Day 16: Kaş (rest day + Turkish Independence Day)

Today we decided to book our apartment at Lantana for the end of the walk. It will be a nice place to relax, unwind, and catch up on work after so long away. It feels good to have this taken care of and know what we’ll be doing at the end. We’re both anxious to start walking again, but we covered the first part of this walk faster than anticipated, and we can’t leave again until our friend Sherry arrives tomorrow evening.

Who ever thought we’d be forced to enjoy a day off?!

We walked through the town to pick up supplies early and saw the crowds gathering. There was a huge Turkish flag as well as one for Ataturk, the liberator from 1923 (and the man in the statue of every main square in Turkey). Hundreds of red balloons with the star and crescent moon of the Turkish flag were tied to businesses and strings across the square. Today marked 90 years since Atatürk toppled the Ottoman Empire and secularized the country, and people were feeling festive.

A small podium and stage had been set up near the Atatürk statue and a group of boys in a traditional Turkish outfits of embroidered vests, silk knee pants, boots, and fez hats, performed a traditional dance. They were followed by traditionally clad girls in embroidered gray tunics over pink satin pants with an elaborate scarf/hat combo. We watched the program until it finished, and then the crowd dispersed so that crews could begin setting up the tables and chairs for the night’s festivities. By the time they were finished, the usually spacious square barely had one aisle left to walk through.

Dancing school kids

We went back to the hotel to arrange for the 3-person room for the next night when our friend Sherry arrives. It’s funny to negotiate in another language together. Warren wants to give a lot of detail and be very friendly, while I (Betsy) want to basically speak like a caveman so I don’t mess anything up. Between us, it seems to work, but it’s sometimes funny to hear.

Warren: On Wednesday our friend Sherry is coming at 4:30. She’s walking the Lycian Way with us. Can we have a 3-person room for one night? Or a single room for her? Also, we might not be here when she arrives. Will that be a problem for her to get into the room? And how much will that be?

Betsy: Can we have a 3-person room for tomorrow night? How much?

This interaction explains why Warren makes friends with the locals so much easier but I get information faster! Speaking of making friends…as we went out for an afternoon walk we decided to go along the pier were all the boats were docked. We talked to Captain Ali, who of course tried to get us to rent the boat. We told him we were coming back in November and would consider it then, but he pointed out that the weather is iffy then and sometimes too cold for swimming…why not just go now?

We came on board and had a coffee as we negotiated prices, and before we knew it, we were booked for a day on his boat. It was a definite luxury for us, even with 50% off for end-of-season rates.

Booking time with Ali

That evening we walked down to the edge of the square to have a drink at a bar and enjoy the festivities. The tables were full of people enjoying their holiday meals, and there was much music and celebration. Children were waving Turkish flags and there were patriotic t-shirts and bandanas everywhere. We love how the country celebrates as a group like this. There were probably 1000 people in the square, and we were told this is how it is celebrated all over the country.

The night progressed to a dance party in the square and much enjoyment of food, beer, and raki (the local hard liquor). We went back to our room just in time to see the fireworks set off over the water. It was a spectacular display and we felt like they were going to land on us, they were so close.

So happy independence, Turkey. You certainly know how to celebrate!