Waves of frustration, not salt
I wouldn’t be surprised if you can feel the waves of frustration and hear the thunder and lightning of expletives emanating from the southern coast of Turkey. It is May 11th, day 22 of our summer life on Selkie Dancer. A Selkie not in her element but sitting in a hard metal cradle with a bare bottom and no name; she is embarrassed and we are tense. By now we should be bobbing at anchor anticipating a bottle of champagne tomorrow but amazingly we are still here, climbing up and down the ladder, limited in our ability to cook and clean and using a bucket to wee in at night, should we need it.
We needed to get away so we hired a car and had a land based adventure. The road was good and we snaked up and around richly wooded hills and looked down onto the blue sea of the Aegean around the Datca peninsula - noting places that we could visit once we get underway. We had booked a hotel in the small town of Seljuk near the ruins of Ephesus. The owner was marvellous and could not do enough for us.
The first night, after our usual fight with the TomTom sat nav, we had beer on the roof top while watching the sun set over the sea and the 6th Century Byzantine citadel on the hill. Later we were cooked a fresh meal, no menu just what was available, and decided to stay an extra night to make sure that we could fit in a visit to the museum, quoted in our Guide as, “one of Turkey’s best”.
The sheer scale of Ephesus amazed me. The theatre, the library, the bathhouses are sophisticated and ornate in decoration; some of the facades, the library in particular, have been rebuilt. ‘’’’’’’’’’’’''''’
I loved walking up ‘Harbour Street’, contrasting it with another Harbour Street from my youth (Hopeman – a small fishing village in Scotland), wondering about the thousands of people that had made their pilgrimages, first to the Mother Goddess Cybele in 1000BC, later, while still a Greek city, from Delos and other Aegean islands.
Under the Romans Ephesus became their chief port in the Aegean. Visitors would have disembarked from their ships and made their way up the wide, column lined avenue their eyes drawn to the enormous theatre ahead of them, their attention taken to the shops lining one side and perhaps they might have picked up a whiff of the drains that ran under their feet. If their arrival had been at night the way would have been lit. Now the large slabs of stone are cracked and uneven, the columns are homes for nesting storks and the land has silted up so we are now many miles from the coast. Later it is said that Mary, mother of Jesus, ended her days here and it became an important place for Christians.
We were diverted in our journey to Ephesus by the wonderful market by the Seljuk bus station. We must have spent hours here just looking at the amazing variety and spread of fresh fruit and vegetables, beautifully arranged as you can see from some of the photos. The people manning these stalls looked like country people, like the people we had seen in the fields on our way up here, quite different from the westernised coastal tourist areas. They were earthy and bronzed, broad faced and dark, headscarved and skirted or in long wide trousers, very beautiful. Sitting cross legged or standing arms akimbo. In contrast to these stalls there were others selling fakes of everything you can imagine, bags, watches there was clothing and jewellery, dried fruit, nuts and spices, crochet work and wool. There must have been four big streets bustling with this market.
The next day we followed the map to the museum and found no evidence of it whatsoever. Then we went to the tourist office and were told it was just across the road but it had been closed for three years!!!
We didn’t buy a carpet
Of course we were sucked in by our curiosity and naivety. Outside an official looking building there were women working the large looms making carpets. It was really interesting so we asked questions and before we knew it we were inside and carpets of all sizes and colours were being thrown down with a flourish before us. We didn’t get tea so I guess he did realise we weren’t serious.
Hierapolis and Pamukkale were an easy drive from our hotel in Denizli. Our trip had been hot and dusty and we took advantage of one the many spouts of water gushing from random overhead pipes by the roadside to wash the car, a bit premature as the next day the rain would have done it anyway. Hierapolis, Greek and Roman, had grown up here next to the thermal springs of Pamukkale, I suppose people came to take the waters and they still do but it is horribly commercialised. Where people swim is like a local leisure centre, pop music and fast food. Hierapolis had the usual spread of ancient theatres and agoras along with the biggest necropolis I have ever seen. Tombs were scattered hither and yon at alarming angles. Some were sarcophagi, others round tumuli types reflecting the different periods together they looked like a scene from Dante’s inferno, or the Stanley Spencer painting of the resurrection of the dead on the day of judgement in the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere. I expected to see people pushing open the stone lids and staggering out of holes in the ground, Zombies! Day of the Dead! The pools of the travertine terraces were not as brilliantly ice blue green as depicted on the postcards but it was overcast.
We had an interesting drive on to Fethiye, following the road up to a high plain at a height of about 1000m surrounded by even higher mountains then on down towards Fethiye and the sea again, our final two night stop.
From Fethiye we visited the ghost town of Kaykoy which inspired Louis de Bernieres to write his fantastic book ‘Birds without Wings’. Typically we hadn’t really studied the map but just launched ourselves off and assumed we’d get there alright. We found our way no problem and having seen no official signs we parked our car just off the road and set off, pushing through undergrowth releasing a wonderfully powerful smell of herbs as we went, following a vague path which eventually gave onto a stone track. It was warm and sunny and we looked down on a ginger nanny goat curled up in the ruins with her three little kids snuggled beside her. We explored the village which had been left empty at the exchange of populations in 1923 and subsequently suffered from earthquake damage. No one wants to live there any more, it is thought to hold the spirits of the expelled Greeks. The town has undergone religious rituals to cleanse it – to no effect, although the fertile plain below is occupied and worked.
We found an artisan who showed us around his house and the various intriguing features that it contained, a door which was opened by a spring mechanism and then folded back to become the door to a wardrobe. Then we found the ticket office! After we had completed our exploration we realised that around corners on either side of our parked car there were commercial ventures and large signs. Somehow, on arrival we’d completely missed them. Had we gone a few metres in either direction we would have followed ‘correct procedure’. It was more fun our way.
And so back to the boat, which looked so sad, to find that not much progress had been made. Argh! We do feel a bit beleaguered, sat as we are at the very furthest point from the hub of the yard, our plastic sheeting getting tattier by the day, conscious that other boats are constantly being lined up for launch. The massive cranes and lifts, one capable of 330 tons, are in perpetual motion; the noise of their reversing bleeps ever present. The yard is struggling to find space in the water for the newly launched, the weather has sapped the enthusiasm of sailors to sail. Still, the yard is thinning out. When we arrived boats were very cosy, hull to hull, crammed together but now spaces are opening up and we are one of the few rather than one of the many. We find ourselves living in a ghost town!
This week will be the turning point I know it!
aged 62 and 364 days!
Passage Chart and Anchorage Information
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Jinti - aged 62 and 364 days
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