmaris stopped on the shoulder of the highway and we transferred into the bus.  How about that for efficiency!  They did not have to drive all the way through town to our hotel and then all the way back to the main highway.  Nice for the group and nice for us.  Taş was once again our guide.

Bright flowers everywhere at Xanthos
This was the SXY Day Tour -- Sidyma, Xanthos and Yediburunlar; a tour into Lycian Turkey and part of the Lycian Way.  We are amused by the different pronunciations of the word Lycian.  We, as do most of the Americans we have heard say it, pronounce Lycian as Lie-CEE-an.  British people tend to pronounce it LISH-ee-an.  And the Turks pronounce it LICK-ee-an.  But that is understandable because the Turks also spell it Lykian rather than Lycian.  We were glad to hear Taş also pronounce it Lie-CEE-an several times this day.

The Lycian Way is a long-distance footpath in Turkey around part of the coast of ancient Lycia.  It is approximately 306 miles long and stretches from Ölüdeniz near Fethiye to Hisarcandir, about 12 miles from the large city of Antalya. The Lycian way covers mountainous terrain so one must be very fit to make this hike or walk.  The route is mainly over footpaths and donkey trails; mostly limestone and often hard and stony underfoot.  The trail is waymarked with red and white stripes.  The Sunday Times has listed it as one of the world's top ten walks.  Alien to most Americans, these long walks are very popular with walking groups in Europe, primarily walking groups located in England, Germany and Austria.  These people book group walking tours in special parts of the world.  We saw several of these walking groups in Cyprus.  They can easily walk as 30 miles in one day, which would make the Lycian Way a 10-day tour plus 2 travel days to and from.   I enjoy walking -- flat terrain only.  These folks are way out of my league.  I do not understand what motivates them to walk stoney mountains.  Although the scenery is gorgeous.  Fantastic views from up there.

Taş explaining history
Our first destination was Xanthos as it was the farthest and then we could backtrack towards to Fethiye.  Bill and I had previously visited Xanthos in May 2012 with Chay, Katie and Jaimie of S/V Esprit.  We did not have a guide on that visit.  Since I have previously written about this ancient site, I do not have much to add today.  Sad to admit, but I did not even write any notes of what Taş told us.  One thing he told us that did stick in memory is that at one time this site was called Terminasos or something like that.  Similar to the word terminators.  At one time there were only 180 men in this city and they were attacked by over 100,000 Persian invaders in 545 B.C.  They fought rather than surrender.  When there was no hope (as if there ever was!), then they put the women and children inside a building and set fire to it.  Then fought to the last man died.  They valued their freedom that highly.  Better that they all die than to be conquered. The only survivors were 80 inhabitants of the city who were not there at the time it was attacked.

Lycian tomb mounted high
Lycian tomb near the Lycian theater.
Note the hole where grave robbers entered.
The entire city burned to the ground around 450 B.C.  Then later, Brutus (of Roman fame) conquered Xanthos in 42 B.C.  Again the residents fought almost to the death and finally Brutus was able to capture only 150 men and a handful of women.

The Inscribed Pillar

The Inscribed Pillar is one of the most important artifacts remaining at Xanthos.  Most of the valuable ancient artifacts were taken by the British and now reside in a museum in London.  Turkey would very much like to have their items returned but England is not likely to ever do so.  This Inscribed Pillar was carved in 425 B.C. and commemorates the memory of wars fought by a Lycian prince named Kherei.  The inscriptions on each if the 4 sides are in a different language.  The inscriptions in Lycian are the oldest known to date.  This is a massive piece of stone and would have required a great deal of work to get it up here.  There was a statue of the prince on top, now missing; this made the entire monument 11 meters high -- that is almost 36-feet tall.  Impressive work for that time period.

Here is a link to my posting about Xanthos in May 2012:  Xanthos blog 05/2012

Goats at home in the Lycian theater in Xanthos.
The Roman theater is farther up the hill.
Neither Bill nor I felt like trekking around the hill and up to the Roman theater.  We did that last year and once was enough.  While the rest of the group followed Taş and learned history, Bill and I sat in the shade and enjoyed an ice-cold bottle of water on this rather unusually warm day, until the bus driver received a call from Taş requesting that he pick up the group down the road a bit on the other side of that hill.  Done; and then we were off for a drive up into the mountains to a restaurant called The Lighthouse at Yediburunlar.  

