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28 October 2013

June 15: Gemiler Island

It’s 6 a.m. The captain starts up the motor to take our gulet to Gemiler Island. I put on a jacket and come up on deck in the cool, moist morning air, grateful for the thermos of coffee that the crew brings out. I love mornings, and here I am on a gulet on the Aegean Sea. I pull my coat close, sip my coffee, and enjoy the solitude and the views and the low murmurings of the crew talking in Turkish.

The sun comes up and so do all of our tourmates, and we enjoy breakfast on the gulet. By 9 a.m. we arrive at Gemiler Island, also known as "Saint Nicholas Island". Modern archaeologists believe that this island may be the location of the tomb of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was known as a gift-giver, placing coins in the shoes that people left out for him. This is the model for Santa Claus, whose name is derived from Saint Nicholas. His feast day is December 6.

These signs mark the bottom of the trail to the ruins. (You can see John in the left of the photo, already tackling the steep path.)

Gemiler Island

Note the turquoise blue sign: “During your visit please fallow the path.” Hmm, where is the editor? I typed in the content of the other blue sign, correcting errors.

Gemiler Island, or St. Nicholas Island

This island became a residential area during the early Byzantine Period. Some medieval sources claim that Saint Nicholas, known as Santa Claus, came here or lived here for some time, which enhances the present prominence of the island.

Some sources name the region as Symbola. There are various religious buildings and numerous small houses on the island. Four large churches, many vaulted tombs, the corridor connecting Churches No. 3 and No. 4 and the church No. 2 with frescoes dedicated to Saint Nicholas are among sights worth visiting.

From the early Byzantine Period until the 12th century AD, the island was inhabited and was an important port of call, especially for vessels sailing from Italy and other Western Mediterranean countries with pilgrims destined for the Sacred Lands in Palestine. The island was deemed significant also because of existing cults of certain saints.

The aid and interest of our esteemed guests are requested in the protection of the island from devastation and pollution.


History reminder: Byzantine was the Greek-speaking Roman empire, lasting from about the third century AD through the time of the Middle Ages, and was the ruling force in Turkey until 1453.

The path is very steep, winding up to the top of the hill where the churches were built around the 6th century AD. It’s worth the hard hike, because the ruins and the views are amazing.

I took this photo of our gulet after walking a little ways up the path.

Gemiler Island

One of the old churches.

Gemiler Island

Gemiler Island

The corridor connecting two of the churches.

Gemiler Island

Church ruins.

Gemiler Island

Gemiler Island

The view of our gulet.

Gemiler Island

Ali leading us to another church.

Gemiler Island

What remains of one of the frescoes.

Gemiler Island

Note the cross in this photo:

Gemiler Island

The view.

Gemiler Island

A vaulted tomb.

Gemiler Island

Church ruins against the view.

Gemiler Island

Gemiler Island

Ali talks to us.

Gemiler Island

Our gulets.

Gemiler Island

Me.

Patty

Us.

John and Patty

Church ruins.

Gemiler Island

We hiked back to our gulets and had a couple hours to swim and snorkle around the cove. It was really cool, because some of the ruins were underwater.

Too soon, it was time to leave for our next adventure. This was taken from our gulet, looking back at Gemiler Island.

Gemiler Island

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23 October 2013

June 14: Afternoon and evening.

Here I am in October, writing about our June trip, and I find that my written journal for the rest of June 14 is sketchy. (Perhaps because of the gin and tonic incidence . . . more below.) I know that we left Gocek around 3 pm and cruised to a shipbuilding ghost town, but my photos don’t clearly show this. From the times on the photos, I do know that within an hour, our boat had docked for the night in a new cove. We swam and snorkled. Below are a few of my photos.

Cruising the bay.

from our gulet

A nice view of gulet #1.

gulet 1

Our captain was making a trap for fish, you can see it here on the prow of the boat.

net

A very cool sailboat with black sails passed.

black sailboat

black sailboat

Coming into the cove where we spent the night.

cove

cove

Looking back out to the sea.

looking out to sea

As the sun set, gulet #2 tour members gathered for cocktail hour. What, tonic, but no gin? Help, we need gin! We waved our arms and shouted to our tour members on gulet #1 and asked if they had any gin, but they said no. Our captain radioed all the other captains in the cove, but none was to be found. Oh well, we would just have to make do with what was on board. And that we did.

Ah, the problems of travel.

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22 October 2013

June 14: Dalyan and loggerhead sea turtles.

Our gulets motor to Gocek by 9 a.m., where we disembark and board our bus.

Gocek

Our bus takes us to Dalyan, a town less than an hour north of Gocek. Along the way, I noted that the buildings in the town are architecturally pleasing, more European; they are less blocky than most of Turkey’s structures. Ali says that a lot of Brits live in this area as it has a great climate and is a relatively inexpensive place to retire.

Dalyan is famous for the endangered loggerhead turtles that breed on a nearby beach. In June 1988, the area was declared a protected natural preserve, the first in Turkey. (See Koycegiz-Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area.) We will be on the Dalyan River, that connects Lake Koycegiz with the Aegean Sea through a delta-like matrix of channels.

We walk through the town to the pier where we board an open boat and head out the channels to see the loggerheads.

First we pass a statue of Ataturk, a common sight in Turkey.

statue of Ataturk

This photo looks back on the pier and the town of Dalyan.

Dalyan

The river winds through a marshy, reedy delta.

Dalyan

Soon we see Lycian rock tombs carved into the hills that rise from the shore.

Dalyan

Zoom in:

Dalyan

The view as we motor out towards the sea. We stop to get blue crab to attract the loggerhead turtles. Ali gets extra to take to the restaurant later in the day.

Dalyan

What are these people pointing to? A loggerhead - you can barely see it.

loggerhead

Our boat moves in closer and fish and crabs are tossed overside. Oh! Here comes a loggerhead turtle!

loggerhead

And even better:

loggerhead

Underwater, with little fish swimming above.

loggerhead

I took a movie:



In the distance, you can see a loggerhead and the beach where the turtles breed.

loggerhead

Our boat turns back to town and we sit and talk about our experience.

Dalyan

Back at the pier, we disembark and gather together before we walk back to the town.

Dalyan

It’s pretty in this resort town. Restaurants line the walkway, inviting us in.

Dalyan

Dalyan

Ali takes us to a planned restaurant, where we order a variety of dishes and also the chef prepares the blue crab that Ali has brought. We enjoy the food and the wifi access. Later we wander the shops of the town and I get some harem pants and a cute shirt.

Then, back to the bus and then the gulet. The day is still young!

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20 October 2013

June 13: Sailing the Aegean.

After lunch, our captain put up the sails on the gulet, and we sailed northeast up the coast towards Gocek. The sails are not the primary means of propelling the boat, but they sure were pretty. We sailed along for about two hours, then the crew moored the boat for the night in yet another pretty cove.

The foresail is out. The clothespins on the lines were for our towels and wet swim suits.

sailing

The view from the back of our boat.

sailing

Looking out on the Aegean.

sailing

sailing

Gulet #1, under sail:

sailing

We sail close to the shore to see steps and burial chambers from the Lydean period.

Lydean ruins

Lydean ruins

The crew uses the motorboat to take the mooring line out to the shore. The captain pulls the line taut by motoring the gulet in the opposite direction, then he drops anchor.

mooring the gulet

We again don our swim suits and jump in the turquoise waters. Later we enjoy food and drink and conversation on the gulet. Another great day.

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20 October 2013

June 13: Enjoying a hike and the gulets.

Ah, this is the life. A day of hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and sailing on the Aegean seacoast. Ruins of buildings built thousands of years ago along the hiking path, ruins along the seashore and underwater. Turquoise water, warm and welcoming. Kayaks. Great food. Good conversation. This was a gem of a day.

We begin our hike in the cove of Aga Limani, across the bay from Gocek. The hike is part of the Lycian Way, a long-distance footpath in Turkey along the coast of ancient Lycia. We hike past Greco-Roman ruins, Lydian ruins, and end at the Lycian era Sunken Baths of Cleopatra. The hike took about 3 hours and was steep and rocky at times. We stop a lot to learn about the different trees and flowers and local history.

(Historical timeline: Kingdom of Lydia from 12-6th century BC, encompassing most of western Turkey; Lycia, around 1-2 BC, along the western coast of modern-day Turkey.)

Each gulet has a small motorboat to transport passengers from the gulet to the shore:

motor boat

The trails rises quickly and we see our gulets starting off. They will motor along the shore and pick us up at another spot at the end of our hike.

first part of trail

Ruins of a house:

ruins of a house

This trail was once paved with large stones.

old road

Different types of trees and plants line the trail. Ali points out pomegranite trees, bay leaf trees, and herbs such as oregano and sage.

trees

This was once a church.

ancient church

See the tree growing out of the old structure:

ancient church

Andrea finds a donkey:

donkey

A tortoise going into a tunnel in the old church:

tortoise

Here is where he was going:

tunnel

Coming up to a cistern:

cistern

Inside the cistern:

cistern

Ali has arranged for us to visit a family that lives in this rural area. They raise goats and the wife makes necklaces and goat-bells to sell to passers-by. Their daughter is home for the summer, but in the school year she lives with relatives near a city so she can attend a good school.

rural home

They offer us refreshments. It is good to sit down out in the shade and enjoy the sage tea.

rural home

They sell their crafts under a covered area.

crafts

I bought a necklace:

necklace

And a spoon made from olive wood:

spoon

Our hike continues beneath these tall trees. They are kind of a feathery pine tree.

hike
A donkey peeks out of a goatherder’s shed:

donkey

The Lycian Way is waymarked with red and yellow stripes of paint.

waymarks

You can see the Aegean Sea in this photo. We climbed up pretty high. Ali tells us that Antony gave this part of the Lycian Way to Cleopatra as a gift, since the view is so beautiful.

hike

This is a strawberry tree. No, it doesn’t produce strawberries, it just has bark that resembles the look of strawberries.

strawberry tree

Our group along the path:

hike

A view of the Aegean:

Aegean Sea

Our gulets await us in a different cove from which we disembarked this morning. The ruins are the Sunken Baths of Cleopatra. We will have lunch on the gulet and then spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling around these ruins.

cove

cove

cove

cove

The water is crystal clear:

cove

. . . and turquoise:

cove

Our motorboat coming to get us:

cove

And we are all set for a rest from the hike and an afternoon enjoying the Aegean Sea.

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17 October 2013

June 12: Onward to the gulets

Our travel to the town of Gocek on the Gulf of Fethiye and takes us through pretty country. This photo was shot from the bus, near Bozarmut:

on the way to the gulets

We pass a marble quarry near Yatagan. I imagine people 2000 years ago digging out marble for their statues, monuments, and structures. I have a favorite town in Colorado called Marble, where they mine some of the marble that is used in our own national monuments. There is something fascinating in pulling beautiful slabs of stone out of the dirt of the earth.

marble quarry

After 4 hours on the bus, we finally arrive at the town of Gocek. We leave the bus and walk through this small resort town to get to our gulets. I considered this a welcome sign:

welcome sign

This is the town square:

Gocek town square

I am still amazed at the abundance of great fruits and vegetables on display in Turkey:

Gocek fresh produce

Here is Ali on the boat dock, guiding us to our two gulets. Half the group goes to gulet #1, and the other half to gulet #2.

gulets

Here is our gulet, #2. Our boat boy is putting all of our luggage on board.

gulet 2

Once we are all on board, our captain takes us out into the bay. Here is the other gulet, gulet #1:

gulet 1

These boats look small, but they easily accomodate 6 couples. On the deck there is a lot of space for sitting on big cushions, either up near the bow or near the stern. There is a large table near the stern on our boat, and that’s where we have all of our meals. We have three crew members, the captain, the boat boy, and Arman, who speaks English and is in training to be the captain. Ali is on the other gulet.

The crew works together to prepare all of our meals. The food is always wonderful! It is served family-style with large plates passed around for everyone to dish up for themselves. Lots of salads, tomatoes, cucumbers; watermelon for dessert; main entrees of fish or eggplant or chicken or kebabs. The grilling is done over charcoal by the captain. We run a tab for our alcoholic beverages.

Each cabin has a bathroom with a shower and toilet. Our bed isn’t huge, but it is pretty comfortable. We can opt to sleep up on deck in the cool night air (John does this once). There is a galley and sitting area next to the cabins, and in it is a place to charge our devices. No wifi, though. Oh well, this is vacation!

The sails on the gulets are mostly for show. Generally, the captain propels us across the waters using the motor. That first night, the captain takes us to a pretty cove, and we spend the evening talking with our tourmates-turned-friends, enjoying a meal and drinks, marveling at the views, and settling in to life on the gulet.

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16 October 2013

June 12: Turkish Rugs

The Swissotel lets us breakfast early because we have a long travel ahead of us. (Did I mention the great buffet the Swissotel has? Much like the Divan. We could select from an incredible variety of foods.) On the way, we pass through Selcuk again. I like these photos of the fort above the town and of the storks’ nest.

Selcuk

Selcuk

We settle into our long bus ride to Gocek and the gulets. Then, an unexpected treat. We know the plan is to stop and see a demonstration of carpet weaving, but we didn’t expect it to be more than a diversion. We were wrong!

Thirty minutes into the trip we stop at the small village of Camlik. As I have written ad nauseum, our days so far have been spent spent walking through fascinating but crowded ruins. Under blaring suns.

Today, we enter an oasis of quiet walkways, green lawns, and huge trees. This is Camlik, and a carpet weaving facility. But more than that.

Camlik

As we walk closer to the small white buildings, we see two women sitting at weaving looms:

weaving

We soon find that we are not here to see just a demonstration of carpet weaving, we are also here to learn of Sultamkoy, an organization that works with villages to benefit local women and the rug company as well as keep the ancient tradition of rug weaving alive.

Here’s how it works. Sultamkoy employs young women aged 15 and above from local farming villages. They school these women in the art of rug weaving and pay them as they learn. Buses pick them up from their villages in the morning, and return them each late afternoon. The women have their meals at the school, and can even bring young children. The company profits from the sale of the rugs. The traditional art of Turkish rug weaving is passed on to a new generation. It’s a win-win situation, and an intelligent and community-oriented way of running a business. I was impressed.

Our guide through the facility was an entertaining, ethusiastic guy. You can hear him talking in this movie of a demonstration of the double-know weaving technique.



Isn’t that totally cool?

I took some still photos too.

weaving rugs

weaving rugs

weaving rugs

weaving rugs

weaving rugs

Yarns for the weavings are dyed right at the factory. Most of the dyes they use are extracted from local plant sources. Here are the vats for the dyes:

dye vats

dye vats

Plant materials used for the dyes are in the barrels under the hanging dyed yarns:

dyes

I got all excited about the dyeing process. This is what I used to have organic chemistry students do in lab! We taught them about the chemistry of dyeing. Briefly, dyes adhere to fabrics by different chemical means. Some adhere by ionic bonds, some by covalent bonds, and some simply get trapped in the fibers of the fabric. Different fabrics work differently with different dyes. (That’s the short version. If you want the long version, read the essay I wrote on Dyes and Dyeing for the organic chemistry lab students at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the 1990s.)

The history of civilization includes the development of ways to color cloth. Early dyes were isolated from plant sources, and as civilization grew, the seeds for these plants and the dyeing methods were closely guarded. Beautifully dyed clothing was worn by the rich, dyed cloth was taken along ancient trade routes. Later, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the demand for synthetic dyes helped initiate the science of organic chemistry, leading eventually to the chemical industries that we still have today.

I’ve always found indigo especially interesting. Partly because I switched from dresses to indigo-dyed blue jeans when I was about 19 and a semi-hippie, and partly for indigo’s unique chemistry. When indigo is in its reduced form, it is soluble in water and a light yellow. If you put fabric in a solution of this reduced form of indigo, then pull it out into the air, the indigo oxidizes and forms a solid, intense blue color. This dye is only “caught” in the fabric strands, so your blue jeans fade with time.

I’m pretty geeky but I sure got excited when they demonstrated the dyeing of yarns with indigo. I took a movie:



On the shelf in the photo below are some solid dyes. The blue one sure looks like indigo to me, and the white powder is likely a type of mordant. One type of mordant is a heavy metal salt that complexes with an organic compound to form a colored compound: a dye. Tannic acid, isolated from the bark of plants, is also a mordant.

dyes

Some of the yarn used in this company’s rugs is wool, some silk. I believe the wool is from local animals, and I know the silk is produced here in Turkey.

