Dear Turkish Diary

A brief record of my daily thoughts and feelings as I make the difficult transition from little girl into bigger girl…

May 9
Caught the bus from Olympos to Fethiye. Narrow windy road, beautiful ocean views, Efes hangover, puke bag a serious consideration. Took a pill. No more nausea but met the ghost of Sammy Davis and shit blue.

May 10
Left half our gear in Fethiye and hiked (our) first leg of the Lycian Way, a famous 500km trail along the Mediterranean coast. Started in Alinca. Took first wrong turn 50 metres from Alinca. Hiked 35 minutes in the wrong direction, eventually stymied by a landslide washout and a pack of wild goats. Much swearing. Backtracked to the start. Happiness quotient low.

Lycian Way

All downhill from there, literally. Incredible views, emerged at Kabak beach triumphantly as though we won the Boston marathon instead of hiked slowly for five hours. Stayed at the first place we came across, given a wooden box in a tree with no electricity. Rustic. But expensive. Intriguing combination. Place beautifully landscaped and designed to exude peace and tranquility. However, also family oriented. Went to sleep and woke up to the sounds of the forest – birds, crickets, crying children and a duck.

May 11
Happy Mother’s Day. Don’t know how to say any of those words in Turkish so avoided women whenever possible. Very scenic hike up over the pass to Faralya. Hardly got lost at all but I did get angry during a confusing section in the village. Laynni berated me for losing my temper. Maybe it’s time to look inside myself and work on the source of my anger issues. Nah, self-reflection pisses me off.

Stayed at George House, a nice friendly self-serve kind of place. Did not meet George. Further investigation planned.

George House, obviously

May 12
No English speakers available to take a call so the phone was handed to Laynni. She described the place and took a reservation for May 17. Quite pleased with herself. Found out later that all rooms are already booked that day.
Hiked the Coastal Walk, two hours along cliffs high above Butterfly Valley. Stunning views of the beach, bay and islands. Near the end of the trail I fell victim to an unprovoked wasp attack. I may have yelped slightly, in surprise of course, as it targeted my head, ears and neck. However, a couple years ago on 3rd Ave we grew wasps in our shed for a whole summer, right under my bike. Those months of intense training quickly took over – I began spinning, yelling and flailing my arms wildly. My strategy proved effective for a time until my wily adversary tried a new approach, feinting at my throat before suddenly sneaking in behind my sunglasses. Well played, sir, well played. I flung the shades from my face and the rout was on. Well down the road I managed to complete my escape and recover my bruised dignity in spite of Laynni’s hurtful “little girl” comments and unproductive laughter.

Sunset over the Mediterranean

May 13
We hiked, or more accurately climbed, straight down into Butterfly Valley. The entire path was steep and at times it was even necessary to rappel down sections of rope. Laynni had no problem with these, scampering down like a monkey on speed. But then on the rest, mostly slight downslopes with a bit of slippery shale, her body would tense up like a constipated bodybuilder, arms sticking straight out from her sides, knees bent and leaning foward as though preparing to dive off the high board. From that position she was only able to shuffle her feet along the ground, although she at least made more progress with this method than if she had gone with her first instinct, “to lay down and cry”. I only complained about her pace once. That seemed to be enough.

Back to Fethiye later that day. Saw a normal-sized girl with the largest breasts I’ve ever seen in real life.

Down into the valley

May 14
Laynni left for Istanbul to meet her parents. I took the bus to Koycegiz, and cried the whole way. The guy next to me tried to help but I didn’t know how to say “apple of my eye” in Turkish.

May 15
Koycegiz is next to a nice lake, very quiet, and very flat. While walking along the waterfront I was passed by a large group of cyclists with fancy helmets, colourful gloves, aerodynamic Oakley sunglasses and expensive form-fitting spandex bodysuits. And I’m willing to bet that for $100 I could buy all ten of the rental bikes they were riding. Less than 1% wind resistance but only two gears.

The only animals we’ve seen so far in Turkey (that don’t beg at the table) are turtles, or perhaps tortoises. They are huge and always seem to be in the middle of nowhere halfway through the journey of a lifetime. In Koycegiz I saw one with a large pile of dog shit on its shell. The feces looked old, too, like it may have been there all winter. Turtle’s faces are notoriously hard to read but I have to say, this one looked pretty pissed.

The Biggest Journey

May 16
Woke up just not feeling fresh. Had a shower, though, and that seemed to do the trick.

Took one of Tango Pension’s complimentary bikes, all in all pretty decent, several of the gears worked and the rims weren’t too crooked, although the bent crank made it feel as though I was trying to tread water. Pretty proud, hadn’t biked in over six months and easily made it 12 km. Sadly, didn’t think about the 12 km back. Spent most of my time carefully dodging even the slightest hole or bump since by this time my ass hurt so much ıt felt like I was riding a burning rope.

Got attacked by another wasp, or bee, or something of that ilk. Apparently the word is out.

May 17
This morning it feels like I sat on a landmine so I opted to rent a bike with a huge padded seat, and an engine. Toured around the lake, stopped at the Lycian ruins of Kaunos, then had lunch at the sheltered yachting bay of Ekincik. There’s nothing funny about finding safe harbour in a storm, or erectile dysfunction.

Faralya

May 18
Rode the scooter to Dalyan, a somewhat inexplicably growing tourist hotspot that is 12 km away from the nearest beach, a boat ride from the ruins and set in a swampy delta that must be a mosquito’s paradise. Yet it’s strangely a haven for stout ladies with loud clothes and fresh permanents. Most also brought along balding sidekicks with disreputable-looking legs and crisp new Istanbul t-shirts.

Returned to a large Turkish party at the pension. Probably due to little or no alchohol being consumed these parties seem to follow a different pattern than I’m used to. Initial mingling, huge supper, obscene dessert, peaking shortly after that as the women ride their sugar highs into song, dance and contests to see who can shriek “Aaaahh….yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yiiiaaaaah!!” the loudest. The men smoke and chuckle. Then it all wraps up around 1am with an informal get together outside my door.

Next up: Back to Fethiye to meet Laynni, Lyle and Nadine, then we’re off on a 4 day Blue Cruise….

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