the shortest of updates

sorry to drop off the map, everyone. I was busy. 

doing the indiegogo victory dance! horaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!

This means in a few scant months I will have traveled all over the Balkan Peninsula and will be scribing my book about adventures in this area. It will be fun. I hope. 

I’m pretty sick right now. I went to the hospital, which is the only free doctor we have found here. It’s SSK Goztepe, which means “eye hill.” I had a fever of 40 celsius, which my italian roommate told me is “almost dead,” and a tonsil infection, and now I’m reclining at home with lots of strong antibiotics and tv from the internet and my writing. life is pretty good. Getting diagnosed was pretty great. The doctor was in a small room, sitting at a desk. She was doing paperwork. There were some people on cots behind me. She said, “speak turkish?” I said, “evet, I’m learning.” I explained my problems, and she picked up a medical gun thing and held it to my throat. She pulled the trigger. It beeped. “Ohhh,” she said. “Forty.” Then she took a tongue depresser, looked at my throat, said “tonsil infection” and tossed it in the garbage. The whole process took about fifteen seconds. Turkish medical POWER. She was very attractive. All of the doctors and nurses in SSK Goztepe are strangely attractive–I think this is because it is an educational hospital as well, and they’re all still pretty young. 

anyways I’m going to try to write more updates about life here. I hope to write about the saga of anna getting fired from her insane organization of monstrous humans. There are many acts of petty revenge and theft in this story, plus kindergarten. zanyways. 

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/weird-europe/x/6701180 woooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! funded!!!!! I am excited. 

the lycian way, day four

Kas was a miracle. After a few days of driving around horrible wiry turkish villages held together by hope and livestock, Kas was a miracle. An affluent Mediterranean town with restaurants and public squares. It was night when we arrived, and deserted. We found a cheap hotel and slept on the second story. I remember walking around very confused. 

And when we awoke it was like god singing happy songs to the world. We had been so goddamned tired. We took long hot showers. Hot water feels really really awesome. 

Today we had to backtrack to begin–we’d skipped some really killer beaches and ruins that we wanted to catch. We took a village bus and wound up walking along a rock road to the beach. A guy named hassan picked us up and offered me a summer job working in a tourism office in Kas, but we turned him down.

“Canow,” he said. “I am canow.” 

“What?” He wasn’t speaking turkish, so I did my best. 

“In water, canow, rint canow.” We drove up to his property in the beach town, and he had racks upon racks of colorful kayaks. 

“Oh,” I said. “Kayaks.”

“Yes,” he said. “Canoe.” We thanked him for the ride and admired the palm trees and cobblestone roads as we walked. 

All the pensions and restaurants were deserted in the small town of Patara. The road led to a pay booth. We almost snuck by, felt conflicted and paid the guy manning the ruins booth five lira each. Again. Turkey is full of these things–magnificent and cheap ruins which nobody visits in January, I guess. There was a farm directly across the street from a trio of perfect roman arches. It looked like that field of wheat that Russell Crowe brushes his hands oh-so-lightly against when he’s about to die in Gladiator. We wondered aloud what it would be like to grow up here. We saw some frogs on a stone roman avenue in a puddle. We climbed a big restored arena. AND SAW THE BEACH. 

The beach stretched from horizon to horizon and had exactly one shack. We decided we had to naked swim. But first, a coffee. It had been a good four kilometer walk from the highway(including hassan helping us out with the ride) and our tired lil hiker bodies were still recovering. We sat on the only picnic table and looked at the nearby shack restaurant. I went inside. Some reggae music was playing. There was a pure white cat. A guy with a beanie poked his head out and I ordered coffee, in turkish. He replied “okay,” and disappeared again. There was a bilingual poster near the doorway about transcendent massage with a guy Brent. I guess he lived in town somewhere. Whatever. Jari and I charmed the cat over and it squirmed in Jari’s grasp. The guy came out with coffees. We tried to talk with him. He was not friendly. He lived in the shack all year on a perfect beach and probably did a lot of drugs, and yet still was unfriendly. He probably needed to visit Brent. 

We walked to the far end of the beach and got naked and ran in the water. There’s no suspense, it just felt awesome. Both of us were going through heavy shit at the moment–him dealing with the end of a relationship, me dealing with the end of a job–and it was baptismal. Go swim naked in the Mediterranean. Also naked dancing on the beach. Some people had written a love note and a heart in the sand, and I put my butt in it. It was juvenile. I chuckled. 

“So I don’t wanna go all the way up this road,” Jari said. “I think the trail is just over this cliff here.” A high slope, covered in scrub, buried itself in the water in front of us. 

“Alright.” So we dressed and retrieved our packs and climbed it. It was very exhausting. Our ankles got all scratched up–every single plant was a spiny beast, and the rocks poked at our feet. It was very steep. We got to several false summits, then to the summit summit, and looked out over everything–the sea, on either side of the cliffs, the small beach town, the beach itself, the shacks, and the ancient roman ruins in between. 

“So where is the trail?” I asked.

