Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Reminisces On My Recent Trip to Turkey

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I just took a look at my blog this morning and realized it’s been almost 4 months since I wrote anything. My commitment has always been to try for twice a month and I have alerts set on my calendar to remind me of that commitment.

I think that after finishing my documentary and screening it at the end of May, I was just pretty wiped out and creatively drained. I’d worked on the film for 3 years and the work that went into promoting the screening and handling the media inquiries was more work than I had expected. So every time my calendar reminder popped up and said, “time to write a blog post,” I briefly looked into what I was doing and felt that I had nothing to say here, then moved on to something else.

In reality what was going on was that I was taking the time I needed to recuperate from this Herculean task by working on other things; such as finally learning to really use my DSLR camera, crocheting an afghan for my new grand-daughter Hazel, and other projects. I was also getting ready for a major trip to Turkey, a country I had wanted to visit for 20 years.

I returned from Turkey a couple weeks ago and I want to tell you that it was one of the best vacations I have ever taken. I have traveled a lot in my life, and lived in some exotic places. But Turkey was something different for me. The trip I took was an organized tour around the country combining a lot of physical activity such as hiking and swimming in the Mediterranean with museums, archeological locations and cultural experiences. Twice we visited homes of Turkish people for meals and conversations and in one case, spent the night in one home out in the country. It was definitely a cultural experience sharing one bathroom with a family of 7 and three other Americans!

I learned so much on this trip thanks in large part to my excellent guide, Ozcan (pronounced Oz-jawn) who was extremely knowledgeable in many areas, notably history, archeology, religion and culture. His ability to help you see each moment through a lens that reached far back was a terrific gift. What I was struck by was the length of time human beings have been living on this chunk of land 302,535 square miles and with a population of almost 80 million. Excavation points often one civilization layer built upon the ruins of another. the Seljuk’s built their palaces and the Ottomans came along taking the old stones and built palaces of their own. And so it went. At times it was difficult to wrap my mind around this cultural layering; who came first, who incorporated previous cultures into their own and who completely obliterated the previous cultures. So much happened.

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So tying this in with my own passion of preserving stories, like I always do, I have to say that the reason all of this fascinated me so much is that as usual, what remains is what people preserved. What they wrote about to document their lives. For instance the Lycians were some of the most amazing architects dating back some 4000 years ago. However their language is, to this day, un-translatable so the only way we know anything about them is writings from other cultures that happened to document what they observed upon visits. Believing in reincarnation, they built elaborate tombs into the rock walls of the mountains where they buried their dead. Some 2000 years later, the Romans built the Celsius template at Ephesus, which bears a striking resemblance to these burial facades. Were they incorporating the architectural ideas from 2000 years prior? We don’t know.

I came back from Turkey relaxed, tan for the first time in many years, and with my creativity fired up. I now have more projects and ideas in my head than possible time to complete them all. So, what will I do next?

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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