Olympus or Olympos (Ancient Greek: Ὄλυμπος, Ólympos; Latin: Olympus). I have been waiting to be with you.
Ever since leaving Cappadocia, I have felt a bit underwhelmed, overburdened, and lost. I have been craving a quiet, inspirational, natural, magical place (like Cappadocia but warmer). I think I have found it. I think I have arrived. I think this is the place. This is where Ozden had said I should be. He was right. This is right.
There are places to explore here. There are ancient cities: Phaselis and Idyros, and the perpetual gas fires at Yanartaş. This is also where Ozden said I could lead retreats. I am open to stepping into this reality here. I booked my stay for a month. No rush.
On the drive from the crowded, touristy city of Antalya toward the Kumluca district of Antalya Province and Adrasan (where I had booked my bungalow), and ultimately, to the Olympos Beydaglari National Park, it was obvious I was going in the right direction...
...away from the city, toward the mountains...
...further and further into the mountains...
When I arrived, I was greeted by my Airbnb host Zeki, his mom Saniye, sister-in-law Seda, and five-year-old son Ömer. And then I was introduced to my new home. It felt obvious I was in the right place. I settled in.
I was also introduced to Zeki's dad, ihsan (aka Mehmet). Come to find out, Mehmet bought this place when it was one small home and land, and has single-handedly built it up to be the gorgeous "hotel" of bungalows, homes, and agricultural haven it currently is.
I was invited to join the family for a meal. Saniye had cooked a potato and meat stew. The meat was tender, the taste exquisite. Saniye had also made a (very) tasty rice dish. As with all Turkish meals, it seems, the table was filled with small dishes of condiments, including individual bowls of plain yogurt and a basket of bread. This feast was a "light" meal.
After eating, Zeki (and little Ömer) brought me to do grocery shopping. I shopped at three (out of five) stores. "You will be here for a long time," Zeki said, "I want you to know your choices and be comfortable."
When we returned home, I put away groceries, put in a wash, set up my drying rack, made a snack for the duration, and sat down to write. It was perfect. Quiet with a beautiful view and so very calming. I wrote for many hours, taking breaks to hang up laundry, eat, toilet, look up at the mountains. It was comfortable in the bungalow and good for sleeping. I had not slept well for a while.
Late the next morning, I woke up to a 68℉ day, and this...
The Call to Prayer was soft in the distance...
I walked beyond "my" front yard to the street for a look around...
And then walked around "my" yard...
There were a number of other bungalows, a couple of bicycles, orange and lemon trees, cumquats, huge bushes of fresh rosemary and aloe plants, and a variety of roses, tropical-looking flowers, and green leafy plants.
At the luxurious hour of 14:28 (2:28 pm), I made breakfast in my outdoor porch kitchen. I made an Ami-version of Menemen surrounded by arugula, peynir, and olives...
Fortified and ready for an adventure, I took one of the bicycles and rode about 1km to Adrasan Bay...
Yes, it really is this beautiful and relaxing. Wanna hear the water?
I talked for about two-minutes with a couple of guys at the beach. One agreed to bring me on his scooter up a section of the Lycian Way, to this view...
The scooter-man brought me back to the beach where we had started, and the other man (who was still on the beach where we had left him) asked about where I was staying.
"How much are you paying" he asked as he walked me down the street and around the corner to show me the rooms he rented. He suggested I switch places. I explained that I prepaid for a month. He seemed to think this was not a problem. I held my ground. We walked back toward the sea, talked for a bit more, and bid each other ado.
I heard Muddy Waters playing on the sound system of "Le Jardin Restaurant Cafe & Bar" and followed my soul inside. Come to find out, the owner lived there with his two dogs and seven cats. He made me a cappuccino and joined me at my outdoor table. I sipped. He smoked a cigarette. We chatted. There were lots of quiet spaces between chatting.
The owner of the cafe, whose name I am forgetting, was very good looking. Eye-candy good-looking. And very much into being single. And did not seem interested in me as a woman. So, whew... any chance of me being pulled out of my Mother Theresa ways of sharing love was averted.
He did seem interested in a possible adventure together. He talked about a drive through the mountains and I enthusiastically said I would like to do that, with him, in the car that he was pointing to.
Because his dogs and cats made themselves comfy at my feet and on my lap, and our conversation was pleasant and spacious, I stayed a very long time, petting and snuggling with the furry ones, watching the sea roll in and out from between the mountains. I stayed until I was too cold to be outside any longer, and until the day was almost over.
When I got home to my bungalow, I watched the end of the day from the hammock and thought about the eye-candy cafe owner and his two dogs and seven cats.
The next day, I rode my bicycle back to Le Jardin Restaurant Cafe & Bar to find it empty. There were no Blues and no sign that the owner was at home. I had brought a pocketful of oranges, lemons, and cumquats. I left them on the cafe counter with my calling card. I have yet to hear from the eye-candy cafe-owner. Really and truly, my soul says this is a good thing.
Riding my bicycle along the street, I passed two men sitting outside a camper. I waved and called: "Merhaba." They both smiled and waved back.
Maybe there was something in the air in Adrasan. Maybe because the air and the energy there was so clean and clear, I felt pure and alive in a way I had not felt in a very long time. Whatever it was, something was waking up inside me.
Whatever the reason, and whatever was about to happen, I did not know at that moment that the men sitting in front of the camper, especially one of them, would soon play a significant role in the live-action movie that I am right now calling: "The AFGO Life Lessons and Roller-Coaster Adventures of Ami Ji in Turkey."
