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Pubs, beer and good paintbrushes vs good food, space and great climate. Which would you prefer? My extended trip back to the UK has been a real eye-opener but I frequently caught myself saying things like ‘it’s not like that in Turkey’. I can’t help it. I’ve made Turkey my temporary home but I’ve just spent a month back at my parents, in the bedroom I grew up in, and I quickly became British again. Now I’m returning to Turkey and I can’t help but compare and contrast. It’s an interesting exercise, but which is better? Turkey or England?
We decided to head next door to Hassan’s, where we were looking forward to meeting the owner. Oh boy, did we meet the owner. I’m not sure if he had got out of bed the wrong side, if he’d just had some terrible news, or if he’d taken an instant dislike to us but he was the most unpleasant man we have met in Turkey. The exchange went something like this…
You’ll also get confused by the fact that none of the borders are sign-posted. One minute you’re driving along, minding your own business, admiring the view, and next you’ve driven into a checkpoint barrier. Probably manned by an angry Greek police officer.
Contrasts again. The richly self-indulgent road south of the line turns into a dusty careworn main road on the Turkish Cypriot side. No Starbucks, Top Shop or McDonalds to be found here. Stepping off the main drag we are in a monstrous slum of poverty and wasteland.
The once garish colours are now reduced to a uniform greyness; a 1970s monochrome war torn news report from the BBC frozen in time. The roads are strewn with detritus and weeds grow uninterrupted up through the asphalt and concrete, cocking a snook at man’s feeble attempt to control nature.
It’s a most startling and incongruous sight. In fact I found it impossible to suppress a slightly hysterical giggle at what had happened to this old monument to Catholicism. (During later sight-seeing forays I saw other, similarly changed, monuments of Christian worship, all of which triggered this irrepressible giggle.)
Famagusta is in the north of the island. Well, most of it is. Quite a large part of it is now sectioned off with barbed wire walls behind which can be seen the eerie no-man’s land of skeletal hotels, tumble-weed roads and literal urban decomposition…
We continued down the coast and past our ultimate destination of Monastery Bay and on towards a lunchtime anchorage we’ve named Crowded Bay. Should have named it ‘Twats In Motorboats’ Bay. Basically it was carnage, with everyone dropping their anchor wherever they wanted. Extra points were awarded for laying one’s chain over another.
As sure as eggs is eggs after WWI, when the Young Turks had foolishly backed the wrong side and lost, the Brits took total control of this strategically important piece of land, and in 1925 Britain formerly declared the island a crown colony. There was much dancing and celebrating in the street at this turn of events (I jest). This is an excerpt from Liz’s excellent introduction to Cyprus.
This is also where the paragliders land and hours can be spent watching their graceful sails catch the thermals. They land on the ‘marina’ strip, which is worth a mention. In our pilot guide the author says “At the time of writing work is proceeding slowly on the construction of the marina”, the text of which is accompanied by a photo of the unfinished marina. He states that he was given a completion date of 2001. Well, it’s 2008 and the ‘marina’ looks exactly like your photograph from 10 years ago!
This is a family-run affair and chatting to the owner in pigeon-Turglish, which, surprisingly, with a few hand gestures, actually makes for an engaging conversation, I discover that his mother has lived on the island for 40 years. I didn’t ever catch his name but his wife, who looks as young as their daughter, is Yesim (pron Yey-shim). She speaks enough English to be undertood. Your lines, should you tie up to the jetty, will probably be taken by her 9 year old nephew. Don’t worry, he knows what he’s doing!
One of the things you may have read about Fethiye is the fish market, where a centrally placed building allows you to choose your own fish, either fresh or imported. Get them to gut it and then take it to one of the surrounding restaurants. It offers a novel and cheap way of eating fresh fish but I have to say I was disappointed in the way in which the fish is cooked.
There is a place where one takes the tender when going ashore. Normally one ties up and goes about their business with no hassle from the locals. Alas one particular restaurateur got annoyed at the number of yotties tying up to his fence, and then walking through his restaurant without imbibing the obligatory beer. Fair enough, you might comment, but as a reaction to this the manager has now put up signs by the fence, which isn’t his as it turns out, saying ‘Guests only’.
Boyzone Buku, as we like to call it, is the perfect location to use as your base. With holding like glue and endless water supplies from the local spring we found this spot to be a little haven. What makes this place special is the fresh-water spring that has created a near temperate local climate of lush deciduous trees and paths littered with basil and mint plants.
