"I Saw Eight Shooting Stars Last Night, But I Made Only One Wish." October 22-23

During our extended stay in Kash, Kirsty and I thought it would be nice to see the sunset from the amphitheatre. We asked Swim Champ when sunset would be. He said around 6:00PM, adding, in a very concerned tone, that we had to be back in time for dinner.
We walked past Turkish gardens with lime trees and pomegranate trees to the theatre, which glowed in the light. Climbing to the top, we settled ourselves next to a very smart couple from Quebec (bizarre, I know). They had brought wine glasses and a bottle of chilled white wine. A stray cat rubbed against us hopefully and Kirsty gave in, scratching the cat's ears despite the fact that she's terribly allergic to cats.
"The cats, they are everywhere!" the man said. He went on to tell us how, in their hotel in Istanbul, a cat had sneaked into their room.
"Was it the hotel cat?" I asked.
"No!, it was a stray. I got up in the middle of the night to use to washroom and I felt something fuzzy, no, not fuzzy uh-," he paused, searching for the word.
"Yes. Something furry brushed against my legs, and I was, uh, nervous?"
"Frightened?" I suggested (words are important to me).
He gave the quintessential Gallic shrug and nod. "Sure," he said, "Frightened. But then I heard it purring and I knew it was a cat so I wasn't so, uh, frightened."
He took a sip of his wine and cast an appreciative glance at the peach sorbet-coloured sky. "But then I heard him scratching," he began to swat furiously at his own ear to illustrate the point. His wife smirked and sipped her wine. "And I thought, oh no he has, uh, bugs."
"Fleas?" Kirsty suggested as our own stray cat luxuriously rubbed its head against her fingers.
"Yes, fleas. So I tried to shoo it away, but it wouldn't leave. I threw my slipper at it and it, uh...," at a loss for words the Quebecois hooked his fingers into claws and hissed. I laughed and the stray cat pressed its body close against the small of my back. I hate cats and I am especially distrustful of stray cats. They always seem to know this, and, much like me (ironically), they delight in exuding affection and cordiality to those who would otherwise spurn it.
By now the sky had blushed to the colour of a cherry blossom. The light of the setting sun made Kirsty's otherwise alabaster/pearl skin glow peach. She took a look at her watch and suggested that we make our way down before it became too dark and we missed dinner. It was a good idea, since a serious pair of land legs had combined with my fear of falling.
"Watch out tonight for shooting stars," our Gallic friend advised.
"Oh! Are there going to be shooting stars tonight?" Kirsty's eyes became even wider.
"Yes, we heard there would be some."
Kirsty and I made it back in plenty of time for dinner. In fact Zafir and another Turk, (I'm going to call him Chef) quite stout with curly brown hair and eyes that sometimes looked crossed were snapping twigs over a brazier in the bow.
I settled myself with a coke and leaned on the rail in the stern, trying to get my ipod to work. It seemed a little unsure of itself in Turkey, the dial refusing budge. Thus I was only able to listen to Kings of Leon Aha Shake Heartbreak on full volume. What I really wanted to listen to was Radiohead, In Rainbows. Dear readers, please do me a favour and listen to "Archipeggio/Weird Fishes" from that album, if you can, while reading this account.
Marcus, next to me, was fixated on the TV screen in the galley of the gulet next to us. It flew a pirate flag next to the tricolor of France and on TV was a football game (by football I mean soccer).
A Turk on the pirate ship came out and lit a cigarette.
"Who's playing?" Marcus asked.
The Turk gave two team names, neither of which I can remember.
"Who's winning?" Marcus asked. He got his answer, lit a cigarette of his own, and stared with glassy eyed, rapt attention to the game.
"Where are you from?" the Turk asked us. Since Marcus was fiercely concentrating on the postage stamp sized TV screen I answered for him.
"He's from Australia," I said, jerking my thumb at Marcus. "I'm from America." Admitting my nationality (by the way, I am a dual citizen, Canadian and American, if that dilutes the offense of my origins in any way to any readers) has been long and exhaustively debated in my own mind, with friends, with family members and with people I absolutely despise. For the most part during this trip Kirsty and I had an unspoken agreement and understanding that when people asked where we are from Kirsty would say "Vancouver," I would remain silent, and we would let them draw their own assumptions. But, ladies and gentlemen, fellow citizens of the world: I am an American. I was not born in the United States, so I can never be president (at least as the Constitution currently stands). I am not responsible for the world's ills, I am literate (as I hope you have noticed from these blogs), I am not overweight, I do not speak with a Southern twang, and with the notable exception of my habit of saying the most cutting remarks when intoxicated, I would like to think I am a nice person. There it is: as Jay-Z would say, "either love me or leave me alone."