“Over here,” Jari said, and we wandered a lot and got lost and read Kate Clow’s guidebook and were totally confused, and finally found a tractor road. I have never been so happy to hike on something flat and even, something that wasn’t going to stab my exposed skin or wound my toes. It was not the trail, but it did eventually run into it. We felt like millionaires. 

I’ll skip a lot of walking here. <<EXHAUSTING>> We sang an enormous amount of stupid songs about dogs and buttworms, and saw a lot of olive trees, and a nice sunset. We passed an old car, empty and cold, sitting on the trail. After another half hour of hiking, it came up behind us. Two fishermen were inside, smoking. The car stopped at us and offered a ride, which we readily accepted. They were going back to Kinik, the worst town ever. We declined and got off on the highway (another eternity’s drive away–SO glad we did not have to walk that) and hitched back to Kas. We watched dogs play and fight in the square and hoped for some company, but the town was deserted still. I think I ate a barracuda. Jari had some sort of casserole. We went to our hotel and the woman inside kept trying to speak German to us, no matter how much we insisted we did not know it, and then she shared her photography and horrible cat scent with us, and then we went yet again to hotel bed. I love hotels. 

 

travel book!

Hi everyone! I’m finally writing a book–it’s (sort of not surprisingly) about travel in this region. I wanted to write a wacky travel guide which made adventures and stories the focus of a good vacation, rather than 5 star resorts. It’s going to be a lot of the material from this blog, plus new things!

However, I’m almost out of money. I need to travel through the Balkans (and some more of Turkey) to make this complete, and then I need to publish the book itself. I started an Indiegogo campaign to help me raise the money, and if you can contribute, that would be great! The book should be out in the fall, and with your help I can make this a real thing. That would be so so great. Thanks so much!

This is the indiegogo for my travel book! Yayyyyyy!

 

 

the lycian way, day three

 The unbelievably boring trio of people we’d met the day before had led us to the Fethiye Guesthouse. The owner uncannily resembled the Dude. (Ahmet Lebowski.) Two humans were in the outdoor-visqueened-off dining area, John and Cat, from real english speaking countries. It was exciting. John was an IT person from I want to say Tennessee who had saved forty thousand to “save up for a house, a family, other life things” and then instead just left, and Cat was a Kiwi in between internvolunteerships doing disaster preparedness training. They had a car. They had also invited us, over wine and cheap food, to explore the region with them tomorrow. We readily accepted. I had missed the invitation because I’d gone to bed. Jari informed me of the invitation the following morning. Anticipating such an arrangement, I had set my alarm to ring at 8:30. Ernie heeds the travel gods. 

First we got into their little white lada and drove around Fethiye. We stopped in an alley made from low white walls. A long staircase went up to the cliff walls which rose above the town. We climbed. We posed. We saw the king tombs. Man-sized openings into the rock wall, with carved archways and lots of graffiti. “Seni Seviyorum Zeynep,” that sort of thing. Imagine the facade of the parthenon carved flat into a wall and you’ve got it. Sort of. The view was magnificent. We overlooked the bay from the king tombs. 

“What’s next?” I asked when we got back into the car. 

“There’s a big gorge to check out,” John said. “And the city of Tlos.” I tapped an empty water bottle at my feet. We drove out of town–the roads got more and more rural. Cat’s iPhone directions led us astray. We drove through a dirt neighborhood, lined by plastic greenhouses and fallen concrete pillars, to get back on the highway. On one of the rusted powerlines, Jari spotted an OLUM TEHLIKELI sign with a cartoon skull. Death will result. 

“This skull is different from the ones I saw back in town,” Jari commented. 

“I think it’s non-standard,” I said, and kicked at the water bottle. John and Cat consulted their iPhone.

We made it to high savannah, with a small two-lane byway mounting and curving through low hills. It was dry, hot, and sunny. Our road carried us through some flat villages and outside of town to a tall rising cliff. I began to ask where the gorge was, and then saw it–a cleft in the rocks which split it from top to bottom. It was really awesome. We drove up and saw there was some tourist development around it–a restaurant, a parking lot, some shops–but all were empty for the winter. It was January, after all, even if it felt like summer to the Alaskans in the back. 

We parked wherever and went into the ticketing area. We saw that the boardwalk which ran inside the gorge was locked with an iron portcullis. Jari and John climbed over the turnstiles and talked about another way around. I climbed over and then swung on the outside of the portcullis to the other side of the boardwalk. The others followed. We walked under a traffic bridge and into the gorge. 

Grey stone rose on either side of us. Slate-colored water stormed below us. Our boardwalk went to a little riverbank with benches and a tree garden, and then stopped. We wanted to walk further into the gorge, but the riverwater was running to high to keep going. Jari and John waded into the water. Cat took pictures, I looked at trees and then climbed a tree overhanging the water. We were completely alone in a gorge in the shade with a river and some trees. Up near the top, the sunlight fell on a carved-out section of rock, and a stout little tree poked out. Go tree!

