Monday, October 22, 2007
On our last full day in Crete, we made a democratic decision to hike from Stella's to the Pelekita cave. The runner up was another day at the beach. Doug & I were surprised by the boys' vote as nothing usually comes between them and the water. The trail left the village, curving up the cliffs on the north side of the bay. We hiked over craggy sharp rocks through a treeless landscape. On the hike, we waved to one fisherman rounding the point and passed a small herd of goats. From a distance, one might describe this as a barren landscape. Up close, dry brown spiky bushes eke out an existence. Small bulbs were also seen, some with fresh shoots and flowers, maybe the result of the first rains in over six months. The cave had several nice stalactites, stalagmites and even a few columns. Luckily Stella had lent us a strong flashlight to illuminate our descent into the dark cave. We returned to Kato Zakros for a feast at the middle taverna on the beach. Strangely, the Scottish owner said she had heard about us, the American family on their way to New Zealand. A very small town indeed.
Here are our photos from our Cretan adventures.
Wednesday was beach day! We headed south to Xerocampos. Stella drew us a map to find a quiet bay down a dirt road beyond another white-washed church trimmed in sky blue. We crashed one other couple that left not long after out arrival…so sorry. We took a walk around the point. The boys raced ahead but then came racing back and announced that around the corner was the beach for people who don’t want to wear clothes. I peaked around the corner and a couple about my parents’ age, oh I hope it wasn’t my parents, was collecting sea shells in the nude. We decided not to disturb them and return to our shade under the cliffs. The boys built their most spectacular sand creation to date. We swam in our perfect little cove of sand and absolutely clear water until we were so hungry that we had to go find food. Then we returned to play until the sun sunset.
Tuesday we headed back into Sitia to visit the Archeological Museum. We had actually headed to Sitia in search of a capable internet café without any success. We piggybacked the museum on our internet search. While we hadn’t planned the progression of our fieldtrips or the museum visit, the museum did answer lots of our questions from our visits to the ruins. We also had the entire museum to ourselves for almost two hours. The boys were in classic Logan student mode with their journals. They took off in different directions to draw pictures and record information they deemed relevant. Liam was particularly fascinated with the clay tablets of Linear A script written by the Minoans. Colin focused on the coins of the Hellenites and Romans. I was impressed with the ancient wine press and the huge clay vessels as tall as me.
P.S. Well we are certain at this point that there is not a connectable high-speed, broadband internet connection in eastern Crete. We tried to connect through a computer at the biggest internet café in Sitia, Z-net, yesterday and failed. We will wait for Athens in hopes of an opportunity to upload pictures and blog entries.
Monday we visited the Hellenistic-Roman city of Itanos. There were no ticket booths, or caretakers or information placards in any language. Remnants of a chain link fence still stood in a few places. A chain link gate was propped open with a rock cairn and we started our tour of the site from there. The remains of the basilica were the most interesting. Enough clues remained to help our imaginations fill in more of the gaps. We could see the layout of the church in the foundation stones from the double entrances into a common entry hall. The main sanctuary of the church had two alcoves on each side, perfect mirrors of each other. The far wall had a deeper, bigger alcove. Marble columns lay strewn about and within the church wall boundaries. The most interesting detail was the double entrance to the basilica. Both of the entrances were large rectangle flat rocks. In each of the two front, outside corners were single deep holes and in the middle of the front edge there was one more hole. We conjectured that double doors to the basilica mounted in these outside holes with one of the doors locking into the middle hole with a vertical locking pin. The set-up matches the double, Asian doors in our cabin, which had holes in the floor in the same configuration. Interestingly, the apartment in Lindos we locked ourselves out of had the same style of doors too. Scratches and grooves were worn in the rock from generations opening and closing the heavy doors and the dragging of the locking pins. The front of the steps were worn and hollowed from many passing feet. Colin traced the arched path of the locking pin with his finger. We all remembered the feeling of the heaviness of opening the wooden doors to Liam’s old room. We wondered who had opened and closed these doors? Somehow the understanding of the feeling of this simple motion brought us closer to another people long ago.
On Sunday we explored the ruins of the Zakros Minoan Palace. The palace was about a five-minute walk back down the dirt road towards the beach. About 3,500 to 4,000 years ago, Zakros was a bustling port for the Minoans. Ships came and went here from distant civilizations on the Asian and African continents. Visualizing the ancient commerce and influence of this area takes a vivid imagination today. The paved road ended in from of the taverns on the beach. The road to our place and the palace turns to barely one lane and is described as “dirty,” not dirt, by locals for its unpaved and rutted condition. One to two story cottages are scattered along the lane between olive groves and vegetable gardens. The olive trees lean permanently inland on twisted trunks suggesting strong winds can blow, but today only a light breeze blows in from the sea. A tiny, whitewashed church trimmed in sky blue sits on the hill above the palace. We were given a one page brochure with a paragraph on the palace’s history and another on its discovery in the 1960s. We had to work to imagine the once vibrant life within the palace. There was also a diagram outlining the layout of the former rooms and courtyards. We spent the afternoon wandering among the remnants of stone walls and peering into crevices. We played a game where we would choose a crumbling artifact and all try to guess its function explaining our thought process to one another. A chain link fence appeared to have been placed indiscriminately around the palace because the ruins extended beyond the fence on all sides into the olive groves of the modern neighbors. The placement of the fence highlighted for me the futility of trying to separate ancient from current. One civilization always builds on the foundations of another. The four of us discussed why the Minoans chose Kato Zakros specifically for their palace. We looked at how the surrounding hills were brown, craggy and scrubby, but the valley was green and sloped gently to the sea. We had read the Minoan era was peaceful. The lack of fortification at the palace and the valley location, instead of cliff top as many castles we’ve seen this trip, seemed to support this claim. Doug and I discussed how viewing the ruins of successive powerful and flourishing civilizations reminds us of the temporal nature of even the greatest empires.
