"Yacht One to Kash Harbour. Over." October 22

I could easily live a lifestyle that involves yachting. Or boating, or Guleting. Preferrably Guleting. For the four days we were sailing I hardly ever took off my swimsuit or sunglasses, my hair was crunchy and for a brief period of time had some texture from the salty sea, and I have never eaten better food than was served aboard. There was also a healthy selection of cute guys, and that never hurts.
After dinner in the cove, our Gulet was relatively quiet. Marcus, Mark and Jonah had opted for an evening swim avec cans of Effes and stayed chatting on the rocky shore well past dark.
The only sounds were the creaking of the Gulet with the motion of the water, and the turning of pages. Piercing the reverie with a crackle on the radio came a very posh British accent. "Yacht One to Kash Harbour. Over," the voice said and then dissapeared back into silence.
We all gave each other a look. What just happened?
Kirsty and I snickered, mimicking the accent and embellishing a little.
"How do you know each other?" Swim Champ asked us. "Are you friends?"
"We're sisters," I replied.
Swim Champ gave us a look that plainly conveyed his disbelief. I don't blame him. For sisters Kirsty and I look nothing alike. We're both pale, but that's where the similarities end. She has these beautiful big, slate blue eyes, a delicate nose and these dark chestnut brown spiral curls that used to be subject to my undying envy.
I look nothing like that.
My hair is pin straight (subject to her undying envy) and my eyes are rather narrow and green. My nose is quite large, and while Kirsty's eyebrows are a light brown, mine are quite black.
Swim Champ understood the concept of being sisters from another mister far better than Catherine.
As night fell we settled onto the deck, leaning back and disgesting.
"Do you have any cards?" Swim Champ asked. "Do you know any card games?"
"Sure," I replied. "But you don't have any cards on deck?"
"A passenger took them."
"Oh, well I'll get some in Kash." I turned to listen to Kirsty's conversation with Veronica about ferns and out of the corner of my eye I saw a backgammon board being set up on the table.
"Do you know how to play?" Swim Champ asked me.
"I'll teach you," he decided and I sat down across from him. I have played backgammon once, when I was 5 or 6. My father thought it might be a fun, subtle method to improve my math skills. He was wrong. Poor Swim Champ sat patiently as I stumbled through the motions, counting slowly, giving me sly nudges and hints when I was about to screw myself over.
The aim of backgammon is to move all your pieces off the board before your opponent. I think. You roll dice to determine how many spaces you can jump your piece. Turks are MASTERS of backgammon. In every town square, every tea shop, or carpet store you see Turks slamming pieces down on the board surrounded by spectators speculating on the outcome and dispensing advice. Needless to say, I lost to Swim Champ, catastrophically.

Swim Champ in the midst of a culinary miracle.

"OK," he said, sipping his pommegranate and vodka."Now I play the captain. You watch and learn how to play better."
Zafir and Swim Champ commenced their game with lightning speed, throwing the dice, deftly moving and removing pieces as though with predetermined knowledge. What I learned from my observation was that Swim Champ was indeed a good player, but Zafir was better and I hadn't a hope in hell to give either of them a decent game. I turned back to Kirsty's conversation.
Swim Champ himelf realised that the odds of beating his captain were slim. He blamed this on Zafir's bad habit of cheating and removed himself from the table.
"You weren't watching," he said to me.
"Sorry. You were moving too fast. Who won?"
Swim Champ threw his hands up in the air in frsutration. "The captain," he grinned, "he is all time cheater." Zafir grinned at us. "How long are you staying in Finike?" Swim Champ asked me.
"Not long," I replied.
"Maybe you stay longer and I teach you backgammon?" Swim Champ suggested.
I nodded my head nocommitantly and went to bed, falling asleep with the gentle rocking of the water cradling us.
In the morning we were awakened by the sound of a bell. Swim Champ was summoning us to breakfast. The Gulet was gently rolling with the waves that sneaked in the cove, making it extra challenging to pour out one's tea. When the table had been cleared I stationed myself on a cushion in the bow, enjoying the vibrating hum of the motor starting up. Our destination was Kash harbour, so elegantly greeted the night before by a disembodied voice. We could see it from the cove; a collection of white buildings piled up from the harbour like an encrustation of barnacles.
Between Kash Harbour and our cove was a sea of white caps. Despite how much I love the sea, and boats, I am not a sailor. But even I know that white caps on the sea mean waves. Palpable waves.
Any sea dogs worth their salt probably would have turned up their noses, or laughed at the idea of the sea being impassable. There was no danger to us. But Zafir had a boat load of tourists. For all he knew, this was our first time experiencing motion beyond the wave pool. Thus he erred on the side of caution, slowly piloting the gulet, dipping and gently pitching in and out of the swells.
Even within the harbour boats were still bobbing at their moorings. Zafir collected our passports to present to the harbour master.
"We will stay here one hour," Zafir told us as he slung his bag over his shoulder. "But we might actually stay here longer, if the harbour master recommends it."
Kirsty and I set off with Nathan and Veronica in search of pommegranate juice. At a small little patio with tables and shade a sign advertised all sorts of juices: Peach, plum, pommegranate, orange etc;. Nathan and I ordered pommegranate and watched as the woman pressed 6 pommegranates into frosted steins. Kirsty and Veronica opted to try peach which came via blender.
Refreshed, the four of us walked through the town, in search of a lycean sarchophogus that was in particularly good shape. It loomed at a crossroads by a tree, Turks lounging and reading the paper in its shade. We took pictures, seperated ways and Kirsty and I kept wandering.
Kash is obviously used to sight of tourist wandering its streets and squares. It's a clean city, with blindingly white buildings almost devoured by monstrous pink clouds of bouganvillea, or cumulus bunches of jasmine perfuming the air. In the main square, along with the ever-present statue of Ataturk, is a sign in Turkish, English and French. It apologises for the municipal government's poor choice in paving squares, "inconsistant with the Mediterranean architechture." Embedded in the sidewalks and streets are blue glass Nazar Boncugu, apotropaic talismans that protect against the evil eye. The only thing more present than the Nazar Boncugu in Turkey is the Turkish flag itself. Its shops sell Turkish towels, olive oil soap, pristine white cotton sundresses, glass mosaic lamps, and glimmering Turkish antiques. For a small fortune one could decorate a home to resemble an exiled Sultan's lair. Brass chandeliers, illuminated pages from Turkish texts, and glass display cases glittering with massive pieces of jewlery.
Turkish home decorating.