Anyways there wasn’t anything else to do so we left. We came out to the parking lot and played in the river some more. Jari and I found a tree, a pomegranate tree, overfull with ripe rotting pomegranates, most of which had smattered to the ground in wet red blobs. We threw them at each other for awhile, like fruit baseball. We noticed that a dirt road ran alongside the river. A tractor with some country folk went down, and we decided to follow them. We drove very slowly, as the road got muddy and our car had no concept of what four wheel drive might be. The fields grew high with wheat. I felt like we’d accidentally gone into a mark twain rustic american fantasy. We followed the tractor around muddy curves. The children waved at us. I felt strange, since what were we even doing there. We crossed a little bridge over a tributary to an abandoned power plant, and decided to stop following the tractor family. We stopped the Lada. Cat took pictures. Jari and I hopped over the rusty iron pole wall and explored. The building was whitewashed and had more OLUM TEHLIKELI skulls, again different. The little tributary ran into a resevoir, overgrown with algae. 

“Let’s throw something in,” I said. 

“I bet that it would be like aliens to them,” Jari said. “like THIS IS NOT OF YOUR WORLD”

“How would their tiny little brains even begin to rationalize such a happening.”

“They might form a religion.” We threw in some sticks and rocks and rusty paint cans, and watched the tiny proto-catfish and frogs scuttle away from the impact zones. John got back in the car and we followed from the pond. We did a five-point turn, and drove slowly back along the rustic wheat mud river road. It was beautiful and quiet. 

[side note: as I write this from my balcony in Rasimpasa, it is election season (it happens in 11 days) and occasionally a political van will drive by, telling people to vote for whoever. I know these vans pass not because I can see them (I am four stories up) but because they all broadcast a unique turk song. Can you imagine this happining in america? Vans driving around, playing rock songs written about Sarah Palin? This is truly a strange place.]

We started driving back to find the city of Tlos, but we saw a hand-painted sign which directed us towards a waterfall. We followed. Why not? We found ourselves looping through the hilly farmland, the ghost of the gorge rising in the distance. We found a bare dirt parking lot with an empty thatched-roof restaurant and a bathroom shack. A wooden staircase led down into a ravine.

“<- WATERFALL”

We climbed down. The ravine was enormous–way larger than we expected. The farmland was so even for miles that it didn’t seem likely it could suddenly drop so far into the earth. It was never-never land inside. Impossibly lush and green. A spray of water ran through a hollow in a tree to the ravine’s floor below. At the bottom, the river ran up the ravine, and we found a wooden shelf full of rubber shoes. The waterfall was apparently 300 meters up the canyon. We found big bamboo river poles, put on the rubber shoes, and set out. 

The canyon was narrow–we climbed boulders and improvised wooden bridges and fallen trees and I have never felt more like tarzan. All the while, the river ran between and beneath our feet.  We waded through it. It would have been impossible, John commented, to do this in our regular shoes. We propped our river poles against the canyon walls for stability, sometimes through hanging vines or greenery. When we finally got to the waterfall, we were worn out. 

It was spectacular. It felt sacred. The river spilled from above into our grotto, into the middle of a round pool. A fallen tree lay across the length of the grotto, some twenty feet up. A tire was wedged into the waterfall’s path. 

Image

 

We made our way back, mostly quiet. I wish everyone could do this expedition. It was the sort of grown-up version of a lot of adventures I’d dreamed about as a kid. Hike up a river canyon to a waterfall with river poles and rubber shoes. In my imagination something usually happens–something magical–when you arrive at the magical waterfall grotto with the tire in it, but in the real world there never is. You just hike up a river canyon with river poles and rubber shoes and see a magical waterfall grotto with the tire in it, and then hike back, and then take off your rubber shoes and set aside your rubber pole and then you remember it. 

When we got to the top of the ravine again, back to the bare parking lot. Still nobody around for miles. We brought out our food and moved some tables and chairs up from the thatched-roof restaurant. The refrigerators also had some coke and beer in them, so we took those too. It was the best lunch. We snoozed in the restaurant’s hammocks until we heard the rumble of a tractor in the distance–and old woman came to the parking lot. The shack was hers, and she began doing stuff with the fields behind it. We put all the tables and chairs back and left.

We drove to Tlos, on a hill, but we were all pretty worn out. Tlos is an ancient greek city complex made of bronze-colored ruined stone amidst the pastures of a turkish village. We arrived first at a castle/tomb/hippodrome sort of arrangement. The castle steps rose from the ancient horse racing field, and an aqueduct-looking thing ran alongside it. A single cow was eating in the horse track. Some goats played near the king tombs. We all climbed to the top of the castle and just stared out at the plains and the mountains. It was sunny and hot and dry. It was so nice. Jari left first, then John. Both headed towards the amphitheatre. Cat stayed the longest. I followed the others. 

Coming down, we discussed our options. Jari didn’t want to spend another night in Fethiye. Neither did I, but I was nervous about hitchhiking to the next town, wherever that might be. It was getting late, which meant getting dark. Jari convinced me and John to drop us off at an intersection near Fethiye. It was the crossing of two small highways. John and Cat unloaded our stuff from the car, our backpacks, and gave us a hug and facebook information, and sped off in the white lada. We watched them go. We took stock of our surroundings. 