The count down has really begun. We are nine days out from New Zealand. The reality of this move is hitting all four of us. We all woke up thinking about it two mornings ago. We try to imagine our new life. We wonder about where we will live and whom we will meet. We now have a welcoming committee to meet us at the airport. Our new car will be waiting with the dealer and a woman with a check from our new bank. That sums up all of our contacts except for our real estate agent that we have been emailing.
As New Zealand gets closer letting go of our Colorado life feels more permanent. I woke up this morning thinking about Libby’s & my Logan class from last year. I am wondering how some of you are adjusting to AS life and how the other half is doing as the new class leaders? I miss our time as a group together, especially heading out on the road in our yellow school bus. I wish that I could take you out to see the sights around Crete (but I wouldn’t want to drive the school bus on these crazy winding roads). Please know that all of you are in my thoughts and dreams. I can’t wait for you to head down under for a visit. Do you think NZ would make a good extended field trip destination?
P.S. If any of you read this blog, please drop me an email and update me on your year thus far!
We arrived in Sitia on the island of Crete at 8am this morning. We had three flights and our plane literally puddle jumped across the Mediterranean. The second leg was about a five-minute flight and the last leg was ten minutes. We were the only passengers on the last leg. We stepped off the plane onto the tarmac. We could see nothing but the little runway, the water and a fuel truck on the edge of the tarmac. There were no buildings, just the four of us and the plane. Finally the pilot pointed around the plane. We hiked up the hill to the terminal.
As we loaded the car, the boys noted that Sitia didn’t look as busy or touristy as Lindos. No kidding Sherlock. We are the only ones here at the airport. The rental car was waiting in the driveway of the terminal as planned. Yeah! We have an orange Fiat Doblo in honor of upcoming Halloween, I guess. We drove out of Sitia through progressively smaller villages. We are in Kato Zakros, a little valley of olive trees in an otherwise barren, dry landscape. As we drove up to Stella’s Apartments, we passed Minoan ruins, herds of sheep and goats, big vegetable gardens, a beautiful beach and some taverns. Everything we need. There was even a rainstorm yesterday so the air is cool and clear and the world looks freshly washed and dusted. Stella says the taverns are great with fresh fish from the Med and vegetables from the gardens we passed. Sometimes I wonder what Doug is thinking when we head out on the road. Usually, he is the driver and I am itinerary planner. We rarely end up in the middle of a town, let alone a town if I have my choice. Lindos was the exception. He always seems up for the adventure. The one bummer is that the internet connection does not seem like it is as fast and convenient as we thought. We all want to video-conference with our family. Before the trip I had thought Turkey would be more internet-challenged. Ironically we had a much easier time finding fast, reliable internet connections in Turkey.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Ahhh the glamorous life of a traveler - It is one minute to 3 in the morning. I got about an hour of sleep with Elinor’s rehearsal dinner and all. I know the alarm is going off in 31 minutes and then at 4 am I will be tripping through the dark, quaint, pedestrian-only cobbled streets of Lindos heading for a pre-arranged taxi in the main square at the other end of the village.
Last night took a few unexpected turns. I was busy repacking all our stuff and wet beach toys. Doug was also busy making one of his famous yard sale dinners – eat anything left in the kitchen. The boys were packing and counting how many books they have left for the rest of the trip. We have been reading and leaving books behind to drop weight. Leaving books behind is a challenge for all of us and I have caught each of us stashing favorites we can’t bare to abandon into the bottom of our bags.
We also had another distraction. We had locked ourselves outside in the courtyard. The boys were in boxers and I was wearing pjs. We had shoes. Doug was dressed but shoeless. Remember how I mentioned Doug and his family had a whole language of inside jokes developed on their overseas adventures. Well one of them is about the Farkel family. I am not really sure how to spell Farkel as it comes from an oral tradition and has never before spelled as far as I know. I am also not sure of its origin – Farsi, English… Anyway it does not really matter. Spontaneously the Kirkpatricks would become the Farkel family when one of them, or more often than not all of them together, bungled a very simple situation or in Doug’s words, “acted like a bonehead.” Doug is a second generation Farkel, which makes the boys third and I married into being a Farkel. So we became the Farkels finishing our yard sale dinner on the beautiful pebbled mosaic courtyard watching the sun setting over our sparkling Mediterranean bay. We tried to get back inside the apartment. In an effort to keep out the mosquitoes each of us had shut a door to the patio. I had locked two because the breeze kept pushing them open. Doug bolted half of the last and somehow pulled the second half shut. All three keys were on the top of the fridge. I don’t think we had shut or locked a door all week, but the night before we had mosquito visits and were trying to avoid them again. For a few frantic moments we considered which adult would go out across the village to find the villa manager. Luckily I was able to slide open a screen and Doug dropped Colin into the living room. Good-bye Farkels!
With all the commotion Elinor’s rehearsal dinner just didn’t register in the beginning. We put the boys to bed. Originally we had planned to all get all of us to bed early with the 6am flight. Miraculously Colin put in his earplugs and fell asleep, which confirmed that he sleeps through just about anything. Granted his room was furthest from the bar and courtyard.
