Where to start?!
We’re in Marmaris Turkey, “we” being the good ship Leander, papa bear Paul, mama bear Sima, and young Alexander.
Our most recent blog posting was – gulp – last year! So much has happened, and there is so much to write about, that the thought of catching up is somewhat overwhelming.
Of course, we can’t tell seven months of stories in one posting. Do we start with Alexander and our new life with him? All the people we’ve met — the good, the bad, and the otherwise? Do we tell of all the boat work? The things we’ve seen?
Maybe these stories will never be told. And if we attempted such an undertaking now, one would surely be hard pressed to slog through it.
So here, instead, following Alexander’s example, we take a baby step and share a little bit about our current status. (Alexander has not, at six months, actually taken any baby steps, but you get the picture.)
We write on a slow and sunny Sunday afternoon. Just now, Alexander and Sima lie aft, Alexander suckling through lunch, fading in and out of sleep. When it appears he has truly nodded off, Sima rises to leave him, only to have his sleepy hand tighten around a strap of her clothing, pulling her back. Sima sighs, returns to her book, and Alexander continues to nibble in a semi-conscious half sleep.
The boat has been back in the water for about a month. It was on the hard for the duration of the winter, and the amount of work with which we were faced and got done was mind-numbing, a phrase which we don’t use loosely. As an exercise in catharsis, we’ll post a separate note about all of that.
We began sailing again just over two weeks ago, on May 20, and have done three short day sails along the coast, leaving Fethiye and stopping first at 22 Fathom Bay, then at Ekincik, and now at Marmaris. We’ve stopped here (perhaps stalled is a better word) to deal with three lingering must-be-addressed boat problems.
One was knocked down easily – the new batteries weren’t charging properly, and after a morning of tests, we isolated the problem at the high-output alternator. We removed it, took it to a shop, and after some back and forth with the electrician, saw that the internal wiring for the diodes had frayed and broken. An inexpensive fix, a return to service, and now it’s cranking out amps at a better clip than it ever did.
The second problem was our chartplotters, which have been misbehaving ever since we left the U.S. This could be the subject of a three page essay itself, and we came to Marmaris to meet (confront?) the local authorized technician who previously had vowed that he’d done fixed them. He done hadn’t, but has now told us he’s contacted the manufacturer to have new units sent to us. We’ll see.
The third problem is the rigging. New as of 2007, it should be in the prime of its life. We go aloft regularly to inspect it, and this time we found not one, not two, not three, but FOUR of our standing rigging cables had broken wires where the cable enters the swaged terminal. That’s bad news. This, too, could be the subject of a long and sad tale, but we’ll spare you, except to say that we’ll be here for a couple of extra days to get our standing rigging replaced.
These are hopefully just temporary setbacks, and we’ll get back to having fun. We had started doing just that, a couple of weeks after the boat splashed back into the harbor.
(Sima has finally come from the back room, “Jeepers he took a long time!” But think –if you could get the royal treatment that he does at nap time, wouldn’t you learn how to pull mom back down into bed? This Alexander is a clever one.)
Before leaving Fethiye, we took a long hike to “Kayakoy,” ( “Rock Village”), an abandoned Greek settlement that lies about five miles from Fethiye, over rolling hills and through piney woods.
Alexander was a champ! He likes to hike, and alternates between sleeping and gazing about at the passing scenery. As long as he is moving, he is happy as a clam.
The path, part of the ancient Lycian Way, started out somewhat nondescriptly, but then became pretty cool. The dirt path morphed into a cobbled road, about a third of the size of a traditional street, supported as it went along ledges by stone embankments. We saw some literature that referred to the road as “medieval,” but it seems more likely to be Roman, because it has all the earmarks of their roadwork, and because from what we’ve read the folks that were here from the 10th to 16th centuries wouldn’t have been up for building roads like that.
Kayakoy itself was haunting. The settlement is hundreds, maybe thousands, of years old, and occupied through to the last century. When the Greeks and Turks exchanged populations in the 1920s, the entire site was evacuated. Some exchanged Turks came to replace them, didn’t like it, and the place has been crumbling ever since. The Turks called it “Kayakoy” because the homes, streets, shops, walls, and churches are built entirely of stone.
