"Israel 2008" story # 6

Manavgat River, Turkey           August 11, 2008

All in all, I put in 13.5 "days at the kontor" at Mr. Frog Restaurant. Business did seem to pick up during that time, for our nice boss.
     But, I was working too much to be able to start learning Turkish. So, I wasn't getting much culture out of my time there, only money. I wanted to be able to talk to Ferhat, the pizza-baker with Ricky Ricardo's charm, who dreamed of going to Thailand with me to meet women and bake pizzas. But, alas, I took the $390 (including tips) I made, said good-bye to my boss, and left the town of Kemer.
     I figured it'd be enough money to get me to Israel, where I hope to learn Hebrew and see the culture. I figured I'd do some sightseeing on the way.
     First, I visited the ancient rock tombs at Myra, Turkey. Upon arrival, I was overwhelmed. There were the tombs; also, an eroding, stone archway led like a tunnel into the mountain; also, a Roman amphitheatre stood, open in the heat. I felt pressure to run and see and photograph everything I had to, then leave.
     But, it had cost a great deal of effort to come here. And, the entrance to the tombs was $9. I had, of course, jumped over the gate instead of paying this unreasonable amount. But, still, I should do more than just see the rock tombs. I should BE the rock tombs.
     Well, actually, I don't think that's possible. I settled on drawing the elaborate tombs, which took me an hour and a half. The tombs were like drawers ("drors", not "draw-urs"), built into the mountainside. Drawers for dead people. Spiralling rectangles decorated the tombs' outsides, and each had been broken open. The dark openings seemed to lead to a world where there was no sun nor goodness. I hoped to send my drawing to my parents, who would then get to see the tombs except with no shadow nor depth perception. I'm a bad drawer ("draw-ur").
     In contrast, the bright amphitheatre allowed for spectators to look down steeply from stone-slab seating, to a sandy circle where the actors must've felt very free in their actions. Some tourists spoke thespians' poses for photographs.
     I left the ancient site, ate a carton of ice cream, and began hitchhiking at four p.m. During the cloudless, stinging summer, it's better to travel early or late. Even so, by the end of the day, your breath feels like it's come from an oven.
     I happily went off the touristic route next, inland. On a small road with few cars, I enjoyed walking long distances with my heavy bags, uphill. The road traced both sides of a dry, hot canyon that tumbled roughly down and pushed apart neighboring mountains like separate islands. The road could've been in Mexico. It was cooled by the shade of trees whose branches wormed their way outwards to fluffy pine needles.
     The village of Urunlu, defended by mountains shaped like the army of Genghis Khan (himself a relative of the Turks), awaited me. Old men sat in the center of town and seemed to have nothing to do. The houses were made of clay/cement, with lines drawn into them; logs' ends protruded from the clay. It was very Turkish.
     Let me say a few things about Islamism in Turkey - not that I got to know it well. Where I've been, in the west of Turkey, the majority of women don't wear head-coverings and clothe themselves very freely. The majority of men drink alcohol and smoke.
     Everyone, though, is Muslim. Twice, drivers of mine unexplainably began singing. It sounded like a moaning hum, and its lack of rhythm pained my ears. Prayer calls sound from megaphones on mosques; at first, they strongly distracted me. The singing must've been praying. It did sound rather peaceful, coming from my drivers. Ferhat, the pizza-baker, prays five times a day when he isn't working too much, but I doubt most of the Turks I met do.
     Also, while traversing the country, I saw what looked like buses. A man drove the van, two kids sat up front with him; six women wore head-scarves and sat on each other's laps in the middle; and a few more women piled up in the back. Harems are supposedly illegal in Turkey. But, it looks like there still are some.
     And some women wear head-scarves and look strong doing it. A forty-year-old wore a green-and-white wrapping tied firmly, a brown dress with careful designs, she held her head elegantly, and she walked confidently. A younger girl's mysterious cheekbones peeked out of a plain, sleek-material covering.
     I didn't try speaking to the girls much, 'cause I couldn't speak their language. I was anxious to get to Israel, grow some short roots, and have some friends who didn't just work and sleep.
     But, first, I went to be alone by the Manavgat River. I'd first read about this place in "Natural Wonders of the World", published by Reader's Digest, 1977 (approx.), one of my favorite books.
     I walked three miles from Urunlu to get there, through canyons so hot and arid they might lead to swirling headaches, death, and the insides of vultures' mouths.
     But, the Manavgat River was flowing, in the bottom of the second canyon, which was like its own planet. The midnight-blue river rolled musically. The cliffs to either side defied logic and competed to reach the sun's high rays.
     I swam. The water was, surprisingly, so cold that I thought I was in a freezer.
     Meditated. I could feel the opposing cliff's bumps and full breadth, during moments of ego-less perception.
     Spent the night. The sun didn't reach my cool, riverside bed until late morning, and it didn't stay there for long.
     I was sad when I left this quiet place.
     But, the next day, August 7th, I boarded a boat bound for Cyprus.

Modern Oddyseus.

Thanks to Arhan & Denis; Irhan & Sarap; Isan; Ungart, Anita, & Tina; Cagri; Yusef; Ali; Sonair; Halil; Hemre & Birtan; Emra; Hassan; Erdogan; Ismael & his wife; Ali; two guys in an old Mazda truck; "Bel"; the drivers of an even older truck; Embrullah, Serik, Turkan, & Ferhat; Osmar; the mini-bus; Engin & Frad; and Zigi, for a lot of rides!
Much thanks to my boss for the place to stay!

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