Doug and I sat out the courtyard watching the evening take shape across the bay. I must admit in the beginning we were a little skeptical about what type of gal Elinor was. I mean she was having her rehearsal dinner in the Rainbird Bar. We hadn’t even considered having a snack there and always opted to walk past on to more enticing cafes and restaurants in the village. But then we got to thinking that she must be a kind of laid-back gal, not too hung up on pretense, formality and material stuff. She did pick the best view in town. The air was soft and cool with a light breeze. It was the most beautiful night of the week. A few sailboat lights twinkled in the bay like a watery constellation. Above, the big dipper looked ready to scoop up the horizon. Elinor also had some rocking Greek music and it was live, not the bar’s usual 70s soundtrack.
We listened to a couple of the toasts. We learned that Elinor is adored and loved by many. I had the same feeling I’ve had at other weddings when I realize that I actually don’t know the bride or groom that well and I am basically clueless about their lives. As poignant and funny memories are shared I realize, hey, I don’t even know their family and childhood friends. I wonder why I’m in attendance. After her toasts, I decided I would really like this Elinor.
I don’t know about the groom. I don’t know if we missed the toasts to him but he wasn’t mentioned at all as far as we could tell. Either there was something wrong with him or he didn’t have any friends or if he had already headed to the sports bar with his side of the wedding. We didn’t even catch his name.
In the spirit of the evening Doug and I danced one song on our darkened courtyard in the starlight. Traveling in unknown lands with our boys, we don’t get many; actually we don’t get any, nights out alone together for dancing. We were thankful that the maid had accidentally poured water in some cracked electrical conduit and shorted all the outdoor lights. We were thankful to Elinor for the music that added to the romance of the starlit night on our “private” courtyard. Spontaneously we looked into each other’s eyes and both said, “I love you Elinor.”
Sleep did not come. We tried to read in bed. Liam tried to read in bed. We shut the windows but the music poured in. The floors and walls vibrated. We all plugged our ears. Finally Liam climbed into Colin’s bed, the least noisy corner of the apartment. Liam kept coming out and looking at me expectantly like I was going to solve the situation. Usually, as all who know me can confirm, I am a tyrant about too much noise when I want to sleep. I couldn’t begrudge Elinor this magical night. Out on the courtyard I remember the magical weekend I married Doug. We were loud, carefree, and excited too! I actually lay in my bed listening to Elinor’s night hoping she was happy and hoping she too had found her soulmate.
At some point the party ended. The evening grew still and quiet. We slept for a little while. I always wake up before the alarm on days with early morning flights. I was smiling, not grouchy, and I started this blog waiting for the alarm, seeing the humor closer to the moment than usual.
We rolled our bags through the dark cobbled streets just as I had envisioned. On our early morning trek we passed a group of late night revelers. They were more formal than the usual bar hoppers. “Do you know Elinor? Are you part of Elinor’s wedding party?” I asked. They did know Elinor and they were at the reception. As we were turning the corner someone called, “Elinor’s right there.” We kept going towards the taxi. We missed her. Liam thinks he saw her. More late night refugees of Elinor’s wedding were hanging about the main square eating gyros. As we loaded the taxi, we learned that Elinor actually spells her name Eleanor. Last night was the wedding and not the rehearsal dinner. Some of her friends came from California. I guess we missed a few details through the apartment walls. The groom might have been there too. I bet he is even a decent sort of guy. We forgot to ask his name…
So, Eleanor and your groom, wherever you are tonight we will toast you. If we pass out early tonight with exhaustion, then we will toast you tomorrow night. Congratulations! We wish you a life of compassion, humor, adventure and love.
Carolyn, Doug, Liam and Colin
P.S. Look us up if you ever make it to Wanaka, NZ. You have a place to stay. After sharing your wedding, it is the least we could do!
We woke and ate a plate of fruit and headed out the wooden archway early so Doug, Colin and Liam could watch the village wake up as I had done on my walk yesterday. We arrived at the Acropolis at 8 am as it opened to be the first visitors of the day. We climbed all the way to the top to watch the sun spread across the village below from the edge of the 4th century BC Temple to Lindian Athena. We have decided to bring tracing paper on our next visit to ruins to trace some of the writing and try to decipher the ancient Greek with our research books.
The boys would spend every daylight minute at the beach if possible. They are just like their Reed grandparents in their obsession and love of the beach! I took both boys on a kayaking tour of the bay. Colin and I found a sheep that must have fallen over the cliff and wedged into a crevice just above the water. Colin said it must have happened recently because it wasn’t bones. I agreed. Liam and I explored the other half of the bay. We found some caves and paddled right into several of them. We freaked ourselves out as one pinched down to not much wider than our kayak. We were admiring all the vivid pink and red algae in the water and searching for crabs when all of a sudden things were flying over our heads. At first we thought they were bats heading out at sunset, but we had just disturbed some roosting birds that looked similar to pigeons. Kayaking is so safe with the boys without waves. The water is clear and calm. I am suspicious on how clean the water close into the village is, but everyone swims so we do too. I prefer less populated beaches away from development. We spend most of our swimming time at the smaller bay on the other side of the village and the peninsula.
Doug took some pictures of the tiled floors in our apartment and courtyard. Most of the traditional houses have the same Choklákia pebble mosaic floors with beautiful geometric patterns and sometimes floral designs. Homes, buildings and courtyards all over Lindos have this mosaic pebbling. I read that they help keep the homes cool in the summer heat when kept wet. Sand also sinks right between the pebbles so the floors are not sandy and can just be hosed down for cleaning. Unfortunately they are as comfortable as walking across a pebbly beach or river bottom. The boys go barefoot, but Doug and I wear shoes.
