Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The immigration officer at the port of Rhodes was not happy, not happy at all about the lack of entry stamps in my passport. Maybe he was having a bad day, but it was only 8:00 in the morning. "Where were you before Greece?" "Italy." "No stamps." That's right, no stamps. I try to explain my border experiences so far, but we're not having the greatest communication. I arrange my eyebrows into the universal Innocent Stupidity configuration. He glares at me, give me an exit stamp, and hands my passport back. He wasn't quite as bad as the US immigration agent I got earlier this year returning from Canada. First he heaved a sigh when I told him I was carrying some herbal flu remedies, and at the time was really about to fall over from a combination of a killer flu, the excessive weight of my rucksack, and the fact that I'd been standing in the customs line for close to an hour. Letting that transgression slide, he proceeded to give me grief about the picture quality in my passport. It really was terrible quality, so dark as to be almost unrecognizable, but I figured since the Passport Agency sent it to me, it was okay. I got a new passport before I left.
Two hours later the immigration agent at the port of Marmaris has no problems with my passport. I'm at the ready and holding a $20 bill for my Turkish visa (Canadians need to pay USD $60. Maybe as penance for not selling Airborne in their country). I give my two Turkish vocabulary words a test run, and seem to pass the pronunciation test. I'm greeted and welcomed in Turkish.
When I was a kid I always wanted foreign money. So much more neato than boring American greenbacks. The euro is a convenient thing when you are skipping through countries, but I'm going to miss all the different currencies that have now been burned, melted down, or otherwise gone the one-way road of old money. Turkey still has its own currency, and there's a moment of that childhood glee when the ATM feeds me a wad of YTL.
Marmaris is a resort town, and on a daily basis is full of at least one hydrofoil full of day-trippers from Rhodes. From what I've read and heard, there isn't anything here that makes me want to stay, so I catch a bus to Bodrum, 3.5 hours northwest on the Aegean coast. From what I've read and heard, there isn't anything that makes me want to stay in Bodrum, either. It's a disco resort town packed with party people and restaurants advertising British fare. There's a medieval castle (more Knights of Saint John), which now houses an underwater museum. Herodotus was born here. The remains of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus are here (I didn't go. More on ancient ruin fatigue later). No, my main interest in Bodrum is the Bodrum Backpackers hostel, which costs only 15 YTL a night for a dorm bed. My plan until now has been "get to Turkey," and now that I'm here, I need to spend a couple of days somewhere cheap to read through my guidebook and figure out a plan for the next couple of weeks.
Before leaving home I was convinced that I was through with hostels, but found out this isn't true. I'm still able to deal with dorm accommodation that offers minimal privacy, if no privacy at all. Shared bathrooms are fine if you don't look too close and have a pair of cheap plastic sandals. To date, I've found more wireless connections in hostels than the budget hotels I stay at. True, they can be full of the (usually) younger travelers who haven't yet got a grasp on how to behave responsibly in shared accommodation, but these are easily quieted with a pillow gently pressed over the nose and mouth while they are sleeping off their 40 ouncer. But more often than not there are also more mature, budget-minded globetrotters present, and they are usually willing to share their adventures and knowledge, frequently passing on good information not found in guidebooks. Anyone who plans out a vacation simply by doing what a book tells them is missing an awful lot.
Getting sleep at Bodrum Backpackers isn't guaranteed, since most of the rooms are directly above the attached British pub. Pop and rock music are blared alternately with football matches. We're served toasty cheese sandwiches with cucumber slices for breakfast, and as an example of how much of a party town this is, breakfast isn't served until 9:00 am. When I walk down to the pub on my first morning, the only person there is a Brit sporting a stripey mohawk and otherwise resembling an unrefrigerated bratwurst . I'm pretty sure he's the one I heard talking all night after the Pink Floyd died off. "So, where does one get coffee around here?" He gestures to the bar. "But don't ask me to make it."
So, not a lot to report from Bodrum. I took a break from reading to go to the castle. Learned that the seemingly nonsensical shape of amphorae (pointy bottom) allows them to be packed tightly in the hold of a ship, and is also a nifty third handle when pouring your newly imported wine or olive oil.
There was also some graffiti, supposedly left behind by knights with a lot of time on their hands. They must really have had nothing to do, since they had to chisel it into rock.
I was originally planning on spending three nights in Bodrum, but on the morning of my third day realize I've accomplished what I set out to do, and there isn't any reason to stay. Everyone is in my dorm room is leaving, and swept up by their momentum, I pack my bag, head to the bus station, and get a ticket to Lake Bafa.
posted from Gorëme, Cappadocia. I'm sitting on a little stool, across the street from a carpet shop, and drinking tea with a guy who is repairing carpets by hand.