We find ourselves, at the end of March, still on ‘cell/dock #50’ in Finike marina, Turkey. Our plans, like many others, placed on hold due to the current pandemic. The boat is ready to go, with her bottom painted and essential maintenance tasks completed. There is just nowhere to go. The advice from the marina staff was too stay put, just in case the rules changed and we were not permitted to enter another port in Turkey. Sailing to another country in the Med is not feasible as most countries have closed their borders to non-essential traffic. Fortunately, life here is still quite pleasant.
Several boat owners flew in from overseas about two weeks ago. They were all placed in quarantine for 14 days, which meant that should stay on their boats for the full period. As you can imagine there were a few transgressors, leading to the police being called to enforce the quarantine. Most people are, however, acting responsibly. There are several unfortunate individuals whose other half are stuck in their home country, as Turkey has eliminated most overseas flights.
Hope is now tasked with provisioning as Howard, being over 65, is in lockdown in the marina; following Turkish regulations that all ‘senior citizens 65 and over’ must stay indoors. Walking around the marina, several times a day, while also social distancing when talking with others provide some exercise, plus rowing the dinghy around helps. Trying to eliminate as much contact with the town locals has also meant that Hope only leaves the marina once or twice a week. She wears a dust mask and washes her hands on returning. Hopefully, these constraints will keep us safe and healthy. We have no desire to experience a stay in the local hospital, apart from which it has no ventilators.
We had planned to be en route along the coast to Istanbul by now, and then fly from there to a wedding (now postponed until 2021) in Ireland in late June. However, it will now be another month or two or three before we depart. Fortunately, the weather is improving (shorts weather most of the day) and the community spirit strong. It is probable that we will stay in the Med another year, possibly even remaining in Turkey, unless the freedom of travel situation improves dramatically.
Jenny, a university friend of Hope’s from London, visited us March 9-16. Given that the weather was unsettled we decided to hire a car and showed her the Roman ruins in Arykanda, before driving via Konya (Dervish museum) to Cappadocia (Goreme). The latter should be on your bucket list. The volcanic area is extraordinary, the scenery amazing, and littered with cave dwellings and underground cities carved out of the rock. Some of the tunnels in the underground cities are somewhat cramped; not for the claustrophobic. The cities were developed by early Christians with the males living on the surface to protect the females and children living underground. Life expectancy for those in the caverns was about 20 years. We stopped in Side on the way back to Antalya airport. Our fond memories of Side from 40 years ago were shattered. It is now a tourist hub, although almost empty because of the travel restrictions. Jenny was somewhat paranoid about her return flight to London. In retrospect with reason as all flights to the U.K. were cancelled within 24 hours of her departure.
We feel fortunate to be here, at least the weather is warm, there’s lots of fresh air, a low population density, and Turkey is taking the pandemic seriously; only supermarkets, food markets, pharmacies and banks (only one customer entering at a time) remain open. We wish you all good health, stay safe, and are looking forward to the end of this pandemic. It will be interesting to see how the world and society has changed this time next year.