Monthly Archives: July 2002

it’s so hot that my tic tacs are sticking to each other. and i need something sweet right now so i bang and bang the box to get them out…. i am at the park by tsafi’s parents house. we have no plan… just days watching ravens carrying crumbs, hiding from direct sun, hoping for an end to this useless existence. i don’t make a good lazy person…too restless.
so we went to tsafi’s parents house earlier today. no one was home. we drank iced coffee sitting across from each other. we are limp and confused but a love passes silently between us. we’ll laugh about this someday.
his father comes home with groceries and i unpack them onto the kitchen table. we all sit and watch tv. three unemployed frustrated people watching stories of famine in africa on cnn.
i am surrounded by disabled elderly and their attendants, by russian grandparents and their grandkids, other elderly and their dogs. occasionally someone my age will pass, hair freshly washed, sunglasses on, handbag swinging and i just know that they are passing through on their way to a job or to friends’ houses. i see clearly what this life phase is teaching me… this part of my life is about earning back the things i took for granted…a place to live, my material possessions, privacy….
ok ok i get it…. please let nothing worse happen…we have no plan, no focus…why? is this part of the lesson? we cant’ have D until we do A,B,C but A isn’t happening, B may never happen, and C …we’ll put our chips on C just so we have some hope. we rely now solely on the generosity of his family for a roof over our heads, food, everything…. i’ve exhausted my job search, followed up, got rejected. there is no where else i can apply at this point…but on wednesday AACI comes out with a new updated job list for english speaking people so i will look forward to that…. i gotta get outta here…

face down in the sand…heart leaking thru the sandy fabric…four teenage girls walk over towards me, lay out towels and start singing in perfect harmonized voices the chorus to mine and diana’s song by vanessa carlton’s 1000 miles….

“if i could fall into the sky do you think time could pass us by. you know i’d walk a thousand miles if i could just…see you”

i have an envelope addressed to her in my bag with treasures from turkey. i want to write her but have no sunshine to share. i can’t find a job, my boxes have maggots….i have nothing in the world right now but love… i have hardly any clothes, no money… nothing seems to be working…
besides tsafi and i being amazing, i am back where i started….even worse now…i have a sense that it will all work out though but right now i feel useless and suffocated….

chin on arm, frustrated, physically drained. today tsafi’s parents told me that there’s some kind of infestation on my boxes that contain everything i own which is stored on their roof…. tonight the exterminator will come….we’ll probably have to fumigate the boxes…. worst case scenario….we burn everything…. what next? locusts? famine? armegedon?

today was our last full day in marmaris. i woke up with bruises head to toe and my knee was misbehaving. nevertheless adventure was calling and we piled into a minibus to go to a ranch for horseback riding. The horses were the size of donkeys and some were so skinny that i almost backed out. i chose a sweet horse and tsafi chose one too and we headed out on a trail for two hours. It was hot and the owners were forcing them to run. i knew they could barely walk, much less run and i cried quietly petting my horse trying to get him to slow down. tsafi says that running on the beach with a strong horse is pure nature and that in Israel we will do it again. i apologized to the horse and gave him some leaves. when we were done and the owner asked me if i enjoyed it i gave him hell. “They are so skinny! where is their water? you ride them in the heat because its tourist season!” he assured me that they were well-maintained. that the 3 skinny ones were to be retired to a farm next week and that they need to cool down for a 1/2 hour before they get water. As we ate spaghetti and salad, i could see the horses were being fed and i felt better.
The trail had wound through wild terrain, passed streams of fresh water and families of wild goats under trees with mosques in the distance. We limped back to the hotel and took a walk before dinner to the market to buy Turkish tea.

