Log #25g Northern Cyprus to Mersin, Turkey

July 14, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 25 EMYR, The Logs

Kemer, Turkey
July 14, 2002

Hi Folks,

We’re still here in Kemer. All the work has been done, but we are staying around until my birthday on the 19th. The weather here is hot and sunny, although we have had a few thunderstorms come through. We went to the Roman theatre at Aspendos last week to see the opera Tosca. The setting and lighting were dramatic, the orchestra excellent and some of the arias magnificent. However, neither Judy nor I are opera buffs, and sitting on those 2000 year old stones, even with cushions, was not the most comfortable. Romeo and Juliet was on later in the week, and I wish I had seen it instead.

In this log #25g I get into a bit more of the political situation in Cyprus. If any of you have other impressions or information from either side of the issue, I would be pleased to learn of them.

I was not successful in getting a new mobile to send E-mail and so will have to stick with my present system of using land lines when available or internet cafes, which I have found not the best or most reliable in their E-mail hook ups. Most of them seem to be occupied by kids playing war games on the computers.

We will be postponing our sail into the Greek Aegean or a month or so to enjoy the Turkish coast more. We have met several boaters from the EMYR here in Kemer, and right now there is an Israeli boat beside us with the manager of the Ashkelon Marina whom we met there last month. Incidentally, Israeli yachts will not fly the Israeli flag outside of Israel, but fly US flags instead.

Enjoy the log and give me some feedback. All the best,

Aubrey

PS – July 15, 2002 – The damn AOL frustrated me again last night. Hooking up is a sometimes thing even from a land line as I tried last night. It cycles through 7 steps before the final connection actually gets me on line. When dialed from the laptop, it slowly goes through the first six steps, then stays stuck there for two or thee minutes or more, with often nothing happening. I have found from previous experience that while waiting at that step, I am still incurring phone charges ion the range of $2.00 per minute, whether the final connection is made or not. Last night I was successful twice in about 20 attemepts. The first successful attempt was interrupted by a spontaneous billing notice indicating my account was not up to date and asking me for my VISA number and address. When I put in them in, it said VISA not accepted and cut me off! I then tried a few more times and finally got through to get the same request again. This time I used a different VISA number. It finally said my account had been reactivated, then said goodbye and cut me off again! I tried for 15 more time 0ver a three hour period, including this morning just now and could not get back on! I hate to think of how much of a phone bill I have as a result of these tries. Once in Bodrum I had a similar unsuccessful experience and was charged $28.00 for the 14 or so minutes trying to get online. I am frustrated and unhappy with AOL. They do not even have a customer service E-mail number where I can let them know of the difficulties. I should not have had to change my billing information as I am on a one year’s free service that came with my new Dell laptop purchased last December.

I will explore the possibility of hotmail or superonline as my internet provider, and may be sending a change of address out if I switch over. Right now I am transferring this log and ten other E-mail messages I wanted to send onto a floppy that I will take to the office and use their computer to get on the internet and send these painstakingly one at a time. It will take me a half hour to transfer these to a floppy, and 45 minutes or more to send each separately, and then another half hour to download and save the incoming messages (after screening through 20 to 30 junk mail messages).If my AOL was working, I could send these ten prewritten messages, including this log to over 90 addresses, and download waiting mail in less than 5 minutes total. Aaaarrrgghhh!

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Log #25g Northern Cyprus to Mersin, Turkey

July 13, 2002
Kemer, Turkey
Covers the EMYR from May 19 to 22, 2002

In my last log, we were in Famagusta (the Greek name), or Gazi Magusa (the Turkish name), or Ammochostus (the ancient name predating the Ottoman and even the Hellenistic period), and had just finished a lovely lunch as described in my last log, made more enjoyable with the discussions of the Turkish Cypriot guide at our table. In my account which follows, please be aware I am sympathetic to the Turkish Cypriot cause, and have seen the issue from the Turkish Cypriot side only. The following reflects the information and impressions given me from the Turkish Cypriot viewpoint.