Lots of love, Carolyn
Good morning. I have taken a break from the beach and left all three boys. Doug interestingly is reading my book, The Wild Girl. He has run out of the books he brought. I am reading The Yogurt Man Cometh by Kevin Revolinski, tales of an American teacher in Turkey. I am only three chapters along and I have been laughing outright sitting on the beach at the man’s adventures. His adventures in Turkey are different than ours but I can definitely relate. I wish I could express my observations and experiences as vividly as Kevin. Reading the book reminds me of one of our own moments of miscommunication. When we hiked down to the Kabak beach tree houses I was trying to ask the women in the kitchen if dinner was included in the price of our tent for the night. “Room service?” She asked me with the most incredulous look. Then Doug took over and asked a similar series of questions and got the exact same question, “room service?” We both had the giggles because of the absurdity of room service in our dark, cave-like tents with no light or furniture and the cook also clearly thought the idea was crazy. Finally we pointed at the tables and ask for dinner. She said yes and we decided to worry about paying later.
Also, everywhere we have an opportunity to speak with Turks that speak English, as our Turkish is limited to greetings and thank you, people are curious and interested in learning about our country. Turks have a better understanding and more knowledge of the political events in the US than we do of Turkey’s politics. But they also have some preconceptions that I found interesting. They wanted our opinions and predictions. I am trying not to get too political as I write, but they have lots of questions about our president and strong opinions about our country’s role in the world. In all conversations Turks have shared their opinions carefully and respectfully. Doug and Bulent, our host in Çirali, stayed up late debating and discussing US, Turkish, Middle East and world politics. I hung on for a while then finally went to sleep listening to their muffled debate across the yard. It is interesting to me that most questions beyond the introductory conversations about where we are from have turned to politics.
The Turks have also readily explained Turkish history to us. I was a limited history student in high school. Ask Dr. J. Traveling only confirms my commitment to experiential learning, like the Logan School approach. Whatever the topic, it comes alive talking to the people involved and touching and walking and interacting with the subject matter. Every time I travel I am fascinated with the history, both ancient and more recent. I still have nightmares about high school history finals and realizing I hadn’t yet finished a chapter in my history textbook.
The war memorials at Gallipoli are a perfect example of the Turks sensitivity and compassion to other people and nations. We spent most of our time at the ANZAC site, which is where the Australian and New Zealand forces landed and fought during WWI. The Turks were the victors but they documented the events without propaganda and with a completely neutral perspective. Both Doug and I were struck by the sacredness of the spot.
I am not yet sure for whom I am writing this blog: myself, my boys, or my family and friends. Right now I am just trying to get rough ideas out before they fade. I am not sure what shape they will eventually take. So read if you like or ignore my random thoughts and observations.
We feel far away at the moment and the act of writing is my connection. Lindos has one, maybe two, Internet cafes that charge for connections and are tiny. Doug has used the limited Internet time for small details like trying to set up a bank account in New Zealand and purchasing a car and uploading blog entries. Yes, I believe we purchased or are in the process of purchasing a car over the Internet and the plan is that it will be waiting in the airport parking lot in Queenstown when we arrive. We have been without television since Istanbul except for one night at the Octopus Inn. There the boys watched a version of Jack and the Bean Stalk in Turkish. In Turkey to our surprise we had Internet connections almost everywhere we stayed. So even without TV or newspaper we have kept up with current events. This week Doug has touched based online but I have just been writing my blog entries and learning about current events from Doug. I pride myself as being fairly unplugged and being a minimal TV viewer, but I realize how accustomed I am to catching the new once in awhile, to logging on for a minute or two, listening to NPR, or reading/sending email. Part of me adores the unplugged feeling and part of me wants to reconnect. I have noticed that I have more time to write, read and think while unplugged.
Strangely when we mention New Zealand in Turkey, we usually elicit one of two responses. New Zealand is far away. Or, New Zealand is near Australia? The same has been true in Greece. I can’t tell if it is because that part of the world in less on the radar screen or if we are less informed on our new home to share enough interesting information to encourage more conversation on the topic.
The reality of our move is just settling in for me. Yesterday Colin and I were trying to take a little afternoon nap and I was daydreaming about “home.” I pictured driving down University Boulevard like I was driving home from a day at school. Then, I remembered we don’t have a home in Denver or a car or a school. Liam and Colin seemed to process the reality of the move earlier than me. I think I was too wrapped up in the logistics before we left Denver to be introspective. Colin tells everyone we meet “We don’t have a home,” or “blank is our home.” Blank being wherever we are staying that night. Colin’s latter response usually produces quizzical expressions.
When someone asks where we are from, we don’t know how to answer. So, we answer differently each time. Sometimes we say we are from the US. Sometimes we say we are moving to New Zealand. Sometimes we answer that we live in New Zealand (since all of our stuff technically resides there in storage). On our last day in Turkey driving to the ferry port, we decided to just say from now on that we are from Planet Earth.
