Up the Dalyan river:
Winding our way through hills and valleys with stunning views of the undulating turquoise coastline, the seas shone almost irredescent through random breaks in pinenut groves; colours reflecting like sunlight shimmering on calm shallow pools lined with azure tile. Through cultivated crops of pinenuts, oranges, lemons, olives and bright red flowering pommegranate trees, we descended into the Dalyan river valley and emerged into the world of a once ancient civilization. From man-molded agriculture to the design of nature’s own inherent structure of life along the estuary, we existed somewhere in between each expression, ensconced within our own natural state.
We arrived in Dalyan, an important fishing town located on a wide delta between the Mediteranean Sea and Koycegiz Lake to board our boat and travel up a magnificent river. A sun-soaked cruise chugging up the estuary, passing by stunning 4th century AD cliff-carved Lycian tombs on our way to the 500 B.C city of Caunos, stimulated our imaginations. Like taking out a couple of frames from the movie, “The African Queen”, double exposing it over the serene and milky blue waters of the Dalyan, our own spirits could almost rise up to meet the majesty of an ancient culture. When you arrive here, you’ll understand the vibe that everyone on this excursion to Turkey experienced, something inexplanable, yet palpable.
At the ancient city of Caunos, on the site of many layers of development in the cradle of civilization, beginning in the Neolithic Age (10000 BC), history has unfolded. From the ancient 13 Century BC Carians to the Greeks, to the Persians and liberated from the Persians by Alexander the Great in 334 BC. through to present day Turkey, the area has seen it’s major successes and ultimate declines. Each society asserting its right to govern and develop their own civilization. It is interesting to note that coming out of the Neolithic Age (or the last phase of the so-called Stone Age) that this could well be the first area where organized agriculture truly began and where the use of wild and cultivated crops and domesticated animals had its genesis. This chef got really excited about the historical value of an ancient 10 mile diet.
Present day Caunos or Dalyan today is not only known for it’s tourism and commercial fishing of blue crab and a wide array of fish species, but is also renowned as one of the most important breeding grounds in the world for the loggerhead sea turtle. We were very fortunate to see the loggerhead on our way up the river, playing amoung the crab boats along the reedbeds. Tying off onto one of the crab boats, we shut down our engines and looked on as the crab fishermen tied live crabs onto strings tossing them into the calm waters to entice the loggerheads to smim up, grab the prize and become immortalized in our photography. These creatures are truly remarkable for their size, ability to swim and the precariousness of their very existence; being one of the world’s most endangered species.
Rustem, our constant and knowledge-vast guide asked the boat captain if he would cook up some of his just-caught blue crabs on his tiny boat (equipped with a charcoal-fired grill). The captain obliged and our group indulged in some of the most wonderful crab I’ve ever tasted. From the Dalyan’s shallow blue waters to hungry Canadians, the crab disappeared quickly during which the boat went dead silent, save for sucking and slurping sounds and the occasional, “Oh my god, this is so #&%#&#% good”. Such good swearing Canadians were we and lucky to boot.
With the bow gently turning southward back to the Mediterranean and catching the quiet downstream current, we floated back to reality as if the experience was just a glorious heavenly dream.
Our own earthly present was exalted and transformed into a state of sensuous delirium and joy .