Places I’ve Lived #20 – Manisa, Turkey

Throne of PelopsWe went to Manisa on our honeymoon and since I’d blogged my way out of a pretty good job in Fez, I turned it into a job interview with a school there. I’d been emailing the director and he had said to come anytime and he would show us around. So we did.

The bus ride there from Istanbul was long and beautiful. We passed mountains and streams and finally came to a city with a large mountain behind it. It felt good to me. I called the director and he gave us directions.

We got to the school and met with the director. Manisa is primarily a business city and so it doesn’t have all the cheap or luxurious options for travelers that other cities in Turkey have. Otel Emirhan was fine and offered us a/c, television, breakfast, wi-fi, hot water showers, and a decent bed in a clean room. Once we had settled in a bit, we went to a great little cafe where we met with a second director from a different school.

I  had the interviews, but we both ended up getting jobs at the school with the second director! We moved to Manisa, Turkey!

There were plenty of shops, movie theaters (that even sometimes have films in English), big green parks, a beautiful old mosque, and a lively souk filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, and more. Manisa is also home to the famous “Tarzan of Manisa”

It’s  in the mountains, has plenty of hiking nearby, wild horses, it’s a 30-minute bus ride from the beach city of Izmir, and in ancient times Manisa was where Turkish Sultan’s used to undergo their Sultan Training. Furthermore, Manisa was named one of the best cities to do business in for all of Europe. So,it all seemed pretty great to us.

We went back to Morocco for two weeks and then I returned to Manisa. I was there for almost two months before my wife came to join me. The school was good. I loved my students and I got along well with all the other teachers and the directors. They helped me get a residence permit, a bank account, and to get all the things I needed. When my wife arrived, things got more complicated. Since she was Moroccan, it was more difficult to get her a residence permit. She felt like the school was cheating her. Our relationship with the directors and some of the other teachers took an adversarial turn.

She had to make a visa run to renew her visa so I booked her a flight to Morocco. Then we found out she was pregnant. She wanted to take two weeks to a month back in Morocco but was needed in classes. I was suddenly feeling like papa bear and things turned ugly when they wouldn’t agree to let her have the time off. I felt like it was important – it was Christmas and she was pregnant – she needed to be with her mom. They threatened to fire her. I gave them an ultimatum that if she couldn’t have the time off, they would have to fire me too. So they did.

She flew home and I started looking for a new job and a new place to live since I’d been renting our apartment from the school. I loved Manisa but figured I would have more luck and a better life in nearby Izmir.

Manisa, Turkey – Ancient Tantalus and Magnesia

The ancient name of Manisa was Magnesia, the name comes from the magnets which come from Sypil mountain, also known in ancient times as Tantalus. The entire mountain is, in fact, one huge magnet. Stories of magnetic gold being found here, and stories of the Olympian Gods struggling with humans also come from this amazing mountain.

Cities here date back as far as 5000 BC and some researchers have postulated that it was a highly advanced city on Sypil that was swallowed into a great lake during a large earthquake. The great lake no longer exists, except as a minor body of water, but geologic evidence shows that there was one, it did exist, and there is some evidence to show that this was actually the site of a civilization of which we know very little. What was the name of this city?
Atlantis. And of course, with stories growing and changing it is more than likely that from a relatively advanced civilization being destroyed in a large lake that the story could grow to a continent sinking into a sea. Not unlikely at all.

Atlantis in Turkey
Tantalus was named after the first King of this region. Tantalus, the son of Zeus. Keep in mind that Homer came from the nearby city of Izmir and he is the first one to write of ‘magnets’ in historical records.
It should also be mentioned that many of the sages of ancient Ionia said that the word magnet actually meant spirit. And the name Sipylos comes from greek and means ‘Gate of the Gods’.

Tantulaus in Manisa
 

Makiki Neighborhood including Punchbowl Cemetary and Tantalus Overlook

Honolulu is a city of neighborhoods. It can also be argued that each on Honolulu’s neighborhoods are actually small towns and cities and they all get thrown together as the City and County of Honolulu. One of the unique neighborhoods of Honolulu is Makiki. It’s where Barack Obama and Bruno Marw were both born and it’s where deposed Philippine President Ferdinand Marco lived and died.

Makiki

Makiki could be described as central Honolulu – it stretches from the Tantalus neighborhood above and skirts Manoa on one side and to the Nu’uanu neighborhood on the other and goes seaward until it meets downtown Honolulu and the Ala Moana neighborhood. Makiki doesn’t include any beachfront areas – which is why it is largely off the radar of most visitors to Oahu.

There are older houses, churches, a hospital, library, schools and a community center. The closest thing to tourist attractions would be the Punahou School and the Punchbowl memorial cemetary located in the extinct Punchbowl volcanic crater which last erupted nearly 100,000 years ago.  The Punchbowl was actually a place where ancient Hawaiians are said to have practiced human sacrifice but today it is home to the Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific since 1948.

Makiki

There are hiking trails that wind through the mountains above and the Tantalus (Pu’u Ualaka’a) overlook and Hawaii Nature Center both lie within the boundaries of Makiki.

Makiki

Makiki is home to a beautiful Victorian mansion that was once owned by Claus Spreckels, a Californian known as the ‘King of Sugar’. (Interesting side note – Spreckels wife, Alma Spreckels was the model for the Dewey Monument in San Francisco’s Union Square and she started the Salvation Army).

Makiki

But back to Makiki….It is home to the Central Union Church, several schools, and many of Honolulu’s residents.  The hills above the city, called Tantalus, were home to many of the families who came here from the U.S. Mainland during the kingdom period. They enjoyed the cool, picturesque seclusion. As did Ferdinand Marcos.

Makiki

 

 

%d bloggers like this: