Public bathing in foreign lands

Republished from The Jade Journal

The funny thing about Turkish baths is how decidedly non-bath-centric they are.

This is not to imply that they are not cleansing. Indeed, afterwards I felt as though my very soul had been purified.

But they don’t involve public bathing so much as sweating and steam and burly men with mustaches rubbing you down and anointing you with oil. And yes – let’s address this, as it’s bound to come up eventually – that sounds pretty gay.

But it’s not. It’s awesome. Which is not to say that gay stuff can’t be awesome but I just don’t have time to get into the transitive property right now.

Here’s what happens – you change out of your clothes and into a little towel thing and head into the main room. This is a large open room with a circular marble slab in the middle and bathing stations around the outside of the circle. The slab is somehow heated to a really high temperature (Possibly magic?). Everything is silent and still. Unless there is a noise, in which case it reverberates around the room for the next five minutes. It is here, as you’re laying on the marble slab and beginning to heavily perspire while the Muslim call to prayer softly echoes outside and you don’t quite know what happens next, that you really start to wonder what your life is right now and how you came to be in it.

Then all such thoughts are swept from your mind as the burly men with mustaches arrive and soapsuds come out of nowhere and suddenly you are getting roughly exfoliated by a dude. After you come to terms with this, it is a relatively peaceful experience until they douse you with cold water and demand a tip.

Then, if you sprang for the luxury treatment, you are taken into another room, placed on a massage table, and told to relax while another burly man plays “Find the Knots of Tension and Make Them Explode!” After a lot of this, some scented oils and some stereotypical massage karate chopping, he also demands a tip.

If you want, you can go hang out on the slab some more and think about your life, but at that point I was tired and really wanted a gyro. So I got one. And it was the most relaxed I’ve ever been while eating a gyro.

It's Rebecca's nightmare!

From Mykonos III 16.10.08

Check out this huge bird in Mykonos! Ha ha! Awesome!

International flavour

From Mykonos II 10.10.08

One of the interesting things about being overseas is all the fantastically interesting flavors of things we come across. Or should I say flavours.

Chips, mostly. Oregano, paprika, hot dog, ketchup - they really go for flavours beyond the normal stuff we're used to.

Which is why we were so excited to try this banana-flavoured cola that Cody had been telling us about. That excitement dissipated with the first grimace-inducing sip, but we were still delighted by the yellow monkey spokesman.

Jerry! You infidel!

From Cairo, Egypt 26&27.09.08

I don't know why seeing Seinfeld on Cairo TV with Arabic subtitles delighted me so, but it did.

Non-Greek heritage

From Athens II 01.10.08
We were fortunate enough to enjoy the company of my parents last cruise. Here's my mom and I on Mars Hill (which has at least two other names, thanks to the many cultures who have laid claim to it at one point or another). It's believed to be the rock from which the apostle Paul preached to the Athenians. I think having a picture taken there got her extra credit in Bible study.

When my dad got off the shuttle from the airport, he looked like death. He was sick before he left and traveling overseas, compounded with crazy jet lag, doesn't make for a quick recovery. He spent the first few days in bed, but recovered enough to watch the first show from the front row. And then the next four from the same spot. With my mom. True to form, they liked everything but liked Rebecca and I doing our synchronized swimming act the best.

It's nice to have parents who support what you're doing and come to your shows. Hopefully they won't have to come halfway around the world to see the next one.


It would be impolite not to

From Istanbul, Turkey I 18.09.08

When in Istanbul, it's customary to consume Turkish beer and Turkish hookah.

My friend Matt Mages said of this picture, "
This photo pretty much sums up how I always expected your engagement to look."

I like that.

He's really great

From Corfu, Greece 03.10.08

We found this guy sitting on a street in Corfu, Greece. Rebecca pretended to take a picture of me but really just took one of him.

I wish we spoke the same language so he could tell me everything about his life. I'm not sure, but I think I may want to be him when I grow up.

It makes sense

From Jumpin' From Jesse

Because when you're in front of the pyramids and the sphinx, the first thought that should come to your mind is, "Let's pretend like we're in High School Musical."

Remarkably accurate

From Istanbul, Turkey I 18.09.08

I promised I'd find my rabbit-foretold fortune, so here are both Rebecca's and mine, reprinted verbatim. Straight from the rabbit's mouth.

Rebecca's bunny fortune:

47. dont think about the person on your mind to much..dont stop to prayer your god..you will have so much money from the lottery..

My bunny fortune:

41. you couldnt get your wishes until now..you found bad things after you made good things..you couldnt find your way..but dont give up..if your heart clean you will make everthing you want to do..you will find your labour's responce.

I find them both pretty encouraging. Thanks, rabbits!