This is totally a strange time in limbo for all four of us. Sometimes I think how crazy we were to put a huge trip in the middle of our move. Other times the trip seems the perfect segue. We have time to think about what this move means for our family. We feel the distance from our old home in time and space. We are carefully considering the priorities for the next phase of our lives. In this light, this trip is a gift and a time for reflection and imagination of the future. Also it is, most of the time, a gift of family time together. Oh there are times when all four of us would readily wring any other family member’s neck or toss them out of the car. Usually these moments come during transit or in search of food - the two most challenging activities. I am certain! Most of the time, we are truly cherishing the quiet, slower paced time together. The time is intimate as we are together each and every day instead of at school and jobs for a good chunk of the day. The intimacy is compounded by the frequent inability to communicate with other people around us. Doug and his family have this whole set of inside jokes developed during their many years living and traveling abroad. Our own family is creating our own set. All you have to say to one of us is “my pillow smells like vomit.” That phrase will go down in the Kirkpatrick family archives…it describes vividly Liam’s feelings about his night in the tree house. p.s. He demanded that I share this tidbit on the blog. I have resisted but he keeps checking.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Before Doug, Liam and Colin woke, I took an early morning walk around the village. The tour groups don’t arrive until mid-morning. The beginning of the day is dominated by life of residents of the village. Because there are no cars allowed in the village, mopeds speed down the alleys dropping supplies at each of the restaurants. Each restaurant door had a pile of supplies waiting like bread, milk, and eggs. So many rhythms to the morning seem universal. School children raced for school, some with their mothers. I didn’t find the school. Old men sit together in the cafes for their morning coffee. Traveling, we are out of the normal rhythm of school and work. We talked today about how we are all getting excited for our new “regular” life to begin in New Zealand. At the same time, to travel leisurely and without a set itinerary has been a luxury. We have been able to stay as long or as short as we want and go where we want. We haven’t felt the usual rush to fit everything in within a ten day or two week time-frame, the typical American vacation. We can just while an afternoon away reading or watching the world or talking with new friends.
Today we had a hang-out day. After two days of playing on the beach, Doug and I felt a little baked. The boys protested a bit, but then we all had a relaxing day reading and lazing. In the morning, Colin did some BIG addition and subtraction problems. Liam finished his blog entry. Colin and I did a quick visit to the local doctor. He now has the same sore throat that Liam and I have had. I was trying to determine if we all had strep or not. The doctor did not do strep tests but thought Colin’s throat and glands looked fine…The medical clinic was across the alley from a Byzantine church. The church was incredible with frescoes covering the walls and ceilings. Many of the frescoes gave sequential narrations, like the Creation story. Liam asked me where the picture showing the time of the dinosaurs was? Liam always keeps me on my toes! Lots of discussion followed at lunch.
We had an incredible lunch of moussaka and Greek meatballs in addition to deep conversation on Christianity and creation of the world. Colin is eating vigorously so I am not going to worry too much about his health. Doug is already saying we should have lunch at the same restaurant tomorrow. We headed back to the apartment for the heat of the afternoon and then took a sunset hike up to the acropolis, which unfortunately closed as we arrived. The times in the 10-year old guidebook I borrowed are not reliable. We’ll try again tomorrow. We did find where all the burros go at night on the hillside beyond the acropolis. I tried my burro call from my Golden Trout packing days but evidently the Greek burros don’t speak English because I am yelling at “come-on” at the top of my lungs and Colin tried too and the burros did not even acknowledge us on the hill above them! We finished our hike with homemade gelato!
As we were sitting outside eating our gelato, Liam looked at the restaurant across the street and announced that the restaurant must serve a lot of wine. I asked why he thought that and he replied that the restaurant was called Dionysus who is the God of Wine. He has become the family expert on Greek gods and myths. Every meal he keeps us entertained recounting the stories and relating how the gods are related
Liam’s thoughts - see photo of his writing and a typed version below:
Turkey and Rhodes
When I was in (Turkey) I had a lot of feelings. I felt like I could not talk to people even though I could. My second feeling is that it is crowded. Small houses and lots of tourist(s) lead to it feeling crowded. I did not expect these feelings.
I realized my feelings where different than the actual experience. In Turkey almost everybody speaks English. It is not touristy everywhere in Turkey. I learned feelings and reality are not the same.
Hear are facts about Rhodes. Rhodes is a very touristy island. The second fact is that Rhodes is having a drought. I feel like I still have lots to learn about Rhodes.
English Words from Greek Myths
Greek meanings……………………………English Meaning
Helios – god of the sun………………………………………………helium
Echo – nymph forced only to repeat words said by others…………echo
Ceres or Demeter – god(dess) of (the) harvest………………………cereal
Monday, 8 October
We have been busy and distracted and a bit sick the last few days so we haven’t had time for updates. Also, our Internet connections have not been as convenient or as reliable.
Today we had our first full day in Lindos, Greece – on the island of Rhodes. Lindos is a touristy village, much more touristy than we like, especially after Turkey. I realize places with too many people exhaust me or it might be my cold. Lindos is a classic Greek village of white washed buildings cascading down the hillside to a clear blue bay. At the top of the hill above the village sits the acropolis, which we still need to explore. Our little apartment is our much-needed escape from the busy outside world. We enter through big wooden doors under an archway into our own secret courtyard. The courtyard and apartment hang on the village’s edge right above the beach and bay. The air is literally perfumed with the jasmine and honeysuckle trellis that shades half the courtyard. A lemon tree bursting with green fruit covers the other half. We watched the sailboats and tour boats come in and out of the bay sipping tea and coffee in the morning from our terrace.
Tuesday, 9 October –
Either the magic of this little village is starting to work on me or I’m feeling better. Yesterday I felt overwhelmed by the tourists and traveling. Today I woke up with new energy. Even last night after the day-trippers headed out of the village and we wandered through the crazy little, white washed alleys to find a small restaurant for dinner I started to relax. The alleys were empty. As we walked through them we caught glimpses into Lindians’ private worlds. Each house seems to have a secret world of courtyards, rooms and gardens behind wooden doors; sometimes just slightly ajar so we could be peek in. Resisting the urge to peek in was impossible within this village of hidden spaces and white walled canyons. The light was so soft. The evening air blew in cool from the ocean. Inviting smells of fish and jasmine mingled. Occasional wafts of less pleasant odors also spilled into the alley. Dishware and pots clattered and glasses tinkled. Pieces of conversations drifted over the walls but we couldn’t understand any of the words. Old women sat in doorways chatting to one another. In a small square rowdy boys played football (US soccer) as moms held babies in small groups on the fringes.