View from mountaintop restaurant

The views were spectacular!  The food was scrumptious!  Everyone was very pleased with this meal!  

And I think very few realized they were eating an entirely vegetarian meal.  Each dish was delicious and no one missed having meat.  The 3 hot dishes were my favorites.

A great vegetarian lunch
Made us want to anchor our boat down there

This very much out-of-the-way restaurant also serves as a small hotel. Considering this rural mountainous location, about the only patrons of the hotel or restaurant are members of those walking groups hiking the Lycian Way.  As we sat in the dining room we could see a few waypoint markers painted on the rocks .  

This restaurant/hotel is owned by a wealthy woman from Istanbul.  She enjoys cooking and operates this facility only during the shoulder season months, not in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter.  I could never find this place again should we rent a car one day, but the food would be worth another trip.

The circular thing with the stone 'wheel' on its
side is for crushing olives for olive oil.

Soon we wound our way back down that mountain on onto another one.  Destination this time was an ancient town called Sidyma, at an elevation of 1,788 feet.  This was another very out-of-the-way place.  

The bus parked and we walked to a space shaded by grape vines where an old woman resident had set up a table and chairs to serve us tea.  She also had a small table of various items for sale, although there was no pressure whatsoever on us to buy anything.  

Old woman at Sidyma

Taş hurried us out to see the ruins of Sidyma, saying we would have tea when we returned.  He wanted us to see the ruins before the rapidly approaching darkness made that impossible.  There were no lights out there!  The 'walkway' was not set stones; it was like walking in a shallow ditch covered with large loose rocks both in the ditch and lining the banks.

Info on Sidyma

More info and photos of Sidyma

Making tea on her patio

Sidyma has never been properly excavated.  And certainly no restoration had been done.  It is the most remote of the Lycian ancient cities, situated halfway up Mount Kragos (now called Avlankara Tepesi).  Sidyma is not actually in the Xanthos valley at all.  It is well above that valley.  Sidyma was only 'rediscovered' by Europeans during the mid-nineteenth century. 

That rectangular stone is a doorway.  Nothing
around it.  Just an ancient doorway out in a field.
An old mosque now occupies the site of the baths, and reused pillars taken from the stoa of the agora (shopping area).  The principal charm of Sidyma is how ancient masonry has been incorporated into the rough stone homes of the village's current inhabitants.  Ancient cut and carved stones have been incorporated into house corners; or used as livestock troughs; or in any number of ingenious ways of utilizing what was available lying nearby when constructing a home or shed or whatever in today's village.  

There is a castle which is in total ruins that sits on a hill to the north.  It had been garrisoned during Byzantine times.  The necropolis is scattered in the fields to the east and comprises a variety of types of tombs.  In the center of a farming field stands one remarkable tomb with ceiling panels carved with rosettes and human faces; another nearby has a relief of Eros on its lid and Medusas at the ends.  There also is a two-storeyed tomb.  In the middle of the necropolis stands an enormous and fairly intact square structure that is believed to be a Roman imperial heroon or temple-tomb which has a walled-up doorway on its north side.

All of the above information is taken from the Rough Guides webpage about Sidyma -- because I missed seeing all of it.  

While hurrying along that walkway ditch filled with large loose rocks I fell and injured my leg.  That was the end of the line for me on this tour.  One of the smaller rocks shifted beneath my foot and I took quite the tumble down onto those sharp-edged rocks.  Luckily I had a very large handbag strung over my shoulder and head, hanging across my body and on my left hip.  That protected my hip during this fall.  I shudder to think of how bad it would have been to break a hip way out there.

