Up early today, we rent the boat of
a local fisherman. We’ve spent most of
the last week within a hundred yards of the sea, but this is the first time we
have ventured out on it. In fact, if our
difficulties have shown anything, it is the unlikelihood of coastal travel
except by sea. In summer, this is
extraordinarily difficult country -- arid, steep, and broken underfoot. In contrast, the sea could not be more
welcoming. There is scarcely a wave upon
it, and the temperature close to the coast is like a bath. There is no doubt that we could have rowed
the same distance that we walked with less effort. Rowed, hell, we could have swum the whole way
with less effort. This insight is
crucial to understanding the history of Lycia, which for thousands of years has
been about controlling the seaports and thus the valleys that run down to the
seaports. To conquer the port was to
conquer the valley, because valley-dwellers had no practical way to move their
goods into any other valley. Coastal
travel was all by sea. Touring by boat brings us in some ways closer to the
history of Lycia
We’re taking the boat out to a
“sunken city.” Aperlae was not the only
Roman town to drop into the Mediterranean
during the earthquake of 40 A.D.
Offshore from Uçağiz is an island where another old town suffered the
same fate. We putter along the
steep-sided coast of the island for a kilometer or more, passing the remains of
a prosperous Roman town – wharves, steps, and houses cascading down to the
water’s edge. All of these structure
have dropped below the waves, where they still can be seen extending under the
water to the old wharf line perhaps five or ten meters offshore.
area is aggressively protected. No
swimming is allowed, no snorkeling, no diving, even mooring is
discouraged. Here, for the first time in
days I feel like I am in western Europe, reading the rules in all their length
and multilingual seriousness. I miss the
casual comfort with the detritus of history that we felt at Chimaera and Aperlae.
give ourselves a short last hike, we ask to be dropped at Simena. This is the largest town in Turkey that is
not connected to the Turkish road system.
It has a well-preserved Genovese fortress on its hilltop. The walls are
topped with shelters the size of tombstones, giving the top of the fort the
appearance of a child’s carved pumpkin mouth. Inside the fortress are
structures left by earlier settlers, including a pocket-sized amphitheater,
with seats for perhaps 200 people cut straight from the stone.
we have gone, the best-preserved remnants of Greek life are the theaters. But here, looking at this tiny clone of the
theaters we’ve seen all across Lycia,
it occurs to me that for the Greeks the need to build these things must have
been almost primal. Why else carve one
from stone for such a tiny community?
Theater must have had the same power for the Greeks that television has
today – so powerful that even the poorest citizens and communities demand
head out the back of the fortress, past a suburban sprawl of Lycian tombs and
down the trail that links Simena to mainland Turkey. Once down the hill, we need
only cross a cow posture (“Must be rich,” I now find myself thinking when I see
someone’s cow), and we are back at the old Moslem cemetery. As we march on, I can’t help noticing the
trash along the road. There’s trash
everywhere in Turkey. Part of the problem is that plastic floats,
so it tends to wash up on the shores of even the most remote and charming
inlet. But another part of the problem
is the Turks themselves. They litter
casually. I’ve seen something like this
too, where massive numbers of people hike into the mountains to enjoy the
nature beauty and leave behind a new mountain of trash. Maybe it’s part of the development process –
perhaps there’s a point in a nation’s prosperity where it’s an irresistible
thrill to be rich enough to throw away a potentially useful container.
is our last hike. We are on the bus to Antalya
by early afternoon. We check into the
Doğan Hotel, but what we really want is an old-fashioned Turkish bath. The hotel sends us to a 600-year old hamam
just up the road. For two hours, we are scraped, pulled, massaged, and lathered
within an inch of our lives. A fair
amount of skin comes off in the process, and a good thing, too, because the
only way to remove some of this dirt is to take the skin with it. At last, we drag ourselves back up the
stairs. After the inside of the hamam, what had been the swelter of the town
seems as cool and gentle as an air-conditioned office. We sip apple tea and trade stories with the
We are content. We are clean.
We are finished.
"Maybe it’s part of the development process – perhaps there’s a point in a nation’s prosperity where it’s an irresistible thrill to be rich enough to throw away a potentially useful container."
Seems to me that it's the other way around--it's not so much that it's a thrill to throw away a potentially-useful item, but that you're rich enough to care about where the food wrapper goes once you've finished with the food.
Posted by: DensityDuck | Jul 26, 2010 at 07:29 PM
Both notions are false. There are simply bugger-all rubbish bins.
Posted by: nh | Aug 03, 2010 at 11:06 PM