This morning the boys spent breakfast collecting a huge basket of jasmine blossoms off the courtyard floor. All but one of the rooms in the apartment opens onto the courtyard. Strangely the toilet is on the one end of the courtyard in a little room, like an outhouse but with plumbing. There is another room with sink and shower at the other end of courtyard down a flight of stairs under the living room. A quirky set up but comfortable. The only drawback is that the apartment backs up to a bar that closes at 1am. We are serenaded to bed with rockin’ dance music until we put in our earplugs! The surprises that I don’t even think to ask about when selecting a place to stay. I will try to always remember to ask who our neighbors will be when I am considering a place in the future. Last February we rented a house in Mexico for a week between two bars! That’s my traveling advice for the day.
Today we spent almost the entire day at the beach. The beaches are small and more civilized than we are used to in the U.S., specifically our favorite beaches in Carpinteria near Santa Barbara. Chaise lounges and umbrellas line the tourist beaches and you are charged 4 euros per chaise. The water is so clear and warm. The water was even warm enough to lure Doug in multiple times. The boys spent hours this morning trying to catch fish. We even purchased a net, masks and snorkels. We didn’t catch any fish, but I did catch some sort of sea worm or eel off the bottom. It was a strange creature that I had never seen.
We ate a late lunch at a creperie that the boys had been eyeing the last few days. Liam and Colin have become the most adventurous eaters on this trip. They have tried everything they’ve encountered and ordered lots of novel foods just to experiment and I would say they have been happily surprised almost every time. Liam is a more adventurous eater than his mom. He always wants a little from everyone’s plates. Liam and Colin also seem to be out eating Doug and me pound for pound.
Because we had a late lunch we decided to have a picnic in our courtyard for dinner and watch the sunset over the bay. The schedule that seems to work best for us is a big breakfast/brunch, a late afternoon meal and a smaller, or picnic-style dinner. Too many restaurant meals definitely gets tiring. Greeks and Turks eat dinner late and Liam and Colin are usually exhausted by our busy days. Then when we do eat out for a big meal we try to find somewhere special and interesting.
Tuesday, 4 October
We headed back north after Çirali because we knew we wanted to catch the ferry to Greece towards the end of the week. Several weeks ago while in Sirince we met a Turkish couple from Istanbul who suggested an area to visit with a sunken city of ruins to explore. We followed their advice and headed to Ucagiz to catch a boat to a town named Kekova or Kale or Simena. My road maps and books were not consistent and not clear but we called a pension and they sent a boat to get us in the middle of a rain and thunder storm. Actually the father of the Yasin, the pension owner, picked us up. I am still uncertain of the village’s true name but it was a mystic place with one civilization built on top of another over and over. As we drove towards Ucagiz I thought how old and tired the land seemed. It appeared used by humans forever. The soil was dry and dusty and old stonewalls laced the hills. Scrubby bushes covered the land that was not fields. Even after countless generations of farming rocks still litter the fields. Now greenhouses covered the villages and fields. The soil in the green houses seemed much richer. Doug and I guessed the greenhouses must provide a more controllable environment for the farmers. I have never seen so many greenhouses at once. We also saw the strangest structure - a columned entrance carved into the face of a rock several stories high. The entrance seemed to be into a cave or rock dwelling. It was in the distance across some farmer’s fields so we did not investigate up close.
The village, we will call it Simena, because we saw a postcard in the village with that name, was built on the water’s edge and then continued up the hill towards the acropolis at the summit. We ended up staying in the upstairs pair of rooms of a set of four rooms in a building half way up the hill. The views of the bay and island across were spectacular. Downstairs from us a French woman named Katrine was staying and we crashed her quiet breakfast on the terrace the first morning. At first we thought we might be disturbing her, but then found out she was a grandma and we all became friends. She was interested in the boys and their adventures. Liam and Katrine tried to figure out English words that came from Turkish. Doug and I were fascinated because Katrine had just retired from the education branch of the European Commission. We learned a lot about the political wranglings of the EC and Turkey’s attempts to break into it. Katrine had spent the last seven years shuttling between Turkey and Brussels.
The first afternoon we sat on our terrace and watched the school children get off the boat. They had a school boat instead of a school bus. When the rain clouds cleared we climbed the path to the acropolis. The feeling of layered civilizations intrigued me again. Some village homes are built right out of the ruins and old blends with the new. An old woman on the roof of a stone cottage that seemed from another time adjusted her satellite dish after the storm cut power to the village. Along the spine of the hill beyond the acropolis there were about 20 Lycian funeral monuments. We were in another part of the Lycian civilization south of the region where we did our hike. Until sunset, we wandered the hillside among the funeral monuments and through the acropolis alone except for two herders and their goats.
We considered signing up for a kayak tour of the sunken city, but then we discovered the pension had two kayaks that we borrowed for the day. We traveled up the coast and discovered on our own a whole ancient world. It was incredible. Stone staircases descending from the shore into the water or rising straight out of the water like steps to nowhere. The ancient city sunk about two meters as the result of an earthquake a couple hundred years B.C. We kayaked into the three-sided remains of rooms and looked out windows that used to be much higher above sea level. This was another place where we could picture and imagine a long ago village living by the sea. We could see the homes, staircases and walkways and imagining the people came easily. We stopped for a swim and snack on a pier next to an old church, not a mosque. Christianity has been here longer than Islam, from soon after Christ until the 15th century.
Yasin took Katrine and the Kirkpatricks on a sunset cruise across the bay to see more of the ruins. Looking under the water we could see the entire break wall of an ancient port as we cruised along the far shore. On the way back Yasin caught a small tuna. The tuna flopped in the bottom of the boat all the way back. Colin gave us continual updates, “It’s still moving. It’s not dead yet.” We ate dinner at the pension. Like the previous night, we went to the cooler and picked our entrées. There was the tuna from our boat ride in the cooler. Liam wanted nothing else for dinner. He had the tuna and ate the whole thing! Katrine ate dinner with us and shared her calamari with the boys. They had had calamari for lunch the day before and decided that is wasn’t so bad. Yasin’s wife and daughter spent the evening catching small fish off the end of the dock and throwing them to the dock cats. Carolyn had her first (and last) glass of raki, courtesy of Katrine.
Here are some photos from our time in Kekova/Simena/Kale.
Sunday, 2 October
Today we headed south along the coast to the Turkish Olympos and the village of Çirali. We got a bit lost thanks to my navigating which should not have been a problem except I sent Doug down a narrow mountain road that was getting a new asphalt top. One of the challenges in Turkey is that many villages have two names. I think some are historical names and some might be the older Greek names. In the 1920s there was a population exchange of ethnic Turks and ethnic Greeks. Ethnic Turks in Greece were exchanged with ethnic Greeks in Turkey. Whole villages were transplanted. The scars and legacies of these migrations are still evident. One result that affects travelers, likes us, is numerous villages with multiple names.
Because of our wrong turn we had to make a bathroom break where we noticed that all of us had black tar on the backs of our legs. Then I looked at our rental car and it was completely tarred. It looked tarred without the feathers. At first we thought we might be able to wipe it off with paint thinner but upon closer inspection, we realized cleaning would be a futile endeavor. We decided to just ignore the problem and find a place to stay.
We found the Kimbala Hotel with gracious host Bulent Coskun. The place thrilled Liam and Colin. First, there were three one-month old puppies. We all have a new favorite breed of dog, the Anatolian shepherd. The mother and father dogs were huge, like pony size. They made our German shepherd Jolie look petite! The mommy dog was a little grumpy and tired with having to feed and care for the pups. The father dog was like a huge, overgrown puppy and would come bounding through the compound knocking over anything in its path. The puppies were into everything they weren’t supposed to be. They were always trying to sneak in the house and kitchen as the cook fed them lots of scraps. Then in the middle of some silly antic the pups would just curl up and go to sleep. Every time we sat down to eat the pups would come play and then fall asleep on our feet as we ate. Liam and Colin were enraptured and couldn’t stay away from them. We entertained the idea of bringing a pup to NZ, but then thought that we are having enough of a challenge getting our own dog into NZ let alone an Anatolian shepherd from Turkey with undocumented healthcare!
We climbed up to Chimaera in the dark wearing headlamps to find our way. This hike was one of the moments where the ancient world comes to life. We had read these flames have been burning for over 2,000 years. The scene felt primordial. After a half an hour of hiking we came out on a hillside with what look liked many small campfires. Small groups of people were crouched around each “campfire.” Some kids had lit sticks on fire and were waving them in the dark sky. Only silhouettes were visible. People could have been wearing animal skins, tunics or jeans. The flames came from small cracks and holes in the rocks. In some crevices the flames glowed hot blue. Larger yellow and red flames reached skyward. One group of people was having a hotdog roast on sticks around one burning rock. How I wished we had brought marshmallows! Remember the marshmallows if you ever visit Chimaera.
Note: Doug spent one morning getting the car detailed to remove the oil, while Carolyn & the boys played at the great beach in Çirali.
Here are some photos from our time in Olympos.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Friday, September 29 - The boys spent the morning playing in the pool as I packed up the backpacks. We left the Octopus Inn and continued south past the big coastal hotspots of Marmaris and Fethiye. We drove literally to the end of the road. The drive was amazing and a bit scary. From the last big town, Oludeniz, we continued south on a small road that started paved, then became gravel and finally was just a bumpy dirt track. The road curved along the coastal cliffs, which reminded me of Highway 1 along Big Sur but only about one lane, curvier and dirt. The views were incredible over the Mediterranean, blue sky melding into deep blue green water. We left our car at the end of the road. After a few false starts as we tried to find the right trail, we hiked down the steep trail to the beach. Liam and Colin carried all their personal gear including clothes, a book and sleep sack. The drive and the hike both took longer than we expected. We approached Kabak beach just as the sun was setting. The first person to meet us was a huge sheep dog we named Babur. To understand our Babur reference read The Places In Between. Doug and I just did. It is one Scottish man’s account of his trek on foot across Afghanistan in 2002. The man adopts a huge dog on the trek and names the dog Babur after an ancient explorer in that region of Afghanistan.
We arrive at the beach camp Kabak Natural Life camp and no one seems to notice us for awhile. Everyone is busy cooking and getting dinner for the camp ready. Liam and Colin are fascinated with the menagerie of animals. In addition to Babur, there were several species of chickens, cats, goats, burros, ducks, geese and other birds I couldn’t identify. All animals were running free except for the burros. One mystery of our stay was why the cats did not stalk the baby chicks. We decided they were afraid of the mother hens. The cats were definitely outnumbered. Babur stalked the cats!
