Saturday, 22 December 2012

Jangling bells

Marmaris castle seen from across the water at Netsel marina

There is something discordant about Marmaris this week, and I'm not talking about the call to prayer (I'm sure that in one of those minarets there's a learner muezzin, because what's coming out of the speakers sounds ghastly, even by the usual atonal standards). Marmaris is a Turkish town but it has a western skin, if I can put it that way. Lots of what goes on in town feels familiar to us. On Thursday there was a big media splash made by the opening of a new arts and culture centre. This weekend, Marmaris women's service clubs have set up their trestle tables in the Netsel marina shopping centre. It's fund-raising time.


By Marmaris standards, the Netsel shopping centre is high end - this is where you come to buy your Lacoste trench coat, your Stephanel cashmere or your top of the line sailing clobber. There's even a stand-alone diamond shop. But today, the tone was distinctly homely.

Zehra (left) teaches us Turkish

Alex and I joined families and friends who were strolling between the clowns and the food stalls, eyeing off secondhand clothing and hand-made trinkets, eating as they chatted, chatting as they bought. There were as many women behind the trestle tables as there were paying customers. It was all very neighbourly and, as I say, quite familiar. Think pre-Christmas fete.

Weirdly, that's exactly what this was.

There was a Santa, a decorated tree and Christmas carols piped through the shopping centre sound system. I get that it's nice to raise money for your favourite charities at an annual fete, and that the end of the year is probably a good time to do that, but I don't get the Christmas theme in Marmaris at all. I picked up a supermarket catalogue from Migros yesterday, and there, in the opening spread, were Christmas trees, decorations, wreaths, Santa lights. Too strange. Who is all this for? Certainly not for the few liveaboards in the Netsel marina, so I can only guess the expat British and other European (Alex goes to a German chiropractor) population of Marmaris is much larger than I have reckoned on.

Still, when I'm wished "Happy Christmas" by locals, I feel kind of awkward. I reply "Happy New Year" and that brings a smile. The Turks celebrate New Year in a big way, so I expect once December 25 is over, we'll get back on track.

Speaking of celebrations, last weekend's potluck dinner at Sailors Corner went off with a bang. There are some handy cooks out there in pontoon land. I missed out on the pecan pie made by Randal, captain of the good ship Dora Mac, but as luck would have it, Alex and I will be sharing Christmas lunch with him and Ruth (she's Jewish, but she knew all the Christmas carols at the potluck singalong) aboard Ed and Sue's boat, and he's undertaken to make another pecan pie. We saw him in the bazaar today carrying a new pie dish - "I'm hoping this will improve my crust", he said.

Ruth opens the lid on my pilaf

Mei and Sue

I drew something woolly in the Christmas gift  department

Dave and Gwen beside the fire at Fellini's
This blog is looking dangerously like a retirees' Facebook page, I know, but I include a record of how we spent the night when, contrary to Mayan expectations, the world didn't stop. The temperature did drop to minus 1 degree C as the winter solstice passed however. My mother tells me the pohutakawa blooms around Auckland are the best in years but the blazing fire at Fellini's restaurant last night did feel seasonal, if you catch my drift.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, Alex and I will get on our bikes again and ride up the valley to the market at Beldibi.  I like it when he starts to like the things I like, and markets are definitely getting under his skin. Last week we bought rosehip jam (I'd never heard of such a thing before). I also laid my hands on some fresh coriander and fresh ginger - gold. The challenge is not to buy more than you can fit in your bicycle basket. Believe me, it's not trivial.

Rosehips make interesting jam

We're both crazy about persimmons and quinces

1 comment:

  1. glad to see you're getting down with the Americans - ambrosia salad for xmas, no less - the real deal! And, by the way, jam made from wild rose hips is quite the thing in Alaska.

    Hope you're staying warm, Mike.