Breakfast at 8.30 a.m. The captain checks the weather forecast and we are in for more wind in the afternoon and definitely for rain earlier in the day. This means that we can forget about today’s walk to Kyaenai, one of the most remarkable Lycian towns. Sad, and very disappointing. Imagine, now that I can walk again, the walk is canceled! Besides, how will I ever manage to see Kyaenai? Well, there is nothing I can do about it. We should have made a better offering to the weather gods, I suppose?
The captain is however very obliging and takes the Almira close under the north side of Kekova Island, where no diving or swimming is allowed and where we can plainly see the Byzantine remains at close range. The city dates back to the 5th century AD, when pilgrims stopped here on their way to the Holy Land. The seashore buildings are now partially under water, some of them have entirely collapsed, others are still standing ashore showing their proud remains. It is interesting to see the square holes in the walls where wooden beams held up the roof, one of the many cisterns, a staircase disappearing under water or a sewage run-off dropping vertically into the sea. Sometimes the contours of a house are outlined on the rock wall. By 655 or so the city was raided and destroyed by the Arabs crusading in the name of Mohamed. It has been left behind just as we find it today, except that the northern side of Kekova is now slowly tilting downwards under sea level.
From here we venture to open seas and the waves gain in height and turn shallow. It feels like a rodeo ride by now and it is not wise to walk on deck without grabbing a hold. Then comes the rain! A true downpour. The full gale hits us as we all scramble to the galley. This is no joke for many a seafarer has lost his life in these waters. We gather around the table below watching the water rushing over the windows and feeling the wind pushing and pulling our gulet. As much as possible the captain keeps her head in the wind, but this is hard work.
The story of the oldest shipwreck ever found in these waters near Uluburun comes to my mind. When I was in Bodrum this spring Peter took us to the museum to admire the relics and treasures of this ship that went down in a storm in 1350 BC.
Sitting cozily together in the galley, Peter (see: Peter Sommer Travels) relates the story again to our eager group. For me this is an opportunity to jot down the facts and figures I heard a few months ago. The wreck was found at a depth of 30 meters and it took the expert divers 22,430 dives to bring the entire cargo to the surface as they could only stay down for 20 minutes at the time. The archeologists figured out that the ship was on her way from Egypt to the Black Sea, loaded with her precious cargo: 234 copper ingots of 10 ton each from Cyprus; tin ingots to make bronze (copper + tin) from Persia; a gold scarab of Nefertiti; golden pendants; the oldest book in the world, i.e. two wooden flaps coated with wax and tied together; lapis lazuli from Afghanistan; amphorae and pots for olive oil and wine; weapons, a bronze dagger, a trident; ivory and ebony from Syria; 175 glass ingots mixed with cobalt and turquoise for coloring also from Syria; 11 stone anchors; a silver bracelet; gold and silver jewelry scraps for melting; amber from the Baltic Sea; oil lamps; ostrich eggs from Africa; ropes and twines; a sound box for a lute made of tortoise shell; weights for scales, etc. In my mind, I am back in the museum and vision the pieces mentally. Imagine the cargo of just one ship! How many more ships were sailing these seas? How many went down? How many anchored in these harbors, loading and unloading their precious cargo, exchanging goods and the latest news? It is very difficult to picture how lively these harbors were in antiquity!
At last we reach Kaş and the captain knows how to maneuver his gulet between the welcoming arms of the jetties. All ends well. Loud applause for the captain and the crew! Hoorah! Now that the gangway is lowered, we can go ashore as we please. It is still raining and I enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee waiting for the weather to clear up. Lunch will not be served before 1.30 p.m., so I have plenty of time anyway.
Kaş, once famous for its sponges, is not an unpleasant town, rising almost straight from the sea to the mountains around it. Around the harbor the many souvenir shops offer a variety of articles that are the same everywhere, from the simple Turkish lucky-charm eye to Iznik tiles, from kilims and carpets to jewelry and all kinds of so-called antiques. Strolling up the main street I suddenly come face to face with a full-size Lycian sarcophagus, there where the street splits in two. Can you believe it? The old tree next to it seems to have grown over its entrails and somehow shelters the tomb with its awkward arms. This sarcophagus carries beautiful lion heads on the beams and an inscription in Lycian on the sides. It seems to be standing here since the 4th century BC! This means that it has been looking down on the town’s daily life for 2,500 years! Just try to imagine what this means! I can’t.
I find the bookstore where they sell a map of Lycia. I wanted it very much in order to follow our travel route, including the Lycian Way, for I am having a hard time figuring out where I am. I look at the books about Lycia but see that they are published in the UK. So I might get them cheaper over there, if not for the same price, without having to carry them on the plane. I do look for a supermarket though for if there is one thing I want to buy, it is tea (of course!). When that is done I walk back to the harbor and come suddenly across another Lycian sarcophagus, less fancy than the one uptown but framed in pink laurel and overlooking the bay.
Click on the Label Lycian Coast to read the full story
Click on the Label Lycian Coast to read the full story