Conscription is an accepted duty in Cyprus and Turkey, and I guess in most mideastern countries. Our guide had served his time, but was I thought admirably neutral in regards to the Greek Cypriots. He just wanted to live in his Turkish community in Northern Cyprus, the economy of which is hurting because of the Greek Cypriot embargoes. Describing how the Greeks wanted to control the entire island, he explained that the Greeks would offer above market value money for Turkish buildings and real estate, on condition that the Turkish Cypriots not stay or return to it. Such prices were often subsidized by the Greek Cypriot movements. When hostilities broke out many of the Greek Cypriots wanted Enosis, union with Greece, which might have resulted in mass deportations of Turkish Cypriots, or “ethnic cleansing”. Turkey stepped in, in 1974 to defend the Turkish minority, and the conflict escalated to the stalemate in 1975 of separating off Northern Cyprus, overseen by a UN force in which Canada participated for many years.

At present, Southern Cyprus does not recognize Northern Cyprus, and there are a variety of embargoes and restrictions as mentioned in my last log, in place. The restrictions come from Southern Cyprus, not the North. For example in Gazi Magusa which is on the eastern coast of Cyprus in the Turkish Republic of Cyprus zone, but near the “Green Line” separating it from the South, there is a lovely stretch of sandy beach with dozens of high rise hotels which were encouraged in the late 60’s and early 70’s. However with them being in the Northern sector, UN embargoes made the investors back off, and they are now all deserted shells of high rise buildings, barb-wired off, and protected by the Northern community from vandalism, but hauntingly empty. Only one hotel operates, owned by a German who ignores the restrictions and is doing a great business. The investors are frightened away from the other properties, and they have lain unused for almost 30 years! The Turkish Cypriots would make them available to Greek or any other investors, as they have not “conquered” Northern Cyprus, and protect but do not use the lands and properties abandoned by the Greeks or others who left the North. There are large sections of the town deserted and barb-wired off limits as left by the fleeing Greeks in 1974/ 75. The Greek writing on the restaurants, hardware stores and other businesses is fading, but they have been left intact for the Greeks to return if they wish. I heard a story that there is a car dealership with brand new 1974/75 cars still in the showroom waiting for the owners to return. These areas are protected by the Turkish Cypriot military until some final resolution is made.

After leaving Gazi Magusa we went to the ancient ruins of Salamis, the site of the most important classical Roman city in Cyprus. The fully restored Roman theatre is just awaiting the players and audience; indeed this and many other ancient Greek and Roman theatres are still used for presentations today. The site of the gymnasium is still festooned with most of its marble columns and some mosaics. These bleached white remains stand as silent sentinels along the sandy shores of the azure blue Mediterranean, reminding visitors of the bygone grandeur of this important port city two thousand years ago.

Our last stop was the tranquil cloistered St. Barnabus Monastery, now home to an interesting museum of Greek icons and artifacts from the Hellenistic period. St. Barnabus, from Cyprus, was a disciple of St. Paul who helped expand Christianity throughout the mid east. The late afternoon bus trip across the spine of Cyprus, through the Kyrenian mountain range provided grand vistas across this lush but divided island as we made our way back to Girne.

That evening was the “Pirates’ Party” held on the lovely terraced patio of the Dome Hotel. I was a bit late for it as I found an internet café that allowed me reliable access to AOL, a service unfortunately not commonly found in internet cafes in the eastern Med. Again, our schedule was tight, and I had to take advantage of the hour or so between returning from the tour and the Pirates’ Party to send off E-mail while I could. The meal had started by the time I arrived, but there was plenty of food left on the scrumptious buffet. In addition to the usual foods mentioned in my last log, there was a large freshly caught tuna, suspended, from which slices were carved to be grilled or sauteed to order. The dessert bar was bathed in a golden light to accentuate the creamy custards, caramel icings, honey saturated pastries, bananas flambé, hot chocolate sauce, ice creams, a variety of cakes, and fruit baskets. Mmmm!

The pirate costumes were good. Many of us wore our French blue and white striped shirts with a variety of bandanas, eye patches, colourful sashes, charcoaled beards or scars, mock swords or knives, and even the occasional stuffed parrots sitting on some shoulders. Some women were even more flamboyant, with provocative vibrant colourful low cut blouses, daringly slashed skirts or mini shorts, dangling earrings, dramatic eye make up, and hair in every style imaginable. An attractive Turkish belly dancer added to the atmosphere, undulating between the tables and enticing the “pirates” to dance with her.