I stared at the lamps, held my breath over the gemstones, and ran a pinky finger over the framed illuminations, wishing the whole time that I had a disposable income.
Returning outside we stumbled on a book stand offering selections of both Turkish literature and English titles. Kirsty picked up a glossy paperback emblazoned with the title, "Let's Learn Turkish!"
"Directions, foods," Kirsty thumbed through the book then her eyes widened. "Pick up lines!"
Included in that section, named something like "Relationships," were compliments such as "I like your ski outfit." It really should have been named "How to have a relationship in Turkey, abbreviated." The tips started with "I like your ski outfit," went on to, "would you like a ciggarette?" and progressed to "Your place or mine?"
The relationship then progressed to a more intimate level with questions such as "do you have a condom?" "we should think about AIDS." The book clearly anticipated condoms to be scorned or AIDS dismissed because it followed with, "that's what they all say."
My favourite, however, by far was "This is moving too fast for me." A saying that seemed to apply to just about every interaction I had in Turkey:
"Yes please, you eat here? Very good food."
"This is moving too fast for me."
"You should see my rugs, best price."
"This is moving too fast for me."
Clearly this book was too good to pass up, so Kirsty purchased it, I purchased two packs of cards and we meandered back to the Gulet.
Walking along the harbour wall was our captain, Zafir, his face especially lit with mirth.
"Haloo!" we greeted him, "are we going to be leaving?"
"We could, but I think it will be better if we stay here for lunch," he chuckled.
"Is it bad?" Kirsty asked, "did the harbour master say to stay here?"
"No," Zafir shook his head. "He said we can go if we want but I think it's better to stay." He began walking to the stairs to the harbour wall. "Here, come look," he gestured.
We scaled the wall, stepping up to see the sea spread out to us, glowing and shimmering in the bright sunlight. Boats plowed through the white caps, but all the passenger boats had their prows pointed directly for the harbour. Zafir pointed to one. "That one was moored next to us when we came in. They left and now they come back," he laughed.
"So we'll be here until lunch?" I asked him.
"Yeah," he shrugged, "then we'll see what happens."
Kirsty and I went aboard, pausing to deposit the pack of cards on the counter where Swim Champ was busy slicing cucumber.
"Thanks sweetheart," he grinned at me.
"Any time, darling," I teased back. "When should we be back for lunch?"
Swim Champ advised us to return in an hour and a half.
To pass the time there was an ancient amphitheatre we could visit. "We should probably also find some baklava."
I nodded solemnly. It had been over 24 hours since my last piece and the baklava levels in my blood stream were becoming dangerously, dare I say it: LIFE THREATENINGLY low.
We set off, following yellow signs for the amphitheatre. It rose from a dusty road, crumbling white stone blocks curved elegantly into the hillside, like a grecian goddess leaning into an admirer's embrace.
The stone benches unfolding down the slope looked a little worse for wear, as well they might; being over a millenia old. Under the shade of a stunted olive tree a tanned Turkish woman sat stringing beads into bracelets. She smiled at us hopefully and offered us a finished bracelet for "special price."
On each curved wing aisles had been delineated, once upon a time. We could still identify the basic outlines of a staircase ascending to the top, but we could also see that a lot of it was in disrepair. Stepping carefully down the stone blocks was Syrah.
She smiled at us, pointing out the safest and most intact aisle. Once we got to the top, she recommended that we take one of the paths to a tomb nearbye. "They've even put a dummy in it," she laughed.
Amphitheatres are said to have amazing acoustics, and that seeing a perfomance in one was the pinnacle of Western civilization. Aeschlyus, Sophocles and Euripides are a little too high brow for me (in fact I had to wikipedia Euripides to make sure he WAS a playwrite), but the view from the nose bleed section of the amphitheatre was definitely one of the high points of this trip.
The sea was liquid gold under the sun, and the sky almost matched. 3 local children were playing half way up on the benches. Wouldn't it be spectacular to have an ancient ruin as part of one's childhood? When friends stop by to ask where everyone should meet up it would send a shiver down my spine to casually suggest, "how about the old theatre?"
We didn't search out the tomb with the dummy. Baklava levels were approaching crisis status so we headed back to town instead.
