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Mediterranean Dreams

July 15, 2007

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The kaleidoscope of images from our Blue Voyage float through my mind like a dream. I was intrigued that the ancient names of two of our favorite spots mean “Land of the Great Mother” and “Land of the Mother Goddess” in the Luwi language of the original inhabitants. This Turkish coast is such a rich repository of layers of ancient civilizations- a route known to emperors, sultans, and ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

St. Paul spent time in this area spreading his interpretation of the Old Testament on his missionary journeys which had a profound affect on early Christianity. There is a trail that traces the route that he took on his three missionary journeys here as well as the wonderful 500 km. (373-mile) Lycian Way footpath from Fethiye to Antalya. Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) was even born (300 AD) and raised in this area. Who would have guessed we would have found the home and Byzantine church of Santa Claus on a hot day in Turkey?

The classic images of sea and rugged coast with pretty sailboats seem endlessly satisfying no matter how many versions one sees. It brings back memories of the caressing sun and all of one’s senses feeling more alive. Why does food smell and taste so good after a refreshing swim while aboard a boat?

The image of the bright red Turkish flag with its white crescent moon and nearby star will always have a special place in our memory banks. It is displayed everywhere in Turkey, but seeing it wave in the breeze from our gulet made it a lasting image. When we inched into some secret caves, there it was leading the way. Later we drove one evening with a crescent moon sky, and there was the exact image following us along as the only visible lights in the sky and suddenly we knew why this was their flag.

The people, as always, will be the richest memory and the people of Turkey are something special due to their kindness and openness. We learned from our conversation with a man our exact age, with four grown daughters who had lived in our favorite village his whole life, just like many generations of his family. We liked the sweet lady that we bought hand made bracelets from and the young girls who talked us into buying the scarves from them after we thought we were done buying. We let the mom of four daughters wrap Mozart in shades of pink gauze Turkish-style and giggled together despite having no language in common. We especially grew fond of the generous hearted captain, sweet crew and lovely Natalie from New Zealand.

The only problem with a short trip with one small back pack each, is the lack of books for Mozart, who gobbles up books like nobodies business. I squeezed in five new sixth grade level (or higher) chapter books into her bag, but she was done with them almost immediately. She loves the Lemony Snicket “Unfortunate Events” series and luckily they are interesting enough that she can reread them. We also stuffed the large Greek myths and archeological books (and her math book) into our computer bag as she likes to reread them, but we could have used many more reading books. One can only reread so much in a short period.

Still, there are definitely advantages to having an early advanced reader and six year old “bookaholic” on a world tour like this. Her age peers at home are just finishing kindergarten and few can read at all, while she has learned so much from books these last few years and can read well in both languages. We have run into quite a few people ( including a sweet teacher from New Zealand) who have remarked on how articulate Mozart is for her age, which I am sure is mostly from all the reading. I am even often surprised at what she knows!

She also can read all the adult books that we pick up about an area or the signs in museums or ancient sites with detailed explanations. We often take turns reading them aloud together and rarely does she stumble on even a large scientific word. We collected quite a few of the local tour books for our Turkey journey starting with our stops on our Blue Voyage. There seems to be always room to buy one more book to cram in somewhere or the other as we are always curious about the areas that we visit,in addition to helping keep her in reading material.

The ancient sites mean more to her because she gets a lot more background information than most kids her age. Rich experience combined with great books make education so effortless. Adults are often shocked by what she can rattle on about and some day she will be grateful to reread all the daily journaling that she is doing about her experiences.

Plus, it is just great on giving her something to do quietly while stuck on a long bus, car, ferry, train or boat ride or any time when we have to just wait. She recently plowed through “The Phantom Tollbooth” on a long days drive and was perfectly happy, lost in her book world. The next day she devoured the four hundred page “Josephina Treasury Collection” which combines six chapter books  from the American Girl series which is great historical fiction filled with fun facts.

She had lots of fun reading in the sun and shade on the gulet just like the adults as we moseyed along. She is fond of a few popular English books which we probably would not have known about if we did not live in Spain and have access to UK books stores. She is a very active, loquacious kid, so thank God for books which are about the only thing that keeps her still and silent!

The only thing I would do differently, if we did a Blue Voyage again, would be to spend the extra money to do a private cruise. Sadly, after eleven months on the road and meeting nothing but wonderful people (aside from an occasional grouchy cabby), we found the epitome of  “the ugly American” on board with us. It was shocking to see how rude they were to the captain and the crew who were so terrific, especially kind and  hard working. Even Mozart whispered to me out of innocence, while observing them being abusive to the help, “Why are they so mean to Yosef ?” She could just not understand it and neither could we.

We managed to ignore the rude ones and stuck close to the crew and the decent people aboard which helped. Still, I never learned to “suffer fools gladly” and found some of it shameful, especially when they had sweet Natalie in tears by the end. That is the one bad thing about just hiring out a cabin on a gulet as you never know who you will spend your four days with. Live and learn! Luckily, the boat was large enough that we could escape away from the nonsense most of the time and we were enriched by the sweet ones.

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