Last April, after lecturing at the NCH conference in Washington, a smartly dressed lady in her 60’s approached me in a very business-like way and asked me to join her for a coffee.
She told me her name was Cigdem and that I had lectured to her in the mid 90’s during her homeopathic education at CCHM. Cigdem now runs a school in Turkey and she asked that I come speak to her community of Homeopaths in Izmir. I think it was about one breath later that I agreed! I arrived in Turkey in late September. The experience was remarkable in several ways. First of all, Izmir and its surrounding towns are lovely. The area is full of olive and fruit trees studding a rolling and hilly countryside, framed by the Aegean Sea. Izmir was once called Smyrna and is said to be the birthplace of Homer (not Simpson). At one point during our stay we were lying on a beach with the imposing silhouette of a large island in the misty distance. I asked Cigdem what it was and the response came that this island was Samos. Samos was the birthplace of Pythagoras. So in front of us was Pythagoras and behind us was Homer-wow!
Izmir itself is a huge and complex feeling city, but lots of fun and with much diversity. Most of the tourist action centers on the oceanside cafés and shopping.
What immediately struck me especially was the overwhelming warmth and hospitality that was showered on us. Cigdem and the executive of her group had meticulously planned each day’s itinerary down to the restaurants we ate at and the places we stopped for tea. It seems that Turkey is becoming in many ways the new Europe. Many of the picturesque small towns have renovated their seaside areas into successful and bustling tourist zones, as have the towns not bordering the water. Old narrow streets with accompanying buildings are now trendy interesting lanes full of shops, bakeries and café’s. Not only does Turkey have the advantage of the sea and fun, but the price tag is far less than the more well-known destinations in the rest of Europe.
Much of ancient Greek history (including Troy) is located here, so it is ideal for beach, shops and ancient ruins. Cigdem lives in Urla- a very pretty village about 45 minutes from Izmir on a beautiful slope facing the sea and surrounded by four acres of fruit trees. Not hard to take!
Lecturing occurred on the last 2 days of our stay. I was stunned to see that people had come from all over Turkey – from Antalya to Istanbul (about 500km away). There was a great diversity of occupations: from MD’s, Dentists and Vets, Lawyers and Architects, to one lady whose passion was to roam the world studying the baking of sourdough bread. I think there were about 62 people present. Probably one third spoke English. For the rest there were a group of volunteers to do the translation.
I had planned the days to be broken up in thirds. Organon in the morning, followed by MateriaMedica, and then case studies. In my experience people usually prefer doing cases. I teach the Organon in the morning because that’s when the caffeine we all ingest has the most boost power – that way we encounter fewer sleeping casualties! I didn’t know how to calculate the translation into the timing of my speaking. Soon, however, it was clear that it slowed me down – at least by one third. I had over prepared and could not cover all material I had hoped to. I put to a vote what the group felt was most essential for the lecture. To my surprise, the overwhelming majority wanted to focus on Organon. They were interested in the philosophical nuances and wanted a discussion to clarify their thoughts.
After two days of teaching, there were many kind words and talk of returning. I was so happy to see such a large group of people so interested in Hahnemanian studies. It was also nice to hear that most of the proceeds of the lecture would go toward the translation of the material medica into Turkish.