Sunday, August 24, 2014

August in Turkey, Part 1

Avery and I started our trip to Turkey at Gatwick airport outside London.  We flew Easy Jet to Bodrum, on Turkey's Aegean coast. To get there, you cross the history of Europe.
The marble floors of this airport befits the historic glories of England's capitol city Turkey's modern resorts.
Hilal and Richard picked us up and drove us home. But with a stop of course- at a roadside bakery. 

 It was after 11 pm, but shops in Turkey never sleep.

I had an ambitious goal for the trip:  do absolutely nothing.  And hang out with our friends. Hopefully both at once.  Here is my view for most of the first week.
That's Hilal and Richard's house in the background, in Yalıkavak in the northwestern corner of the Bodrum peninsula.

My idea of relaxing fun is reading, like the last chapter of Christopher Clark's gloomy history of Prussia, which I'd put down when we left Berlin in September 2012. It seemed relevant to this bloody August, the 100th anniversary of the start World War I, as we humans prove that we have evolved not at all in the last century. Done with that, I had to switch to Rebecca West on her English childhood.
Kindle in the kiddie pool!  And my fakest photo ever.

A neighbor was the Four Reasons Hotel, which wanted more water than the city would give it. Every day around 4:30 pm water from someone's else's well would arrive.  There's the water train now.
What's this?  A delivery!
And here's some company.
Hilal and Richard in Late Afternoon
As you can see, nothing got past me in my lounge chair.  

Sometimes I got up.  For example, to eat. That mostly happened on the house's shaded patio.
Andre Stokes the Fire
This is the view from the patio--looking west towards Yalıkavak town, with the bay on the right-hand edge.
We talked a lot of politics at these meals. Richard just ended his term as UN Special Rapporteur for Israel-Palestine and was writing and commenting more or less every day about Gaza and the Middle East. Hilal is just starting a term as UN Special Rapporteur for Food Rights, and had finished her first report.  They were not on vacation. Nor were the armies of Israel, Hamas, Russia, Ukraine, Islamic State, Syria, the Kurds, or the United States.

How long would it take to get to Mosul Dam, which Islamic State had captured a few days before?

"1 day 1 hour with traffic."  No joke. 

Hilal’s daughter Zeynep was there with her husband Andre.  Zeynep grew up in Istanbul until she was 13, then moved with Hilal to the US, finished college in Sussex, did more schooling and working in New York, and has also worked back in Istanbul as well as in Lisbon and Sao Paulo (Andre is from Brazil).  The official languages of the household were Turkish, Portuguese, and English, although only Zeynep speaks all three.  We shared the international language of Apple laptops: six people in the house, six laptops. Around two were open at any given time.

I would go back to the porch to read late at night.  It was still in the mid-20s (high 70s F) after midnight, and in the 80s F during the day. 
There were times when I actually left the pool and the house.  We had several dinners at nice fish places along the Yalıkavak shoreline.
I even left the gates a few times during the day.  One afternoon, we went swimming near Hilal's cousin Feride's place. 
Luckily this too involved a lot of lying down.
Zeynep Andre Mehmed
Here's a view of one of the bays.

Shift the camera bit and you see mostly islands and open water.
Turkey's presidential election fell on the Sunday we were there.  Hilal's cousin Feride prepared a feast.  The food was great.  Half the crew went inside to start to watch the returns.

The other half went off to swim under the moon.  The water was perfect.

The Aegean is something like 76 degrees F this time of year.  I grew up in the 66 degrees of the Pacific off Los Angeles, so I never get tired of floating in the Aegean, under sunlight or moon. 

The temperature didn't keep me from sliding on a mossy board and skinning my knees.

Thankfully, Avery wasn't traumatized by the sight of my blood.

Turkey has a red-state blue-state voting pattern something like that of the U.S.  We were in "blue state" country--majorities along Turkey's coast voted for the opposition candidates rather than for Erdoğan.  Erdoğan won in the first round we watched that night, and moved from prime minister to the presidency that he had beefed up before his arrival to it. I don't think anyone in this picture voted for Erdoğan, but that didn't seem to matter too much.
Celal Mehmed Andre Zeynep Feride Hilal Richard
Bodrum peninsula's holiday makers look much like those anywhere in the European Mediterranean.  There are yachting day trips from Yalıkavak harbor.

And there's Magi Beach, where they played club Muzak and served food to the lounge chair where I assumed my regular position.
The main difference is not the style of beachwear but its amount.  Turkish women never lie around in a wet suit, and I have never seen more suits worn by the same person before lunchtime.

Seeing what I could see while still lying down, I watched a 6 or 7 year old girl carry big rocks from the shore to a tree, realize she couldn't lift the rocks into the tree's branches by herself, carry them all back, and replace them with smaller rocks.  She then carried these into the branches.

After she left I went to see what she'd made. It was a kind of tree shrine, shaped like a pagoda. Of course I took a picture of it. Of course you want to see it!

For our last dinner, we all went to the Pasanda restaurant for its amazing view of Yalıkavak's bay.  Here's the crew:

And here's the view.
In the plaza outside I held my rigorous post-dinner workout--the most exercise I got all week. 

We left for Istanbul the next day: I'll write about this in a next post. So for now, I send many many thanks to our hosts for letting us spend a week with them in Yalıkavak.

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