This Turk had no problem with it (fellow Americans, please stop being paranoid about revealing who you truly are. Unless you are a jerk). "Are you from California?" he asked me.
"No, New York."
"Oh. I have always wanted to go to Los Angeles."
A lot of Turks confessed the aspiration to me, as though, as a New Yorker, I should encourage, maybe even facilitate this dream.
"Are you a pirate?" I asked him.
"A what?" he choked on his cigarette, even Marcus' eyes flicked away from the glowing square inch on the other boat.
"A Pirate." I pointed to the flag.
"Oh, no. I'm just visiting a friend on this boat." He was not sure, however, if his friends were pirates (a clear sign they were).
Kirsty came to join us and asked our new friend if he was planning to watch the meteor shower later tonight.
"There's going to be a meteor shower?" Marcus asked.
"Oh yeah," Kirsty nodded her head.
"That's strange,"Nathan commented, coming up from the galley where he had purchased a chilled bottle of white wine for his and Veronica's enjoyment during dinner. "I didn't know of any during this time of year." He paused at the top of the steps. "Let me see, the Leonid's have already passed..."
"That's because it's not really a meteor shower," I broke in. "They're shooting stars. Kirsty was exaggerating."
"Well, it's more exciting to think of it as a meteor shower," she defended herself.
The Turk on the other boat had long ago become bored with our astronomical conversation, wandering over to the other side of the deck where there were two very tanned and long-legged girls on the boat next to his.
"Hello!" he called out to them. "Where are you from?"
They giggled and made no response. He tried this introduction several times, en Francaise, en Espanol, auf Deutsch; I can only assume he didn't try Swedish because he didn't know the vocabulary. To no avail, alas. They were having a great time ignoring him.
"No luck, mate!" Marcus called out to him and was, in turn, studiously ignored.
I was feeling a great sense of contentment. We were on a fantastic gulet, meeting some fantastic people, the stars were out in a black velvety sky while a beautiful Turkish coastal town climbed from the harbour behind us. Ali rang the bell to tell us dinner was on its way, what could possibly make this better?
"Maybe afterwards," Kirsty suggested, "we should go and find a bar or a club." bingo.
Like Pavlov's dogs, when we heard that bell ring, we responded promptly. Our obedience was richly rewarded that night. Swim Champ set before us a basket of french fries, a beautiful salad, and a platter of chicken wings. Suddenly we understood what the little fire hazard (brazier) on the bow had been for. I sniffed the air appreciatively, opening my eyes to see Catherine poised with the serving utensils over the bronzed chicken.
"Just a moment, please," Swim Champ interrupted. "To make sure there is enough, please, three pieces of chicken." He left to enjoy his own dinner. Most of us agreed (as I hope you will, Dear Reader) that we were only hungry enough for three pieces of chicken, when you factored in the rest of the meal.
For James and Catherine, poor souls, this was not agreeable. "Three pieces!" James exclaimed, "I didn't know rationing was in effect!" And so on; and so forth. Whenever the delicious meal was brought up, at the table, James and Catherine had an opinion to bring us back to Earth. Catherine, for instance, did not think much about the french fries; "they're bad for you," she informed us. Yet she had no trouble polishing them off. At the end of the meal James leaned back, rubbed his wife's shoulder and commented that he had really enjoyed the chicken. "All three pieces."
Sitting across from them, I was gritting my teeth, waiting for the phrase, "only three pieces," to be uttered once more. It would be a sign from God that I was at liberty to reach over and smack them. It never happened.
Instead Swim Champ set before us a plates of crispy, syrupy gold. Two and a half pieces of it, to be exact. For desert we were enjoying the baklava that Kirsty had bought earlier that afternoon.
"You and the others had some, right?" Kirsty asked Swim Champ. He beamed at her and shook his head. "But I made sure there was enough for you!"
When the table had been cleared Zafir made an announcement while we were still all in one spot.
"We will be leaving Kash at 4:00 in the morning."
The table was a collection of stunned faces.
"This is because," he continued, "the sea will be calmer and we will be able to get to Butterfly Cove. But I have to ask you, when you go to bed tonight make sure there is no towels or clothes or anything like that on the bow because it will, uh..." To get his point across Zafir waved his hands about, puffing up his cheeks and blowing nosily through his lips.
