The mountains and the sea


Note: I wrote this yesterday I guess?

We left this morning at 8am and have been en route to Alanya since then. I thought the drive would be flat and boring like the one from Istanbul to Ankara, but about three hours into the journey we started approaching a mountain range–the Taurus Mountains–which we needed to pass in order to reach Alanya, our permanent home for the next three and a half months.

As our bus climbed up and wove along the road, it dawned on me that I had never been inside a mountain range and had absolutely no conception of what I was missing. Certainly I have driven up and climbed around individual mountains once or twice, but never an entire range of them all at once, which I now realize is a totally different experience of scale and magnitude. Being here inside these mountains is such an awesome feeling of being swallowed and dwarfed by nature, or insignificance and transcendence at the same time, that I can see why religions compare their gods to mountains.

Bence, these cathedrals built by time and weather make Mimar Sinan’s great gigantic mosque domes look like pitiful human hubris.

The air here is crisp far above the humidity of the coast. The coniferous trees form patterns on the broad backs of the mountains. You feel like you are riding the folds of an immense emerald-patterned scarf that some god dropped on the shores of the Akdeniz (White Sea, or Mediterranean), which we caught a glimpse of from 60 kilometers away, a glimmer on the pale horizon.

The Taurus mountains are not, in fact, very huge, and we have only left the stuffy confines of the bus two or three times…. but nonetheless the mountains utterly enchant me. I can already tell you with a great deal of confidence that come spring break, you will find me in Colorado, Utah, or Wyoming–somewhere out west, chasing mountains.

Eventually we had to leave those mountains which centuries ago thwarted the crusaders. The bus trundles down and the sea suddenly jumps into the starboard window of the bus, and we gasp with joy in anticipation of swimming and beach volleyball and just getting out of the damn bus. Suddenly a tropical world unfolds. Palm trees. Mosques with gaudy tin-foil dome and minarets. Alara River. “Delux” resorts. Shop names written in Cyrillic. More of the ubiquitous referendum propaganda posters. The Mediterranean a rippling cerulean velvet. Banana tree orchards. Colorful umbrellas. Brightly painted apartment buildings and hotels. Camels. Parasailing. German tourists.

The sights fade into what will become a familiar vision–the city of Alanya with its crescent-shaped, peninsula-framed harbor nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and those venerable Taurus Mountains.

More to come.

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3 thoughts on “The mountains and the sea

  1. Austin Yoder September 16, 2010 / 5:02 am

    Good lord you have a great way with words. I feel like I’m watching a movie while I read here. The German tourists seems a bit on the random side in the context of everything else you describe, but I wouldn’t have hoped for anything else.

    I think it’s awesome that you already know where you want to go for Spring Break. Most people leave that decision to a month beforehand and then wind up having to pay crazy jacked up prices for any sort of travel they do (like I did last year, shame on me).

    You hadn’t been to a mountain range before?! What a great location for a first time! I hope you’re having as much fun as it sounds like you’re having 😀

    Like

    • C. Puls September 19, 2010 / 8:49 pm

      Thanks dude! Glad I am not boring you–I do try to make my experiences come alive in a small way. German tourists are not random but rather a fact of life on the eastern Mediterranean. They, along with northern Europeans and Russians, come here in droves to stoically sit on the beach.
      Re spring break travel, I have done the same thing in the past…but not this time! I suspect the spirit airlines promotional miles might help me get to Utah, but I’m just thinking outloud.
      Yes, I am having a blast and hope the same for you and more. Thanks for keeping in touch 🙂

      Like

  2. Martin Huennekens September 16, 2010 / 1:08 pm

    do you know anywhere I can read a copy of the now passed referendums in English?

    Like

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