Radio Upgrade - One of our purchases in Spain was a new radio/CD changer (Kenwood KDC-6527 and KDC-669). We have removed a radio that was on its last legs, plus a Rube Goldberg arrangement of preamp/amp, dangling wires, and relays replacing it with a smaller and sleeker system:
Propane Drama - When we left the US 12 years ago the cruising books were full of warnings that US gas (propane) containers could not be filled overseas - yet everywhere it was no problem - until now. The first time we tried to fill one the marina charged $35 for a small container. This time the gas company told us our container was too old and old-of-date (all true). So now we have the daunting chore of importing a $65 tank into a country whose Customs imposes outrageous charges, similar to Thailand. We'll see how this sorts out as our second tank approaches 'Empty' later this month.
Multi-lingual radio Net - With scores of cruisers spending the winter in two marinas in Marmaris, we all like to stay in touch so at 0900 every day the VHF air waves crackle with calls:
etc. The fun with this net is that a translator is present each day to translate between English, German, and French - a sign of the times.
Wireless Internet?? - Marmaris Yacht Marine is trying to catch up with the trend throughout Europe by installing wireless internet service around the marina. To say it is suffering from growing pains would be kind - service is sporadic, slow most of the time, and importantly it is blocking access to our web-site email. We now have a 3-week backlog that is growing daily - our apologies if your is in there.
Computer resurrection - Once again, the computer that got a dousing last Fall went belly-up and played 'dead'. We tried all of our tricks, but finally took it to a specialist in Marmaris for treatment. He performed exploratory surgery, jiggled a few parts and breathed new life into it - for the reasonable cost of $22. We are glad we have a back-up!
eBay - Another piece of essential equipment died this week - a slide projector. Well, perhaps not essential, but with a 6-months backlog of un-viewed slides we were disappointed - doubly so when we found that the spare bulb we had been carrying for 10 years did not fit! So we joined the mob trading on eBay, found a couple of cheap sources, and soon had a few on their way to Bob's son. They will soon will be winging their way to Turkey, hopefully flying low under the radar screens of the local Customs officials.
Christmas Spirit - Tis the season to be jolly ... and to wrap up gifts for shipment home. Several packages, replete with bows and bright wrappings paper, were packed into bright yellow boxes and entrusted to the Turkish mail system. Even as we type they should be wending their way through the Postal and Customs systems of Turkey and the US. Handing them to Santa when we visited his workshop in Finland might have been easier...
Konya, Turkey - One of the events on Judi's 'must see' list for Turkey has been the Whirling Dervishes in Konya, a moderate sized city in East-Central Turkey where the Imam Mevlana lived and preached in the 13th century. The Sema is an Islamic religious ceremony performed on the birth-date of the Imam; outlawed by Ataturk after WWI, yet it has enjoyed a resurrection in recent times. About 20 of us took a 10-hour bus ride from Marmaris to Konya, relaxing for the evening in the 4-star Bera Hotel. The next day started with a museum visit (it was more like a shrine with religious visitors weeping and kissing some of the displays) followed by more sightseeing or carpet shopping depending on inclination. The highlight was the 2-hour ceremony where the current Imam and the Dervishes follow a ritual of music, prayers, and whirling salutes to God. In the photos. the Imam is the man kneeling under the red spotlight, his son is the man in the black robe, and his grandson is the boy whirling in the center photo. Although it was set up for modern times with microphones and lighting, it was still a moving ceremony and the audience, who were primarily religious pilgrims, responded with reverence and prayers. More information on the Sema can be found at the Mevlana web-site.
Ongoing Activities - As we settle into the winter, cruisers have an assortment of things to keep ourselves busy including;
Turkey Holds its Breath on the EU Decision - The big news story in the last few weeks has been the decision the European Union has to make on whether to start talks to admit Turkey into the EU. There are definite cultural differences between Turkey and some of the Europeans countries, but there are a lot of similarities as well. We believe in the long term it will benefit both parties to strengthen their relationships
First Storm of the Season - As we were scrambling madly to finish up our 2004 newsletter, the first storm of the season raged (sounds like a dramatic word) outside! We had winds over 40 knots and torrential rains; rain that found several openings that we did not know about! Unfortunately one yacht, owner unknown at the moment, had left their yacht anchored in Marmaris Bay, and by morning it was on the beach, a sad reminder that all endeavors are subject to risk and nature is more powerful than artifacts of man.
Christmas - The season here was like many before it, parties, shopping, and more parties. Judi hosted a party on board with several gallons of "Maryland Inn Wassail" - a delightful hot drink on a cold, rainy day - it was a smashing success. As luck would have it much of our older canvas and one of the ports dripped water all day but nobody seemed to mind. The parties continued as we joined cruisers on Alucia for Chanukah fare and the week culminated aboard Quest for a multi-national Christmas dinner.