I headed out this AM looking at the map and seeing there was a promising ruin not far off the road near where I was passing, so of course, when I saw the sign, I turned.And there are even more than the normal number of signs leading me off the major road through burbs and then towns and villages and up a steep ridge.
And up I went, and found the road that said, “Gagai,” and drove along (now on a one-lane dirt road) for a Km or so, and then found a sign on a tree pointing down the hill off the road, so I parked and headed down the trail. And it was great because about every 30 feet or so, depending on visibility, there was a rock with a bright red and a bright white stripe on it (6 inches long’ an inch wide) to mark the trail.And the trail led down through a lovely forest and although it was a little rocky underfoot, sometimes it was grassy and pleasant.And I kept thinking I’d see the place— and a half-hour later I came out on another road, and there was no trail in sight! No painted rocks, no signs nailed to trees— nothing.So back (up now) to the car I went.Hmmmmmmm.And I kept thinking that in this lovely forest some old Greek ruins (with no one else around) would provide some great photography options. And it may well have been. If it exists. . . . On the way back to the highway I stopped in a market to get some veggies and do a little shooting.I found something I’d never seen before.Ever.Trust me on thus one.There are two ways to buy cheese over here— chunks wrapped in plastic wrapâ€”a pound or two, pretty standard.But there is also a drier, flakier kind that you normally get out of big tubs or bags (I always get the first kind)—And I want to interject here that when The Mad Albanian Shopping Goddess (aka Susan) and I were in the Balkans last year, we thought we were pretty hot stuff counting up all the ways they used goats— including marketing for barbeque places along side the highway.But nothing in the Balkans matches anything I saw yesterday (and today) at the local market.And I also want to add that younger people use the term “old goats” in a totally disparaging way— as though they (we) are without purpose or utility.No more.The containers that held the scoop-at-a-time cheese used to be goats.
I did hit Olympos later in the day, and although it was somewhat isolated, and about 10 miles off the main road, there were about a hundred or more pensiyones (cheap places to stay) of the log cabin and tree-house variety with lots of bars and restaurants. . . . so I figured it would be pretty noisy at night, and I headed out and am now in some place called Kemer, just SW of the big town around here, Antalya.And Kemer is full of a lot of really up-scale shops— no street markets here with old Muslim women selling potatoes, but you can get gold jewelry and Gucci (real or knock-offs) bags and Armani and Lacoste (certainly not Lo Coste) here at about any store you hit on the way into town. And the signs are in Turkish and Russian, and the tour busses mostly have little placards in the front window in Russian.I was in a grocery store (not a little fruit-stand type store-front, but a modern store with lots of beauty products), and a couple of early twenty-somethings were ahead of me a couple of customers in the check-out line, and they paid with a $10 billâ€”not a lot of American money over here, although at the ATMs you can opt for Turkish Lira, Euros, or Dollars.So I figured they were on the road and might point me to where there was a cheap place to stay. (So far I’ve been averaging just under $20 a night.)So I caught up with them in the street, mentioned seeing the $10 bill, and asked them about pensiyones, but they were Russian and spoke very little English! And I know even less Russian (about 10 words or so) than Turkish.Day # 32â€”May 6thKim and I left Seattle a month ago today, which seems like a long time ago in many ways.After getting rain and a thunderstorm Sunday night, I tried to shoot a ruin on Monday AM: I drove out there and waited for the rain to stop for about 90 minutes, doing some trip planning (and eating) in the car, but I finally got out of there and went to Ka? (pronounced “Kosh”), on the coast.I found the elegant Hilal Pensiyon, and got a basement room (the last free room); $15 a night with breakfastâ€”and not just your normal cheese, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, olives, and teaâ€” I got an omelet my first AM there and French toast (which I can’t eat because of the diabetes) this AM.The rain let up some on Tuesday afternoon, and I went into town, and the weather broke in the night, and there were blue skies and great big solid white clouds as well.When I went into town I found a little grocery storeâ€”here’s the sign thought you’d get the joke. . . . I also printed and mailed the photos of the family that helped me up on the mountainside on Sunday.So today, Wednesday. The trip resumed. I hit three ruins and a big family picnic, as well as the local ancient theater in Ka? just a couple hundred meters from the pension where I was for two nights. These Greeks and Romans must have gone to lots of plays. . . . there are theaters everywhere over here.Myra The first place I stopped was Myra, and although it was full of tour busses, and Russian touristsâ€” the town right there, Demre, is the home of the actual (Orthodox) St. Nicholas, who has a strong Russian connection– it was a good place.The standard list of his accomplishments (Like Elizabeth II– Empress of Great Britain, Defender of the Faith. . . .) includes Defender of Orthodoxy, so I can’t imagine he was all that jolly. I can just see him burning heretics like me with Ho Ho Ho twinkle in his eye. . . . .There were a half-dozen tour busses, big ones, and organized groups and all that, but I managed to keep almost all the tourists out of my photos.This is a big Greek, then Roman, complex with the usual suspects: Agora, Theater, civic buildings and spaces and up on the cliffs on the north side of the place, a whole bunch more of the Lycian rock-tombs.
One odd cultural thing is that in the month I’ve been here (so, of course, I’m now an expert) I have rarely seen as many thoughtlessly dressed tourists as the young Russian women were.Short shorts, scoopy tops, etc., just doesn’t play very well over here. I mean, for an old goat like me, it was a nice counterpoint to the almost universally totally covered women, including almost all the teen and twenty-something young womenâ€” I’ve probably seen only a half-dozen women in a dress or a top and a skirt.While the tourists at the market in Marmaris were in their tourist uniform (baggy shorts, big bags, fanny packs, little cameras, almost all of them were more appropriately dressed than many of the Russian cuties.There are enough Russians coming here that the signs at the site (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are in Turkish, English, German, and Russian.After about an hour on the road along the coastafter Myra, I hit a much less organized place called LimraNo busses, only two other cars in the little lot, but there was a kid who wanted to be my tour guide. I’d read up on the place so I wasn’t interested in paying him to tell we what I already knew in English that was about as bad as my Turkish.But he followed me around about ten steps behind as I scoped out shots, much more interested in the place visually than architecturally. Alexander the Great stayed here for the winter the year before he died, and they invited him here and took care of him and got some pretty good perks out of the whole deal.It was pretty cool wandering around a place he’d been.There was a large family having a picnic on the grounds; I’d noticed all day long that there were hundreds and hundreds of little clumps of families along the road and later when I went up in the hills above Finike, where I am tonight, I saw even more of them— 200 – 300 little picnic groups along side the road, sitting on rugs they’d brought from home, mostly gender separated, kids running around, little wood fires for cooking.Well, some 14-year old asked to have his picture taken and the gates opened. I asked around the group, everyone said yes, and I started shooting away. I forgot about slowing down though, so shot too fast (again) but at least I realized it long before I saw the pictures on the laptop. So I’m getting better about that.
There was some rain just as I got there, but it mostly just cleaned the air, and I spent a couple of hours climbing up and down.There was another contingent of local families up there, making a day of it, and I asked the constable who took the tickets and sold guide books about all the picnics.It seems that May 6 was the historic date of the New-England style town meetings in the Turkish villages. They’d meet in the town square, decide about issues and all that, then have a feast of sorts.Well, that worked pretty well when you got into a village though marriage or being born there, and got out by marrying (out) or dying, but now that the village populations are much more fluid, with people coming and going, and there are formal elections and all that, people just go on picnics, and that’s what I saw today.
Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey