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.