Kirsty looked at me. "Do you want to hit a bar?" she asked. "I can't drink because of the meds, but I could buy you a beer." She had made this offer and observation to me so many times since becoming ill (though by now, you could barely tell that a war was being waged in the inner sanctum) that I was beginning to think she was trying to get buzzed vicariously through me.
I did want to experience a slice of Turkish night life. Walking around Istanbul I had noticed that Turks seemed like fun people who know how to have not only a good time, but a classy good time. And if I were chatted up by a dark and devastatingly handsome Turk, well, it would all be in the name of experience, right?
"Yeah," I nodded. "Let's go."
The pair of us hopped from the bouncing gangplank onto the harbour. Swim Champ and Chef hurried to the rail. "Where are you going?" Swim Champ asked us, a hint of urgency to his voice.
"We're going out," I gestured to Kash at large to illustrate to idea.
"Out where?"
"To a bar, or a club," Kirsty shrugged her shoulders.
"Oh, well, we're going to a friend's house and then to a bar," Swim Champ gestured between himself and Chef. "Maybe you wait for us?"
I held my hands up defensively. "This is g=moing to fast for me." Kirsty chuckled.
Neither of the Turks got it. "What bar are you going to?" Swim Champ asked us.
"We don't know," Kirsty answered, "What bars do you recommend."
"It depends what you like," Chef began and started to count off his fingers. "If you like rock, you can got to this one, if you like reggae you can go to Samba, if you like jazz you can go to Bluenote, if you like dancing you go to (Dear Reader, I am making these names up and have reached the end of my creative capabilities)..."
"OK," I interrupted. "But your favourite bar, if you were in Kash for one night, what bar could you not possibly pass up?"
"Red bar," Chef answered. "Go up the square and turn right at the book stand."
"Maybe we'll see you there?" Swim Champ said.
"Uh-huh," Kirsty replied and turned on her heel.
Red bar was dead. There were three people in it nursing Effes while a Lynyrd Skynyrd song blasted into the dim, empty space. Granted it was 9:00 on a Wednesday night, but still.
Nearby was a bar-by-night-cafe-by-day across the cobblestones from the antique store that was now closed. Tables and benches covered with Turkish rugs had been set outside under a veranda strung with mosaic lamps. The was a sizable crowd, so we sat down at an empty table, next to a veil of jasmine that was luminous in the night light and sent out an incorporeal divine perfume.
Immediately a Turk with his long black glossy hair pulled into a pony tail asked if he could use the ashtray on our table.
"Sure," we nodded. He took it and turned around to sit at is table with a blond woman and a blond child.
I tried one of the ubiquitous Effes while Kirsty ordered a seltzer and we settled in for the night. As far as Pilsners go, Effes is alright. It is a mild half step above Budweiser (possibly due to its "exoticness") but being the only "local beer," and the fact that Turkey doesn't seem to be a pro at brewing, that can be easily forgiven. I had drunk most of it when Syrah and Jonah came into view.
They sat down with us, ordering a Jack Daniels, and a fresh plum juice with vodka. I settled in further for the night, ordering a vodka and sprite. The four of us found common ground in conversation by roasting Jame and Catherine, judge us as you will. Each of us had found some special gem of conversation with them to tuck away as a memory.
"He told me Turkey doesn't have mosquitoes," Syrah exclaimed. Jonah and I snorted into our glasses. "I was like, 'oh yeah? then what's been biting me this whole time?' And then he tells me that I've never experienced mozzies." She pointed to herself, eyes wide with incredulity and indignation. "Me! From Australia!" Syrah took a sip of her drink and then eyed Jonah. "But he nearly stuck his foot in it with Catherine on the bus."
"Oh yeah, talking about cameras," Jonah graced his whiskey with a rueful grin.
"What happened?" Kirsty asked.
"We were on the bus, and Mark and I were talking about these tourists with these huge, expensive cameras."
Kirsty and I nodded, knowingly.
"But they don't really know what they're doing with them. I was saying to Mark that as soon as they go off the auto setting, the people think they're broken and take them to the shop because they can't take a picture." Jonah chuckled and sipped some whiskey. "Catherine heard me and said, 'oh! That happened to me! I couldn't take a picture for a whole day!'" We all snorted, Kirsty tipping her head back to indulge in an especially gleeful laugh.
"Oh! Look up there!" She pointed to the deck above us. A cat's tail dangled between the floorboards and its face was squashed in the gaps. The eyes were closed in a deep sleep, which must have been a good one, because the mouth was curled into an exact Cheshire cat's grin.