Within seconds of falling there was a swelling on my left shin the size of Bill's fist.  There was no real pain; the leg was numb from the knee downward with a few small abrasions on the lower leg.  Good thing I was wearing sturdy new jeans as that further protected the leg.  The only painful thing was the tip end of the radius, the forearm bone that terminates at the wrist.  A large bruise developed there and the area of the tip of the radius remained painful for 10 days. But the wrist worked and felt okay so there was no point in seeking medical care for that. There also was a quarter-sized hole in my palm where the skin had been swiftly scraped away.  No big deal; skin grows back.  No broken bones so all should be fine.

My very swollen leg.  That wrinkled part on the
left is my knee so that  provides some scale
as to how swollen this was.

We told the others to go on and see the site before it got dark; I was fine.  Bill helped me walk back to the old lady's home where I sat and elevated the injured leg.  The woman did not speak a word of English but she motioned and made me to understand that she wanted to rub some kind of oil onto the swollen part of my leg.  She showed me some leaves and some tiny black fruits from the trees on which those leaves grew and motioned that she made this oil from those black things that looked sort of like elongated olives.  She kept saying the word 'bay' but those leaves and black fruit did not come from what we Americans know as bay.  The only bay I know is bay laurel.  These leaves were shaped like small sycamore leaves.  I figured what the heck did I have to lose except possibly a skin allergy, so I nodded okay.

She rubbed the swelling and down the leg with that oil.  Five minutes later she rubbed it down again; five minutes after that she rubbed it with plain olive oil.  In just that span of ten minutes the swelling was almost completely gone!  This reminded me of when we were on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu and Bill was very severely bruised by a falling tree trunk.  The local people rubbed his arm and shoulder with an ointment made from papaya and his bruising disappeared within hours.  This oil was just as amazing!   My leg remained numb but the swelling was almost gone. 

Patio where we sat enjoying tea beneath the grapes.

The woman's mother came out and motioned to me that once she had broken both of her wrists.  She was picking olives and fell, landing on her knees and hands and breaking both wrists.  Each of her wrists had noticeable bone growth as a result.  A reminder of how tough rural life in these mountains can be.  There is no medical care within 3 hours drive from this tiny old village.  Injuries must be dealt with however one can manage with only the help of family and friends as doctors and hospitals are nowhere nearby.

The others in our group returned.  Tea was served, along with some type of savory pastry.  Purchases were made and we were soon back on the bus headed home. 

We bought a small bottle of the miracle oil from the old woman; figured that was the least we could do.  She is a widow and is only 55 years old, although she looks 70.   Fortunately for her, the government of Turkey does allow for widowed spouses.  She receives 80% of her late husband's pension (like American Social Security).  Without that pension she would be totally at the mercy of her extended family, if she has any.  There are no employment opportunities. Life is hard out there.  

The bus delivered us to Fethiye where another car met us on the main highway.  Great tour day up until the time I got clumsy.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day #7 of Land Tour: Şanliurfa

Tony, Mark & Gwen outside a
mosque beside very old cemetery
We arrived well after dark the previous evening to our very nice hotel in Şanliurfa.  We had stopped in Şanliurfa previously during this trip; our return flight to Izmir would depart from the local airport last this afternoon.  

As I noted in a previous blog about our short overnight stay here, this city is ancient. 

It has been known as Ur, Urwa and Urfa, as well as Odessa or Adessa or Edessa.  I believe it was called Edessa when the French Crusaders were here very long ago; but for Biblical references I think the more recognized name is Ur.  The Turkish have given this city the preface of Şanli in honor of the battles that happened here with the French; a recognition of the religious significance of those battles.  The squiggly beneath the 'S' means it is an 'sh' sound.  Therefore, the correct pronunciation of this city today is SHAHN-lee-UR-fah.  The Black Sheep Tribe was sent here to fight the Crusaders;  that tribe were descendants of the great Saladin.

Şanliurfa is known as the Prophets' City, where prophets Job and Abraham left their marks.