A middle-aged turk in a baggy suit, hunched over to the left, stood next to us, also hitchhiking. Behind us was a restaurant attached to something like a barn or a slaughterhouse or an animal jail. The smell was terrible. We both waved at the first car, and then looked at each other, and just started laughing. It felt freeing. After about fifteen minutes, the man in the baggy suit moved about fifteen feet down the road, to distance himself from us. He also managed to get a ride immediately afterwards. Who picks up an old turk in a baggy suit before two fresh-faced young american kids? We laughed about that too. We baa-aa-aaed at the lambs to entertain ourselves. Eventually we got picked up by a young man in a minivan driving to Kınık . We wanted to get to a coastal city of some sort, either Kalkan or the distant Kaş. He drove us along for about thirty kilometers, and then entered the city of Kınık. The first thing we saw were rows of long greenhouses, made orange by the setting sun. It felt industrial and strange. The road was set slightly higher than the ground level, so we could see miles of these things on either side. We drove at a crawl to the center of this town. By the time we had arrived, it was dark. Our driver bid us a fond farewell at the statue of Ataturk and we looked around. A few stray dogs, haggard and evil-looking, wrestled near the feet of the single building with lights on, a doner restaurant. Two men stood next to it, smoking. The buildings, dirty and black, loomed above three stories on all three sides of the intersection. We had absolutely no clue where to go next. I sort of wished he had left us on the highway at least. 

I started up one of the roads. Jari followed and we found a bus station. We asked for the next bus to Kalkan, and they told us not until nine. It was five o’clock. We had four hours in this place. 

“Okay,” I said, staving off the panic. “Let’s get a doner.”

We walked back along the industrial street to the Ataturk statue, and to the doner place. The doner man was laughing. He talked to us and the unsmiling smoking man. The haggard street puppies wrestled at our feet. We ordered our food, and the doner man kept laughing. He made sandwich after sandwich, and yet the restaurant was empty. We waited for maybe fifteen minutes, watching the puppies, the sandwich-making, the unsmiling smoking man, and just when I was about to crack they put sandwiches into our hands. A bus passed us. 

“Shit!” I said, and took off after it. Jari followed. At the bus station it bore a large “Kaş” on the window. We got on and laughed and laughed and laughed and ate our toxic sandwiches.

“Imagine if we had had to stay there,” Jari said. It was the worst town. Kınık.

 

 

 

the lycian way, day two

The Klima had been running all night, and it fanned dry hot air onto us every few minutes. We were really thirsty. I awoke every two hours or so in my hippy bed and wandered around the camp at night, searching for the well. Jari claimed it was next to the mess hall, and I ended up drinking from a hose. It may have been sanitary.

In the morning we went to the mess hall and finished the remains of our potato gratin. I tried to make coffee. Nobody else was awake, save for a dirty mop dog who kept trying to nose into the kitchen.

"That dog is a monster," I suggested ."A horrible shaggy monster." It sat at our feet and watched us as we ate our gratin. A sign just outside the kitchen proclaimed bilingually to not feed the dogs, so we did not. It was a little wet outside. We cleaned up and walked to the village center for the bus back into Fethiye, to start our hike for the day. We got to the center of Kayakoy, and three old dudes were sitting at the village table and gossiping, probably. We asked them when the bus came, and they said half an hour.

It was so damn quiet. There were three (again, corgi) street dogs. They were slow. They wandered into puddles and got their paws muddy. "Maybe," Jari said, "maybe there is a brood mother somewhere in these hills."

"A corgi brood mother."

"Yeah. Spawning corgis. Or there’s like a corgi dominant gene."

"They are planning for world domination."

"The children of the broodmother will consume the whole world."

I’m doing my best to transcribe this sort of conversation you understand because I want to convey to you how mind-alteringly slow time passes in the village. We sat on rocks next to our packs in the village center, a confluence of three dirt roads, watching dogs walk back and forth and listening to three old men talk about something in another language. When the bus came by the first time, it was going the opposite way, and both of us wanted to get on just for something to do. It was quiet, though, and quiet was pretty nice. We waited for the bus to come back around.

Back to Fethiye, we transferred on a dolmus for Oludeniz (which means, I now realize, "dead sea.") We were seated behind an old english woman and a giant black guy with a respectable head of dreads about thirty years her junior. She spoke in a gossipy monologue to him about going to this or that club, and who had said what to someone else, and he only pucntuated the conversation with little "uh-huhs," so intent was his listening. The road was potholed and forested. It was still very sunny.

Oludeniz was empty. It floods with tourists in the summer, but now, it was a string of abandoned theme restaurants. The strange duo got off in front of a chinese place. We continued on until the driver told us "Lykia Yolu!" Lycian way! Our adveunture was finally actually beginning.

