Tamam in Marmaris

October 30, 2010 at 9:14 am 2 comments

Here I sit in a Marmaris café, a very good one I’ve been told, 20 years old. For a place that but several dozen years ago was just a village, before the mega growth of tourism it’s quite a seasoned age for a café (although historically speaking, Marmaris, called Physkos during the Greek era, was an important military base and trade route, so even if you take into account the cycle of decline it must have been a bit more than just a “village” when the yachts and tourists came)

Late October is the beginning of low season and I came on a whim after Istanbul. The 900 km bus ride here left me feeling like a broken cork screw and the swimming I’d wanted so much in the sea proved untenable…first because the water in the beach near my hotel was dirty, then because I joined a sailing team and there was no time, then because I got sick, and then because the weather turned cold and stormy. And now 10 days later the weather is nice again and I have time and I am healthy but I am leaving…

And that’s life. Opportunity after opportunity found, evaded and seized.

To embarrass myself more, I haven’t even seen much of Marmaris or the surrounding islands. I haven’t even been to the fortress or visited the archeological museum. After the vertigo I got from the archeological museum in Istanbul, I decided to put a pause on the sightseeing and concentrate on my inner world, which to be frank, was on the verge of combustion when I arrived in Turkey.

After 3 months in Azerbaijan and almost 2 in Georgia, what I really wanted was anonymity. And relief from the cold. Foolishly the day before I left Baku I mailed home my winter coat, thinking stupidly that in November I’d still be wearing sweaters and flip flops and that my winter coat (which weighted almost nothing because it’s made of some special material) took up too much space in my luggage.

You wouldn’t believe what I carried instead though. Books! Most of which I didn’t read and half of which I was too sorry to give away and still have waiting for me like leeches inside my friend’s apartment in Istanbul. I even carried a 3 kilo souvenir plate from Georgia, given to me by one of the drivers who picked me up when I was hitchhiking to Mtskheta. I carried it with me even after it cracked on the airplane journey from Trabzon to Istanbul! Making peace with the fact that I might balance my sentimental load better if my neck is not breaking from the weight of sentimental objects, I left it in the kitchen garbage amidst rotting fruit peels and other discards of my couchsurfing host in Istanbul.

Is she wearing a diaper?

The street I’ve gotten to know best in Marmaris is the path along the sea from the Tasis store to the marina. On one side is the Aegean with the numerous yachts and tourist boats (Marmaris has the biggest marina in Turkey), on the other are the restaurants and the Turkish hawkers, who with their hello’s (which sound more like pleas) try to catch customers for their restaurants. The fish in Marmaris are also plentiful.

On my second day in Marmaris 3 Russians invited me to join their team for the yacht races that were to take place the following week. They were part of the 140 teams (mostly from Russia) who’d come to Marmaris for ‘Race Week,’ a semi-annual yacht race. I agreed to join and we practiced Saturday and Sunday with the skipper, who turned out to be more obnoxious than [anything I can think of right now]. I tried to be positive, and rational (she’s probably miserable on the inside), but in the end she replaced me with a more experienced sailor and I lost my chance at participating in the first two (and only sunny days ) of the race. The day I finally sailed it rained and there was absolutely no wind and so the race was cancelled, and my enthusiasm for winning and sailing in the rain (which was forecast for the next two days) had been replaced by a strong desire to sleep more and finish my book (100 years of Solitude).

Costume party organized for the yacht race teams in the evening after the race... the winners won 500 euro. But what these swans really want is the bottle :D

“What do you think of competitive sports from an anthropological perspective” asked one of the Russians. “I’ve never thought about them” was the only answer I could muster yesterday in the cold of the night, as well as a terse explanation that I could not talk when I felt so cold, or when I felt too hot… “You’re very dependent on your body” he reflected… “Yea, perhaps, maybe too much” I said…


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , .

Baking khachapuri Why is it so hard to write?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. christopher  |  November 1, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Did his comment annoy you? it would have to me.

    • 2. Lena Shuster  |  November 1, 2010 at 10:12 am

      about my body? not at all..
      i think he’s right. my physical comfort is too important for me, and my preoccupation with it interferes with other pleasures…many of which i don’t even know because i’ve never felt them.

      If I were able to live my life anew,
      In the next I would try to commit more errors.
      I would not try to be so perfect, I would relax more.
      I would be more foolish than I’ve been,
      In fact, I would take few things seriously.
      I would be less hygienic.
      I would run more risks,
      take more vacations,
      contemplate more sunsets,
      climb more mountains, swim more rivers.
      I would go to more places where I’ve never been,
      I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans,
      I would have more real problems and less imaginary ones.

      I was one of those people that lived sensibly
      and prolifically each minute of his life;
      Of course I had moments of happiness.
      If I could go back I would try
      to have only good moments.

      Because if you didn’t know, of that is life made:
      only of moments; Don’t lose the now.

      I was one of those that never
      went anywhere without a thermometer,
      a hot-water bottle,
      an umbrella, and a parachute;
      If I could live again, I would travel lighter.

      If I could live again,
      I would begin to walk barefoot from the beginning of spring
      and I would continue barefoot until autumn ends.
      I would take more cart rides,
      contemplate more dawns,
      and play with more children,
      If I had another life ahead of me.

      But already you see, I am 85,
      and I know that I am dying.

      -jorge luis borges


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