Burgaz Ada

July 18, 2014

I felt the need to escape. Get out of the city. Two choices, Kylios or Burgaz ada… a few people were interested in coming… there was this chance to maybe play at Karakedi on Wednesday night, that was soon cancelled because of the possibility of rain. Then they said maybe I’d play on Thursday, so I thought lets go either way, but I was told that maybe it would cost us to get in if we went there… 40 lira to enter… can’t afford that… so I teethered between the two choices… then the clouds came in…. people backed out… Should I stay or go… Go. I was determined to get out. After many texts and calls, the candidates were reduced to three of us, Mahir, Pery and myself.

Thursday morning, slow, slow going. we finally rush out, realizing we were about to miss the 1:30 ferry. I make a rendez vous point and met with Mehmet Can at the Ataturk monument at Taksim, where he handed me a tent. We get to the ferry, miss it, and there, realize there was a misunderstanding, Pery thought we were going to Kylios he doesn’t want to go to the Island, Mahir doesn’t want to go to Kylios… at this point I am set for the Island. So Pery went his way, we went ours. We now had to wait for the 3 PM ferry so we sat on the grass facing the Bosphorus and chatted while waiting.

It feels good to be going. To disconnect from the big mama city. I got an espresso and we let the minutes fly by. One very strange thing… this is the first time I carry no camera as I am going somewhere… I see things… and they will remain in my memory banks or falter away never to be remembered…

Some Syrian kids come and ask us for money. So many beggars… some seem quite professional looking very well fed. But that doesn’t mean anything… Lately the police picked up a man on Istiklal it made news in the local papers. I had seen the man a few times…. gray hair, balding, nearing 60’s, with a short sleeve shirt and tailored pants, like most men of a certain age wear here along with the leather shoes… on one knee, crying, begging with intense despair for money. His voice, high pitched into staccatto thin sobs. When I first saw him my immediate thought was “fake” then I admonished myself for being so harsh… a few days ago he was on the news, as the belediyesi police picked him up as a scammer.

The ferry comes, we get on. It is so very hot. The water is blue, blue. We can see fish all around the boat. People throw simit at them and they rush to eat. They are quite big. We leave the dock with a horn blast, stop at Kadikoy then head for the islands. I look at the water longingly… I could just jump in.

first Island, then the second.. off we are, we head towards the beach. A pack of three wild dogs adopt us. There is a long haired black and rust one with pointy ears and a light step. A gigantic beige Turkish sheep dog with a limp and one that is in between the size of the first two. As we walk, they seek trouble with all the “not free” dogs owned by humans and stuck behind fences, they know they can harass them and they do with glee. We walk by the horses and the carriages, there are no cars on the Islands, only horse carriages. Some, most of them are quite skinny, with various ailments… I cannot stop my professional horsewoman eye from seeing this.

Up we go. We see many cats, they have a different look than the Istanbul cats. Cleaner, more independent looking. We get to the camping spot… as we walk down the trail with our three dogs a fight erupts between our dogs and someone’s dog… people yell, rocks are thrown.. the dogs scatter in every direction down the hill. We head to the beach… one dog stuck with us. look a little bit for a place to set up the tent but abandon that soon and just head for the water. It feels shockingly cold at first. It takes me a while… then I jump in. Oh… so good.

After our swim Mahir and I sit on the beach and start looking at the composition of the beach itself; roof tiles, plastic, brick, demolition remnants of various sources. As if someone had dumped truckloads of demolished homes into the sea and it found its way to these shores. It is not the cleanest place in the world that is for sure. In a way I am amazed it’s not more dirty if you think of how many centuries of human presence and use there has been. There are places in Canada and America where you can go where very few humans have been… here there are centuries of history…

As we sit there, some sparrows appear, their beaks open, wanting food. Mahir calls them… one comes closer and closer… than hops on one of Mahir’s shoes… “awww…. urgh!!!” the cute little thing just shit inside Mahir’s shoe! “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” I laughed.

The dog who stayed with us is still there. He plays with us. He is huge a bit of a brute, but a good one. He is following us everywhere. One would think it is our dog. These wild dogs seem to long for affection and attention. I play with him and he grabs my arm with his big jaw and fangs.

Sitting on the beach we started to find some hidden treasures, a broken necklace with real fangs, shells, a special stone that looked like a monkey face. Mahir went to find a place to camp and I went back in the water. He found a nice spot facing the sea on top of a short hill. Beautiful. We set up the tent, ate simit and fruit that we had brought along. Life is good.

As we chat the sun slowly made it’s way down, turning orange then pink. I offered to go in town and eat something. We walked back towards the village oo and aw’ing over the sunset which was absolutely amazing, then the view of Istanbul from the Island… it is unbelieveable. The size, the madness of it, it’s whole hugeness sprawled over so much land, so dense… from this vantage point of a small island with no cars or visible corporate entities… two worlds…

As we walk we watch a seagull take shellfish from the water and drop it from their beaks in flight, so to break them and eat what is inside. Smart birds. In town, it’s this sprawl of restaurants… too expensive… not really looking great but we get a soup and meat balls that we share. Not so good… but it is food. A black cat with a crooked head comes to see us. Looks like he got in some sort of trouble and got his neck bent out of shape… there he is, begging. Mahir gives him a bit of meat. Later the cat moved to the next table and was violently kicked out by a customer. I can never understand that sort of meanness towards animals…

as we sit there the sky’s colors shift from deeper to deepest blue, the stars appear. Visually, there is gorgeousness everywhere. The contrast of a yellow lit window on a white building against the blue of the night as a red towels hangs on a clothesline. Again, no camera.

We head back. The stars shine above, Istanbul shines in the distance, its lights jewel like. The boats’ lights shining on the water in the night. “how lucky we are” I say. “Yeah…” Mahir answers… I am feeling a sort of overwhelm coming from this beauty.

We walk back to camp. Sit on the edge of our hill facing the sea. I get the guitar, play quietly. a plane flies in the distance laying a long reflection of its head light in the water. It is dream like, it seems impossible. as it approaches, the light in the water gets brighter and brighter, incredibly beautiful. “Do you see what I see?” asks Mahir as it seemed so unreal. We watch for a good while, I play with my head turned up looking at the stars

Then we go sleep. It’s a very hard ground and all I have is a yoga mat. It’s going to be a not so comfortable night… I wake up many times with either part of my body completely blood starved. At one point I ponder going to swim in the sea in the night… I hear some turkish songs in the distance, a party in another direction. Horses whinniying in the night… I stay in bed.

In the morning, first thing I do is head for the sea. No one is up. I have no idea what time it is. The sun rises on the other side of the Island so we are given a few more hours of coolness. There is a sort of commercial beach set up but no one seems to work there. I walk there, the water looks beautiful. I enter the water up to my knees. Stop. Oh that moment of hesitation… a man appears, tells me in Turkish something about not thinking about it and just jump in. I go in. It’s beautiful. I swim in there for a good 20 minutes… when I come out he invites me for tea. First question of course is “are you alone?” then “do you have a boyfriend” a question I learned to always answer in the positive. He tells me he’s retired and has no money problems. We chat a bit, he tries to get me to commit to teach English to him. I say I am not a teacher. I don’t want to commit to anything. After a bit I say goodbye. He says he’s always there, when I come back I can visit him.

At the tent, Mahir is up. We eat a bit more of the last simit and share it with the birds. It’s a beautiful morning. I tear down the tent, pack and go swim one more time before we head for the ferry. Our timing is perfect, we get on and make it to Istanbul in no time.

I feel changed, somewhat freer, and my mind is clearer. I wonder what 3 or 4 days would do? Maybe give me a sense of what should come next. I have a slight intuition that something is coming or should come. Some change. I took care of some business last week, banking stuff. When I checked my vancouver account I realized that someone attempted fraud by trying to cash a 50 thousand dollar cheque!!! 50 thousand! Must be kidding. I am actually grateful they didn’t try a thousand because I think I have a credit margin of a thousand dollars for NSF cheques… You never know… I need to call the bank and make sure no cheques are cashed. As long as I am here I will not write cheques…

I sit here now, in Galata, my skin is slightly burned, it is about 30 degrees and hot. It is beautiful. I ponder the fact of money. Maybe I should make more. If I am to take these baglama lessons I’ll need to pay for them. The man on the beach kept telling me he had no money problems… he worked in textile, I said para yok, problem yok. No money, no problems. Life takes care of you. But I didn’t know how to say the last bit. Hayat… (life) then Inshallah… (as God wills) How to explain this with my minute vocabulary?

But yeah, it seems I should start to work, focus on something. Musically I feel that I need to re-energize my space. I find that when I play a lot of gigs, my musical doingness starts to shrink into the limited space of the set list.. the songs people will enjoy listening to… and it is as if my fingers lose their dexterity and are only able to play that set list material, my mind has zero initiative to create and explore. Like being stuck in a box.

Mid July. Time escaping away. I need to challenge myself.

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