we went back on land one last time to pick up last minute supplies. i bought a stack of postcards, to be tenderly written on during my week at sea. paying for them was a real challenge. having lived in a world of dollars and tens and twenties, it was hard for me to figure out denominations of thousands and millions. finally the cashier had to help me by pulling out the correct bills from my roll of turkish liras. i also got some stamps as well from this little makeshift post office. the little marina town looked different during the day, a lot less active, less people, stores were just opening, and the few people that were out were mostly shopkeepers sweeping up.
soon afterwards we untied ourselves from the pier (when i say "we" i mean the crew of the ship, i basically did what i normally do on boat trips, that is, just sit back and watch everyone else go to work) and slowly motored out to sea. i sat near the front of the boat, and when i wasn't admiring the scenery, i was busy tracking our movements on my garmin vista gps. it was my little ode to technology. i could see how fast we were moving and where we were in relationship to land. on a boat out at sea is the perfect location for a gps because it has no obstructed view of the satellites which means very accurate readings.
our first destination was this area that had a bunch of caves carved into the face of these steep hills. i heard some mumblings about these caves were from the roman era. this is what i'm talking about! this is why i'm here in turkey! to see old stuff like this! we anchored, and immediately everyone changed into their bathing suits and jumped into the water. this was my first time being in the water for quite some time. actually, back in july, julie and i jumped into walden pond after a successful run there. so not since walden pond have i been in the water, and i've never been in the sea before. i got into the water rather effortlessly, dressed up in my life preserver (i can't swim), my snorkeling mask, and my fins. i looked more like i was out fighting a battle than taking a leisurely swim. minutes after i hit the water (the water was quite warm by the way), i saw a kingfisher dart from one side of the island to the other. ancient ruins and exotic wildlife? nice!
later, one of the crewmembers took dave, heidi, and i via speedboat onto the shore so we could climb one of the hills and explore a cave. after a brief climb in some very hot weather, we made it to the cave entrance. we discovered that these were really caves but were actually tombs. the architecture was roman and there was even roman letters carved on top of the entrance (i couldn't make any sense of it however). i had the crap scared out of me when this 6 inch long lizard suddenly slithered out of a hole and then quickly disappeared.
we returned to the boat, where we passed the time either swimming, snorkeling, or feeding the fish which we could see through the clear water. they'd swim by in schools and form a feeding frenzy around the pieces of bread we'd toss overboard. i guess we weren't too concerned about upsetting the delicate balance of the ecosystem! for lunch, we had these little sausage things covered in vegetables, served to us by ayse's hald naked father. it was very nice, the sun was high overhead while we ate underneath the shade of the awning. after lunch we set sail to a different location, the place where we'd be anchored for the rest of the day and into the night.
we parked in this little secluded alcove. secluded up to a point, because as the day went on, other boats started to arrive until there were 3-4 other boats besides ours that were camping out for the night here. anyway, we passed the time engaging in all sorts of water sports.
i saw my very first topless sunbathers. it was the boat next to ours, far enough away that you couldn't quite see the people onboard that clearly - that is unless you had a 24x zoom setup on a digital camera! these women got out of the water and climbed aboard their ship. one pass with the zoom and it was very obvious they they weren't shy about their boobies. we saw many breasts during the week we were out at sea. i sort of gawked a little bit at first, but after so many boobs i got jaded and sort of grew use to it.
dave went fishing with a spool of fishing line, a hook, and some pieces of bread rolled up into little bait pellets. this, after ayse's father demonstrated for us how easy it was to catch these little fishes that were swimming everywhere around the boat by tossing over a baited line and seconds later pulling up a fish. (fyi, these fish were too small to eat.) dave wanted to try his luck and after a few unsuccessful pulls, finally managed to snag a fish. unfortunately, the hook went deep into the fish's head and couldn't easily be extracted. i tried to unhook it but it kept on flapping on the deck. finally it grew calm enough for me to sort of lift the fish and shake it off of the hook, back into the water, where it quickly swam away (a miracle, i thought that fish was dead for sure).