We walked down a highway and up a resort road, passing deeper into the forest. Both of us stopped to adjust our packs, or our shoelaces. This hiking thing was way tougher than walking without packs. We reached a huge arch, the official starting point of the Lycian way, which wound along the coast from the outskirts of Dead Sea all the way to Antalya. We would see ruins, we would see nature, we would see goats. The "i" was missing from both the "Lyc-an Way START" and "Lyk-a Yolu BASLANG-C" signs. One of the signs half-hung from the arch. We posed and took pictures.

The first day’s hike, Kate Clow told us, was a hiiiike. (Kate Clow being the insane englishwoman who spent years of her life mapping this trail and writing a guidebook. We thank her.) It goes up the side of Baba Dagi (Daddy mountain), over a pass, across a valley, and into Feralya, the cliffside village above Butterfly Valley. Does that not all sound epic? We thought it sounded epic.

Through the arch, the path took us past a bunch of construction of horrible-looking villas where rich assholes would live one week out of the year sometime in the future, ruining an otherwise spectacular view for the rest of us. It was a flat mountainside path, and we feared the switchbacks we knew would soon come. We stopped every four minutes to admire the view–big islands, sweeping mountains, other stupid beautiful things gleaming in the turkish sun. Oludeniz looked like an empty carnival from above.

As we climbed, we encountered a lot of goats. First sporadically, then in clusters. We finally went around a switchback and an entire herd was at the top of it, staring at us, waiting for us. They were easy to scatter and intimidate. We sat on a rock resevoir and popped pepto-bismal preemptively (both of us had been feeling a little queasy) and drank our water and ate apples and hazelnuts.

After a few hours, we made it to the top. We hoped this was sort of the end of the hike, because we were really really tired. A village man, the first human we’d seen, shouted excitedly to us about how there was a village ahead and how he couldn’t make any money! No money! No jobs! Ha ha ha ha! He sawed some trees. We were really hungry. The trail, now on top of a ridge, flattened out and wound through a strange half-finished castle project. I mean, I understand the impulse to build a castle on a mountaintop. Empty, always empty. The trail became a service road, and we followed it past the castle site into a four-house village. The mountainhead roase dramatically above us to our left. We looked down to our right, where a flat fenced yard hosted three little girls in pink playing with a ball. Drying laundry hung off a crusty tree. An old woman came out of the stone doorway and stared at us as we passed. Beyond the fenced yard, a cliff, a drop, the ocean in the distance. Merhaba, we waved and shouted. The woman smiled and waved back.

The road cut through the village and out onto a rock plain. We saw sporadic dead trees, half-buried in landslide. We kept expecting the cliff to break in half and watch the mountain tumble down. Always we followed the waymarks. The trail is waymarked with two stripes, a red and a white, painted on rocks or trees or telephone poles every hundred meters or so. Half the fun of the Lycian way is following what you think is the trail, getting anxious when you don’t see a waymark, checking the guidebook and trying to figure out what Kate Clow was talking about when she said "a fairly well maintained grassy path" and searching for the great red X which marks false paths. Our waymarks were on telephone poles along this service road, and it led through some redwood-looking territory. The sky got grey and we started to feel drips. I got nervous. We had been hiking for five hours now, we were hungry, and neither one of us were sure how far away the next town was.

We walked beside some stone walls and along the main street of another village before walking to a ledge and seeing the sprawl of Feralya. An iron telephone tower dropped its wires to the valley below. The mountainside wound along and out into the ocean. We saw ads for a pension, a german restaurant. Some russians had written some graffiti for fellow walkers–Jari translated for me. Something like "pavel was here–great trip!!" etc etc etc. The trail went through some densely wooded stuff, and was cut off by a high wire fence, so we had to squeeze alongside the fence until we got into a gully and back onto the main road towards the village.

Feralya was also empty. Though larger than the mountain villages, Feralya was still a smaaaaaaaall town. with a single road that rose and fell as the mountain dictated. We passed some houses, a mosque, a shuttered pension. Nothing seemed to be open. I kept bugging jari to maybe we should check out this german tourist restaurant/hotel. It was of course closed. We saw some fellow hikers–it was the korean people we’d spotted in Kayakoy the previous day, and their new antisocial swiss friend, coming up from butterfly valley.

"We did the paragliding," the korean guy said.

"Oh man," I said. "We turned that down yesterday. How was it??" Jari and I watched his expression anxiously.

"It was…" he looked uncertain. "It was a once in a lifetime experience, very special." We groaned.

They went to find the bus schedule–they told us about a guesthouse in Fethiye where they were staying, and Jari and I realized we did not want to sleep in Feralya. It was five or so, and we were again looking at many hours of nothing in between sunset and sleep, in a mountainside village where nobody spoke english. The swiss guy located the schedule next to the blue bus shack on the road. The only bus was coming in two hours. We groaned again.

"I’m going to eat my own ankles off, so we’re finding a restaurant. Do you guys want to come?" I asked.

"No, we will wait here at the bus stop."

We found a restaurant on the cliffside and ordered some chicken. We considered bullying our boring new friends into joining us, but then the food arrived, and I went into blackout eating mode. Jari did the same. They wandered up after an hour and a half anyways.