We leave for the airport in the morning… the news on BBC world on tv says that Israel killed the leader of hamas, his wife, a daughter and several other children. They had on a Palestinian spokesperson who, when asked twice if there was someone to take the dead leaders place, he went on talking ‘sticks-n-stones’ to which tsafi slapped the TV on his way to the balcony. hamas promises ‘bloodshed on every street in Israel what a nice homecoming to look forward to..isnt’ there a jim morrison lyric that begins with ‘blood on the streets….’ ?

near death experience

our regularly scheduled program of (see 21 july entry) has been interrupted today by a near death experience white water rafting on the dalaman river. we woke up this morning at 6am and after grumpily throwing pillows at tsafi’s head while he tried to wake me i finally relented and we went on a walk during sunrise. we walked on paths east that we’d never walked before. there were country cabins with huge maroon pillows set on elevated wood platforms over the water. i photographed footprints in sand, flower petals and the shimmer of sunrise on the water as i successfully fought off the beginnings of a cold. we past a man training a happy dog and partygoers without a hotel room passed out on beach furniture. we stopped into the travel place across the street fro our hotel and spoke to our favorite marmaris-ite, james, who lives in istanbul…”his name is james like my name is your mother” tsafi said, insinuating that he fabricates his name according to which country the tourist is from…. but we played his game. i was called leyla and tsafi was ahmet. we would be known by these names the rest of our time in marmaris.
we booked the 7 island cruise and other escapades from him. so we stopped in at 8:20am and struck up a deal for $66 for both of us to go rafting today and then $30 for us to go horseback riding tomorrow. by 8:45 we were on a bs through the mountains of turkey. air conditioning here is not like it is in other parts of the world…it’s like a very subtle cool fan on you, if at all. nowhere is it overly-conditioned like you might find at nj malls.
so we climbed higher on the mountains seeing marmaris get further and lower from us. we were still on paved roads at this point. we passed hoses tied high on trees with falling water that later i would guess it was a primitive yet just-as-efficient car wash. these hoses always seemed to be on which leads me to believe that turkey does not have a water shortage. in fact, i found out that just 2 days ago it was raining all over turkey up til just north of us.
we passed turkpetrol gas stations, trees growing from rocks and bright pink flowers growing from those trees. the bus struggled uphill as we took to the unpaved roads. dark gravel and nothingness until we got to ecoraft’s base camp where we were fitted for helmets and life vests, both of which were too big on me. the helmet fell into my eyes…but that’s what they gave me.
so we sit at tables, around 50 of us and get briefed by matt, the wonderfully funny indiana-jones-wanna-be who is ‘originally from london, but rode the rapids in new zealand for alot of time’. he has an arabic tattoo around his wrist that says ‘god protect me in the water’. he said the expression ‘excellent stuff’ alot; like a tic in a cute accent.
he gave us some safety tips…like if you fall into the water, ride the rapid lying on your back looking at your toes, never try to swim or to stand as your legs will rake all the rocks. he showed us scars on his legs as proof. and basic stuff like never taking off your helmet or life vest. we all split up and jumped in smaller safari vehicles for the rugged mostly-steep uphill terrain towards ther rapids. we each had 2 rafts strapped to the roofs. it was an hour and a half journey through raw turkey…. (raw turkey! lol… hee hee)
we saw naked little boys in teva sandals wave to us wildly from the edge of stone squares that had water filling up in it. each house had one black tube spewing water into old stone squares near the house. i don’t know if that was their water supply or for recreation. dusty overdressed muslim women scowled in our direction. a young boy maneuvered a wheelbarrow up a steep hil. there were landslides, narrow rugged pathways sandwiched between mountains and a stone’s throw away from death. there were a few times i even cowered away from the window, unable to take my gaze from the turning car tires and an inch to the left of dropout to a bottomless cavern. my ears popped as we rode the pathway to the beginning of our 14km playground. one of the safari buses broke down midway.
so we get to the starting point; tsafi and i walk to the chalky luminescent green water to test the temperature; freezing cold to him, refreshly perfect to me. this was his first time white water rafting!
the guides set up the rafts in the shade and we got more safety tips…”don’t put sunscreen on your forehead.” matt said, “the water will put that excellent stuff into your eyes'”. “don’t put sunscreen on the backs of your legs,” he continued, “the sunscreen is oil-based. the rafts are rubber-based and pretty soon you’ll be river-based.” he was very funny like that. had us all laughing. so we have cake and hiC punch; tsafi leaves my favorite polar bear always-stay-cold thermos on the (wrong) bus (which later disappeared) and then we get paired up. we were 7 all together. our turkish guide, onur, and a group of 4 from holland. (most tourists here are from holland). he teaches us commands like “forward” and “back pedal” where we synch up our ors to whoever was in front of us and then “jump left” and “jump right” where we immediately had to sit practically on the person opposite from us to affect the weight distribution on the raft.
we were shown how to bring someone up from the water, by the lapels of their life vest adn how to use the ors with one hand over the T square and the other gripped mid-way.
