Seven years ago today, this little fella, aka Barney the Yorkshire Terror, changed my life in ways and degrees that I am still unable to fully comprehend.
More accurately, it was seeing him for the first time in the short 25 second video below that captured my attention, so take a look and a listen and then come on on back for the rest of this wonderful story.
Friday November 22nd, 2013 started out no different than any other of my days in Fiji at Vuda Point Marina, where I, ably assisted by Ruby the Wonderdog, was working feverishly to complete the latest and largest renovation on my 52’ steel sailboat sv Learnativity. As with most such boat projects it was taking MUCH longer than expected and I was working non-stop because the Cyclone season begins in November and I should have left for Majuro in the Marshall Islands long before now. (click to enlarge the map or any photo) These two maps will fill in some of the geographic information and the short story is that in general, as a liveaboard sailor, to be outside of the cyclone zone in the South Pacific, you want to be no more than 10 degrees from the equator. Vuda Pt. Marina is on the far SW corner of Fiji sits at 17º41’04”S
177º23’02”E so it well into the Cyclone Zone and yes, you can ask me how I know!
The atoll of Majuro, pictured here, is at 7.0667° N, 171.2667° E is well below the 10 degree limit and I had been there twice before to get out of the Cyclone Zone and just loved it so I was anxious to get back there ASAP.
If it were a straight line, the passage to sail those 24 degrees from Fiji at 17° S to Majuro at 7° N is about 2895 km/1799 miles/1563 nm but the actual sea miles of this passage are about 2000 nm, assuming not much tacking, would typically be about a 14-15 day sail. But for me, a stop in the tiny spec of an island called Rotuma is a must. Rotuma is a much longer and fascinating story which I serendipitously stumbled upon when I read that it was still part of Fiji even though it is WAY up in the far NW corner about 500 nm from any other part of Fiji which meant I could wait till I got to Rotuma and still officially check out of Fiji.
So this stop over adds a few days to the passage and has taken me 17-18 days in the past. OK, Wayne but what the heck does this have to do with the Barney video that changed your life so incredibly?
So back aboard the good ship Learnativity, that Friday morning 7 years ago, Ruby the Wonderdog (my little Black Spoodle who had been with me since I started my single handed sailing adventures in San Francisco in March 2007), and I were up just after sunrise as usual for most sailors, had fixed my breakfast and was sipping my morning Latte and enjoying yet another beautiful sunny morning up in the cockpit of LTY (Learnativity).
This was typically the only time each day when I could sit and relax a wee bit catch up with all the Emails and other online content that had come in the past 24 hours. As I was zipping through all those Emails I came across an auto-generated one informing me that there was a new post on the Write on the Water blog which was of the several hundred blogs that I subscribe to on a wild range of topics.
Little did I know that clicking on that link was going to be one of the most life changing events of my already VERY eventful life!
Seeing that “Write on the Water” name, I vaguely recalled that I had been subscribed to this blog several years ago because, Christine Kling, one of four writers/sailors who wrote one post a week on Write on the Water (get it?), and she was not only an author of some very good best seller mystery novels, she was also a fellow single handed and very experienced sailor, currently sailing around the Caribbean islands on her sailboat sv Tale Spinner from her home Port in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.
The link opened up the blog post fine, but there was no text, no story? Simply the Title “Barney the Yorkshire Terror” and that little face staring up at me with a “Click to Play” button on his nose. I hit Play and as I suspect he might have just done for you, Barney gave ma a good morning chuckle. It also piqued my curiosity as to how this cute little animated dog video had been made? So I quickly fired off a short comment to the author which just happen to have saved and it reads;
Wayne says: November 22, 2013 at 07:17 am (Fiji Time) Very cute and fun Christine. I too am out single handed sailing with my 6 year old “Spoodle” Ruby the Wonderdog and we are currently in Vuda Pt. marina in Fiji finishing up the latest refit in preparation for the next few years sailing through the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and making my way through Indonesia. I’d be interested to know more about how you made this little video if you care to share? Also enjoying your books and have several loaded on my Kindle for upcoming passages. Thanks for all. Wayne
I finished up my coffee and Email updates and got back to work on Learnativity.
