Saturday, August 13, 2011

Göreme and Kaş (Turkey)

We took our second overnight bus from Göreme to Antalya. Overnight buses in Turkey are great. The coaches are air-conditioned, and each assigned seat has its own built-in screen. It's a shame that all the channels are in Turkish. There's a bus attendant who periodically stops by to offer you goodies - moist towelette, drinks, snacks even - all included in the price. But don't be fooled just because he wears a tie or gives you cake. I looked out of the window at one stop to see our bus attendant in fisticuffs with an irate passenger. Sure, the passenger's surprise punch landed on the attendant's cheek and cut it open with his wedding ring. However, this guy was built like a boxer, and the ensuing fight required two groups to pry them apart with the passenger's kerchief-ed wife pleading loudly between them. The bus attendant resumed his duties imperturbably with only the blood spatter on his otherwise immaculate shirt to indicate differently.

The day bus from Antalya to Kaş was a different story. A long, boring one. The bus driver added an extra hour to the 3-hour trip by stopping for tea several times and picking up random people from the side of the road for extra cash in his pocket. These passengers crammed in on plastic stools down the aisle and included a woman with a crying baby covered in some kind of infectious pox.

Kaş is located on Turkey's famed Turquoise Coast. The town is set steeply into rocky slopes, and the water is very blue here. Boats dock in the small harbor, and you can even take a short ferry to the Greek island of Kastelorizo (Meis in Turkish) about a mile offshore. We came to this relaxing, beach town for adventure.

Sea kayaking is one way to view the sunken city of Kekova. Unfortunately, our trip did not really end up stopping there as planned. However, after fighting foul winds and swells for 3 hours without working rudders, I think everyone was quite happy to forgo the visit and make it to dry land. [At this point, any one who knows about our brutal 10 days of kayaking in Belize must be wondering why we would ever subject ourselves to them again. I guess that all we can say is, "Memories fade?!?"]

Our other adventure gave us a better sense of accomplishment. Canyoning is traveling through a canyon the adrenaline way. We scrambled and slid over boulders, abseiled (rappelled) down waterfalls, jumped from rocky precipices into icy pools, and rode zip-lines through steeper descents... all in an extremely unflattering get-up of helmet, wetsuit, and a canyoning "diaper"/harness combination. Really looking forward to abseiling for the first time, I was sorely disappointed to find my lack of coordination showed again in typically ungraceful style. Many of the straight out jumps involved a specific trajectory so as not to bash your body against the foaming rocks around or below. At times, I admit the fear threatened to overwhelm me, and I had to just suck it up and jump. The most panic-inducing was a jump from a tiny ledge down a 20 ft (6 m) narrow shaft in the rock with the guide shouting, "Aim for the bubbles!" Even getting out of the canyon again was a challenge - an unexpected portion of free-climbing followed by a relentlessly steep, vertical ascent of a 1 km hike... in aforementioned wetsuit. Seven hours after starting, Rich, of course, was still happy and leaping like a mountain goat!

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