so that was it! we began the journey…. we started heading on down the dalaman river… all the rapids were grade 4 out of 6 (6 being death). there were impossibly placed rocks and raging water. 2 of the 8 rapids nearly killed some of us and left some crying. we were approaching a rapid called “slingshot”. as i explained in english-teacher-eeze to tsafi what a slingshot was, onur warned us that sometimes those on the right side of the boat fall out so us, on the left, were quite relaxed.
we hit the rapid and it thrashed us…i saw the right side come up and in one quick motion everyone on my side had fallen out mid-rapid. i’m talking raging rock-ridden swells. i see tsafi’s face in confusion of how to grab me and over i go… i was pushed up for one big suck of air and then i’m under the water…
everything turned into a sea green slow motion. the force of the current was keeping my head down and when i went to pop up in the direction that i thought was God, i hit my head on the underside of the raft. i kept hitting at the same soft spot in the middle and to my horror, realized that i must be travelling at the same speed as the raft. my only hope was to pull my legs up to try to race past the raft. all this time rocks were having their way with the lower half of my body.
in this slow-motion panic, i saw clearly that i had two choices; preserve my air by relaxing my lungs and hope for sky soon or breathe in the water and let go into a fate i must have chosen.
i felt tsafi search for me from the other end of the raft. he was the only one left in the boat at that point. his urgent arms grabbed me and in one smooth movement, he threw me head-first into the raft.
he would later paint me the whole picture of how he saw me go under the boat and picked me up on the other side just before my body would have slammed into jagged rocks, literally a second later. “didn’t you feel the slam into the wall after i threw you in?!” he asked. no, i hadn’t. i first stared at my hands to make sure i was all there and then i swung wild realizing we were still mid-rapid and everyone was fending for themselves. tsafi’s army training came out as he valiantly asked “who’s next?” but by that time there was nothing left to do. one of the dutchmen climbed on board. i tried to grab him by the lapels but you could tell his pride wasn’t going to let himself be saved by a girl.
we were out of the rapid and managed to beach ourselves amid a caboose of worried rafters already there. another guide had jumped on board to help us maneuver and as was customary after a rapid, we hi-fived with our ors in the air with a great big shout of adrenaline. in our case it was actually a hi-three but loud nonetheless. the rest of the rafters applauded and i curtseyed in true princess adventurist fashion. what was there to applaud? i almost friggen died! there just was nothing graceful in that slingshot rapid, except of course my amazing tsafi that saved my life.
the others were bruised and battered; one sweet girl with a bleeding and swollen leg was crying saying “this sucks!” but then managed to get in better spirits with the reassurance that the worst was over… but not yet…
the very next rapid had us heading into a lagoon with rushing water and a jagged rock shelf coming straight at our chests. “get in the raft!! inside! inside! jump down!” screamed onur, our guide, whose fault it was that we headed that way in the first place! we were still shaking from our last rapid experience and here it was that everyone fell out of the boat AGAIN, as raging water filled up the raft. i clung to onur who was holding onto the boat and the jagged edge at the same time… and tsafi, unwilling to let me out of his sight, held onto the raft until he started to swallow water and then onur shouted at him to ride the rapid, to let go… so he did and i turned to onur full of fear asking what to do. the water was pounding us into the crevice in the mountain and just very smoothly and unexpected he grabbed me and let go of the raft and we rode the rapid together with my heart pounding out of my chest like a squirrel monkey in a thunderstorm.
the raft caught up to us and we beached again to reassemble. some people were ready to be done with the whole thing while, i, thankful for onur’s help really began doubting his skill or maybe it was just that we weren’t paddling hard enough. regardless, i reset my expectation button and tried to shrug it off making jokes about us all being on survivor.
some rapids were so treacherous because of a recent landslide that we actually had to walk around them. i mean grabbing for rocks hoisting yourself up and around the rapid. my knee was turning colors and decided to quit on me so i used parallel rocks as crutches.
the rest of the rapids were cake. i would rest my knee in cold water to stop anymore swelling…but it was very painful. the last rapid was for swimming through it as it was deeper than the others. i stayed in the raft and hobbled up to the ecoraft base camp where we all ate together. rice, chips (fries), salad and some meat yucky thing. we chatted with some people. the holland friends were very nice. they will email me photos they ordered from the overpriced ecoraft photographer that followed us around all day in a kayak. i stuck out my tongue and gave the devil hand sign through some of the rapids. i hope they ordered those! hee hee….
we talked more with matt, the indiana jones character. he has infectious boundless energy.
we headed back to marmaris in two buses as the sun was setting. our bus, of course, broke down and as we all stood next to a decaying carcas of a dog roadside, the guides called for another bus that would meet us at the next petrol station.
so we all pile into the crowded second bus and head off. tsafi and i stay on all the way to marmaris, get off and give james, across the street from our hotel, a huge smile and a thumbs up.
“it was awesome!!” we tell him…as tsafi picks mud from my eye….