A sidebar note: If you do not know what an AFGO is, I posted a "Waking Up with Ami" blog back in August of 2021 that touches on them. It is a fairly quick read if you want to check it out. Just click HERE.
Since cappuccino was on my mind, I stopped at a different cafe, one that was open. It was called Adrasan Akdeniz Patisserie Cafe. I bowled right through my carbohydrate-intolerant stop sign and chose an enticing-looking rice pudding dish to go with my cappuccino. It was not only enticingly good-looking. I was melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious.
Everything, it seemed, was good looking and scrumptious. The cappuccino was warm and frothy. The rice pudding was sweet and creamy under a caramelized top. The ocean water was genuinely turquoise. The light breeze on my face was kind and friendly.
I sat at a small outdoor table, sipping my cappuccino, eating my rice pudding, looking at the Mediterranean rolling up onto the beach and then back into the sea. Then I fell deeply into the book I had brought with me to read: The Magnanimous Heart - Compassion and Love, Loss and Grief, Joy and Liberation by Narayan Helen Liebenson.
Ima give a shout out to Michelle (from Greenfield) right now. Michelle gifted me this book. I think she sent it to me last February, for my birthday. I am a terrible gift-receiver. I am sorry about this fact. It took a very long time - months - for me to open this book. The first time I opened it, in fact, was last May, when I was in the neighborhood of Moda, in Kodikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul. Reading the book was soul-intriguing then. I figured it would be soul-intriguing again. It was the only book I brought with me then. It was the only book I brought with me now, on this six-month traveling adventure that I am on. It is the only book I am reading. It is the only book I need.
Peripherally, I noticed the owner of the cafe, smoking a cigarette at a nearby table, watching me reading my book. He called over to me. He spoke Turkish and no English. I speak English and no Turkish. This occurrence happens quite a lot for me here in Turkey, and it consistently causes awkward staring. The owner and I stared blankly at each other, shook off the shock, and whipped out our phones to Google Translate.
I am taking a moment to place my hands palm-to-palm and bow forehead-to-fingertips in gratitude. This genuine gratitude is for Franz Josef Och (the original creator and chief architect of Google Translate) and all the other brilliant Google employees who have worked to make Google Translate the lifesaving App that it is today. I am pretty darn sure that, on a daily basis, you wipe the deer-in-the-headlights look right off of millions of faces.
I learned that the cafe owner's name was Aykut. It seemed like I could remember his name because, when he said his name, it sounded to me a lot like "I could."
Two women entered the outdoor section of the cafe and sat at another table. Aykut greeted the women with Turkish-style handshake-hugs. The three of them talked together in an enthusiastic tone, in Turkish.
Aykut came over to me and motioned that he wanted me to meet the two women. I got up, walked to the women and greeted them with hugs. Aykut motioned for me to follow him into the cafe kitchen.
He wanted to know if I wanted to try a "salep" drink that he would be making for the women. He told me the ingredients - milk, sugar, and a powder made from orchid roots - as I watched him combine and then heat them. At one point, I helped whisk the warming concoction while he took a phone call. When he was done with the call, he took the whisk back and waved me off. I walked back outside and joined the two women. They spoke Turkish, so we used the Google Translate app on our phones to talk.
I learned that Aykut not only owns the cafe. He also owns a patisserie (kitchen/factory) and a hotel, both nearby. I learned that one of the women, Atike, leads an ongoing training at Aykut's hotel. I learned that the other woman at the table was a participant of Atike's class. I learned that Atike has been leading a one-year training program, and participants meet on the first weekend of each month. I learned that they were just finishing this month's weekend.
Atike teaches yoga, meditation... about energy and healing... I did not know all of what she does (and still do not) but, in that moment, it seemed like we might do similar work. She also seemed to be well established and sought after. When I suggested we consider collaborating, Atike enthusiastically said that she was on board with this idea.
I suggested we do something together right then, so that we could get a feel for how we each do our work. Atike motioned for me to go first. The four of us stood up, and right then and there in the outdoor cafe, I led us through a version of Donna Eden's daily energy routine. When we finished, I felt better. The three of them said they felt good too. We made loose plans to get together soon.
It had started to get colder and darker and Aykut wanted to shut up shop. The four of us hugged and kissed cheeks goodbye. I got on my bicycle and headed back toward my bungalow. On the way, I heard drumming. I was so tired but... how could I not check this out?
I followed the sound, walking my bicycle across a stream, over a swinging wooden bridge, to what I would learn was a hotel, restaurant, and Retreat Center. Woah, I was having a good day.
Presently, the Lykia Edrassa hotel was set up for pole dancing camps. In the winter, groups signed up for one of the 10-or-so day camps, with week-long breaks between camps. The camp was currently on break. I learned that the teacher's name was Dimitry Politov, and that he is a pole dancing champion and excellent teacher. Intriguing. I learned that Ivan assists Dimitry during the camps and was staying at the Lykia Edrassa.
The sound of drumming led me to a large hall-type building, festively decorated. I went inside. There were three people who worked there, and Ivan. Ivan was playing a hand drum along with a recorded drum. When I arrived they switched to the sound system.
Being me, I started dancing. Being them, the group of four got up and joined.
On the way back to my bungalow, I heard ducks laughing. It was dark so, in the video (below) you can not see the ducks. Still, the audio makes me laugh. Maybe it will make you laugh too...
It was such an amazing day, Ima stop here.
More shall be revealed...