As we get to know Turkey a bit better so we are able to make some judgements on places we have visited as yotties. One thing that really sticks out when comparing this area to anywhere north of here is just how busy it can get. It’s one thing I’m not really able to get my head around as we’re used to anchorages with one or two other boats as neighbours, not entire flotillas of gullets and party boats!
Fethiye, named after a WW1 pilot who had the misfortune to crash into the local mountain range, was pretty much destroyed in the same earthquake that flattened Marmaris in 1958. Unlike Marmaris, however, this new-looking town isn’t ruined by the loud bars, gulet-full of lobster Brits-abroad puking up at every street corner, or aggressive stall-holders.
There are a number of factors that go to make this one to remember: the views back out onto Gocek bay, dwarfed by the misty mountains beyond; the great holding; the restaurant ashore, run by the same family for the last fifteen years; and the fact there is a natural well that supplies yotties with a constant stream of mountain water.
Regular readers of FTB will be familiar with the term ‘The Black Hole of Marmaris’, a term invented to describe the fate of the majority of boats who enter the bay and never leave, for one reason or another. Well, we’ve finally done it: Esper has left the building!
The tables turned a little, however, when the back-end of the front we were avoiding stirred up the waters and caused a little chop. Stanley’s classic ‘wow, big waves’ comment won’t be forgotten in a hurry. He was commenting on 1m swells, bless him. It was fun for a while.
The next day was another early start and after a big Turkish breakfast served in the garden under fruit trees we set off for Didyma. We found our way there quite quickly and once again arrived before the official opening time and before anyone else. What can I say about Didyma? The site dates back to 8th century BC, but the ruined temple seen now is of 4th century BC origin.
The stadium, which seats 30,000 people, left us both speechless. The two agoras, temples, palaces, colonnaded palaestra, odeum, bath houses and other structures kept us absorbed, but again, it was the theatre that charmed us. It has been built in one of the two bronze age mounds found on the site and is in great condition, with carved names on some of the seats and an impressive throne-style chair in the middle of the front row.
It is difficult to choose a “best bit” because the city as a whole works so well, but the theatre takes some beating. Situated near the top of the ridge, with views looking steeply down across the valley for miles and miles it seats 12,000 people.
Over the Spring of 2008 I decided to take some portraits of the people associated with sailing here in Marmaris, Turkey. Of the 100 or so original portraits a few stood out as being quite striking, so I produced this little montage.
Now I wouldn’t want you to think that we’ve been up to nothing but do-gooding these past weeks… Those of you that know us will be relieved to hear that there has been the usual amount of getting-up-to-mischief and having fun too! Now, where to start?
Finally, after weeks of preparing his boat for a solo voyage down the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean at a difficult time of the year, Sam recruited a new crew member! Poppy, of s/y ‘Free’, agreed to join Sam for the majority of the journey. Poppy writes beautifully and contributes to the progress log, as well as helping Sam through a difficult journey. As I write this they have passed through the Suez Canal and already sent a number of updates and pictures
After one month of going live the site has received over 250 pledges, been translated into French, received 40,000 hits (or 4,000 unique users) and will be translated into German, Turkish and possibly Spanish. If you would like to get involved in translating into a language, please do get in touch with us.
Sam, bless him, had only expected five or ten people to turn up and really hadn’t prepared himself to explain why he was doing what he was doing in front of so many people. He moved the audience with his story and had to field some difficult questions. Some were uncertain of the whole point of Sam’s quest, which, in simple terms, was to bring about awareness of the Chagossian’s plight and eventually help get some Chagossian’s back to their islands.
Under the 30-year rule documents from the FCO show us all the facts, and oh dear me, how those documents reveal Britain’s jaded and cynical viewpoint of the world. Those 1960s Sir Humphreys** describe the islanders as “mere Tarzans and Men Fridays” with “little aptitude for anything except growing coconuts”. They wrote that “there will be no indigenous population except seagulls”. The deportations would be “ordered and timed to attract the least attention”. They connived with the Americans to label the islanders as “migrant contract labourers” with no right of abode – even though their families had lived there for generations.
I lowered myself down the companion-way and eased myself into what could only be described as a log cabin. Every bit of the boat was covered in reclaimed wood and other materials. The shelves came from his home in Devon and the stove had been chucked out as trash. The centre-piece, however, was the compression post (the post that follows the mast down into the boat). It was a piece of English oak that was to be used for a wooden boat reconstruction project that had fallen on hard times.