today we went on a boat trip around the islands. the boat was overcrowded with tourists mostly from holland it seemed but we had a good time. we went to the port nearby our hotel and took off for the fish pond mid-morning. the early sun was strong and we reapplied sunscreen hourly. schools of mackarel went into a frenzy as we threw bread to them. we then went to aquarium island where we swam in cold clear blue water. tsafi and i came prepared. we had our eye goggles on and the floaty thing, our pixie canoe! tsafi picked me all colors of swirly rocks. we went to a few other islands throughout the day. my favorite was green beach, so named, i’m assuming, from its mystical green color. tsafi dove from a high rock while i explored nearby lagoons. the water was amazing; refreshingly cold. we ate lunch on the boat as we docked alongside turkish mansions and then docket at another beach. my favorite thing today was touching toes with tsafi as our feet dangled off the boat, over the water and the spray tickled our feet.

turkish bath!

turkish music wafts up to our balcony. long strong notes, not unlike arabic music i’ve heard in israel. today was the most incredible day! we woke up early, had breakfast and, in pure vacation style, took a ’10-minute nap’ that lasted til 12noon. with bathing suits and floatable mattress we headed down to the pool. i put my hair in pigtails as i helped tsafi with an english crossword puzzle. giving him prompts for answers and explaining different spellings for words like ‘wail’ and ‘whale’. we went in the pool. i kicked his ass at ping pong (again) and then we swam out in the middle of the sea. he told me how amazing it is to see the sun from deep under the water looking up. so i put on my eye goggles and dove down til my ears popped and turned up like a sea otter with the sun above and as i floated involuntarily to the surface, my squeals of excitement over this view made tsafi smile and excited, i dove down again. the sea bed is full of grass and tiny fish.
i had booked us at a turkish bath at 5pm.in proper israeli fashion, i haggled with the price and got him down from $10 to $7 per person. we dressed and headed out together. the bus that was to take us to the cosmopolitan turkish spa wasn’t there yet so we were encouraged to sit on the outside couch ad talk to the guys running the place. one sat across from us and the other next to us. we drank hot apple tea (which i later found out has every cancer-causing E100 and E…. chemical known to man in it!). the one across from us asked us the typical questions of where are we from and if we like marmaris so far and where are we staying. he says he has 5 girlfriends and lives in istanbul. tsafi got peaked on a horseback trip that he told him about. he was very nice and informative. the other one scared us though. he kept calling tsafi a ‘sexy, sexy man’ touching his shoulders and hair and describing people as babies, talking in a soft voice. he called tsafi a baby and then luckily we had to go. the van had pulled up and we were on our way to have the turkish experience of a lifetime. there were 2 women already in the van, a girl our age and her mother. they were from holland, spoke perfect english, really nice…
we got to cosmopolitan within 10 minutes from marmaris. the manager gave us a run down of what would happen. first we put our stuff in a locker and took a shower and then we sat in a dry cedar-smelling sauna for 15 minutes. it was set to 65 degrees celsius (150 fahrenheit) and was so effective that even my toes were sweating. we towel dried and sat in a hot tub until they were ready for us. we were led into an octagon-shaped black and white marble room with a bright white light high up in a circular ceiling. the entire room was marble. there was a marble octagon table thigh-high that people were bathed 2 at a time by 2 male turks in traditional dress. the rest of us sat on marble platforms around it, punctuated by white sinks and gold small basins. each masseuse used 2 sinks with constant running water. one was ice cold and the other lukewarm. one of them was quite playful. the other, serious. the playful one would spontaneously break out into song which echoed off the walls. if his ‘patient’ seemed to be ignoring him, he’d sing loudly into their ears. he would also suddenly poor a bucket of ice water on you as you sat. just buckets of water thrown at you from across the room… and he was a good shot too!! there was just water flowing and throwing from every angle of this room with subtle drains on the floor. it was wild!