Finally a young man asked if we wanted to see the accommodations so we could choose one. He led us up and down a series of paths lit by little solar path lights (imagine the Ewok village from Star Wars, sort of hippy sixties, Turkish style). There were lots of bungalows on stilts and tents and platforms with cushions. Doug at one point asked me if I knew what was going on or where we were suppose to sleep. I had not a clue! Eventually he led us through an area with about 20 canvas tents on wooden decks. We chose two of tents because they were small. Colin and Doug slept in one tent and Liam and I slept in another. The placed was packed. Every tent was filled. I think we got the last two tents. Luckily we arrived just in time for a yummy dinner and then we crashed in tents. As we snuggled into our sleep sacks Liam said, “Mom this is the most out-there place we’ve ever stayed.” We finally fell asleep despite the late night revelry of a group of German guests.
Saturday, September 29 - We awoke with a rooster about 3am then 3:07 am, then 3:23 and then every few minutes with the burro braying or a rooster until the sun came up. We decided the animals must have been suffering from jet lag as they woke up so early!
Since we were all up early we headed down to the beach to watch the sunlight spill over the hill, across the sand and then over the water. Babur joined us. The water was warm, much warmer than up near Sirince and there were waves. Babur is a water dog. He bounded right in. We all played in the surf waiting for breakfast to start.
After breakfast, we began our hike up to Alinca. We were hiking a portion of the Lycian Way that follows the coast along ancient paths used by goat herders. Along the way we saw remnants and reminders of people from earlier times like sections of old walls, springs, and wells. The hike was 7km, which didn’t sound too challenging until we realized it included an elevation gain of 760m (about a half mile up, the temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit and we were scrambling up rocks part of the way). I was so impressed and proud of Colin and Liam. We really pushed and the boys were definitely outside of their comfort zone. Both kept going and did not give up. We also told them that there was no choice as they either had to head back or make it to the next village or we slept on the trail. About half way up we came onto a saddle in the mountain with an olive grove and there was a group of Israeli backpackers sitting in the shade of the olive trees that applauded Colin and Liam’s progress up the mountain. Colin and Liam were the only children on the trail that we saw the whole day. Actually we only saw one other pair of hikers all day, who were also Israeli. There was a well and the backpackers had pulled up a bucket of water. The cold water poured from the bucket on each of our heads was like heaven! We followed the Israelis up the mountain as they sang loudly.
After almost six hours we made it to Alinca, a small, cliff-top village of a few houses of shepherds and farmers and the most incredible views of the Mediterranean 760m below. We were so proud of our accomplishment. We celebrated with a huge bottle of cold water and a chocolate bar split in four pieces. Then we took cold showers and sat on our porch to watch the sunset slowly intensify to fiery orangey-pink and then fade to moody bluish-purple. The four of us sat mesmerized by the show and stilled by our exhausted muscles. We feasted on a vegetarian spread by two Turkish surfers at the Dervish Lodge, served perched on the very edge of the cliffs. We all agreed it was our best meal in Turkey.
Friday, September 30
We considered staying a second day in Alinca to re-cooperate, but it was hot and due to the drought there was very little water for drinking or refreshment. So we decided to head back to Kabak where we parked the car. The weather was even hotter and the hike was longer, 11km. Luckily the hike was downhill this time and the views were mesmerizing. We hiked from shade spot to shade spot alternated between singing, “Shade, glorious shade or you’ve got move it, move it or here we go, here we go, here we go go go (an Ozomatli song)!” We passed through a pine forest and found an ancient cemetery next to a spring. The end of the route to town was steep, falling down steep. At times, Doug or I would hold onto Colin to keep him and his backpack from tumbling over. Liam’s face was beet red, but he was stoic. Of course, I was worried about heat exhaustion so we drank water and more water. We finally made it to the village of Kabak and bought another bottle of cold water from a pension to celebrate on their front porch.
What an adventure. At dinner that night we all were discussing the things we take for granted in our normal life, like water. We experienced first-hand the struggle some people have for a clean water source. In Denver, also a dry place, people use water, clean enough for drinking, to water lawn and cars. As Liam noted there are no green lawns here. Water is for growing food or drinking. In Alinca there has been a drought for at least the last year. In villages with roads, water is brought in by truck and we saw a women in Kabak with a wheelbarrow full of water bottles walking home. The boys also did not understand why I treated the water with iodine in Alinca. I explained that our tummies were used to different water and that we might get sick without treating the water. I guess that as an environmental engineer who studied drinking water disinfection technologies this topic is critical to me, actually heartbreaking. Still, Doug got sick…
Liam is writing a piece about how it feels to be in Turkey and what he has observed that is different than at home. We will post it soon with Colin’s writing about the hike.
Here are some more photos from our hike.
Next we drove down to Gogova with a short stop at Euromos along the way. Euromos was of great interest to the boys because of its temple to Zeus, one of the Greek Gods that the boys have been reading about.
Carolyn writing again – The three boys are still sleeping at the moment. Mosquitoes woke me up so I thought I would write a bit. We have been off the grid for the last few days.
Thursday, September 28 - We stayed in a small coastal town of Gogova (also called Akyaka). Many Turkish towns seem to have two names, which is confusing for the non-Turkish speaking traveler like me. We ended up taking a completely different road and staying in a different town than I had thought we would. There seems to be some new roads/tollways that are not on the map I purchased in Istanbul. Luckily the road signs to each town are frequent along the roads.
We called our hotel the “Octopus Inn.” While we ate dinner on the edge of the breakwall, we watched the owner catch two octopus (one very big!) with his spear gun. The boys ran over to watch close up as the owner pull them in. I couldn’t convince either Liam or Colin to order the calamari salad!
Here are some more photos from the day.