Next morning, same routine and as I was enjoying my first coffee and going through the latest Emails, one was a WordPress comment from the Write on the Water blog, which thanks to the wonders of cloud storage and my somewhat geeky nature, I also still have a copy of so you can read it for yourself.
Apparently two of Christine’s blog followers had asked the same question so as you can see her response was to both Wayne and Gerald. Nice of her to respond I thought as so many such questions go unanswered, and so being Canadian and just doing what I think is important, I wrote back a short note to thank her for getting back to me and that I would try out this little “My Talking Pet” app and maybe use it to make one with Ruby the Wonderdog. And then it was back to work for me and I never gave it another thought.
Well, as I was to learn weeks later, Christine was quite taken aback that someone had actually said “Thank You” ? Apparently when she dutifully answers all the thousands of questions a famous author receives, she rarely receives anything but more questions and never a Thank You. Who knew???
And so she wrote me back, and the following Email was on my screen as I was sipping my first coffee the next day: (click to enlarge if you want to read it)
No need to read the whole Email, but if you do, you will see what a catastrophic error she makes in the very first sentence when she starts off with; “Hi Wayne, Thank you so much for the interesting note full of info about you and your boat. I love getting long emails, so don’t ever
worry about writing too much.”
Oh the poor innocent dear! She has NO idea that she is saying that to Mr. Neveraparagraphwhenasentencewilldo! Though she might have started to clue in when I wrote back:
I will spare my full response, lucky you!! and just share the first of my brief four page Email response. Not to worry, I am NOT about to share ALL our Emails back and forth in the coming days and weeks, again Lucky, Lucky you!
Suffice it to say, that the Email exchanges got longer and longer and more and more often.
Then Emails led to voice calls which followed my same “brevity challenged” arc.
Voice calls quickly led to Skype calls and let’s just say neither one of us got too much sleep in those first two weeks or so as we were living literally on the opposite sides of the world and I was on the other side of the International Date Line so we were not only many hours apart in different Time Zones, we were also on different days! Hence we were both on Skype calls in either the wee hours of our respective mornings or on very late night hours. Our internet connection had quite literally become the “International Date Line”.
Think about it for a minute and I’ll wait till you get it ……………………………….
OK, OK, enough already Wayne!!
You know where this is going so let me just quickly summarize what happened from there.
Video calls are fascinating, especially when you start logging hundreds of hours of them with someone you have never met. They pretty much cancel out any chances that either of you can be “faking it”, so you do end up learning more and more about the very real person on that screen for hours and in your ears and in hour head. But it still isn’t the same as the “real thing” and so at some point we started to talk about how, when and where we could meet up in person and find out if all the sparks that were flying back and forth through the ether were really real or just our twitterpated imaginations?
It was now December and so my first suggestions had been that I would sail up to Majuro and get Learnativity safely moored there as I had done in the past few years and then get the short flight from Majuro to Honolulu which happens 3 days a week and we could meet there. A bit longer but easy to get flights for Christine to fly from Florida to Honolulu and so that was the tentative plan. Emphasis on “tentative” of course because WAYNE still needed to finish the work on LTY, get her all sea worthy and ship shape for a relatively long passage and only then be able to know what sort of dates we could fly and meet.
Of course things never go as planned, especially when it comes to big boat projects. I was working longer and longer days, as was Christine who was in the midst of finishing and publishing her latest book at the time “Dragon’s Triangle” and we were both getting more and more frustrated that our “Launch Date” for this distant blooming romance seemed to be getting more and more elusive and later.
Hmmm, why does that sound so familiar??
Several hours into one of our Skype calls at that time, partly out of pure frustration, partly for some levity, I said something like “You know what would be really crazy, would be if you just flew here to Fiji and we could have our first date be the sail up to Rotuma and Majuro”.
Keep in mind that it is now only about two weeks before Christmas and I was sure that she would not want to be away from her family in Florida over the holidays so maybe Honolulu in the New Year would be best after all. So we started to look a the calendar and figure out the likely length of my sail up to Majuro and what dates early in the New Year we might be able to fly there and meet. So I simply asked “What date do you think you could fly?” And surely she understood I was talking about her flying to Honolulu right?