The food shops were a little farther down from where Kirsty and I had our juice with Nathan and Veronica. There were cheeses, crates of vegetables and fruits with figs as big as my fist. There were big meaty fish layed out on ice glistening and frosted logs of lokum (Turkish Delight) waiting to be sliced. But everywhere we asked for baklava the shop keepers waved us on, saying we had to go to the bakery. The remarkable thing about their recommendations was that they all had boxes of baklava they could sell us. But I think Turks take pride in what their country has to offer (with the exception of coffee. As far as they're concerned everyone can get by with nescafe), and boxed, stale baklava would not be right to them.
As Kirsty is fond of saying, they know what they're doing. The bakery was uphill, across a busy thoroughfare and it is just as terrifying being a pedestrian as it is being a passenger in Turkey. But, wow, it was worth it. Bakery is not quite the right term for this place. Patisserie with heavy emphasis on baklava is more accurate. Baklava of all varieties, colours, shapes and sizes stretched down an entire counter. Some positively oozed with syrup while others were covered in so much crushed pistachio they looked to be growing moss.
Sheherezade described Ali Baba's excitement at finding the cave of the forty thieves. She went on to explain his rational actions of loading his donkey with as much gold as the poor beast could carry, but I think she missed a step: Ali's utter bewilderment and sense of being completely overwhelmed. What to choose? What to take and what to leave behind with as little regret as possible?
We made a selection, asking for as many pieces as could indulge our fellow passengers and crew. It made for a satisfyingly heavy little parcel. As we walked back to the harbour Kirsty noticed me gawking at the figs and stopped to buy some. We really only should have asked for 2, maybe 1 would have satisfied. As it was, the grocer selected five and put them in a plastic bag, asking for a bargain price of 5 Lira.
Back aboard Kirsty grinned at Ali and said, "Ben senin kayak takimini severim."
Ali wrinkled his face in confusion. This could very well be because he had never been skiing in his life and thus had no idea what a ski outfit was. It could be because girls don't hit on boys in Turkey, but wait for the suave debonair compliments that boys put to girls. Or it could be, and most probably was because, the Turkish was completely mangled by her pronunciation. His eyes lit up when he saw the box from the patisserie.
We ate lunch, hooted at the other phrases from Let's Learn Turkish and waited. I stretched myself out on the cushions in the bow, reading For Whom the Bell Tolls, feeling warm, full and very content. Then the bell did indeed toll. A silver, delicate chime rang out from the stern communicating, most likely, that tea and cookies were on the table.
Normally my British heritage cannot help but indulge in the civilized action of tea. But I wasn't hungry. So I didn't rise from my lounge. Within minutes Swim Champ was patrolling the deck, herding anyone who wasn't pouring boiling water over their nescafe.
"There's tea," he said to me, pointing from where he had come. I nodded and he seemed to think this meant I would be joining them, so he left. I flipped the page and continued with Robert Jordan's affair with the Spanish communists. Five minutes later Ali came to fetch me and this time did not leave until he saw me swing my feet onto the wooden deck and walk with him to table.
Marcus, Syrah and Mark, as well as Veronica and Nathan and James and Catherine were stirring their cups and trailing crumbs of biscuits. Mark looked a little shell-shocked and mentioned that what he could really used right now was an Effes or a stiff reki.
It turned out that Mark had ambitions of traveling the world for a good portion of the world. He had been roaming Europe for some time and planned to move on to Afirca or Asia when finished with Turkey, "maybe I'll got to Prague," he said wehn we first met him.
Believe me when I say my skin crawled with envy. Yet that envy evaporated when I discovered how he planned to finance his wanderlust: On unemployment benefits. Anyone who has ever had the bittersweet experience of receiving those checques in the mail, or activating that card wrestled from DSS may well understand the problem.
The agency paying your unemployment expects you to be home, searching for a gainful job so the public sector can stop financing your lifestyle and the private sector can once again take care of you. If anything you need to be at the same address for over a month to accept the funds.
At a certain point in time UIB had discovered Mark's absence and sent him an e-mail saying they noticed he hadn't been in Portland for some time. What else it notified him of, I'm not sure. But I'm fairly confident they either said "you are cut off as of 3 months ago," or "pay up, bitch."
Have no fear, my dear readers. Mark told us he was not deterred, he would continue with his basic itinerary, though there would be a few tweaks. "Do you think I can get a job in Prague?"
Fruit and Vegetable servings: 8!


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