"Are you hungry?" they asked. We’d just eaten. We made jokes about goats, talked about the views we’d seen. It was quiet, and quiet was pretty nice. The bus came up and we almost got in, but he was going further out of town to Kabak, the end of the road. We almost got on for lack of things to do. We waited until the bus came back around. The ride home was glorious–watching the sun plunge into the mediterranean, hoping that we would not careen off the shoulderless cliffside road and plunge into the ocean too. The driver was really going quite fast. The road got narrower and we hugged blind curves at 40, 50 mph.

"I’ve lived a good life," I said to no one really.

"Yes," Jari said, "and this is where it ends now. This is really scary."

"See, I’m not scared, because I am certain that we’re going to die on this road."

"Yes," Jari said, and laughed, nervous. "Yes, here we shall die," and we looked at the sunset over Dead Sea. I released my white-knuckle grip only when we reached sea level. We stayed in the Fethiye guest house, and let the Klima dry us out with its hot breath.

open for everything

a minor language note: the word "open" describes everything in turkish.

open the door: kapı aç
turn on the lights: ışıklar aç
take off your shirt: gömlek aç
these recordings are clearly fake: çok açık bu ses kayitlari gerçek değildir

Some audio recordings were released on youtube over the weekend–impossible to verify if they’re real or not, of course–which appear to be a few recorded phone calls between the prime minister and his son bilal, in which Erdogan tells his son to hide 30 million euros by distributing it among local businessmen. This was on top of a law which wrest control ofthe judiciary review board over to Erdogan–it basically fires all the employees of the board who haven’t been elected (and therefore probably have gulenist ties) and allows the elected peeps to hire whomever they want (i.e. fill the judiciary review board with erdogan’s peeps).

I was wandering near Taksim last night (and a few nights ago) and both times I saw the start of a protest forming–the first time, I was trying to pick up my alaskan neighbors roz and rachel from the ferries, and I looked up from my phone, and realized I was at the mouth of Istiklal street, SURROUNDED by batallions of cops. They were mobilizing. They had big water tanks. They had tear gas guns. I got out of the way, just in time to see the protesters unfurl a banner behind me. Yes, in classic Ernie fashion, I almost got caught in a protest because I was not aware of my surroundings. I am sure writing this out gives my parents much comfort.

The second time was last night, and I saw the batallions of cops, just sitting around, waiting. There must have been two hundred of them in the alleys, and another hundred or so loitering in Taksim square. A whole bunch of sports fans were out for the Galatasaray/Chelsea match, and maybe ten photojournalists with gasmasks dangling from their hands were waiting around, smoking, talking, fiddling with their smartphones. (this was, incidentally, the same thing the cops were doing. there was just more cops.) I talked to a few people and skedaddled home.

Believe it or not, even with all the ridiculousness that’s going on in turkey right now, Erdogan might still get re-elected. Istanbul’s not the only place here, and there are 50 million other turks who have different values. I guess. But his party will almost certainly lose the mayorship of istanbul, which was Erdogan’s former job before being Basbakan.

also this blog is really sharp on the current political sitch, it’s a british author/reporter living in istanbul. good stuff.

As for me, I’m settling into my new house. Claudio, my italian roommate, makes a lot of really good pasta and is just a gem. I bought an enormous container of village yogurt and some homemade strawberry preserves and some muesli. The previous inhabitant of my room left behind a lot of art supplies, so Anna and I are going to purchase cheap canvases and be moody artists in Istanbul. I’m hoping to see eyetouch in the next couple days to put together a set to go sing in some bars. AND, I got a job at DIALOGUE ENGLISH, teaching real adults, which is so much EASIER because they’ve all paid to learn english and really really really really really want to learn it. It’s in Aksaray, across the water, so I can take a ferry OR the marmaray underwater train if I’m in a hurry.

ciaoooooooooooo

the lycian way

jari and I arrived in Fethiye at ten fifty in the morning. we were immediately approached by a wrinkled sack of a man who offered us a paragliding trip. “a group of korean girls are going,” he said, swiping back a long hank of black hair. jari and I looked at each other. “all right,” we said. we felt that the spirits of yolo were telling us to follow this greasy pimp to wherever he would take us. not that we particularly wanted to go, having just sat on a bus for thirteen hours, but I know when to follow the signs. “it leaves in ten minutes.”

“we need like half an hour,” I said. “we’ve just been on a bus and we really need a break from sitting down.” the pimp frowned and made some calls, and took us to his office. we paid three hundred lira, all in blue ataturk hundreds, and set off for a bathroom/breakfast. “be back at 11:30,” he called after us. 

in the horrible bus station bathroom (and trust me, i use “horrible” with full knowledge of what a normal bus station bathroom is like) we discussed the microclimates–when the sun rose, we went through three different biozones. there was a coastal thing, a mountain thing, a desert thing with strange perky trees. each valley had its own protected universe. we went to find breakfast, and some short legged street dogs began following us. unlike the hulky brown mastiffs of istanbul, these dogs were perky earned, long haired, and squat.

“are those corgis?”