I had already learned that Christine can have some VERY “pregnant pauses” with her responses so I just patiently waited after asking what date she thought she could fly as I watched her eyes look up as if she was searching some calendar on the ceiling and then watched her lips moving a bit as she seemed to be doing some calculations in her head. After several minutes of this, she looked back at me on the screen and said “Tuesday”.
Huh? “Tuesday” I said? What do you mean “Tuesday”?
Never missing a beat and with a very quizzical look on her most serious face, she said; “I can be in Fiji on Tuesday.”
This was all happening late on a Friday night on Christine’s side of the International Date Line and in a very rare for me “pregnant pause” with my mind reeling with what I thought I had just heard I think I simply said “Are you kidding me?!?!?!”
She wasn’t kidding and while I don’t remember much of those next few days, I found myself standing in the Nadi airport early on the morning of December 19, 2013 intently watching the passengers of the just landed red-eye flight from LAX walk to the baggage claim when THIS vision of loveliness walked through those glass doors and into my heart. We drove back to the marina where I had Learnativity pretty much finished and waiting for her to see for the first time and we were both giddy with excitement, nervousness and disbelief that this was all REALLY happening?!!!
I had borrowed my dear friends Ian and Coleen’s car to drive the 25km or so to the Nadi airport from Vuda Pt. Marina as their beautiful big boat mv Summer Spirt and had been my dock neighbors as you can see here, for all the months I had been there in Fiji over the last few years.
This is our first photo together, thanks Coleen, on the aft deck of Summer Spirit. Ian and Coleen invited us over to mv Summer Sprit for lunch and so they could meet this mysterious woman who their dockside friend Wayne had been talking with and about endlessly for the past month. Fast forwarding through the months and years that followed:
We had a VERY eventful 18 day “First Date” passage up to Majuro and that’s a much longer story for another time. Captain of my heart by now and the only REAL sailor onboard. We made it to Rotuma for another longer story of our first New Year’s Eve. Crossed the equator for the first time as a couple after multiple times by ourselves. And Wayne was FINALLY able to swim across the equator, yet another much longer story for another time. Sailed into the atoll of Major with no rudder and no steering. Another story for another time.
Flew back to Florida to meet Christine’s family there, then flew to St. Martin to drop of Ruby with our dearest friends the Alonso’s who were living there on their boat sv Discovery.
Took off a few days later for a whirlwind tour of Europe that Christine had previously all planned out as research for her next book that became “Knight’s Cross”. First stop the island of Malta Where I proposed up on a grassy hillside overlooking a little harbour in Malta. And she said YES!!!
OK, OK OK!!! Seriously this time, ENOUGH WAYNE!!!!
More of those stories for another time.
Right now, I sit here in Antalya Turkey with my Beautiful Bride of six years making us another one of her delicious meals and we have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge that I’m about to go pop so we can celebrate the 7th anniversary of our First Contact.
Which was all thanks to THIS little guy who is sitting here at my feet tonight.
I am the luckiest and richest man in the world all thanks to YOU! Happy Anniversary!
As Wayne mentioned in his blog this week, we took a couple of days away from the boatyard to see one of Turkey’s most visited and photographed regions: Cappadocia, famous for the unique “fairy chimney” structures on the landscape, cave dwellings, and the underground cities first built by the Hittites around 3000 BC, and enlarged by the Byzantine Christians, the Romans, the Ottomans, and used by the Turks as food storage until they were discovered by archeologists who made several into museums.
I had started to be afraid that we would never get our chance to visit this magical place before leaving Turkey, but a surprise visit by friends made us decide to take the risk in these unsettled times. We didn’t want to go in a hot air balloon with over 20 strangers, but we were able to make a reservation for four people and a pilot.
We were visited by our Swiss friend Philip, whom Wayne has known ever since they first met in Ecuador while single handing their very different vessels: Philip was aboard his Outremer 43 catamaran Blue Bie, and Wayne was on his Bruce Roberts Custom 52′ steel cutter, Learnativity. Throughout the next ten years, they would meet up in some corner of the South Pacific. And we had the much anticipated opportunity to meet our friend’s partner, Nancy, a fascinating American woman who met Philip at the end of her two year stay in Vanuatu with the Peace Corps.
