23.02.2013 - 23.02.2013 20 °C
At long last we have been greeted by the return of warm dry weather with just a light breeze. We had been assured on a number of occasions that we could expect to experience a good number of such days even in winter in southern Turkey. The official temperature was 20 degrees but definitely felt far warmer. If the forecast holds out we should be in for a whole week of such weather.
In the morning Muriel and I drove into town just to explore. We have kept to the same few streets up to now as I haven’t been able to walk far due to my back. We decided to check out the marina the locals use and the main tourist quarter. All of the hotels and tourist oriented restaurants in Kas are on one side of town. At this time of year the hotel section is a complete ghost town. Many look in quite a state of disrepair while others show some signs of being renovated for the tourist season but seem quite unlikely to be ready in time. What is achingly clear is that no tourist in their right mind would ever want to stay in the tourist zone of Kas in the off season-it is an area in complete disarray. We realize how lucky we were to have chosen a house on the peninsula a few kilometers out of town even though it is surrounded by a great deal of construction as well. The off season here should really be called the closed season. Surprisingly many of these businesses are still advertising rooms on the Internet with discounts for this time of year but few tourists seem to have bought in.
Turkish construction here on the sea is quite unlike anything we see on Vancouver Island. First there is a bylaw that all construction must stop by May 1st so as not to interfere with the main tourist season. Cement, rebar, red clay brick and stone are 80 percent of the material for any building. It is dumped higgledy piggledy wherever there is spare bit of sidewalk or roadspace. The remainder of the building materials are red roof tile, wrought iron for railings, marble for floors and stairs and just a smattering of wood for patio roofs, doors and cabinetry. With the exception of the help of cement trucks for the major pours everything else is done by hand, including shaping all the exterior rock work with a hammer. The only power tool we sometimes hear is a jackhammer for renovations and the very occasional saw for helping in the creation of cement forms.
It seems that layout and design even of the large villas are more an idea in one person’s head rather than a matter of hard and fast measurements or architectural design. It also appears that annual renovation is the norm, and it consists of sledge hammer, chisel and the odd jack hammer and the addition of another layer or plaster or cement. The winter storms and salt air take quite a toll on all the “luxury” villas with many getting their windows replaced during this time of year. Little consideration is given to the whole idea access roads and driveways. The grade of our driveway is such that our car regularly has traction problems when drive out. Surfacing of roads and driveways consists mostly of the dregs left over from any cement work on the house. All that said, the speed with which the numerous houses in our neighbourhood are being built during the last two weeks indicates a strong work ethic. The builders do seem to have the knack of locating each home for a perfect view of the ocean and an eye for the exact line that gives a stunning effect for the infinity pools that finish off each home in this area.
Muriel and I also checked out the fleet of local charter boats that were all in dry dock to scrap and repair hulls or to undergo an entire refinish. There was not a fibreglass hull to be seen. We saw few fishing boats, most boats seemed geared to the tourist trade. I think it is good that many tourists don’t see what is below the waterline on some of these boats. We saw a good number of bows with gaping holes and some restructuring of boat ribbing that would seem to put the structural integrity of the whole boat at risk. It was entertaining to see that a lot of the repair materials arrive at the marina by scooter. One fellow we saw came astride a few boat ribs and long hull planks which he had wedged between his bottom and the scooter seat and extended several feet off the back.
Our wandering also took us to the far side of town where there is the helicopter pad jutting out into the water. It probably occupied the nicest piece of real estate in all of Kas and thus doubles as the preferred hangout for a lot of the local boys who sit along the rocks by the water just talking. This Saturday, at least, saw a very large numbers of boys wandering all over town in various sized groups. To a much smaller extent there were also small groups of preteen girls and just a few groups of teenage girls. It would seem that the culture still dictates that women stay close to home.
After exploring, Muriel and I picked up the kids and took them back to town for an inexpensive Turkish lunch. Afterwards we wandered back to the main tourist square to discover one business that had opened. A coffee, juice and ice cream bar which occupied much of the central square. It seemed to be the place, at least in the off season, for the locals to go and be seen when the weather allows. It looked like a cultural opportunity not to be missed as it was a great venue for people watching. We grabbed one of the few remaining tables hoping to order a drink befitting the warm weather. We were handed substantial menus to look over. Upon ordering we experienced another quirk of Turkish restaurants in the winter. By some unknown sense we are supposed to intuit what is actually available to order. At each restaurant we have been to so far, we have been handed menus of a good number of pages without any verbal or gesticular communication that states items may not be available. When we proceed to order we are invariably met with the answer that it is not available but are still not informed even at that point that likely half the items on the menu are not being served. In this case it may be understandable that milkshakes were not on the menu. After a few dead-ends in the fresh squeezed juice list, Muriel and Hannah order fresh squeezed pomegranate juice while Abby went for the seasonally appropriate (not with-standing the weather) hot chocolate and I a coffee. My coffee arrived with three large packets of sugar while to Hannah’s disappointment her juice comes without. Fortunately, I had sugar to spare and then some. The Turkish palette seems to like very sweet or very sour and less of anything in between.
Next to us was an ever growing group of people who all knew each other. It was interesting seeing each new arrival exchanging a two cheek kiss or a handshake with every other person there (we experienced a similar ritual in Brazil). In this case with the group reaching beyond 30 people it became a fair workout before the later arrivals could sit down and order a drink. It was also telling that for the most part the men and women in this gathering sat separately but upon arrival went through the greeting ritual with both tables.
Refreshed and a little culturally richer for taking the time to people watch, we started to make our way home. Abby and Muriel briefly went shopping for ingredients Abby needed for a social studies project she is completing. She is learning about Acadia and the links to Cajun culture. She is cooking us Jambalaya tonight as part of her homework. It is not an easy task to source all the ingredients but Abby has proved to be an excellent sleuth (and this evening would prove to be an even better cook). Muriel didn’t flinch too much when the bill for just the shrimp came in at 30 Turkish Lira. It is nice when you can at least mentally put such an expense against an education budget. Heck, this whole trip should be considered an education expense, but I don’t think we can get revenue Canada to agree.
We ended another day with pleasantly full tummies.