| 9:00 AM local time, Saturday, May 25 (0600 May 25 UTC) 36 17 N 030 09 E.
Temp. 73, Humidity 67%, Cloud Cover 0%. At a marina in Finike, Turkey.
Warm greetings from the crew of Maverick.
After departing Port Said and clearing ourselves from the heavy traffic
approaching the Suez Canal, the wind was at first calm, but soon freshened as
a nor'westerly, force 3, allowed us to sail with Finike, our destination,
broad on the starboard bow. After a few hours of coasting along northern
Egypt and dodging more shipping, we got a header and port tack became
favored. We cast off the jibsheet, steered Maverick through the eye of the
wind, fell off to the other board and sheeted in smartly. The wind freshened
again to force 4 and I went forward to harden the outhaul and cunningham. We
were close-hauled for the entire trip, but eventually got lifted and were
able to fetch our mark.
Don't you love all that salty lingo? The reason we use it is that there are
no landlubber terms to describe the things we do, and all crew must know the
name and function of all onboard equipment, as communication is paramount on
a well-run ship. Or at least that's the story we tell, but really we use it
to show we're part of a secret cult that only certain special people have
permission to join, and to show our superiority to those not privy to the
meanings of our manly talk. The British are the best at this, or if you'd
rather, the worst. They'd never say it's blowing 25 from the southwest if
they could say, "we have a sou'westerly, force 6." They won't let you use UTC
or zulu, either. It's always GMT to them.
At any event, the weather was just dandy for our passage to Finike, with
bright skies and Pacific blue water. We had twelve knots until the night
before we got here when it blew twenty and got a bit rough. We've been six
weeks in Egypt, with one little passage, and our stomachs are a little
tender. But for the next four or five months we'll have very short hops and
we'll see how we take to that.
Nature has not been ungenerous to Finike in either beauty or fertility. It
sits at the head of a bay formed by a pocket in a spur of the Taurus
Mountains, which have shed a bit of their cover to provide the alluvium
that's farmed by the tiny humans below. We can see snow-capped peaks from the
marina, yet the temperature is very pleasant and spring is in the air, and in
the air as well is the sound of birdsong. The crew of Maverick has not seen a
spring since we left home because by the time it had come in the northern
hemisphere, we were in the southern; and by the time it had come in the
southern, we were back in the northern, or so close to it that spring was a
As for its debut in history, this area was settled, or the indigenous
peoples conquered, by Ionian Greeks who had just visited their ten-year
vengeance on those naughty Trojans for Paris' making away with that strumpet,
Helen; although I'm thinking Helen's virtue was not so unblemished as to be
much worth defending, and I'm thinking the Greeks had realpolitik in view.
The Greeks continued to humiliate the poor Trojans far into the twentieth
century, when they became a school mascot and a prophylactic, although safe
sex was something Helen may have been well advised to practice.
But southern Turkey is also Alexander country. He came through here in 334
BC, kicking some serious ass. There are not a few respectable scholars who
believe that Alexander, student of Aristotle, who was a student of Plato, who
was a student of Socrates, who was a student of life, was bi-sexual, although
I don't know if his sexual preference made much of a difference to the people
he sliced and diced along his merry way. Gen. George Patton, who was a
passionate admirer of Alexander, was probably in denial about this, and
you've got to wonder about Hank Williams, Jr., who is nicknamed after
Alexander's horse. Alexander was 33 when he fell victim to a lethal level of
ennui, since had had no more worlds to conquer and nothing left to do, poor
dear, and so became the first young person of note to actually die of
boredom, though it's a rare one that doesn't make the threat. Would that more
could emulate Alexander's courage in this respect.
As the Maverick boys pillage and plunder our way through the world of
Alexander, using our looks and charm to conquer instead of those dangerous
weapons our mothers warned us about, we hum a threnody to the man and his
dreams. One he did not see through to fruition was the defeat of Termessos, a
mountain fortress not far from Maverick's berth, and legend has it that it
was the only stronghold Alexander, who either was not a sufferer from low
self-esteem or had a really robust case, could not destroy. We visited there
along with a few other places of interest here in southern Turkey. Termessos
was inhabited by the Termessosaurians, a name I just made up and so it is not
mentioned in the Illiad. The warriors called "Solymians" were spoken highly
of therein, though, and they are the same folks. Alexander took a look at
their fortifications, found them impregnable, and decided discretion was the
better part, etc. Yet the crew of Maverick assaulted the summit unopposed.
Shows what a little charm will do. You get more flies with honey than you do
with vinegar, Alexander.
The lair of the Termessosaurians is a mountain aerie at about three thousand
feet. It feels like something a commune of hippies would have made for a
hideout far from the establishment, except that no hippies I ever knew would
have undertaken the insane amount of physical labor it would have taken to
quarry the limestone for their buildings, hew it into huge, precise blocks,
and then haul these by heaven knows what means to awkward and dangerous
precipices to be emplaced. There was also marble, which must have been found
close by. Marble is, after all, metamorphosed limestone, i.e., limestone that
has been cooked at high pressure and temperature. But there's some granite
too, that they had to have gotten somewhere else and carried all the way up
there. The amphitheatres that we've seen in this region, from the late
Hellenic and early Roman periods, are all dramatically situated, none more so
than the one at Termessos, where the audience looks over the performers to a
spectacular view of a steep gorge. It's pretty magical up there.
We also visited Perge, which has another amphitheatre and a lot of columns.
St. Paul is supposed to have given his first sermon here, but I'm not any
more convinced of that than I am that the actual Job is buried at the "Job's
Tomb" they took us to in Oman. A considerable amount of time passed between
Paul's conversion and his visit here, and are we to believe the loquacious
Saint didn't say anything in Damascus and Jerusalem and back at home in
Tarsus before he began his career as a ramblin' man? He traveled to Cyprus
and then Perge with Barnabas and John Mark, and subsequently got himself into
a peck of trouble. Good writer though. Can't beat that 1st Corinthians 13.
We also saw ruins at Aspendos, where the theatre is remarkably well-preserved
and still hosts theatrical performances, and also Limyra and Arykanda. This
area as a whole is in the vicinity of ancient Lycia, and is considerably less
inhospitable than I had visualized it. At the ruins we were left totally on
our own to contemplate the sweep of history, unharassed by the touts we came
to dread in Egypt.
To see all this we had rented a car in Finike and driven through the
mountains along the beautiful southern coast, through a mixed conifer forest
that was reminiscent of Colorado, yet goes right down to the shores of the
Mediterranean. It is as pleasant a place as you'll ever see. We drove to
Antalya, the capital of the "Turkish Riviera" and a city of half a million
with a thoroughly modern infrastructure but a center with a medieval feel.
The whole area supports a standard of living not significantly lower than our
own, which came as a surprise to me. I reveled at being in Europe, for
despite being across the Bosporus and therefore technically in Asia, that is
now what Turkey is, or at least this part. The food, the architecture, the
roads, and the freedom to travel that we did not have in Egypt were
liberating. The music and language are Turkish, and we did see an aged
goatherd with her flock standing right by the ATM in downtown Finike. But in
so many ways, it felt like we were getting close to home.
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