Tlos and The Quest for Elfin Elif

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2009

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Flag of Turkey  , Muğla Province,
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

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This was to be another excursion out of Fethiye with my host Dave.

Our first objective was the ancient ruins of Tlos, one of the oldest and most important cities in ancient Lycia. But, to tell you the truth, I don't have much to say about it. It was another bunch of stones that Dave and I explored, individually and at our own paces, I the more vigorous scrambler, seeking out every nook and cranny.

It is in a beautiful setting, and I'll just let you explore it a little in pictures, while Dave and I have a beer or two at the entry cafe with a local eccentric ex-pat Brit.

Elif 2006

Continuing on from Tlos we went on a personal quest: to find a girl I called Elfin Elif. Here's the background.

In 2006 I hiked a portion of the Lycian Way from Olüdeniz to Boğaziçi. It was a two day hike. There is a side note that I have found amusing.

Nearing the end of the first day it was getting dark and I didn't know where I would be sleeping as the map I had was woefully inadequate. I didn't even really know where I was. I was prepared to sleep out, as I had done in all sorts of foreign lands in my youth. Except this evening I happened to come across a dead snake! But, the thing about it was, it was the ugliest snake I'd ever seen. It wasn't very long--maybe a foot--but it had a very large roundish head, which then just tapered back to the tip of the tail. Bad enough. And of course, there was the color of death. That pretty unnerved me.

I continued on in the gathering dusk. I rounded a corner and saw a sign: Mama's Restaurant. In English, no less. It was a pension, too. I had a good meal and a good, snake-free sleep.

The next day was a very long hike. Part of it was in a light rain or mist. If I wore the poncho I got wet from the condensed moisture underneath. So I elected to take on the fresh wetness.

Anyway, down in the village of Boğaziçi I was attempting to hitchhike on to the next larger town (where ever) that I might find a pension. I was at the edge of the village. There was no traffic.

A young girl, Elif, came down to me from her home, up the road some yards. I knew less Turkish then than now, which is not saying much. But I knew that Elif was telling me it was hopeless to expect a ride out of the village this late in the day; early evening, actually. We bantered. I was captivated by her intense desire to communicate. Look at the intensity of her search for a word in my dictionary. Besides that, she was just a beautiful girl with an amazing look of intelligence in her eye. I was captivated. I wondered (prejudicially, I suppose), what were the chances that the keen intelligence I projected into her eyes would find a way to flourish from this remote village.

By and by her father came down to us. I imagined her story to her father went something like this: "Daddy, this stupid old man thinks he's going to get a ride out of the village this late in the day, despite my telling him it ain't gonna happen. Take him back to the village store; those people rent a bed to the likes of him."

Well, whether that is anything like what she said, that is what transpired. I was given a couch in the store keeper's living room. In the morning I photographed one of his three children, whom I called "Lycian Princess." It's one of my favorite pictures. After the flash went off she began crying.

Elif 2009

Now, in 2009 I wanted to find Elif again, and give her prints of the two pictures of her I had taken three years before. So from Tlos Dave and I drove to Boğaziçi.

I couldn't recall which house was Elif's, so we went into the village center, the store. As it happened there were some young Turkish fellows also passing through, and one of them spoke English quite well enough to show the locals the pictures and get a lead on where to find Elif.

Well, again, exposing my prejudice, I was thinking life to be more static in such places. But it turned out that Elif's father had been the village imam, the Muslim priest. And he and family had since moved from the village to the next larger town. We were given directions.

We located the mosque, and the imam--Elif's father, who was dong some gardening. He said Elif was at school, but would be coming home soon.

And soon she was home. Seemingly a bit confused as to what I was all about. In that, not too much different than most people. While still attractive and bright-eyed, she also seemed to have acquired some early adolescent reticence. Furthermore, my Turkish still didn't provide for much of a conversation. So, in truth, it was kind of an anticlimactic meeting.

I left Elfin Elif with prints of my pictures of her in an earlier time, and Dave and I returned to Fethiye.

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