Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Grey Bear in a Black Sea

I know I'm behind on my posts but it's just so hard to get good secretarial help these days and my bipedal attendants (especially the female one - the other one can't type at all) are either too busy or too tired ... well, let's just say that I'm typing this myself and as a former international fashion model and freelance Goodwill Ambassador, I have more pressing matters to attend to.

Anyway ...

... two weekends ago (see how behind I am?), I was invited to meet some friends of friends who live near the Black Sea and to visit some small villages in the area and, because I am such a generous employer, I brought my bipedal attendants along. The plan was to visit an American woman and her Turkish husband and possibly take a dip in the sea so we all piled into the car - driven by a driver who would have made my female god-bipedal's hair stand on end - and off we sped (literally) to the town of Kerpe along the Black Sea coast.

Just as an aside: the Black Sea wasn't always black - or Black with a capital B. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Black Sea was called the Inhospitable Sea because of the nasty "savages" who used to live there. Greek colonists in the south of Turkey moved in, making the area safe for sailors, so it became known as the "Hospitable Sea". The Scythians (those ancient Iranians who gave us the stirrup) called it the"Unlit Sea" but most seas are unlit, aren't they? Have you ever seen a "sea lamp" - apart from a lighthouse? Some suggest that the hydrogen sulphide in the water makes the sea black. I don't know: it looked awfully blue to me but the Turks called it black (or Black) too - the Karadeniz, the Black Sea - so who am I to judge? Although as a former international fashion model, the one thing I do know is colour.

Jason and the Argonauts sailed it and some scientists believe that this was the sea that Noah drifted across in his ark. The ancient Greeks once thought that the eastern edge of the Black Sea was the end of the world. Over the millennia, its shores were visited, inhabited and invaded by the Hittites, Thracians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Goths, Huns, Slavs, Crusaders, Venetians, Genovese, Ottomans and Russians - to name but a few.

Nowadays, it's an alternative tourist destination for ─░stanbullus with money but not enough time to go south to the Aegean. The climate is warm enough to grow tea, kiwi (that's me, above left in a kiwifruit tree), and figs. I had never seen a kiwi in its natural environment before, so that was neat. The pretty green leaves helped block out the uglier bits of human history indigenous to the area too.

As it turns out, our plans to visit our friends' friends were aborted without our knowledge - these people are the most untrustworthy travel planners I've ever met - and we ended up staying the whole afternoon at the beach which annoyed my female bipedal attendant because she didn't have her bathing suit with her. I confess that I actually felt sorry for her because the water was really nice (me, above right) and it probably wasn't much fun for her to sit on the beach and watch others swim in the sea. I chose to keep her company and not just because I'm a freelance Goodwill Ambassador.

I should add that the beach that we ended up at was our third that afternoon. The first main beach was really overcrowded and you could barely (!) see the water for all the tourists. The second, which was a beautiful deserted grotto-like inlet, was strewn with garbage and people-feces. I couldn't decide if I wanted to cry or let out a big bear-growl. The beach where we ended up only had a couple dozen families - and most of them seemed like rather poor families on a budget holiday - and it was much more bearable(!) than the others.

I didn't bring bathing trunks but, of course, I can go bare (!) in the water. I confess that I found it strange that some of the women were swimming in bikinis while others were swimming in their head scarves and robes. As a former international fashion model, I can say that bathing suits are not only chic but are probably safer in the water than ballooning tents. I kept expecting a rogue wave to take these girls out to sea forever. What you humans do for your gods makes us bears howl!

I'm sorry to say that our outing wasn't as positive as I had expected. Compared to my friends, my bipedal attendants' ability to plan and execute a trip would make Arthur Frommer proud. And even though the coastline was very impressive - all rocky and majestic - I was very disappointed by the garbage left behind by visitors. I just couldn't not see it. Maybe some Turks need to see that old television commercial featuring the Native American shedding a tear at a dirty, littered US roadside. Then again, in a thousand years, their empty water bottles and cigarette packages will be "archaeological treasures" just like all the stuff left behind by the Hittites, Thracians, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Goths, Huns, Slavs, Crusaders, Venetians, Genovese, Ottomans and Russians - to name but a few.