LATE on a peaceful night in May, on a quiet island in the Sea of Marmara, I walked alone on a curving street edged by walls dripping with ivy. Behind the walls, palms and red pines loomed above Ottoman mansions that drowsed in the leafy darkness. With no sound but my own footsteps, I continued down a slope that led to my seafront hotel. Then I paused. Ahead of me, in the half-light cast by a streetlamp, I saw a cluster of tall, undulant shapes at the turning. “Women, or horses?” I wondered. Nearing, I nodded: horses. And then I laughed out loud. How on earth, in the 21st century, was it possible for me, or for anyone, to succumb to such poetic confusion? It was possible only on an island like the one where I found myself: the island of Buyukada, an hour’s ferry ride from Istanbul, a place where time stands still.