After a couple of days of local sightseeing around Antalya, we flew on a very short direct flight to Kayseri, the city with an airport closest to the Cappadocia region. There we picked up a rental car and drove for an hour to get to our hotel in Göreme, one of the small villages where there are cave hotels. Some of these are actually in caves, while most are just designed to look like caves. There are several other small towns spread among valleys in this stunning region, each known for something different.
The reason this landscape has grown into this eery Middle Earth like place is because of Mount Erciyes, the highest mountain in central Anatolia, with its summit at 3,916 meters. I saw a huge mountain out the airplane window as we approached the airport at Kayseri, and I suspect it was the volcano that erupted thousands of years before mankind settled in the area.
Several eruptions over the centuries rained thick layers of ash down more than 100-meters deep on the area we know as Cappadocia. The ash hardened into something called tuff, which is a very soft stone. Sometimes the different layers would have more hard stone in them. The oddly shaped towers came about because one layer would not erode and it would form a little hat or roof on top of the column of softer tuff, protecting it from the rain.
And yes, one of the valleys in the region was named Love Valley by a Frenchman because of the resemblance between these towers and a part of human anatomy.
So the best way to show you the stunning beauty of the area is to take you along with us on our balloon flight. And you won’t even have to get up at 5:00 in the morning like we did!
Captain Christine, AKA my Beautiful Bride, completed her latest circumnavigation of the sun this past Sunday March 15th and as is our policy, we give experiences for gifts rather than “things” so we flew over to London for a few days as one of her experiential gifts was to fulfill a live long wish to see a play at one of London’s iconic theatres, the Apollo Victoria.
Happy Birthday Baby! As usual in London, there are way too many great choices but I decided that Wicked at the Apollo Victoria would be the just right choice for my musical loving Captain and as her smile after the experience seems to indicate that I guessed correct. It was a great play and we both enjoyed it and the whole experience thoroughly. We flew over to London Gatwick on Thursday night so we had the whole day Friday before going to see Wicked at the Apollo and the Spring weather was fabulous so we took advantage and drove the whole SE coastline from Brighton to Whitstable just north of Canterbury. It was cool and windy but very sunny so perfect for a good Birthday drive. The ocean is like a magnet for both of us and it is constantly calling our names so we drove up around the SE corner to the little harbour town of Whitstable where I’d been once before and I treated my Birthday Girl to some of THE best Fish and Chips at Wee Willie Winkles. Why drive all the way around the SE corner to the Canterbury area you ask?
Because that is were Mr. Gee, our Gardner 6LXB engine is from and we can’t be THAT close and not go for a visit to Gardner Marine now can we? Plus Christine had not been yet and of course there were a few “bits and bobs” I needed to pick up for Mr. Gee’s “born again” process.
In this photo I am talking with James who is an walking encyclopedia, as is everyone at Gardner Marine of both the history and the technical details of all things Gardner and he graciously let me pick his brain for several hours as we walked around the expanding Gardner Marine facilities. This is a picture from my first visit to Gardner Marine several years ago to meet Mr. Gee for the first time just after he had been taken out of a tugboat on the River Thames after almost 50 years of non-stop service. Michael Harrison who is the CEO of Gardner Marine spent the better part of that day with me to answer all my questions and take me through the finer points of the 6LXB engines. While we didn’t know it at the time it was a harbinger that was not able to meet with us this visit because he had just returned from a trip looking after some other Gardner engine installations in Spain and France so he was taking the precaution to self isolate himself at home until he could be tested. As we know now, we were all about to be in a similar situation.
Back to the present, James is taking me through just one of three of the side by side two story buildings which hold the treasure trove of “a few” Gardner engines of all ages and sizes as well as all their rebuilding equipment and eXtreme eXtensive spare parts inventory of Gardner Marine. They are about to expand into the fourth building next door as business continues to grow. Can you tell that I’m in one of my “Happy Places”???
My fellow gearheads will appreciate that places like this are akin to the Louvre for the works of art and engineering that Gardner Engines embody. Back to the Birthday Girl, we dashed back to London just in time to check into our lovely little AirBnB there and catch an Uber over to the Apollo Victoria to see Wicked.
