After returning short-handed from the incredible landscape-filled St. Paul Trail, thinking about the high-speed spontaneity which took me from Santiago, to Tangier to Marrakesh, to Turkey and Antalya and the Taurus Mountains and finally back to Antalya, I was suddenly filled with an emptiness, a lack of desire to do anything, go anywhere. That sounds like a sadness, but it was as much an accumulated exhaustion; I suppose I never gave myself a break from the moment I stepped off the plane in Madrid to that moment returning to Antalya, though I sorely needed one. Many sleepless nights on buses and airplanes and in airports and hot noisy albergues, my mind could no longer whip up a desire to travel onward at the same light-speed. I realized I was burnt out. After a month, in retrospect, I’ve consciously reframed this same idea to realize that also, with the Camino over, my purpose on this trip abroad was fulfilled, anything else after seemed a little less purposeful than the spiritual awakening in me that the Camino represented. Now, I’m home and writing again to share this awakening with others. The two months of walking made me realize that, if anything, many people’s statement and led me to believe I am a decent writer, and believe that I have the potential to be a pretty good one some day if I keep working at it.
From Antalya I took a sleepless night bus to Istanbul, sleeping a bit in a park the morning after and spending most of the day before my flight the next morning carousing about the old quarter, the Grand Bazaar in particular. With a heavy pack on my back amidst crowded lanes, I was ill-equipped to buy some items for back home and ripe for getting ripped off of my remaining money, so I mostly just looked. However, before heading to sleep in the airport overnight I found a Turkish bath, a haman, to give myself a well-deserved gift before going back domestic. The visit was a brief but memorable one.
The Turks within grunted commands at me after I’d undressed and put the towel around my waist: “steam, 15 minutes, then massage.” It got hot and they found me in a cooler part of the spa after the 15 minutes, and so I was told to sit another 5 minutes within. Finally, a similarly toweled Turkish man with a striking unibrow retrieved me and we got to it. The short of it was that I laid face down and then face up on a marble slab while he, for lack of a better word, had his way with my body. I was caught somewhere between miserable pain and joy while he scrubbed and then seemed to destroy my muscles, shoulders and calves in particular. Meanwhile, massaging parts of my sore body, he kept repeating “yes…” in a creepy voice, occasionally interspersed by asking “you like massage?” Creepy sounding Turkish guy? Hell yes. After another steam and a shower, I set about to head to the airport and back the United States, cleaned of the past 80 days and ready to return to the vestiges of home and normalcy I have in Washington state, to my always supportive and wonderful family members.
I’ll talk more about what I’ve been doing generally since then and the demons I’ve been battling internally in a post soon to follow. Now that I’m back home, I plan to use this blog as a medium to continue improving myself as a writer and articulate some ideas in my mind while sharing them with others rather than just leaving them trapped up there in my brain. At least until I start traveling again…