One final week of coastal towns, baclavic-bliss and being referred to as "the spice girls".
I´m in transit, again. This time it´s lots of fun because I´m annoying the Danish at Copenhagen airport. So far I have walked around with no shoes on, bought lunch from a cafe and ate it in the luxe restaraunt next door, and walked past the motion-sensor taps more times than necessary (because they fire like cannons at a distance of two meters). Danes are easily irritated.
I think we left off in Fethiye? Let´s start there again anyway. It´s a chilled coastal city with loads of fish restaraunts. (News just in; I boarded the plane to Iceland and Icelandic is hilarious! It´s like a language composed of burps and hiccups from five year olds who have had too much coke. Or like a bad radio station broadcast where all the vowel sounds have been replaced by static.) Walking along in front of the restaraunts we catch a few minutes of a boxing match. The locals are really into it and crowd into the tiny stadium. Half-time entertainment is very unexpected; four bouncy Africans appear from nowhere and do some impressive arial gymnastics. The next day I do the 16km walk to a ghost town called Karakoy. Karakoy has been deserted since the 1930s when Turkey and Greece had a citizen exchange. The Greeks living there went back to Greece and the Turks refused to live in the Catholic houses they left behind, so the town was abandoned (because obviously Catholic ground needs to be treated like there´s been a nuclear fallout - it´s the type of thing that can permeate walls and burrow into the soil). This is funny when you remember that the Blue Mosque in Istanbul was appropriated from a Catholic Cathedral. I get lost on my way to Karakoy (surprise, surprise), and make some new Turkish friends. A large percentage of my friends are made when I´m lost, so maybe it´s a good thing I´m so directionally challenged.
My new friends introduce me to yellow grape-like fruits growing on the side of the road. They smell exactly like orange madeira cake so naturally I try to eat one but apparently this is a BAD IDEA because they are highly poisonus, they just smell nice. Among this group of navigable rescuers is a British lady who has just married a Turkish man. She doesn´t live here, just visits for about 6 weeks in a year. "Oh, that´s really hard" I exclaim, but she quickly corrects me; "no it´s not it´s brilliant". She doesn´t speak any English, and he doesn´t speak any Turkish, so all their conversations are conducted via Google Translator (which, as you probably know, is less than accurate and can cause severe comprehension headaches). We continue along on our walk together and pass several dogs. All the dogs here are so sleepy; it´s seriously as though they have been drugged. All the Turkish people I ask deny this but today I saw one sleepy dog lying in the middle of the road being stepped on by a cat, and not reacting at all. I have seen dogs sleeping under cars, in gutters, under restaraunt tables... If they´re not being drugged then they´re totally zen and it´s cool but I´m sceptical.
Our next coastal pleasure is Bodrum. Bodrum is the most touristique place I´ve ever been to. Testimony to this is the fact that the supermarket is under the mosque. The swarm of package tourists wont be here for another couple of weeks so naturally, the town is still being spruced up for them. The transformation is incredible. Wicker umbrellas pop up on the beaches like fast growing funghi. Chairs and tables are being varnished on the beaches, and sand is being distributed with spades to cover up concrete and metal fortifications. During our three day stay a bar appears from nowehere, dazzling with a gigantic red-and-white chandalier, stained glass doors and plush red sofas still in their plastic. Claire finally has a hamam while we´re here (a hamam is a Turkish bath for those of you who didn´t do last week´s homework). She glides into the hostel with a huge smile and declares "I´m not walking anymore I´m floating." I splurge too and get a haircut. I should warn you though, if you sit down at a hairdressers in a foreign country and ask them if they speak English, and the answer is "no", it´s ok to leave; don´t feel obliged to stay. It´s probably wise to leave. I didn´t, I stayed and tried for a long time to explain "trim". But my hairdresser had a creative gleam in his eye and wouldn´t be persuaded.
We go out for dinner in Bodrum and have our fortunes read, ("fal" in Turkish), by the waiter. We each drink a cup of Turkish coffee and then turn the cups upside down on the tea plates. After the coffee has cooled the patterns inside can be read. The waiter isn´t much of a fortune teller and all he divines is that we should go out for a drink with him. He´s persuasive ("the sea is no longer blue next to your eyes"), so we go which is a mistake. He turns up with a friend who is nice (because he doesn´t speak any English) and is super obnoxious until we decide to leave. Claire and I spend the next two days walking big circles to avoid his restaraunt.
It´s one more overnight bus to Istanbul for a day to play in the Grand Bazaar, tulip lined streets and Bosphorus riverbank. The bazaar is one thing I wont miss, cries of "hey, Spice Girls", or "Jennifer Lopez", "beautiful girls, don´t eat Turkish delight it will make you fat", "what´s up? Other than the sky" and my personal favourite "hello-yes-please." At prayer-time we notice entire streets filled with men kneeling on cushions, and we learn that despite there being a mosque ever 500m in Istanbul (very literally) there are still not enough for all the devotees. I ask why women don´t go to mosque and apparently they don´t have to because the pain of childbirth and rearing children is enough - according to Allah anyway. Islam, you get one point.
We see the whirling dervishes in a religious ceremony with sufi music. The dancers spin around to feel a divine connection with god. It´s sort of like a branch of Islam that uses music in prayer. The order of the Dervishes was founded by Rumi, a philosopher and transcendental poet. It´s funny to think of spinning as bringing about a divine connection with god when all it really does is makes you dizzy. But then again there are people that claim LSD to be a religious experience so... the dancers are focussed and wear heavy felted hats like long fez. Their skirts rival any ten-year-old´s party dress and spin out to make white pancakes on the dance floor.
I am going to miss the food here soooo much. Probably more than anything else. The halva, turkish delight, stuffed vine leaves (always rolled by somebodys grandmother), salted fish with dill, aubergine tomato and garlic yoghurt... (and ´baclava. Claire, I´m sorry I´m not as strong as you in these trying times.) Photos of our culinary conquests are so erotic we now refer to them as food porn. So, sadly, it´s Alasmaladuk (goodbye) Turkey! Alasmaladuk food and alasmaladuk Claire! (Alasmaladuk... or, as we remember it, "I-lost-my-dick." Translating foreign words into similar sounding phrases in your own tongue is not an efficient way to learn a language. It almost always means you are mispronouncing things and can generate some funky looks from nearby English speakers. It is not recommended). Off with the thongs and on with the thermals, see you again in Iceland!