Wow, Wee Willie Winkle Fish & Chips, Gardner Marine and Wicked at the Apollo all in the same day!?! Now you know why we call these “experiential adventures” and why we a life so densely packed with them. Next day we continued the adventure by taking advantage of being in London where one of our “god children” and most special people Kate now lives as she attends the London campus of Florida Sate University. While not sunny, the temps were Spring like and the lighting was outstanding for photos of beautiful women as you can see here. We spent the entire day, 22,000 steps Christine’s watch says, strolling throughout “Kate’s downtown London”. It might have been Christine’s birthday but I seemed to get much of the gifts such as chances for more hugs with the phenomenal and powerful women I am so fortunate to get to share this life with. London’s skyline may not be as high as some but it is a marvel to see such a mix of the new architecture ………. ….. and the old. But wait! There’s More!
While we had to fly back to Antalya a day earlier than originally planned we were able to meet up with some very dear friends, Robin and Jayne and go see the new acreage they and their children have just acquired out in the rural countryside not far from Gatwick airport.
This was on Sunday which was Christine’s actual Birthday and Robin’s is next week so we treated the both Birthday Babies to a fabulous Pub Lunch at a nearby 15th century pub. What could be more fittingly delicious and British than roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy with such good friends?
The perfect end to Christine’s 2020 B’day experiential adventure. Or so we thought ……………………….
Turns out that the adventure continued into the next day as our flights from both Gatwick to Istanbul and connecting flight to Antalya were both delayed and we didn’t get home until well after 3am on Monday. But it was GREAT as always come home to the welcoming party of Ruby and Barney. Particularly so in the the context of the current and rapidly evolving situation we all find ourselves in right now.
To Turkey’s credit everyone flying in from out of the country had to fill out new forms with all our personal info, flight and seat numbers and places visited so they can be aware of each person’s travel history. We were also all advised to “self isolate” ourselves at home and do as much “social distancing” as possible for the next 14 days. Naval Yachts to their credit as well has asked that we and any others who have recently traveled outside of Turkey self isolate themselves for the next 14 days.
Christine and I had decided to voluntarily join the new “self isolation Club” in any case so we will be staying home and won’t be going back to the shipyard for the next 14 days. While challenging and disappointing in the eXtreme, this was an easy decision to make as it is simply the smart and right thing to do right now. As my cousin who is also in a similar situation at her home in Qatar reminded me we are now members of a not very exclusive new Club!
As with the storms we encounter out sailing the world, Christine and I know that “this too shall pass” and we continue to count ourselves as most appreciative members of the “most fortunate people in the world Club”. We are both healthy and happy, we have each other and our friends and family and we see this as being the start of but our latest eXtraordinary adventures in this awemazing life we are so privileged to live.
I hope that all of you reading this are finding your own ways to be happy and healthy by doing whatever is best for you to get through this latest “storm”. As for me, I am grateful for this opportunity to be isolated with my best friend, partner, Captain, Bride and beautiful young lady. Could I be any more fortunate or appreciative? Me thinks NOT!!!
Well as you might have noticed time got away from me and I didn’t succeed in getting the Weekly Update posted for last week. But wait, I’ve got some great excuses! The week was not only more densely packed than ever with the ever increasing progress on Möbius but I also received THE best Birthday gift on Thursday evening when my Beautiful Bride and newly minted Captain Christine flew back into my arms from Florida!
But wait! There’s more…………….! After only a few hours sleep, we were up very early Friday morning and drove back out to the airport to catch our flight to Dusseldorf for the big “BOOT” show that is one of the world’s largest where we met up with several fellow boat builders and some soon to be boat builders and had a fabulous weekend get away swimming in a totally different boating pond.
I just wanted to let you know that we are both alive and well and I will do my best to make up this lapse in the weekly Progress Updates by putting together “2 for the price of 1” blog post this weekend that will cover all the progress for these last two weeks of January and some shots from the eXtremely large and fun Dusseldorf Boat Show.
Hope you find the extra wait to be worthwhile and thanks for your patience with me.