We got a ride back to Fethiye on a dolmus (a Turkish mini-bus), shopped for a kilim in the markets, and then had a spectacular and well-earned dinner of pide (a kind of Turkish pizza) before finally going home to collapse on Leander.
Alexander was similarly easy going during our three sails. He fusses sometimes, but no more than usual, such as when he wants someone to play with him, or he’s hungry, or sleepy. He may be getting a little bit seasick, as one of the early stages of it is sleepiness, and he seems to be more sleepy than usual on passage. But he is certainly not becoming visibly sick or crying endlessly, something we had feared.
We did a second hike with him earlier this week, a longer and more arduous trip from our anchorage in Ekincik, again over pine-covered hills, to the ruins of ancient Kaunos. These hills were much steeper, and the path, at times, extremely hard to follow. We lost its trace on several occasions, especially when a newer dirt road intersected with or ran alongside our very old trail. Sima, however, proved to be a pathfinder extraordinaire, repeatedly finding trail markers hidden deep in the woods, across a graveyard, or further along the road. Her skills kept us going in the right direction, and we eventually passed through the village of Candir and then closed on Kaunos.
Kaunos was impressive. The ruins are being excavated slowly, as in over many years, with the vast majority of the site still engulfed by tall grass, scrubby trees, and thorny bushes, through which sheep, goats, and the occasional cow wander.
We arrived, hot, sweaty and utterly exhausted from the hike, via a back entrance and away from the part of the site that had been cleaned up. At first, on a distant hill a half mile distant, we saw another group wandering the ruins. But they soon abandoned the place, and it was once again left to the wandering vegetation and livestock. And to us.
We tramped down a steep embankment along a narrow path into the ruins, and met a local coming the other way with a bag of seaweed he’d harvested from the briny marshes below. “This hill is tough,” he shared, and then pushed on after opening his bag to show us his haul.
We, in turn, moved down through the underbrush. The back entry was certainly not the way to go, and we repeatedly found ourselves pulled at by the prickly bushes, clambering over uneven rock piles while trying to keep the thorny limbs from taking junior from us.
What we saw, initially, left much to the imagination, with stones lying in undulating mounds, and thousands of pieces of crushed terra cotta scattered about as far as one could see. This piece looked like it came from an old pot. Maybe that was part of a roof. Who knew? But these fragments, and the village itself, dated to the time of Christ and before, and it was fascinating holding the pieces in your hand.
(We later were befriended by a watchman, whose job it was to patrol Kaunos’ at night. After a heavy rain, he told us, top layers are removed and the stuff of antiquity is spit up. He’s found copper coins dating to the Roman era, he tells us. We had looked, but found only terra cotta, rocks, and animal droppings.)
But as we came to the part that had been well-excavated, less work was required of the imagination. Here, a church from the sixth century. There, a temple to Zeus from the time of the Romans, with other remnants unearthed from the Hellenic period. Over there, a street that had been buried under several layers of town that, when uncovered, was as shiny, new, and ready for use as those we had seen from Kayakoy, abandoned only three generations before. Except this street was in use Before Christ.
Blinking in the sun on the church’s stone terrace, gazing out at the now-silted harbor from atop the 5,000 seat theater, and stepping down the stone stairs towards the outdoor temple, it wasn’t hard to imagine a time when children ran about the streets, neighbors gathered to gossip, and merchants hawked their goods from colorful storefronts. One hundred generations ago.
Eventually, we too abandoned Kaunos, and walked on toward the nearby town of Dalyan, looking for a ride home. We found instead, at first, a family ending their day out on their terrace and, after striking up a conversation, were invited for tea and cookies. Alexander was passed around, with smiles and giggles from his admirers and him both. A ride was arranged, and as the sun set, we were driven home.
These were good first forays into the continuation of our journey with Alexander. It appears that he is a good addition to the team.