“that is the funniest fucking thing,” jari said. we watched some russian tourists feeding them handfuls of bread. we walked around to the grocery store and bought some apples, cheese, and bread. we came back to the small row of tourist offices right on time. we then began to wait. 

at 11:45, I approached the counter. “are we still going with that group of girls?” I asked. 

“of course,” said the underpimp, flipping through a stack of papers on a clipboard. the sub-pimp gave us a side eye from behind the desk. 

“how long is it to the paragliding place?”

“it’s about two hours all the way. an hour and a half to the top of the mountain, and then a half hour down.” jari and I looked at the clock and did calculations. 

“I know, jari,” I said, “but we should be back on the road by like one and then we can start hiking.” we didn’t even have a map. we sat and we began to wait. 

the trip had been concocted as a jailbreak from a bad job (for me) and as a vacation from real grad-school life (for jari)–I took the remnants of december’s salary and ran. mom didn’t really approve of the plan, and both jari and eyetouch and I had to talk her into believing it was a good idea. we wanted to hike the lycian way, a 500ish kilometer trail that runs along the southern coast of a nub of mediterranean turkey. we’d looked at some pictures, saw that the trail ran through a bunch of abandoned roman cities, rural turk villages, and resort-quality beaches and thought, damn! this could be a really great impromptu bro trip! so on january 2nd, we hopped on a midnight bus and found ourselves in the city closest to the trailhead’s beginning, without a map, a compass, or a guide, or really any idea of how to get anywhere at all, and now we were waiting for paragliding. and waiting. and waiting. we took a walk through a horrible industrial area to pass the time. we saw three more corgi street dogs. one followed us from a rain gully back to the station. the sub-pimp hissed at it to scare it off. 

“how much longer?” we asked the underpimp.

“mmmmmmmmm, twenty minutes.” he said. in turkey, “twenty minutes” is limbo. you are always in the state of waiting for twenty minutes. 

come noon, the pimp finally returned and waved us across the street. he sat us at an outdoor cafe on a busy street, and greeted the table next to us. 

“wait here,” he said. “they have problem. fifteen minutes, maximum.”

“alright,” I said, and set a timer on my phone. 

“what’s that?” jari asked.

“insurance. if they go later than fifteen minutes, i don’t feel bad for walking away, and I don’t have to feel like my time is not a priority to them.” He nodded. Both of us were antsy and eager to start the trip. after about five minutes, another dude approached us. 

“I AM DRIVER!” he shouted. “I HAVE! PROBLEM! TIRE!” he mimed steering and blowing a tire out. “I FIX, I COME HERE! I TAKE YOU! FIVE OR TEN MINUTES!”

“alright,” we said. we ordered nescafe, drank it quickly, and waited for the time to run down. the timer clicked. we went back to the office. 

“get ready,” I said to jari. “this is my best yelling-in-turkish.” I don’t remember exactly what I said, but the head pimp himself said, ok, ok, fine, ok, it is no problem, here take your money back. we asked for the center of town, and opted to walk the two ks from the otogar. as we walked away, I heard the underpimp cursing at us in turkish. 

“cok ayip, ya!” I shouted. Shame on you. they smoked and watched us leave. about ten minutes later, we heard a beep from behind us on the sidewalk. it was the driver, on a moped, frantic. 

“YOU COMING! YOU COMING!” he said. 

“no,” jari said. the driver left. 

“these people are monsters,” jari said. 

we made our way to the center of town. it got tropical and warm, and vines and palm trees overhung the streets. it reminded me of a scene out of colonial mexico. it was odd. the sea breeze was warm. we sat amongst some yachts and ate breakfast sandwiches of cucumber, tomato, and cheese. 

we wandered around until we found a place that might sell maps. I asked in turkish, “do you sell voyages here?” i did not know the word for maps.

“Oh,” the man replied, in heavy english accent, “yeah, we have some maps you mean? yeah, come around to the back. I’m Stephen then,” he said. it was nice to speak english. Stephen and Elaine had moved to Fethiye seven years ago to similarly escape real life. they sold us a guidebook and a map, and then gave us directions to the bus station, the trailhead, and the nearby abandoned greek village. we stopped and bought the official lycian way guidebook at the bookstore around the corner. suddenly, we were well-equipped. Stephen took us up to the meydan’s white marble ataturk monument. 

“just climb up there, you should be able to see the tombs,” he said. We saw green mountains ringing the town, a ruined castle on an outcropping of rock. A giant wireframe ataturk head topped the castle, like a broken neon sign, like an henri matisse sketch. 