The week of August 20-24th was a big holiday here in Turkey as this marks the five day Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia and pretty much all businesses, schools, banks and government agencies were all closed.
We found this Q&A on the hajj pilgrimage to be very informative and provided a very good overview of the history and details of this important set of events and customs in the Muslim world. There is a lot of historical overlap with the Christian and Jewish history as the rites of hajj are believed to trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, or Abraham and Ishmael as they are named in the Bible.
As you can see in the picture above of the cube shaped Kaaba in the upper right area in the center of the the Grand Mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca it must be an amazing experience to be part of the re-enactment of the various activities around Mecca itself. Things were much more subdued and more life as usual here in Antalya. As we read up on the history and details of this week long series of events we wondered how those who lived in very densely populated urban areas such as here in Antalya follow some of the typical practices of this week. In urban areas this is a time when families gather for this holiday week and the final days of hajj coincide with Eid al-Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims around the world to commemorate Ibrahim’s test of faith. During the three-day Eid, Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor. As we understand it some of the meat stays with the family that owns the animal’s owners and the rest goes to the community who look after distributing it to the less fortunate in the area.
This all traditionally takes place on the Tuesday of the week which happens to be the day of the weekly fruit and vegetable market where Christine does most of our grocery shopping each week. But this week they shifted the market day to Monday and sure enough as we were bicycling over to the Mediterranean beach near us last Tuesday we rode by the big covered area where the market is centered and could see that people had brought quite a few sheep to this area in the back of their trucks.
We stopped to check it out and were able to catch just the end of the whole process which as you can see was mostly down to the skinning and butchering of the sheep and then distributing this to community organisers and people in the area. Very fascinating and we will be sure to get there earlier next year so we can experience the whole event and buy some very fresh lamb to enjoy afterwards.
Christine and I used this pause in the building of Möbius as an opportunity to explore more of the areas around Antalya and thought you might like to see some of the sites we visited.
I first came to Turkey for about a month back in 1982 on my BMW R100RS and my wife Diana on her R80T motorcycle, when I was teaching at the Canadian DND or Department of National Defense schools in Germany. One of my most vivid memories was visiting the famous travertine terraces on the hillsides of the town of Pamukkale.
As you can see Christine and I were not the only ones wtih this idea so the pools were a bit crowded but we were able to find places to get some of these more open shots.
Christine found us a great little pension hotel right in the middle of the town of Pamukkale which is about a 3 hour drive North East from Antalya and we had a fabulous time cooling off in these other worldly pools and exploring some of the ruins and the museums from the past Roman and Ottoman empires.
These naturally formed pools are most alien looking but oh so very beautiful.
Above and behind the rock faces with all the travertine terrace pools were these remains of the Roman baths from a few years back and there were also a series of museums with artifacts from this area as well as an ancient pool area where the original mountain mineral stream still runs through and you can swim along some of its length and cool off.
The next day we drove about an hour and a half South and West to another geographical wonder that is a crater formed Lake Salda in Burdur province.
Ruby and Barney enjoyed being back on a beach and being able to cool off in the crystal blue waters and we did too as it was a very hot day.
The sugar like white sand combined with the mineral rich waters gives the lake this very ocean like appearance in spite of it being a relatively small crater lake in the middle of the mountains.
About an hour’s drive West from Salda took us to Christine’s real find of the trip, the Sagalassos Lodge & Spa. This is the view looking south from our room.
We enjoyed time in the pool and later the included and delicious Turkish buffet, while Ruby and Barney enjoyed their air conditioned room and well pillowed bed.
Next morning after enjoying the included breakfast at the Lodge and when it was a bit cooler we drove a few kilometers up the small gravel road from the lodge to see the archeological site of the ancient city of Sagalassos which is one of the best preserved ancient cities in Turkey.
Human settlement goes back to 12.000 BC. Other parts of its history are unknown until 334 BC. when Alexander the Great arrived and sacked the city.
In 518 AD city was struck by a horrifying earthquake. It was rebuilt, but then another earthquake happened in the 7th century. It destroyed the city’s water resources so it was abandoned.
As is so often the case in our experiences wtih such sites in Turkey, we were the only ones there other than the 40 or so archeologists from several universities who were all busy working at digging out more items, cleaning and cataloging them and putting them back in their original locations and structures.