We had the standard exchange of gifts and appreciation with the local officials, and said our goodbyes to the boats leaving at this port. Several of these were Turkish boats returning to Kemer. It was at this exchange of gifts we got the ceramic plaque of the Girne waterfront which we donated to Malaika II, and not at the castle the previous night as I reported in my last log. The evening ended with dancing, including our traditional Mambo #5. It was a good party.

Next day there was a half day tour to Nicosia (Lefkosia) to see the Green Line division through the middle of the city and the armed check points at which we were advised not to take pictures. There were deserted stretches of abandoned buildings, barbed wire and “no mans land” areas along this demarcation scar severing this ancient city. We were not permitted to go into the southern sector, but it is understood that people from the southern sector could visit the north for a half day. Buildings partially destroyed by the hostilities over 30 years ago stood vacant, their gaping holes, jagged concrete, and bullet scarred walls a mute testament to the island’s turmoil. The rest of the city was that of a tired old Turkish city with some churches converted to mosques, a market, narrow stone streets, and the remains of an old Venetian fortification.

I missed this tour and the above description I got from Judy who did go. The impression I felt as Judy described it to me was that of going across the “Iron Curtain” from the former West Germany into East Germany when I lived on a Canadian NATO base in the Schwartzwald in the late 1970’s. On that trip to Berlin, which was in East Germany, we had to cross the border, heavily fortified with tank traps, barbed wire fences, patrolling dogs, lookout towers with machine guns every few hundred yards, and a wide stretch of mined “no man’s land”.  The bus was delayed for over an hour while passports were checked and an armed soldier came down the aisle checking faces with the passports. We were further delayed because a TV camera supposedly caught sight of a camera being used in the bus and it was demanded that the camera be handed over. One person sheepishly identified himself, and the film was removed from it. Then with fear and trepidation we wended our way around the concrete barriers into East Germany. In Berlin, we went through the infamous Checkpoint Charlie and through the Berlin Wall. It too had abandoned buildings alongside it as it snaked its way through the sundered Berlin, a concrete monstrosity of a divided people. I am so glad that those two abominations of the Berlin Wall and the “Iron Curtain” have come down.

I had to stay on Veleda as one of the gulets inboard of us had to leave at 1000, and I had to be ready to maneuver so he could exit. In addition, we were informed that duty free diesel was available over at the commercial dock where we had anchored under sail a few days earlier. I asked Three Sheets to the Wind if he would take three jerry cans over with him, and I would pick them up in the afternoon before departure. An hour later he had dinghied back to return them unfilled as there was a problem with the customs and they were not going to wait. So at 1230 when Judy had not returned, I dinghied over in Sprite to fill them up, only to find out the customs people were at lunch, and no fuel could be dispensed without them. I went back at 1345, and was successful this time in getting 70 litres of fuel at only 25 cents a litre. However it took another ten minutes to fill out the paperwork in triplicate for the customs people. While I was there, several other boats arrived waiting to be fuelled. One of the advantages of filling my tanks from jerry cans is that I don’t have to take Veleda to the fuel dock, but can go in Sprite, or just cart the cans to a local gas station. I always filter my fuel from the jerry cans through a Baja filter/funnel as I don’t trust the cleanliness of the diesel in most places. Upon returning for the third time to Veleda we got under way by 1445 for our 110 mile trip to Mersin back in Turkey. There was a big line up at the fuel dock and several of the boaters were very frustrated at the long wait. However, the price was right.

The trip across was without problems. We were even able to sail for six of the twenty hours of the crossing, although we encountered east and northeast headwinds much of the way; northwest or west winds were forecast. The entry into Mersin was easy and helped by a smart looking Coast Guard inflatable and white uniformed Coast Guard sailors on the dock for the added luxury of going alongside as opposed to the standard Mediterranean bows on mooring. More about our enjoyable stay in Mersin in my next log.