a little girl with her family had the misfortune of sitting next to his ice cold sink and she got doused repeatedly over and over and each time she closed her eyes and giggled, tried to push her hair from her eyes in time for the next bucket. all the while someone is lying on the marble platform in their bathing suit with a stone face while, i, thinking this shenannegins hysterical was laughing and getting shots of water thrown at me from every angle. tsafi kept pointing at my head so he’d hit me again but it wasn’t long til he got what he deserved too…. the joker too… i took a gold basin and threw water back at him and the room was just a hot firework space of flying H2O.
tsafi and i were last…we laid at different parts of the platform. i , of course, chose the joker. first, he poured water on me, the warm kind. then he used a loofah sponge all over my body just rubbing gently exfoliating the skin. front and back of the body. turning over is tricky. if you’re not lying just right he takes your legs and swings you around; if not for any useful purpose than just for fun and you’re entirely helpless because you’re on a wet slippery sacrificial slab. once the exfoliating is done, then he takes another basin of hot soapy water and using a long cheesecloth pillowcase he puts some bubbles in it, blows into it, seals the top by spinning it and wrings it down so that the air forces the suds to multiply through the bottom and soap bubbles fall over you giving you chills as it crawls all over your body. then he blows up the fabric again and does this car wash motion where he beats you with it til it deflates. the result is more bubbles! wheni flipped over, i was so lost in a mountain of bubbles, that i inhaled them, laughed and exhaled them for a few minutes. then he soaps you up, massaging every inch of you with soap bubbles, and then asks you to sit by the wall where he douses you again with water and then violently throws water on the mound, clearing it for the next person.
after the turkish bath you go to the relaxation room to calm down from the turkish water torture. you can choose to eat, drink, workout in their gym surrounded by rocks and mirrors, or get a face mask. i opted for the $5 face mask. the owner comes to you with a bowl of, what looks like ice cream. as he was brushing it gently and carefully onto my face, he explained that it is baby powder and rose water and has various turkish flower essences in it. it took 20 minutes to harden so in the meantime tsafi and i came face-to-face with our first israeli couple since leaving israel a few days ago. she lives in rehovot and is a chemical engineer. i washed the ice cream off my face just in time to go get our oil massage. tsafi and i went into the room together. the joker was my masseuse. tsafi also had a man masseuse, which i thought he’d be uncomfortable with, as he’d never had a massage before but he was just fine. the joker (whose name i came to find out was AMAZON) turned very serious as he molded my body into jello. he massaged me from the tips of my toes to the tips of my nose. the strangest, most exotic massage i’ve ever gotten. i couldn’t help but have ancient sultan fantasies. the oil smelled like candy and every inch of me was relaxed and dizzy from a most amazing turkish experience…tsafi and i would later recap in agreement thta it was so worth it and we’d touch each others skin in amazement of how soft and glowing we both are…ahhhhh….vacation