Judy, outside a mosque again
One of the sites I read described it thus:  "Here one begins to feel you have reached the Middle East, courtesy of its close proximity to Syria.  Women cloaked in black chadors elbow their way through the bazaar streets.  Mustachioed gents wearing salvar (shalvar) -- traditional baggy Arabic pants swill tea and clickk-clack backgammon pieces in shady courtyards.  Pilgrims feed sacred carp in the shadows of a medieval fortress.  First sight of the Dergah complex of mosques and the hole Golbasi (gool-bash-i) area is a magical moment, especially with the calls to prayer.  The Hittites imposed their rule over this area around 1370 B.C.  Then the Assyrians ruled until Alexander the Great rolled in.  He renamed the city Edessa and it was the capital of the Seleucid province until 132 B.C. when the local Aramaean population set up an independent kingdom and renamed the town Orhai.  Independence was short-lived when the Romans rolled in and conquered the entire region, completely encircling the entire Mediterranean.  Orhai was one of the first areas to adopt Christianity, circa 200 A.D., well before it became the official religion of the conquering Romans."

Taş is on stairs trying to take photos of our
whole tour group while people try to figure
out what he is doing.
The city is still called Urfa in common daily language.  It is a large city though not a huge metropolis, and is known for its relative conservatism.  Most restaurants do not serve alcohol; no beer or wine was a big deal for a few members of our tour group.  Many coffee houses and restaurants have separate sections for families or groups of single men.  This is called the 'salon of families' and is often on the second story above the main seating area of a restaurant.  We did not see any such coffee houses or restaurants during either of the short times we were in Urfa.  We had seen such separations in dining when we were in Cochin, India -- females not allowed where the men dined.

A local tradition usually associated with Urfa and Mardin, where we had visited a few days earlier, is the "Sıra Gecesi."  This is where groups of young men gather at each others' homes following a pre-established sequence, especially during winter evenings, to play Ottoman musical instruments and sing regional classics and to eat together.  Another all-male past time.

The rest of the information in this posting comes from what we were told by our guide Taş.
The great prophet Abraham was born in Urfa in 1976 B.C.  The place where he was born is known today as Abraham's Cave.  Many thousands of Muslims visit Abraham's Cave each year. (Taş thinks this is incorrect.  He believes that Abraham was really born nearby in what is now known as northern Iraq, but all sources credit Abraham's birth as being at Urfa.)  Abraham is considered a prophet by all Christians, Muslims and Jews. 

(For those who might not remember, according to the Book of Genesis and the Books of Chronicles, Nimrod was the son of Cush and the great-grandson of Noah.  He became the King of Shinar, even though he had no right to that title.  He gained the title because he was a very powerful man.)
Men rowing boat on Zeliha Lake
Zeliha, or Aynzeliha as the Turk's say, was the daughter of King Nimrod.  Zeliha turned against her father and accepted the miracle of Abraham's new religion of only one God.  This angered King Nimrod and he threw both Abraham and Zeliha off the high cliffs (where the ancient castle ruins are located today).  Miraculously, two lakes were formed in the spots where Zeliha and Abraham landed.  King Nimrod 'proudly watched on' as his daughter Zeliha died.  But Abraham did not die from this fall.  (By the way, the sign at the lake used that verbiage: Nimrod proudly watched on as his daughter died.)
Sign at Zeliha Lake
Abraham Lake
Sacred area set aside at
Abraham Lake; like a mosque

So, King Nimrod threw Abraham into a fire.  Abraham still did not die and lived on.  Where Abraham fell the fire turned into water and the coal turned into fish. 

Descendants of those fish (carp) live on today in what many people consider a sacred lake or pool.   It is believed that if one feeds the fish then one goes to Heaven.  (This created the job of selling fish food at small tables situated all around the pool today.)
Sign at Abraham Lake
Abraham's son was named Issac of Ismail.  The name Issac offends Islamics; they prefer the name Ismail.  (I have no idea why.)  Abraham and Issac and Abraham's nephew Lot left Urfa and lived in Haran for one year.  Abraham died many, many years later in Canaan (Lebanon?).

