Thursday, May 22, 2008

A couple of lovely days in Mersin

Mersin is also known as Icel – we were greeted by Turkish navy sailors who helped us berth. It’s surprisingly cosmopolitan along the waterfront - a long wide stretch of esplanade is dotted with amusement parks, grassy parks, reproduction colonnades of archways, open air restaurants and sculpture ranging from beautiful to truly ugly.

In this part of the rally we are making passages at night and arriving in the morning with a day set aside to relax and explore. Our passage to Merson from Girne in Cyprus was just beautiful, with a full red moon rising just after the sun set, to light our way. Our first evening in Mersin was a wonderful event with local dancers and plenty of Turkish music for the rally sailors to carry on the dancing well into the night. The Lord Mayor of Merson regaled us with a song, crooning as he danced with Cath, one of the rally organizers, the microphone nestled between them.

The next day we took our own tour inland to Tarsus, the birthplace of Saul, later St Paul. It is also where Cleopatra met Mark Antony in 41 BC to discuss their strategy in the East. She was able to sail to Tarsus through a large lake that has now silted up – so Rupe and I travelled there by Dolmus (minibus) and train.

We met our French friends from ‘Arcaloune’ and together visited St Paul’s well, wandering through the streets past the shops selling cotton, walking sticks, and tobacco and tea from enormous bags. Caroline and Pilar bought hazelnuts from the street vendor, and enormous bags of fresh cheap vegetables. A very friendly Turkish traffic policeman was happy to give us directions, after a strong handshake: “I am Samil – what is your name? where do you come from? Yes the church is that way! Have a nice day!”

We lunched lunch at a waterfall; simple salads kebabs, and plates of mint and parsley with wedges of lemon – as we walked back across the bridge to the car we wondered at the croaking noises from the stream below – were they ducks?...frogs? Then a turtle slid from the bank and dived under the plastic bags and old bottles into the weedy stream.

Our departure was again timed for the evening, with an all night sail to Iskendurun. But we decided to leave a little earlier, and sail to an anchorage across the gulf from Iskendurun. We had another wonderful sail – sunshine, moderate breeze, a visit from dolphins, and arrived about eleven, anchored and then slept – in the morning a swim and an early start took us across the gulf in time to berth with all the other yachts mid morning. This port is small – we are crammed in side by side and bow to bow like a zipper; each yacht’s bow nestled between the bows of two other yachts. Enormous Turkish flags wave in the breeze and the huge hills loom over us. Iskendurun is the terminus for the Iraqi oil pipeline and the main port of Antioch.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Thanks for the stories from my former abode. I recall seeing the EMYR yachts in Mersin's harbour in previous years.