The next day I got to the boat company office expecting a whole bunch of people waiting to board this boat, but it was just me and a middle aged Chinese woman. Apparently there were some people already on the boat and we would be joining up with them. And then more people were arriving later on in the evening or something. Hmm. A little weird. But anyway I was able to chat with the Chinese woman a little on our ride to the harbor. She had retired and had been traveling the world solo for a good chunk of the last four years. She had a husband but he had a heart condition so he just stayed home in Beijing, or that’s what I understood from her Chinese and Google Translate.
For as much as she had traveled, especially alone, her English was shockingly terrible! I don’t know how she managed the last four years. She didn’t even know the English names for the cities she had been to in the US, Chicago included! But she was very lighthearted and quick to laugh. The fact that she had so much trouble trying to speak English was very amusing to her! She also never picked up an English name at any point, but her Chinese name was pronounced Roo-en Jin Do, which of course was almost instantly shortened by the boat members to Roo after the meet and greet.
A little dinghy took us out to the big boat where we met the crew. It was a pretty small one consisting of solo Turkish woman around 40, an Australian couple just slightly younger than me and a South African family with two kids, 15 and 17. Plus we had the captain, the cook, and the deckhand, whose English abilities corresponded with their level of importance. We all sat down for tea and everyone seemed pretty social and interesting, the teenagers included. My political views got brought up fairly quickly, as I get asked all the time if I want to Make America Great Again, but I had to disappoint. I think a lot of non-Americans have a kind of scientific curiosity to meet a real Trumpkin out in the wild, mostly to observe and take notes on this seemingly mythical creature, and maybe poke it with a stick a little bit to see if it gets riled up. Even I still haven’t met another fellow American traveler who’s a die hard Trump supporter. They're out there somewhere...
Anywho, we had to time to cruise around a little bit, stop and go for a swim, and then we’d go for a hike to the top of San Marcos Island to watch the sunset. We all grabbed some beers and got ferried over to island. Even hiking with the sun low in the sky, it is absolutely astonishing how much you can sweat here. All of us were absolutely drenched by the time we got to the top, I can’t even imagine trying to go for a big hike during the middle of the day. We passed the remains of a few churches on the way up and were rewarded at the top with a gorgeous sunset, with the sun coming down almost perfectly symmetrically between the gap of two chunks of land. Everyone was in great spirits. An excellent start!
They had a big dinner spread waiting for us when we got back. Loads of bread, vegetable salad, eggplant salad, roasted peppers, pilaf, tzatziki sauce, Turkish meatballs, grilled chicken, the works. They did a great job with dinner. After the meal we played some cards and had more drinks, which you’re technically not allowed take your own on the boat, but the crew didn’t seem to care.
The next morning we met our newest additions, a Spanish family with three daughters in the 16-20 range and as 12 year old boy. Something tells me there was a push from one of the parents for that one last child… They were all very friendly, but you could tell the girls were a little bit shy about using their English, which was fine of course, just a bit accented. And then were off to cruise the Aegean! Although this strange staggered start had already threw the first chunk of the supposed itinerary to wind, which was already starting to draw the ire of some on board, and fairly so. But not me! I had already done all of the stuff around Oludeniz and the blue lagoon. Apparently we didn’t have time to stop at the lagoon, so I tried my best to help out the captain and smooth things over, telling everyone that it’s not that cool anyway, which I think is true!
Our first stop that morning was the Butterfly Valley, although it didn’t have any butterflies during summer. We renamed it dead bee valley, because for whatever reason the shallow waters in this bay were basically a bee graveyard. RIP bees. The valley is tough to access without a boat, so it’s functions as a hippie getaway, where people camp out for who knows long, have beach bonfires and listen to trance music at night. Sadly we would miss out on all of that. If you had time to hike there’s supposed to be a waterfall somewhere, but we didn’t have time for any of that nonsense of course. It was a nice spot for a swim though. Well, everywhere is a nice spot for a swim!
We spent the whole rest of the day cruising with one long break for lunch. Lunch is always vegetarian, but there’s tons of good meatless Turkish food and the main course was delicious stuffed peppers. That evening we docked in a town called Kas. We had some time to do whatever we wanted, shopping, drinking, etc. Incidentally everyone ended up at the liquor shop at some point, so it looked like it was going to be party night! Although when 7:00 rolled around, the time we had to be back at the boat, Roo was nowhere to be found. I guess we only had an allotted amount of time to dock and the captain was getting some harsh words from the harbourmaster. He sent out his fledgling to look for Roo, but by 7:30 they had to give up and we were given the boot. Looks like we were leaving without her! Uh oh. She really is in her own little world sometimes. A butterfly valley we watched her grab some random towel off a line and dry herself off, funny woman! But this was getting a little worrisome.
It turned out to be too big of a deal, we went off to anchor in a more seclude cove while the harbourmaster was on the lookout for a lost looking middle aged Chinese woman. Eventually she turned up and they sent the dinghy off to go pick her up and bring her back to the boat, to the applause of all. Now it was party time! Things got a little rowdy that night. Even the teenagers were allowed to drink, only because it was vacation of course! We had everyone take turns controlling the Bluetooth speaker; there were drinking games, shots of Raki (gross liquorice tasting Turkish booze), drunk swimming, Chinese singing, Flamenco dancing, and so forth. There was also rumored to be some late night hanky panky with the 40 year old Turkish woman and the 26 year old cook. Shhh!
Obviously everyone was dead the next morning, but we pulled ourselves together a couple hours later when we docked at our next destination, a sea village called Kalikoy? This was a gorgeous little tourist town with guesthouses cut into the rocky hillside, only a small place boats to dock and lots of little shallow lagoons, impossibly blue. If I were traveling on land, I’d for sure spend some more time at this place. It’s supposed to have some great homemade ice cream, but being that it was still morning and everyone was hung over, we all had to pass. Unfortunately that afternoon the Turkish woman, Aussie couple, and SA family were getting off the boat, as it was their 4th day on the boat. So after lunch we had to say our goodbyes, everyone slightly annoyed that we couldn’t all just have started on the same day!
So the rest of that day it was just me, Roo, and the Spaniards cruising the open the seas. Conversations got a little sparser as I was the only native English speaker left. We anchored in a nice quiet spot and had a pretty chill night. Playing poker for a living and Trump being the president of the USA make for some pretty good conversations starters though, as most people can’t really wrap their head around either! The next day Roo and I got dropped off and the Spaniards had the boat all to themselves the last day, which the girls didn’t seem too enthused about. They kind of got the short end of the stick as all they would do that last day is drive around the area again, where the scenery is much less interesting than at the beginning of the trip. So a lot of people were a little flustered with the organization of it all, just throwing on different groups at different times. But overall it was a very a nice trip. Would it have been better if we just had one cohesive group from start to finish? Sure. But everyone agreed they had a nice time.
I was soon off by bus further up the coast to Olimpos to reunite with the Aussies. There they have some nice coastline as well as some natural gas flames that never go out! But I’ve been typing long enough now! I spent one night in Olimpos and one night in Antalya, they were nice, blah blah, but I was hurrying along because at this point I had enough sun and ocean for now and I was really excited to get up to Cappadocia in central Turkey, the most unique part of the country!