One of my closest free-thought friends up in Seattle (a great help when I was working on the free-thought conference just before this trip) is Ron Renard, president of Humanists of North Puget Sound.

He was having dinner with a pal of his named Dennis, and happened to mention that Kim and I were coming to Turkey. Oh, Dennis said, you should contact my ASU room-mate, Riza Eser. He’s in Kusadasi, and here’s his e-mail address.

So we did.

I sent a couple of e-mails, learned he is in the hotel business, and we came to see him yesterday about lunch time.

Oh, boy, is he in the hotel business.

His family owns the place where we are now staying, about a 255-room 8 story luxury hotel, with views out to the Aegean, and he runs it.

And we are here, as his guests, until Friday AM when I head south through some more ruins toward the SW corner of Turkey. Then I head east.

Here are some pictures of the place.

And here are some others of (and from) the place he is renting nearby—

These are interesting in some financial ways.

The place he’s renting, from the government, has a fixed payment. The buildings were all two stories, and in need of some repair; he added a third story to all, raising his room totals from about 175 to 275 or 300.

The rent to the government stays the same, so he’s hoping that the increased cash flow will pay his construction costs and the rent, and at the end of the contract, if he’s not the highest (or most successful) bidder, he just walks away form the investment of adding all the extra rooms.

These are billed as destinations, and a one-price for everything. Like a cruise ship with a beach and no sea-sickness.

After we moved in here Tuesday, and had lunch with him, we headed back up to Sel?uk to do some shopping for Kim (she’s going home Thursday) and for a close friend of mine in Portland who’s deputized me to get some table linens for her. And it’s not my favorite thing to do, shopping in the first place, and table linens in the second, but I’ve eaten lots of lovely meals at her home (and we just may have had some pretty great [and some not-so-great] wine with all those meals), and I’m happy to repay her a little.

But that means going onto rug stores and hearing the same trite nonsense and trying to glean the nuggets of facts (rugs are knotted, kilims are woven) from the hurricane of patter. . . .

And after that gauntlet, we ate up in the hills on the way to a little village that’s reported to be lovely, where the tour busses take loads of eager cruise-ship passengers to get a real village experience.

Feh!

If they want a real village experience, they should go to Karacasu, where we shot the market pictures Monday.

Well about all this place is is a gauntlet of little lean-to souvenir shops— maybe 50 or 60 of them, maybe more, and not much else.

They do advertise a picnic spot by a little creek, but they don’t mention that the creek was also the road to the picnic area, and it’s one way, and if you meet a tractor with about 4 guys on it coming down the road, you get a really quick foreign-policy lesson about the proper place of America in the world.

The side-of-the-road, hood-of-the-car picnic was the best part about that drive.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey