Kas

I love watching the sky here from my apartment. Sometimes huge white fluffy clouds appear on the horizon behind the island of Meis or the hill opposite me, but they quickly scud across the sky and disappear eastward over the Limon Agzi peninsula.

Yesterday I awoke to one of the 56 days in the year that it is not sunny on the south coast of Turkey. Damn – I thought it was going to rain. I had arranged the day before to have a Turkish bath at the Hotel Club Phellos on the hillside down the road east of my apartment and also to use their huge outdoor pool, located on a terrace overlooking the sea. The idea of a swim wasn’t quite as appealing in cloudy weather as it had been in the brilliant sunshine the day before. The hotel is quite large and a bit rundown; in its heyday, 20 years ago, it was probably pretty swanky. At the moment, though, the interior is a bit dark and the furnishings look like they could use replacing. The hamam is on the downstairs level, right next to the pool deck, and also has a very tiny indoor pool. After changing into my swimsuit, I dipped a toe into the indoor pool but it was disappointingly cold. So I thought “What the hell – since they’re both the same (cool) temperature, I might as well use the great big outdoor one”. No point easing into it slowly – too cold – so I jumped in and proceeded to swim laps for about 20 minutes or so. The pool had a deep end so I also dove in – today my neck is a bit sore from that exercise … feeling my age, just like the hotel!

There are probably all of three people staying in this big hotel, since the season has just opened, and I had the place to myself. First, a screaming hot sauna – it was so hot that I couldn’t stay in for more than a few minutes. My limbs felt like they were going to burst into flames. The hamam area itself is very tiny but had the usual beautiful blue floral patterned tilework. After that furnace of a sauna, the heated marble slab felt cool but as I lay on it relaxing, it gradually warmed up. Then, after 15 minutes, I could see out of the corner of my eye that a man had come in to the room – “Damn”, I thought, peace ruined. But it just turned out to be the hamam attendant who was going to work on me. His peeling and massage efforts were pleasant but too gentle and not long enough to do my old muscles much good. Later, I used the sauna again, after telling the guy, in sign language and saying “Cok Sacak” (too hot!) emphatically, to turn it down a notch. Finally, after being wrapped with three towels, I was instructed to lie on a plastic sun lounger next to the indoor pool and had a green mud (possibly from the Xanthos River, whose healing properties I am still waiting to experience) facial mask applied, which stayed on for about 20 minutes as I lay poolside musing. I really love the whole Turkish bath thing. This one wasn’t as good as some I’ve had (and this bath attendant could have used one of his own baths, with a bit of soap … he did stink a bit!) but even a mediocre hamam is a good thing.

A bit later in the day the clouds cleared off and the sun came out again and I wandered down into town for lunch. Sitting at one of the several tiny cafes near the square, I enjoyed a cappuccino and a chocolate crepe. While eating that, two women arrived at the café and sat opposite me. I recognized them from the other day – they had been sitting on the rocks at the Buyuk Cakil Beach when I was there. I made note of them because they spoke with American accents – this you never hear in this part of the world. I haven’t heard an American voice for a long while in Turkey. Anyway, I asked them if they’d been at the beach the other day and after assenting, they invited me to join them. We had a great chat – turns out that they are both civil engineers from Portland, one working for the Parks and Rec Commission and the other for the transit system and – get this – both named “Lisa”. A North American Lisa meeting two others in Kas – what are the odds of that? We had a good chuckle about it. They had hiked the Lycian way for three days, heading westward out of Fethiye through the Butterfly and Kabak valleys and told me that the route was spectacular. This reminded me of my intention to visit both those valleys – possibly next time I am in this part of the world.

Later still, I wandered once again along the waterfront to the west of the harbour, coming across another Lycian stone sarcophagus just standing there in amongst the dolmuses (minibuses). The seafront hotel that I thought was derelict and would be perfect for an artists’ residency turns out to have just been closed and is now open for business – damn. Another dream shattered … All the little pensions along the sea in that area are slowly opening, bringing out their outdoor furniture, painting, and generally sprucing things up. Metal ladders and diving platforms are being installed on the rocks – very handy for getting into the water on this rocky shoreline.

Another note on tourism here in Kas:

There is a tourist information office on the harbourfront square. I have been there three times now, trying to find out various things. Each time, the two employees inside have been engaged in an animated tea break conversation with several other locals and look up at me as I come in the door with expressions that suggest I am interrupting their day. One, the woman, does not speak English; the other, an older, somewhat officious man, does but is never very inclined to give me the information I’m seeking. And he only graces me with the barest possible amount of information, as if to say, “Well, we really don’t actually want any tourists here at all …”. Even so, I still love the place.

Having decided to do another apartment projection, while I still have the energy and the found objects, I decided that I needed a bouquet of flowers. I took some money along, in case I couldn’t find any suitable wildflowers, but, remembering the profusion of flowers growing wild in and around the cemetery, I made my way there and collected two big bunches of daisies, tiny yellow and purple bearded irises, and a couple of other varieties of wild pink and purple flowers. Too bad that the irises there are mostly all finished – it must have been beautiful at the height of their season. I arranged the flowers in two glass containers and positioned them on the two small tables and, as my friend Cec says, “Bob’s your uncle!” (What does that mean, anyway?)

This piece is called Ruination and consists of 24 images, to represent a human and cosmic lifetime, projected in sequence on the wall in front of a still life consisting of over-lifesize plastic female mannequin (with a necklace of tiny red peppers from the Dalyan market), wooden mortar and pestle, wine glass half full, candles (2 burning, 2 extinguished), crepe paper ribbons, moderately wrinkled, a glass bowl of pine cones picked from the Dalyan cemetery and Iztuzu Beach, and two petrified pomegranates from a field near Ortaca.

See pictures here and here.

The objects in this piece take part of their inspiration from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a play I love and that we teach often in Liberal Studies. Lucky has the central speech of the play, several hundred words shouted out in response to Pozzo’s command “Think!” It is too long to quote in full, but here is a representative sample:

“Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattman of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell . . . one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die … they give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant and then it’s night once more.”

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