Around this time, Swim Champ and Chef came striding into view, their face lighting up when they saw us.
"We went to Red bar," Swim Champ said to Kirsty and me. "But you weren't there."
"Dude, there was no one there," I explained. We pulled another table to ours and they sat down. Soon the barman had rushed over to us, eager to take more orders. I was unsure what to try next.
"Here," Jonah said, offering me his glass of nearly finished Jack Daniels. "Try this." Normally I am not a fan of whiskey, preferring it tempered with bitters and a maraschino cherry into a whiskey sour. I would like to develop a taste for single malts so I can be the kind of girl GQ thinks is cool. Having said that, I do have and appreciation for single malts and (due in no small part to my Caledonian heritage) a sort of snobbery concerning them. I know which Glen Whateverch is the best (despite all of them tasting like cough syrup to me) and as far as I know, Jack Daniels is not a member.
That night, however, I found it surprisingly smooth and ordered it as my next drink.
Chef launched into a spirited and very detailed conversation with Syrah and I turned to Swim Champ.
"Did you get any of the baklava?" I asked him.
"No," he smiled and shook his head.
"No? But we made sure there was enough for all of you! Oh I wish had gotten some."
"No, but as I was cutting it, I got a little taste," and to illustrate how he had sampled some, he licked his fingers.
"Oh!" I smiled, feeling marginally better.
"Besides," he shrugged. "It's not my favourite kind."
"What's your favourite?" I asked. Swim Champ paused, thinking hard how to identify his preferred variety so I could understand. "Pistachio?" I suggested (always a safe bet in Turkey), "Fistikle?" I tried in Turkish. No doubt I said it wrong, but he nodded anyway.
Over the next few minutes I found out that Swim Champ's favourite American band was Pink Floyd, I cannot for the life of me remember his favourite Turkish pop star, but I know she has red hair; that he had been working on the Gulet for three years and that maybe someday he would be a captain of his own boat.
"By the way," I said, "what's the captain's name again?" (remember, I forgot almost thirty seconds after meeting the captain."
"Zafir," Swim Champ said.
"Oh, that's easy," I smiled, "Like a zephyr."
Swim Champ did not understand my cleverness (who does, Kirsty points out) and I did not have time to explain it as Chef clapped a big meaty hand on his shoulder and said, "This man is all-time swim champ!" (Get it?) Swim Champ blushed and looked to his beer. "From Olympos to Fetiye, there is no better swimmer!" Chef gave Swim Champ a shake. "One time he won a race and he is, uh," Chef ran his hands over his chest to get the word, "covered in medals and a man from the newspaper asked him 'what will you do with all these medals?'"
Swim Champ modestly brushed off the praise. You might wonder why I didn't ask Swim Champ for his real name. Even I was not drunk enough to admit that we had been on the same enclosed space for over 72 hours and I had forgotten his name.
"Your English is so good," I told him. "Whereas my Turkish is so bad!"
He took a sip of his beer. "Maybe you stay in Fetiye a little longer and I'll teach you Turkish?" Swim Champ glanced at me.
"I bet you would," I grinned at him.
So the night progressed, with us (save poor Kirsty) getting a little more happy, a little more drunk. The cat disappeared, as did the other customers, as did the time. Kirsty would glance at her watch and say "It's 1:00AM, we should probably head back, hey?" until it was suddenly half past 3:00AM and we really did have to stumble along the cobble stones back to the harbour.
In retrospect, I can only say it was by the grace of God that Kirsty was able to shepherd us to the right gangplank before it motored off from the harbour. She pointed herself to the stairs and I was about to follow her when Jonah plucked my elbow.
"Stay and have a beer," he said. Syrah and Swim Champ were planning to stay up and Chef had to, due to being crew. It seemed like a good idea.
Jonah plucked two Effes from the cooler and the four of us settled ourselves on the bow. Fifteen minutes later the engines erupted and growled under us and we could hear the anchor grinding up to its perch.
If you have never stayed awake all night while at sea on rolling waves, with a clear sky and the stars shining down and some new friends; well, just put that on the list of things you must do before you die. It was freedom.
That sounds so contrived, I know. But it's the truth. I could almost see the gates of the world just at the horizon, unlocked and opened by the stars we were observing while under a blanket (don't get any ideas, it was a chilly night).
"Do you know any constellations?" I asked Jonah.
"Not really," he pulled the blanket to his chin. "I know the Big Dipper, I think."