In spite of being hit by several major earthquakes in the past, this Roman fountain and square have been put back together and was impressive to walk around. The original mountain sprint still feeds and fills the trough at the base of these arches and columns.
We hiked up the hill to the right of the town square to see the theatre which has not faired quite as well since the earthquakes and has not yet received the attention it deserves but was still impressive to see. Being in such places I always find it fascinating to think that I am sitting on the same spot where some theatre attendee sat hundreds of years ago.
While much work remains to be done they have already pieced many of the major items such as this column and arch back together.
As awemazing as all this was, the most special moment for me was reading this small plaque. One of many spread throughout the site, explaining that this site has been excavated and restored by the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Mildly interesting to most but I know this University VERY well by its native name of KU Leuven because it is where my dearest and unfortunately departed friend Professor Erik Duval was the head of the KU Leuven Human Interface Department. A very moving experience for me. I miss you my friend.
When we were going through the process of choosing a boat builder, we knew that the location mattered a great deal to us. We didn’t know for sure how long it would take to build the boat, but we knew we would be measuring the time in years, not months, so it had to be someplace we would enjoy. That played a big part in why we chose Turkey. When we first announced we were moving here, lots of people ask us if we weren’t worried for our safety, or were concerned about the standard of living over here. So many people don’t know what a gem this country is. The archeological sites are extraordinary, the nature is stunning, and it’s a modern, well-developed and tolerant country. Even more so, lately, lots of folks have written asking if the political and economic situation is impacting us. I hope that by sharing in this post a little of what our day to day lives are like here, our friends, family, and followers will understand better why (aside from the great boatyard at Naval) we like it so much here.
In February 2018, we signed a year’s lease to rent a three bedroom, two bath,1900 sq. ft. fully furnished apartment, and after more than 6 months of living in the place, it has become home. We are on the 9th floor of a 12-story building, and there are only two apartments on each floor. The three buildings in our complex are arranged around the enormous swimming pool and a small playground you see in the photo above. There is 24-hour security on the gate supplied by three very kind gentlemen who smile indulgently at our attempts to greet them in Turkish. One of the three bedrooms is set-up as my office and out the corner window, I can see a small strip of the blue sea over the rooftops in one direction and the imposing granite mountains in the other. For this, if we count rent, maintenance fees and utilities, we are still under $500 a month.
Our apartment is located about six blocks from a long gorgeous beach that was nearly empty in the winter, but is now covered with tourists from elsewhere in Turkey, and primarily from Eastern Europe. It’s not unusual here to find restaurants with tourist menus in English and Russian. The Free Zone where Naval Yachts is located is a kilometer or two from the apartment, and for the last month or longer, Wayne has been riding his bike there every day.
I stay at the apartment where I get to work on my book business. I’m drafting a new novel and running advertising for the existing books. I take the dogs out, go shopping and visit the pool. And every day, I try to spend at least one hour studying Turkish. It’s a tough language, but I am determined. I’ve got apps on all my devices and I listen to vocabulary as I walk the dogs, cook and do dishes, and I practice with Duo Lingo, Babbel, Monday and Memrise. The language is unlike any I’ve learned before and Wayne teases me about my fascination with the grammar and structure of the language, but I will be able to speak by Christmas. Maybe.
Every Tuesday, there is a neighborhood market selling fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, eggs, fish, olives, dried fruits and nuts, and various household goods. I take my little rolling trolly just like the other Turkish housewives and walk the few block to fill my shopping cart with all the healthy makings of our Mediterranean diet. The market spills out of the main structure and for two blocks on every side street, people are selling honey or homemade yogurt or bath towels and T-shirts out of the trunks of their cars. We eat what’s in season, so we were enjoying the winter squash and Brussel sprouts back in March, and now it is all about peaches, cherries, grapes, melons, and figs. There are so many different types of peppers, I can’t keep track, but surprisingly few of them are very hot. And tomatoes, a staple of Turkish cuisine, come in every size, color and shape.