to further enhance our boating pleasure, we had some gin and tonic (with ice) along with dishes of extra salty shelled pistachio nuts. i just had the tonic portion of the drink, much to the chagrine of ayse's father who didn't believe i didn't drink. he joked that i must be a muslim. i loved the little slices of citrus fruit, and discovered later that they weren't lime but were in fact unripen lemon, green on the outside but orange on the inside, picked especially for their extra sour taste.
a passing speedboat caused some excitement on our ship when one of the guys told us they spotted a seal poking its head out of the water about 200 yards away. so everyone was on the lookout for a seal, and i actually saw it a few times, this little thing that would appear out of the water that looked like a dog's head minus the ears. it would submerge and appear someplace else completely random, like some magical sea creature that could materialize at will anywhere in the water. it submerged one last time and didn't resurface, probably having grown tired of us humans and swimming away to someplace else.
after having exhausted myself with snorkeling, i climbed onto the roof of the boat cabin and took some quiet time to listen to my mp3 player, read my book, and write some postcards. at the same time, i was getting seriously cooked by the sun and i think in just that one single day i went from white to black overnight. the kind of bad suntanning where you sort of turn around to look at your back and seriously wonder to yourself, this can't be good. but i got sunblock on, right? sure, it probably washed off when i was in the water, but that stuff's waterproof, right? i decided to put on a second layer just to be safe, but by then it was too late. i did get sunburnt, but only very mildly, and the slight discomfort went away after a day. sometimes you just have to learn your lesson the hard way! oh the price of vanity!
learning something new everyday! by late afternoon the captain and his crewmembers were swabbing down the deck. i learned that they do this everyday to rinse the salt deposit from the ship, thereby preserving the boat. i went below deck, to my quarters, and waited for dinner to be serve. the chef had this gong he'd bang when our meal was ready.
while breakfast and lunch we sort of had things to look at all around us, dinner was different. there was nothing but darkness, the sounds of water lapping the shoreline, and the sensation of the boat rocking (without a horizon to fix your gaze at, the boat's rocking was more readily felt). the only thing we could see was the lights of our neighbor ships anchored off in the distance. for me, there's nothing creepier than the sea at night. i kept on having images of giant squid tentacles reaching out of the water and pulling me under. anyway, dinner was a mish mash of vegetables and rice. nothing fancy, but it did make me wish for something a little spicier, with some meat. while we ate, all sorts of flying insects from the island would buzz around the flourescent lamp above our heads. for me it was quite a treat because i had never seen these insects before, stirring the amateur entomologist within. after dinner we had a dessert of watermelon slices, and after that, i had some strong turkish coffee (bad idea if you want to fall asleep). ayse's father brought out a treat for us which can only be described as pistachio sausages (or turds, but that sounds less appetizing). he wanted us to finish the whole thing, so i became the designated guy in charge of consuming large quantities of this stuff so that my other fellow passengers can be spared of this mysterious delight.
while everyone else was preparing for bed, i climbed onto the roof of the cabin to do some stargazing. this was going to be one of the highlights of my vacation, to get away from civilization, to be out at sea, under a canopy of darkness, illuminated solely by the million brilliant sparkles of distant stars. unfortunately, reality didn't quite match up with my romantic notion of what the seeing conditions would be. first of all, the moon was out, which tends to wash out the stars, but fortunately it was blocked by the hills of the island we were moored to. nevertheless, it didn't seem dark enough to see the milky way, and it was actually a bit hazy. i thought the conditions were similar to perhaps a clear night in belmont. however, i did see one shooting star so i left happy. i also had my ibook with me, running an astronomical starchart program. after a few minutes though i turned it off, the screen was too bright, my eyes couldn't adjust to both the lcd and the sky at the same time.
they had the power generator running for a few hours so the men could watch a soccer game on television. while i was on the cabin roof, i saw them pitch up this little satellite dish antenna so they could receive the signal for the broadcast. i tried to recharge 4 things at once from my little power outlet in my cabin during this window of opportunity. bad idea. i ended up not recharging anything. note to self: four way splitter drawing power from the boat's battery through a 220-110 voltage converter will not work.