Random Notes

When I was in Cappadocia, I enjoyed having the company of Willemijn and Paul and their three delightful cats, especially my little grey and white friend Keesje. In Dalyan I also enjoyed spending time with Katie, Richard and Sonja, my cycling buddies. Here in Kas I am alone. It is an odd experience traveling alone. I am apparently the only person traveling this way in Turkey at the moment, judging from what I see around me. On the tours that I’ve taken here, I am the seventh wheel – on each of them there have been 3 couples plus me.

Cats: There are many roaming homeless cats and dogs in Kas. Some of the merchants feed them and have donation boxes for this purpose outside their shops. I see many cats missing parts of their ears; yesterday I saw a cat without any external ears at all. He looked quite odd, but still very sweet. Today at Buyuk Cakil beach a small slim grey cat with a tiny triangular face made a beeline for me as I was sitting on my lounger. He hopped up and was very insistent in his demand for pats, completely taking over my chair. After leaving me, he left behind a couple of mementos in the form of two flea bites. The café I like has a resident calico cat which sleeps in a special lined box next to one of the 5 tables.

Motorcycles: Apparently there is a law in Turkey that motorcyclists, and cyclists, must wear helmets. You’d never know it, though, looking around. Very few people driving motorcycles wear them and those who do, don’t wear them properly. Although there may be helmets atop their heads, many people don’t bother to do up the straps, leaving them flapping in the breeze and totally useless in the case of an accident. As in Mexico, here, too, families often ride together on a single motorcycle; young children and even toddlers are often perched on the handlebars without any restraints, harnesses or protection. Apparently, the stats on head injuries here are bad.

Bathing suits: European women have no compunction about wearing bikinis, no matter their size or shape. European men wear speedos, no matter their size or shape.

Smoking (again): There are quite a few adventure travel companies here which specialize in kayak, cycling and trekking tours. One would think that their guides would be among the most fit people here. They may well be but they all still smoke like chimneys. On the Lycian Way hike guide Kevser smoked a cigarette every time we stopped and as a consequence had some difficulty with the hills.

Tea. Turkish cay is the national drink. It is made in a special double pot; boiling water below and tea in a smaller pot above. When being served, a small amount of tea is poured into a tulip-shaped glass which is then filled with boiling water. Two sugar cubes are always added and stirred with a tiny spoon. The merchants and restaurant personnel here consume vast amounts of tea; men carry trays of tea around to the shops at all hours. When purchasing anything, the protocol is to drink a glass of tea before and after the purchase, whether it be a tour or a knic-knac. It is considered enormously impolite to refuse a glass of tea. Lunch and dinner are always concluded with a glass of tea. Some people, although fewer, also drink Turkish coffee. This is boiled in a special brass pot with sugar; when ordering it, you must specify “medium” if you only want a moderate amount of sugar – otherwise it comes with several spoonfuls already mixed in.

Backgammon is the national game. This is played by all Turkish men, it seems. Merchants waiting for customers play it, as do restaurant personnel, and indeed every non-employed Turkish man.

School uniforms are worn here. In elementary school these uniforms are all cobalt blue in colour. The girls wear a pinafore style dress with embroidered white collars of differing designs. The boys wear blue smocks and grey pants. High school students wear dark blue blazers and grey pants or plaid skirts, white shirts and navy blue ties. Instead of ringing a bell to call the students to class, the loudspeaker plays the first few bars of Beethoven’s Fur Elise, an odd choice, I think.

Call to Prayer: This happens five times a day, and lasts for about 5 minutes each time. Each of the three mosques in town plays the same call, sometimes not quite synchronized, which makes for a rather strange effect. The man who sings Kas’ call does not have as good a voice as the ones in Cappadocia. He wavers a bit on the high notes. But he does embellish some of the musical lines nicely.

Flowers: My apartment building has the most enormous Purple Queen bougainvillea – it is as big as a tree. It also has a beautiful succulent vine with gorgeous pink flowers covering the rock wall in front, along with hibiscus and lemon trees with enormous fruit. The pink flower is called “Hoof of the mule” and closes up at night.

See a few pictures here.

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