That concludes all I wrote down of what Taş told us about Urfa.  Frankly, I had very much lost interest by this time because I cannot take this stuff too seriously.  I mean, really, how can I believe that men lived to be 900 years old back then.  And that lakes miraculously appeared where people landed when thrown off a mountain.  Anyone can believe whatever they like.  I remain incredulous.
Sign at Abraham's Cave
Entrance to Abraham's Cave
Women at entrance
Everyone in our tour group went in to see Abraham's Cave except for me.  That 'remove shoes' thing again.  Bill went inside and snapped a photo with his iPhone without flash. He said that no one else in there took any photos; the visitors were taking this as a profound religious experience so he did not think a photo flash would be appropriate.  He also said the body odor in that confined space reeked.  Thanks to him for experiencing that without me.
Inside Abraham's Cave.
Mosque in front of Abraham's Cave
Several of us asked Taş about how the local women dress.  Some women wore very colorful clothing; others wore all black but almost always with a colorful headscarf.  He had no idea so he stopped 2 women walking nearby and asked them.  One was colorfully dressed and one was in all black but with colorful headscarf.  They told him that it is simply personal choice.  Any woman can dress however she chooses, but the ones in all black were usually women who had done haj.  Once someone has done haj (trip to Mecca that all Muslims are supposed to do at least once during their lifetime if they possibly can), then that person has accomplished the most important thing in their life and some women feel that they should now dress more somberly or peacefully, thus all black, and not frivolously in bright colors.

Outside one mosque was this sign.
It is telling people to not waste bread.
It states how many million lira are
wasted each year on bread that is
thrown out.  Note that the daily loaf
bread has no preservatives.  It is
stale by the end of the day and
people throw it out rather than
toasting it or cooking with it.

Our group separated so each could have free time for a couple of hours before meeting again to drive somewhere for lunch.  We ended up sitting at an outdoor cafe table with Tom and Fran of S/V Hamamas beside the lake formed where Zeliha fell to her death.  I think we were all tired of walking and standing and welcomed some quiet time and a beverage.  We had all absorbed as much history as possible in a week and did not want any more at this point.

Each Turkish meal seems to start with this plate of
green things, onions and lemons.  I have yet to figure
out what we are supposed to do with this stuff; we
never eat it.  The white liquid is yogurt with cooked
bulgur; we don't eat that either.  The red stuff is spicy
liquid with cooked onions.  It is good.

We strolled back through the huge park area and again met up with the group.  Taş suggested we try a restaurant that was highly recommended by the chef at the hotel where we had stayed the previous night.  Sounded good to all of us.  The driver managed to drive straight there even though this was an unplanned destination.  Lunch was very good.  The menu had each item listed in Turkish and with an English translation.  

Note some of these items.
Spleen? Heart? Slut?

One item on the menu caught Bill's and my attention = Slut.  I asked Taş  what in the world 'slut' was and that cracked him up.  He thought that translation was hilarious.  Somehow, I think the translation was incorrect but did not learn what the real English word should have been.  Turned out that I had tried what they were called 'slut' at the hotel the night before.  It was a ground walnut and ground chickpea paste that is highly spiced; spread it on small sections of flatbread.  I liked it very much.  But then I do like spicy food!

Frothy version of ayran.  No, thank you!

We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  Flight back to Izmir was uneventful except once we came much too close for comfort to a mid-air collision with another passenger airliner on an opposing course at exactly the same altitude.  Bill and I saw it and felt our plane bank hard right as the other plane banked hard in the opposite direction.  But no one else on our plane appeared to notice it.   Then there was a 4 hour drive back to Marmaris.  We had planned to stay with Gwen aboard K.W. but we were so tired and knew that she must be tired too.  So we switched plans and called a hotel during the long bus ride and got a hotel room for the night.  Let Gwen have her privacy and much deserved rest.  The next day we took the dolmus to the otogar and then the bus back to Fethiye.  

This was a fun and extremely interesting trip but we were glad to be back home on Bebe!

Added 17 November 2013:  Learned today from one of our tour group members that on the day we were in Şanliurfa a mortar round landed in the city, shot by one of the many rebel factions in Syria.  One Turkish citizen was killed by that mortar attack.  This was reported in The Washington Post.  

Washington Post new article link

That is how close we were to the Syrian border during this trip.  Well within mortar range.  Glad we got to see all the ancient places in peace.