“kayakoy, the greek village, it’s just over that mountain there, it’s a bit of a walk, i did it maybe four years ago in 45 minutes, left me quite out of breath though” [pronounced /bref fo:/] Steph and Elaine’s charming northern british accent would shadow our banter for the next ten days. They finally gave us a phone number of a guest house in Patara, and we set off with renewed hopes.

we backtracked towards a whitewashed mosque and through some untrafficked streets. everyone we seemed to ask for the “dolmus otogar?” pointed us in the opposite direction. we passed the same guy selling halka (syrupy fried dough) about four times. we walked to a parking lot and they pointed us to the road. the road guys pointed us up the road. a dolmus pulled up, and another behind it. “kayakoy?” we asked to the first one, and he pointed to the dolmus behind. “kayakoy?” we asked to the dolmus behind, and he pointed to the one in front of him. we gave up. the call to prayer began to broadcast. I bought a halka and chewed it, thinking. it was alright sitting. we’d spent an hour with heavy packs walking along the streets of this strange new tropical town, and were sort of tired. 

a half hour passed and we got on our bus, which had “White Man Restaurant” slip covers on the seats. It was by no means a short distance. We went up through some old timber roads for twenty minutes. 

Image

off the bus in kayakoy

We arrived off the bus at a run-down geese parlor. Fallen-down stone houses ran up the hillsides. We saw a broken telephone booth. We came to the “entrance,” which was just a booth by the side of the road. 

“You must pay, five lira” the woman in the booth said. There were at least four other paths leading into the village. But, we had already been spotted, and so we begrudgingly pulled out our wallets and gave her five lira each for those enormous colorful tickets you get everywhere in turkey. We followed the only other tourists, a korean couple, up onto main street. 

the cobblestone road was bordered with low walls. the hills dipped and rose, and were studded with fallen-apart houses. all white and grey, all identical, all empty. almost every house was missing its roof. around wwi, the turks got very nationalist, and did “population trades” with neighboring countries. greece sent its turks back, and turks sent the greeks packing. the village was abandoned in 1913, and it was already in ruins. it looked ancient. trees and bushes grew through cracks in the stone walls. we climbed over things and peed in places we should not have. Jari kept commenting on what a cool place it would be to perform in. (the pipers: a single-track obsession-driven people). We climbed to a monastery on top of a hill and overlooked the entire village. I pooped in a dry well, for mountain-man points. We looked out over the sea. On the way down, we found a rock well full of floating pepsi bottles. We found a mythological grove. I can describe it no other way. It looked like Xena, Warrior Princess shot there for any epic confrontations. both jari and I, having no experience with abandoned rock cities or mythological groves, could only relate the place to videogames we’d played before the age of sixteen. 

We came down and found ourselves in the inhabited part of the village. We found a cafe with a psychedelic wooden giant wrapping his arms around the door. We went in. It was empty, save for a young turkish woman wearing a black leather jacket and a handkerchief on her hair. (not a headscarf.) We sat down. She didn’t really speak english, but she smiled and brought us some beer. 

“what is going on?” Jari asked. I didn’t really know either. He stood up to go retrieve the packs–we’d left them in an abandoned house. I talked to the woman and learned she’d been a reporter in Istanbul three years ago, until Erdogan had gotten suspicious of journalists and raided their office and shut them down. she moved here for a quieter life, and to avoid the authorities. I think. I asked her where we could stay tonight. She said, I have a friend, he has an art camp. maybe he can take you in. I think, I think that’s what she said. I wasn’t sure. 

Jari returned with the packs, and a bunch of people showed up. A white-bearded trail man, a couple of kids who did not give a FFF about us, a younger dude in a motorcycle jacket. His name was “Happy.” He indeed owned an art camp, and we could stay there for five lira. Alright! we said. We began playing balloon-toss with the little girl, and it expanded to everyone in the bar, batting this balloon back and forth in the afternoon. 

Ali, the grizzled trailman, told us he’d helped mark the Lycian way. “Where are you going tomorrow? Kabak?” Kabak, according to the guidebook, was a two-day hike. “Feralya?” (a seven-hour) “You can go to Feralya in four hours, it’s a good day hike. I worked for kate for 8 Euro a day,” he said, and winked. He was helpful. After an hour or so of beers and balloons, the children left and Happy said he’d take us back to camp. Happy got on his motorbike, and Ali offered to give us a ride in his truck. It was very Alaska, the truck. Old, full of outdoorsy stuff, a radio with broken knobs. It was orange. We drove for maybe four minutes across muddy village roads. It had begun to rain lightly. Ali dropped us off at a gate and waved farewell. 

The camp was delirious, a fever dream. Giant painted mushrooms. A swimming pool. Bungalows. Gardens. Hammocks. A basketball court, covered in ropes. Oil drums. A smooth elliptical building like a space pod. It was a mess. 

Happy showed us our rooms, a climate-controlled bungalow with lots of blankets. It was very cold outside, but toasty with the klima on. He was in the space pod. Jari offered to cook dinner for him, and Happy readily agreed. Also, we would have nothing to do, as it was only about four in the afternoon, and there were many long hours before morning, so a dinner party seemed appropriate. 

We walked through the muddy streets and saw village things. We bought smoked edam (?!) and some potatoes and onions, some spinach, and returned to the vast mess hall to make a potato gratin. We stayed up drinking village wine with Happy and his turkish interior designer friend. It got dark and we lit a fire to stay warm. Happy smoked hand-rolled cigarettes and told us about his camp, his photography, his art festivals in the summer. It seemed an idyllic life. Hippyland is an okay place. The gratin was delicious.