Day 1 - Thursday, 16 April
Our tour of Western Turkey
complete we said our goodbyes to Meli and boarded a small boat at Kusadasi,
Turkey for the short ride to the Greek Island of Patmos.
Samos Island, Greece
Rest was the first item on the agenda for many of us. Some would
later rent bikes or cars and explore further. A laundry facility nearby was
utilized, as some prepared to travel on to mainland Greece, Italy, and other
places before returning to the U.S.
The group agreed with each other to take Julie out for dinner. So,
she arranged the evening for us. Pretty clever, huh, we take her out and she
does all the work! Dinner was at Ouzeri, - a restaurant run by Penny, a
Greek-American from Texas, who did a wonderful job of putting together a meal
for 20 or so unexpected guests. She also filled us in on some local customs.
Having experienced Kurban Bayrami and then Easter while in Turkey,
we had now walked directly into Orthodox Easter in Greece. Church services
began on Friday night with preparation and parades of "tombs." A high point is
reached at midnight on Saturday when candles are lit and people exclaim, "He is
risen!" or "Receive the light" to each other.
A quick peek into a couple of the churches showed that there was
standing room only, and lots of pomp and circumstance, including a priest
walking among the people swinging an incense burner. Because Julie (pregnant)
was being made ill by the smell of incense, we quickly ducked back out again.
But not before I'd had a glimpse of a full-length fresco of Mary, with her left
hand gripping the horn of what probably represented the devil. Later I learned
that the apocryphal teachings name Mary as the one who overcame evil.
All day and night, exploding firecrackers (to scare away evil
spirits) sound like bombs falling on the city. Although they are illegal, there
seems to be no effort to control their use.