I look forward to my Tuesday market days as the place is crowded and loud and wild, but loads of fun. The men are always shouting and joking, the Turkish ladies are squeezing the produce with a skeptical look, and the tourists are wandering around showing the whites of their eyes. The fish vendor is also the waiter at our neighborhood restaurant and the young man at one of the olive booths always practices his English with me. The prices you will see in the photos of the market are in Turkish Lira per kilo, and today the TL trades at about six to the USD. It’s hard to beat a kilo of fresh cherries for about 85 cents.
Because there is so much good inexpensive food here, we eat very little processed food. I have even taken to making my own granola cereal. I use oats, coconut oil, Turkish honey, and walnuts, hazel nuts, almonds, chia, dried cranberries and whatever else I can find at the market. Bake it in the oven to crisp it up and with sliced peaches on top, it’s yummy.
All over Antalya, there are loads of small neighborhood parks, and most of them have playgrounds for the kids and exercise equipment for the adults. With all the good Turkish food here, and no longer living a boating lifestyle, we found our waistlines growing. Back in May, we decided we had to do something about it. We don’t see too many people using the equipment, but for the last three months, we have been getting up at 6:00 a.m. and spending about 60 minutes working out. We take the dogs for their morning walk around the block and we stop at the park for our workout. I had been noticing so much loss of strength in the last few years, and I didn’t think I would ever get it back. Surprise! I’m feeling stronger and healthier than ever.
Since we are going to be living here for a long time, we haven’t been in a rush to see all the sites, but in six months we have managed to get out and about a bit.
In March, for my birthday, Wayne took me to the top of Mount Olympus Teleferik(Tahtali mountain) via the cable car.
The temperature outside the car as we drove the seaside road past Kemer was in the 70’s. We drove up through a fragrant forest to the cable car base, and after a long ride in the cable car, we found ourselves in snow at 2365 meters height. The views were stunning and the whole cable car structure was a feat of engineering.
In late June, friends aboard an American cruising sailboat, Chuck and Patty on Soulmates came through Antalya on their cruise along Turkey’s southern coast. We shared some meals, and I spent one day showing them around a few of the local sites. We visited the best-preserved Roman theater of the ancient world at Aspendos where they still hold performances since Ataturk had the theater restored in the 1930’s.
We also stopped to see the ruins of the huge Hellenistic city at Perge built in the 2nd century BC with its baths and market and stadium. The volume of archeological sites within a day’s drive of our apartment is stunning. And they are continuing to find more. People have been living in this area for thousands of years through dozens of different cultures and civilizations.
Finally, we stopped off at the Duden falls park right here in the city of Antalya where a waterfall drops into the sea. We ate a late lunch at a restaurant along the river and watched the guys taking rafts up the river so folks could do a mini raft trip down this stream. It’s a good thing they have a good net at the end. You wouldn’t want your raft to go over these falls!
Recently, we also got the chance to go up on our local Antalya cable car with our friends, Baris and Dinçer Dinç, the brothers who are the owners and the brains behind Naval Yachts. Though the climb was not as high as Mount Olympos, the views of the city we have come to call home were stunning. From the marina, the port and the Free Zone in the foreground, to the miles-long Konyalti Beach along the shore, you can see why Antalya is a favorite for us as well as tourists.
We ate gözleme and talked of travel, family and politics. And we had the opportunity to talk about what the impact of the drop in value of the Turkish lira is having on the average Turkish citizen. They explained that in the marine business, almost all prices now are quoted in US dollars (such as our contract). They also said that as employers, they try to help their workers with bonuses to make up for the loss of buying power. And while we haven’t really seen prices change much at the market, the supermarkets, or even at the gas pump, inflation is coming. Right now, Antalya is brimming with foreign tourists, and people here are not perhaps feeling the impact yet, but when the customers have gone and the city returns to the sleepy town we saw last winter, things are going to get tough for some of these folks. Yet, not once in all my time here in Antalya has anyone ever made me feel unwelcome when they found out I was American. They have reason to. I know Turkey has had economic difficulties for some time now, it’s not new. But there is no doubt that the severe drop in the lira one week ago was brought on by the war of words between the USA and Turkey. In spite of that, I have been treated with nothing but courtesy, kindness and respect.
And I often don’t get that back in the USA! Is it any wonder we are loving life in Turkey?