The next morning, I went to explore the ancient ruins of Heiropolis and the Pamukkale pools. Öner offered to give me a motorbike ride to the top and then told me to walk back down the hill through the turquoise travertines. I jumped off his bike and waved goodbye as I made my way to the ruins. The city was destroyed years ago by an earthquake. Restoration work was ongoing and the theater was amazing.
I explored the ruins of the north gate and enjoyed the views. On this trip I have grown to love the peacefulness of exploring an area solo. It is just me with my thoughts and the sound of nature.
I also explored the sarcophagus surrounded by flowers or resting in dried travertines.
The spring filled pool was warm but crowded with tourists. I looked around and realized whoa! I could wear a bikini in this crowd. I saw tummy fat everywhere and wondered why is it that Americans feel so ashamed by any fat bulge but Europeans embrace it and put it out there? Are out body images that much worse? I have found that European men are more appreciative of my curves and like a little more voluptuous woman. I love the attention and the fact that they are willing to wine and dine women still. Don't get me wrong, they are talkers and I have met my share of Casanovas but they are handsome here in Turkey!
After soaking in the warm hot springs and enjoying the people watching, I dried off and changed my clothes for the walk down the Pamukkale travertines or the "Cotton Castle". The travertine terraces were formed by hot water that is 320 meters from the terraces. The water falls into terraces and forms the travertines. This water comes out at 35.6°C and contains high concentrations of calcium carbonate. Over time, the formation gets stronger and forms the travertine terraces. It is a stunning sight.
The next morning was a special day at Ozbay Guesthouse. Their father had died over the summer and according to Islam and Turkish tradition, the family provides lunch for the entire town 52 days after his death. It was a time for remembrance of their father and thanks to the community. Öner and his brothers invited all of his guests to the lunch. I walked over to the open park and he told me to find a seat while he got me a meal. I noticed the men and women were sitting separate so I followed suit by sitting with the women and girls. An older woman immediately brought me a bottle of water and a meal. I thanked her and started to eat. The young girls practiced their English with me and attempted to teach me Turkish. Everyone laughed a I slaughtered the language and could not remember all of the words they taught me. The girls explained that the man was singing the Qur'an. It was beautiful. I watched and smiled to be invited and welcomed into this community event. Women came over to say hello and smile as they pinched my cheeks or touched my hair. I felt so blessed to have another experience like this during my travels.
The next morning I got up and met Shannon for breakfast and then we took the afternoon bus to Red Rock Spring.
We both giggled when we arrived because we expected it to be huge and it was just a small little area. We wandered the area and stuck out feet in the water with the Turkish women.
Then we walked over to the mud bath and decided we wanted to bake in the sun with some mud. I got in the mud bath and covered myself from head to toe with the black wet mud. Then I sat baking in the warm sun. Shannon did the same. As we sat there enjoying the afternoon sun, we became the tourist attraction. Turkish families walked by and took photos of us. We giggled. Then, two old women walked up and pointed to our bucket of mud. We thought they wanted to put some on themselves. We handed them the bucket. They grabbed a pile of mud and started rubbing it on us. What a surprise! They giggled as much as we did. We were so thick with mud that I knew it would take some work to wash it off. I walked over to the shower and started scrubbing my body. When I was mostly clean, I walked over to the hot spring pool to soak. I stepped on the first step and about wiped out. I decided immediately to sit down and slide into the pool. The heat was fantastic. I soaked until the man came to get me for my massage. I love spas am have tried one in all of the countries I have visited. I consider myself an expert on the art of relaxation. This massage was different. I was told to remove all my clothes and lie face down. There was no sheet or dry towel so I covered myself with my wet towel. I lay face down as instructed. I heard someone walk in and his deep voice. He removed my towel and put it to the side. Brrrr! I was shivering and cold! I asked for a dry towel but he did not understand English. I was shivering and had goose bumps. A few minutes into it he grabbed a towel. Thank goodness! But it got taken away when he had me turn over. I asked for it back but he didn't understand. Or pretended to not understand. I was not certain which. I was trying to relax but I was so cold. Then he started to massage my boobs! I wasn't sure if he was just feeling me up or this was how they did massages in Turkey. I started to laugh. I was too cold and it was just odd. I shook my head no and covered my boobs. I was going to have to compare notes with Shannon. Otherwise, the massage was uneventful. When I finished, I was offered tea and a heater to warm up. Shannon decided not to get a massage so I still did not know if that was normal. We took the dolmus back to Ozbay Guesthouse and sat down with other travelers to chat. I loved my time at Ozbay. We laughed and relaxed. I was tired from the fast paced travel of the first 7 months and could tell I was really slowing down. The staff and owners at Ozbay talked me into staying an extra day, I did. I decided to get a flight back to Istanbul to meet my mom and see Ephesus when I travel with her.
My last day was spent laughing and chatting with all of the local people. I was relaxed and happy. The family included my in their delicious evening meal of grilled fish. Mmmmm! It was a fantastic time with with the laughter of new friends in Pamukkale. I said goodbye with a heavy heart and waved to everyone as my bus pulled away.