drunk and happy

“i…. am officially drunk” tsafi says as we lay on foam mattress recliners at the edge of the aegean sea sipping tuborg beer and a tequilla sunrise. he eats my slide of watermelon soaked in tequilla and we philosophize about the strength of the sun in different parts of the world and about what our lives might be like at 80. he’s now peacefully happily spewing turkish babble with a combonation of BBBBs and DDDDs and an occasional rum… ‘b-drum gulum gdum’ (which means nothing of course) he has his muscular tanned arms tucked behind his head. he asks the waiter a question and always begins with “my friend…” he asks the waiter how to say turkish delight candy in turkish. “lookum” he says smiling. everyone is very nice here… tsafi and i met some people from the netherlands, this guy neals and his girlfriend. he is 25 and part of the ‘royal air force’. he talked our ears off. he was very interesting and friendly but a constant talker. he recommended a turkish bathhouse and the beach nightclub.
soon after, we found ourselves on the main blvd talking to various trip operators about turkish bathhouses and day trips. we also bought a silver floaty mattress and took it half way to a nearby island with me reclining and half-heartedly rowing with my arms and him kicking with his chin on my belly. he tried to stand and we capsized. the current had taken us way off-course and just as i, drunk with sun, got excited when i saw the mountains part and the mediterranean begin, tsafi suggested we paddle back to shore. he would kiss me and smile as we navigated back to the black sandy shore where our beach towels and cocktails awaited…
another happy waiter passes singing over and over a song with the chorus “i like yours. i like yours.” a lady with a metal pot passes by calling out “mice!” “mice!” which i’m assuming means ‘corn’…at least i hope it means corn… she did have corn in the pot, unless mice is a special ingredient here? hee hee…. i am drunk and happy sitting under white umbrellas now, hearing the lapping of waves, topless mothers with their children in swimmies on their arms. tsafi in the pool, coming out to joke about a large topless woman.”someone has GOT to go over there and tell her to immediately stop what she is doing! some of us need to sleep at night!” he has been making me laugh endless today… his skin is cool to the touch and i trace the softness of his lips with my warm fingers. speed boats in the distance race with 7 people on a yellow banana boat behind. sails of windsurfers go up and a mother splashes her young daughter. i rub tsafi’s head as he dreams and his hand opens up. we clutch each other and smile. we are very lucky…to be here… together, to have opportunites like this, to feel this way…to honor it….

3am shadow people

at 3am we headed out for a walk to the marina. we walked on the main street and also along the twisting promenade. the clothes/souvenier/deli stores seem to be open 24 hours a day. everything is open air and have guards standing where things are closed. we passed waterslide parks and ice cream vendors still open selling ice cream, sun protection, live baby chicks in plastic tubs, and corn-on-the-cob. the nightclub strip was beginning to close down and drunk irish, english and turkish party people stumbled along the marina hitting on people and talking loud. we passed captains asleep on their docked boats, stray dogs running from sprinkler systems, and blue neon under bridges. as we began to head back to the hotel from the marina, we saw dimly lit seemingly-closed bars with a table or two full of shadow people, unnoticable at first. drinks are $1. they don’t take NIS (new israeli shekels). only trl or euro or $. breakfast and dinners here are everything you could ask for.