Turkey: By boat

Looking back at the Valley of the ButterfliesWe woke up, swam and snorkeled (notice a pattern here?) Our first non-stop, which I was a little disappointed by was the Vally of Butterflies. We didn’t stop here, we were told we needed to make better time with a front moving through bringing with it wind and chop. Poop. The captain also made an off hand claim that there would be no butterflies here at this time of year. I bet I could have found something. This valley is so named for the large populations of migratory Tiger moths (Euplagia quadripunctaria) that pass through the region by the thousands. This valley stands as an oasis on the line of dry scrubby mountains. A natural spring keeps this flat bottomed narrow valley moist and cooler, enclosed by towering cliffs. I’m sure this would be a haven year round for many local species, I’m sure I would have found butterflies here.

Mark diving into the MediterraneanOur next stop was at Ölü Deniz, an amazingly beautiful protected beach and lagoon. It is called the “dead sea” of Turkey because the waters so calm. The far side of this rounded cove had some amazing snorkeling. It was much more diverse and species rich than any of the other places we stopped, I wouldn’t have minded staying longer here. So many of the reefs were nice and shallow so I was treated to actually being able to see plenty.

Hearts on the boatWe ended up parking across from St. Nicholas island with its ruins in sight for the rest of the evening. We were here for so long, why didn’t we have time to stop in the Valley of the Butterflies? Poop. Anyway, more swimming, more snorkeling, more lounging, more relaxing, lather, rinse, repeat. Mark got a rousing game of Hearts going. He took the captain’s son under his wing, teaching him the finer points of the game. One last high stakes round brought out different strategies for everyone, no longer was it for fun, but a purchased drink out of the boats fridge (the boat had a strict “NO B.Y.O” policy for beverages, including water). The loser was to buy the winner the beverage of their choice, the most expensive of which was the 4 YTL large can of beer.

DSC_3972A couple times on this trip, when we’ve anchored for the day, our boat was approached by little vendor boats. One was selling ice cream. Another came by selling gozleme! Complete with Turkish woman expertly rolling and filling the dough, complete with hot round flat pan. They were making special dessert varieties including the nutella and banana filled one that Mark and I shared. It was a Turkish crepe! Mark was waiting for a kebap boat to float up, but one never came.

I must also include one of my usual natural history observations of how odd the forest along the water looks. Here we have pine trees growing on rock, so much so it almost looks impossible that the trees could have any kind of foothold here. The pines are so predominant I could smell the forest as we approached the shore, the air full of pine in sharp contrast to the salty sea air.