The story of silk is interwoven with the history of civilization. Our host guide talked at some length about how the silk worms and the mulberry trees that they live on came to be cultivated in Turkey. The process is this: silk moths lay the eggs, the eggs hatch and develop into caterpillars called silk worms, the silk worms are fed mulberry leaves, eventually they spin a cocoon of a strand of silk that is a mile long, finally, most of the cocoons are heated to destroy the insects (some are allowed to mature to for the next generation of silk worms). Three to ten strands of silk are then joined to form a single thread of silk.

Here are a couple shots of silk cocoons, floating in a pool of water:

silk cocoons

silk cocoons

Each white, ovoid ball is a single strand of silk wound around the caterpillar stage of a silk worm. He let us hold and shake a cocoon - we could hear the dead bug rattle around inside.

But how is this ball of silk unwound and made into threads? The next two movies show these processes.





It’s so amazing how the guy untangled the silk threads.

Now it’s time to see the rugs: the final products of the preparation of yarns and the weaving by the women. We go into a big room full of rugs and are served beverages as we sit on benches against the walls.

rugs

Our host shows us tons of rugs and talks about what to look for in a authentic, good quality Turkish rug. Pretty much, the more knots per inch the more detail - the more pixels as an analogy to today’s computer graphics - the design will have and the more expensive they will be (because they take longer to make). You can look for the number of threads in the fringe. Also, the design has to be seen on the back as well as the front. There’s more to it than that; I understood it at the time but I’m afraid it went in one ear and out the next, as we have no desire to own one. Doesn’t quite fit into our rustic lifestyle. But I could sure appreciate the beauty of their rugs. They were pricey, but several members of our tour group purchased some.

Showing the back of rugs:

rugs

We are allowed to walk on the rugs, get down and touch them:

rugs

This large rug looks different from different directions:

rugs

Here is our host and the multitude of rugs that they have rolled out.

rugs

The rugs take from 3 months to a year and a half to weave, probably even longer for the ultra-high quality ones. The best weavers get a reputation, and their rugs are collected as fine art. Like these:

rugs

rugs

Look at the detail:

rugs

rugs

We wander around the grounds as some tour members purchase rugs. Ali sits in the courtyard and plays the baglama. I got a kick out of the his/hers signs for the water closets:

restroom signs

Tables are set with white linens on the lawn.

Camlik lunch

We sat at those tables under the trees and had yet another great meal. The food was all locally produced and fresh as could be. We enjoyed our wine and watched the view and roosters and a Turkish squirrel.

Meal:

Camlik

View:

Camlik

Camlik

Turkish squirrel:

Camlik

Rooster:

Camlik

After four hours at this unexpected gem of a stop, we got back on the bus for the drive to our gulets.

Camlik

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13 October 2013

Lyons Floods: One month later

This has been a month to remember. For us, the timeline went like this:

--September 11, it started raining
--September 12-13, the rivers around us all flood, we lose power and phone and cannot drive out
--September 18, the river receded some and the road construction crews repaired one road enough that we are allowed to drive out through Lyons one time per day
--September 19, we got power back to our house
--October 6, our phone service is restored and a little later, our DSL
--October 11, once again our power goes out, but luckily only for 3 hours

We stayed in our own house the entire time. But not so most Lyons residents: the sewer and water systems in the town of Lyons proper were destroyed. Gradually, power is being restored, so that by October 11 most neighborhoods do have power, and some have phones. Residents are discouraged from staying in their homes because of the sewer and water situation. The town has port-a-potties everywhere. A few businesses are open, even the stores, at least on a limited basis. The town is building temporary water and sewer systems and they believe that by October 26-November 11, residents will be able to move back home.

Things in town are slowly getting back to normal, but most of the town residents are still displaced, renting temporary apartments in nearby towns. The kids are going to school in Longmont.

On October 11, Mayama re-opened. It was wonderful to go to a Nia class and reunite with my friends in Lyons! What a wonderful community we have.

But wherever they are living, they remain Lyons people. Lyons Strong.

Lyons Main Street
The empty Main Street of Lyons, September 29, 2013.



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