Land of Pirates & Fairy Tales

30 Apr

Cirali, Turkey –

Now that I have officially spent 24 hours in Turkey, I can justifiably share with you the adventure over just the past few hours.  I arrived in Antalya on Friday evening, hopped a taxi from the airport and headed into the old town of Kaleici.  I knew I was in the right place when I saw Hadrian’s Gate lit up against the night sky.  After checking into my hotel, which was an old Ottoman house repurposed as a small B&B and museum of a small collection of Ancient Turkish artifacts, I headed out for some dinner.  The streets are very narrow and mostly for walking, as only cars can go down a few of them.  Little bazaars are set-up all along the streets selling everything from clothing to bottled water, apple tea, and souvenirs.  The owners of the bazaar stalls are very friendly, almost too friendly, but egh they are just trying to make some business so they can close up shop for the night.  I found a nice little local open air restaurant for dinner and by that time I was done for so I headed back to the B&B for some rest.

Color photo of the Kaleici skyline at daybreak, just after Fajr.

View of the Keleici skyline at daybreak at the end of Fajr. The Mosque is directly to the Northeast of the tall trees. Just a few moments later smoke started billowing out of a small metal chimney. (Rebecca Harned - Kaleici, Turkey - April 2011)

At exactly 4:28am the sound of prayer reverberated through the old single paned glass Ottoman windows in my room.  The nearby Karakas Mosque to the north and the Pasa Mosque to the West began the Fajr prayer through intercoms that resounded prayer throughout the entire city.  It is the first prayer of the day and is thought to be God’s (or Allah’s or however else you relate to a higher power – all the same to me) most-favored prayer since all others are still asleep.  I also learned that Fajr is the most essential and obligatory prayer requiring that all are congregated at the Mosque for this moment of devotion, as stillness & tranquility resides over the community.  During today’s Fajr, I didn’t know how important and regimented congregational prayer is to the Turkish until I experienced the Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha later in the day.  And each time the sound of prayer is echoed across the city or village it really does make me stop and think to myself what is meant by devotion.  During Maghrib today I paused and noticed a baby porcupine foraging among a grove of lemon trees abutting the turquoise coastline.  At that moment, while most are at the Mosque praying, I saw God in the lemons, porcupine, and orange blossoms.

I am not yet able to fully characterize this landscape – though I see, feel, hear, touch, and taste it.  Breathtaking mountains & ocean vistas, ponderous customs, and vibrant spirituality.  And not to mention the mysterious history of this rich land.  The history of Turkey is as complex as it is ancient, and we are talking about some of the first human existence known to man.  So I won’t attempt to give you a glazed over Turkish history lesson here but tid bits of Turkey’s mysticism and history have already come to life in the last 24 hours and I am sure to share more.

So after spending the morning in Kaleici, I decided to head 40 kilometers southeast to an agricultural & fishing village called Cirali.  To get there, I took a streetcar through the city of Antalya to the Otogar (or bus station) and then I found a mini-bus (the typical form of public transportation to surrounding villages) heading in the direction of Cirali, about 40 kilometers through very windy mountain roads.  The streetcar cost about .75 cents and the mini-bus cost about 6 bucks, not bad and very efficient.  I was the only foreigner on the mini-bus except one friendly guy from Morocco, Anass, who was on his way to Olympos to meet-up with his girlfriend.  About one hour into the trip, and many conversations later, the mini-bus left me off at the side of the highway, high in the mountains, and across the way was a little thatched roof stall selling apple tea steeping hot over an open flame and reused water bottles containing fresh honey for sale.  The sign read, Cirali 10 km, and off I went by foot down the road.  It wasn’t more than 10 minutes and a car came by heading that way and I took a free lift to the village.  Barely a few words were exchanged between the gracious driver and I, as hardly anyone here speaks anything but Turkish – more on that later!  And just in case you find hitchhiking a bad idea, it is a perfectly acceptable and typical mode of transportation in rural Turkey and in many other countries I have traveled.  I’ve both been a hitchhiker and picked-up hitchhikers many times and met some wonderful people in the process..  Back to the good stuff…

Little did I know the true splendor that awaited me in Cirali.  And that is where I found the makings for daydreams of pirate ships, lost treasure, pixies and gnomes.  Think white sand & pebble beaches, crystal clear waters, rocks jetting up along each end and behind the beaches, ruins of mysterious ancient civilizations poised above the spears of coastal rocks, snow capped mountains, warm breezes, royal palm trees, and quaint groves of lemon & orange trees.  And at the 5 prescribed daily times, the village Mosque recites the prayers over loud speakers.  How is all this in one landscape?  It’s the land of pirates and fairytales.  Just lay your towel out below one of the palm thatched umbrellas on the beach, and let your mind wander.  Ancient tombs to your back side.  And Mediterranean oceanside caves to your right.  While the sweet pungent aroma of lilacs & orange blossoms captivates your heart.  And in the midst of this beauty, you are sure to find neverland in a dream or two.  Goodnight.

Color photo of beachscape in Chirali.  Mountains landing into the Mediterranean Sea.

This is the land of pirates and fairy tales. These majestic mountains, with rocks & ancient ruins of unknown past jet out of the coastline. There are caves that bring the sea within the coastal mountains, where there must have been pirate treasure hidden a thousand years ago. (Rebecca Harned - Cirali, Turkey - April 2011)

One Response to “Land of Pirates & Fairy Tales”

  1. Denise Mummy May 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    looks absolutely stunning

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