Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cycling in Turkey Two

Tiggy might have really appreciated the second major ride in Yalikavak, taken one early morning while Benepe's friend, (someone perhaps with an Antisocial Personality Disorder) who was sleeping off the last vestiges of a night of compulsivity.

Of course one could argue that cycling is another kind of addiction and I have often said it is. The Turk said, and perhaps rightfully so, "I didn't know I was inviting someone who was more in love with the bike than with any person."


But it was the ideal time to take off because of broken promises made to furnish bicycles for the trip but also to come along for the trips--two major incentives for Benepe to travel the estimated 17 hours and 500,000 miles to Bodrum, Turkey and waste good fric, only to find both promises, and all others, worthy of sand on the bottom of the ocean. You know Tauruses hate broken promises because they are a little stick in the muddy-like. (I am talking about me here.)

This is why--here is the nutgraf lecture--female cyclists are cool. They they won't be held down by old-fashioned notions of rights and obligations. Oh they may well pretend to be hewing to your plan, but you can be sure they have their own plan mapped out well in advance of your own, and they have a "get-away" plan too.

The reason is simply this: life is too short, particularly when it comes to being free to explore a gorgeous country on your own two wheels, with wind in your hair, and endless exploration of a vast country in front of you.

Tiggy would certainly approve: she often stuck her head out the car window to enjoy the passing wind, and rarely gave up an opportunity to run away.

So off I went, on my bicycle furnished by a so nice Irish family, the McShane's, affixed with my own mountain bike pedals and mountain shoes. I found right away, after a quick tour of the mountain roads that rise up behind Yalikavak, that someone had been using the bike as a community bike, and every bump I went over--it was a dirt road in the main--sent the seat tilting backwards.

What a pain! Okay, a couple of miles from the house I encountered a nice young Turkish woman and her puppy. The puppy so badly wanted to talk to me, but his shyness was overwhelming as he hid behind her legs.

Next, up, up, and away into the many roads that circle the back of Yalikavak. These were so wonderful, and I wish I could have gone farther, but most of them end at someone's driveway. In one case I literally came to the end of the road up several steep, steep climbs, to find a giant mansion still under construction.

It really made me wonder, with so many people so poor and barely making a living in the area, including SO AND SO Man and his waiters, who worked for a month without getting paid by their boss, I thought, what kind of twisted place was this? I mean where were the country's morals if the damn road is built right up to a mansion but people can't afford to live?

Perhaps you might answer, "like America," but at least in the U.S. we have laws about not making people work for free, and unions, and political leaders to call on a 1-800 number. Here in Yalikavak it's live and let die.

I guess that's nutgraf rant number two. Hey, you go for a bike ride and you learn a lot. Something I learned on this ride, besides the fact that my bike was being used often by everyone and anyone on the premises of Alexander Hills, the place where I lived, which caused the seat to break-(hey, it's community property!) ---is that the brakes started to fail on the descent.

I started imagining my neck in two pieces, my family unable to locate me--- and I practically crawled down the mountain.

Okay there is at least one silver lining to every cloud and here comes one. It was a freaking fantastic ride! Before it got hot I could smell the sage in the bushes, hear the birds singing, and savor the fantastic view.

Once back at the ranch--another silver lining to the cloud--Alexander Hills--and the fantabulous pool (though coated with a fine film of green algae along its insides) where I dived in for a morning swim.

In fact, the biggest silver lining to the clouds that appeared often on this trip, was this fantabulous pool and the one day when I really got to rip it up with Elaine and Michael McShane's two adorable children (names withheld to protect the innocent). We played Shark and Hippo for two hours until their teeth were chattering, and I had practically ripped a hole in my bathing suit slithering over the pool wall from the big pool to the little pool in an attempt to bite their little legs off (just joking about the biting part).

That and the absolutely gorgeous men who frequent the beaches and the gardens including our gardener who sings and looks like a movie star and is not a creep, and is definitely worth meeting if you happen to be in the area. His eyes are aglow like dark jewels, his smile as sweet as the lilting mountains, his voice much superior to any of the dog and pony shoes on television.

And then there was Shahin (pronounced Sha-heen), an adorable, sweet-faced man who always appeared at breakfast time ready to eat, and was officially and unofficially the Turk's "look-out boy" i.e., the guy who watched where I went and with whom. BUT he did lend me so graciously his bike!

Of course none compared to the Turk, though his good looks and fetching personality came with several "what-if's" and Catch-22's. "What if I said I loved you.....but I said the same thing to everyone else? Would I still love you?"

Well, the answer for a million dollars is, of course, yes! Ah, a cultural distinction, or perhaps a unique individual characteristic that takes a little getting used to.

But who's complaining, when you have good looks and a fetching personality? I said, it did take some getting used to. Americans are so straight in their rights and wrongs, who owns whom, what kind of relationship is this, and so forth. We can be pretty boring with all our rules and regulations. So maybe it was a good idea to see life from the other side. What's wrong with a little mental fantasy?

Ah... So I digress. I came for cycling, I said?!

So many people told me that all Turkish men were out to "get" traveling women, cheat them, and carry on multiple dalliances in the hope that they can get some good income. Whatever. I heard it from so many women, most of them over the age of 50, many of them serious drinkers and sun worshippers, two activities that had taken a toll on their bodies.

But I also met several young, British women who had married normal Turks and seemed to be quite happy living a simple life in Turkey.

I don't wish to digress further since my adventures are worthy of the novel I plan on pitching next week.

Service message: Elaine McShane can help you obtain beautiful cottages at Alexander Hills in Yalikavak, and she is a wonderful person who can take care of you when you go. She can be reached at 011-90-537-329-0908, or at ElaineBodrum@gmail.com.

Cottages rent for about 199 pounds sterling per week, or about $400. If you are lucky you can take care of her two children for free!

More in installment three. Will you learn the identity of the Turk? I doubt it. But you may learn more about cycling and traveling in Turkey!! Next week.

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