"I haven't been able to find it anywhere."
"Well," Jonah smirked at me. "That's because it's a summer constellation and we're sort of approaching winter."
"Oh, right," I giggled at my mistake.
"Yeah, come to think of it," Syrah added, "I haven't seen the Southern Cross at all."
I debated telling her that was because she was no longer in the Southern hemisphere, but decided against it. We were all able to identify Orion by his famous belt and from there some more of his anatomy.
"Do you know any others?" Jonah asked me, "Like Pegasus? Or, uh, Andromeda?"
"No," I shimmied further under the blanket. "I mostly think the Ancient Greeks were on crack when they said there was a winged horse in the sky." Jonah laughed. "Hey," I said to Swim Champ and sat up. "Do you know any constellations?" I pointed to the sky. He shook his head. "Do know which one is the Pole Star?" Swim Champ, again, shook his head. "What kind of sailor are you?" I muttered under my breath. English sarcasm and dry humour is somewhat lost on Turks but both Syrah and Jonah laughed with shocked delight.
As the night progressed stars streaked across the sky and I declared that I was planning to stay and see the sunrise. The challenge was soon agreed upon, it seemed like a good idea, Jonah agreed and promptly fell asleep.
"You know what we should do?" Syrah grinned at me. "We should get a bucket of water and dump it on him and tell him the ship's sinking." Those were the exact same words Jonah himself had used two hour ago, when his intended victim was Marcus. Syrah had nixed the idea because she was bunk mate with Marcus and thus would make her bed wet too.
I laughed. "Would he be cool with it? Or would he be pissed?"
"Oh no, he'd be cool."
Swim Champ called in Turkish for Ali and Chef to dip the battered aluminum bucket in the sea as we churned along. When it was brimming full of water Chef was about to hand it to me when he had a sudden thought.
"What are you going to do with this?" he asked me.
"I'm going to throw it on him and tell him the ship is sinking." I gestured to the sleeping, unsuspecting Jonah.
"Oh," Chef looked at the bucket. "I don't think that's a good idea. He may panic and jump off the ship."
"Well, can I just throw the water on him and say nothing at all?" I inquired.
Chef looked at the bucket, he looked at Jonah. He looked at Swim Champ, he looked at me. "OK," he shrugged his shoulders and handed the bucket over, getting the hell out of the vacinity.
I looked at Syrah. "You're sure he's going to be cool with this?"
"Oh yeah."
"OK." I breathed deeply. "But when he asks, we're going to say it was all you."
"Say it was Ali," Syrah suggested.
When I tipped the bucket the water flung out in a beautiful, graceful arced veil, lit by the starlight. It landed on Jonah with not the splat you'd expect, but with a patter, like rain. It must have given him one hell of a shock, though. Jonah leapt up, gasping and holding his arms away from the rest of his body.
"Jonah? You OK" Syrah called to him. He made absolutely no sign of having heard her, said absolutely nothing, just turned on his heel and went below deck. We assumed it was the last we'd see of him until morning. Swim Champ proceeded to snuggle with Syrah and I lay back down to admire the stars.
To my admiration, however, Jonah returned, wearing his last pair of dry jeans and a jacket. He got back under the blanket silently and turned his face up to the stars.
"Very funny," he growled.
I erupted into peals of laughter. "It was all Syrah," I began.
"I'm sure,"
"Ali actually threw the water," I went on, throwing the poor deckhand to the wolves. "Did you think it was a wave?"
"At first," Jonah admitted. "Then it occurred to me that it was a really localised wave."
I chuckled some more.
The gulet sailed on, Syrah and Swim Champ had dissapeared under their blanket and at one point Kirsty was wandering the deck in what I can only described as a half dazed state of somnambulism. She wanted to make sure I had not rolled off the deck with all the heaving and rolling that was going on. It was more pronounced below-deck than above, I had noticed on my many trips to the head.
The sun began to crawl forward in the sky, looking like a burning rose about to bloom. I had fulfilled my wish and stayed awake to see the dawn, but now bed was definitely calling me. Turning to Jonah I said, "I lied. I threw the water on you."
"Bitch," he grinned.
"But it was all Syrah's idea," I countered, then stumbled off to bed, falling deeply asleep as the sun's first pink rays poked through the portishole. When I awoke we were anchored in a cove, nestled by orange cliffs with turquoise water lapping at a beach. The beach disappeared into a lush green forest that climbed up the slope. Butterfly valley.
Fruit and Vegetable servings: Two, with dinner.


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