Contents of the TRIP.TXT file
Look of chagrin, feelings of deep embarrassment.
I really did try to send postcards. For awhile. Then I left "postcard
country" and my best efforts couldn't even find a card to send. And it's
really no fun at all to mail off chunks of plain cardboard with writing
on one side and nothing on the other.
Now I'm back in the big city (Hah, hah) of Bodrum, where they have
discos and people wear shorts and go to the disco and the local grocery
store sells peanut butter. It really is quite a shock after being in the
region where I just spent two weeks. Not only did the local grocery
store not have peanut butter, the local grocery store (in many cases)
didn't even exist. More than once we relied on the generosity of the
local villagers to provide us with daily bread and gas for the cook
stove, which they did happily while adamantly refusing payment of any
kind except a promise to return some day.
Sitting here in "The Sandwich Stop" listening to the electro-pop playing
from the jewelry shop next door, it is hard to imagine that just five
days ago I was crawling out of my sleeping bag at 7 a.m., inhaling the cool
air blowing west through the upper canyon of the Ermenek River, lighting
up the stove to make morning coffee and preparing myself for the morning
task of rescuing the boat from the bottom of a ravine where we had
abandoned it the evening before in favor of climbing 300 meters up a
rock slide to the road. Sometimes plans don't work out as you thought.
And sometimes it's more fun that way.
I tried to keep notes each day as the trip continued, but usually I was
too busy staring at the magnificent cliffs, riddled with cave dwellings
of early Armenians and tombs of Romans and Byzantines. Or I was occupied
pumping up the boat, inflating the boat, setting up the tent before dark
closed in, scaling rocky ridges to get a look at that one little chunk
of river that you couldn't see from anywhere else but might be the one
that catches you if you don't have a look before you go in. And who
could commit the sacrilege of turning on a flashlight to write before
bedtime, when flashlights ruin the view of the stars?
It was much more fun laying in the middle of the highway skirting the
base of the cliffs a thousand feet above the river, no cars for miles
either way, looking for patterns in the stars, watching the occasional
meteorite, and remembering back to younger days, studying the same sky
from a different viewpoint, wondering those usual childhood questions:
"Is there life on other planets?" "How selfish are we to think there
isn't?" "What is it really like on Venus?" "What does a star look like
when it explodes?" "What if the sun exploded tomorrow?" "What does the
sky look like from France? Turkey? America?" "Who else is looking at
the same stars this very minute? Does that make us all members of some
secret club or something?" "I wonder if a car came if we really WOULD
hear it in time to get up from the road? What if we fall asleep?" Not to
worry. This road is deserted at any hour of any day. It truly is amazing
that it is even paved.
Originally we planned to be on the road for a full month. But as
usual, there were delays. Finally we started, six days late. A
leisurely 4 days at Dalyan, a marsh land on the southwest coast,
kayaking to the lake at 5:30 in the morning, motoring through the
marshes to the beach in the afternoon. Just marking time while we
waited for the van and a third member of the party.
Then a rush across nearly the entire south coast in two and a half days,
through the rugged, solid rock, straight-down-to-the-waterline mountains
west of Antalya, the fertile plains from Antalya to Alanya, and the "Big
Sur replica" from Alanya around the peninsula to Silifke, where we
motored up from the mouth of the Gksu River until we were stopped by
bridge pilings. Then back down to the mouth and out through the delta to
the open water of the Mediterranean where we found a tidal pool of
bathwater temperature, filled with skittish but courageous crabs who
would spurt away into deeper water when confronted or, if there was no
escape route, would raise their claws furiously in the air and
clack-clack violently and with defiance until unsettled nerves and
concern for toes forced us to retreat and let them flee to the
protection of deeper water.
Returning to the deserted fishing dock where we left our driver, we
discovered him throwing a line diligently into the water, coming up with
nothing each time. We asked jokingly if he had caught anything, and
thought he was joking when he held out his hands to indicate a fish
approximately two and a half feet in length. On dry land once again, we
looked in the empty oil can, pressed into service as a makeshift
aquarium, and were surprised at the sight of an eel that was at least as
long as he had indicated. Out of nowhere, one of the local fishermen
appeared and offered to skin the eel (merely called "snake fish" in
Turkish) for us. After skinning and filleting, we still have more than a
kilo of fine white flesh, which we packed in the cooler and scheduled
into our plans for dinner.