Posts Tagged ‘Cyprus’
The importance of staying grounded in the face of the oncoming storm.
A few days ago, I exchanged emails with Jon Lavin. In the early days of Learning from Dogs, Jon used to write the occasional post, one of which seems highly relevant some three years later. I will republish it tomorrow.
Jon and I go back a few years and most who know me know that it was Jon’s counselling back in 2007 that opened my eyes to something that, literally, changed my life. For the better, I hasten to add!
In our recent email exchange, Jon wrote this:
Just started back at work today. A bit of a shock to the old system! Am wondering what to set my sanity sights on for this coming year in the middle of almost total uncertainty.
Of course! How obvious! The need to ensure that our lives contain anchors of stability, safe places to curl up in, metaphorically speaking, where we can seek refuge from the winds of change. Otherwise, we run the very real risk of being overcome by the uncertainty of the future.
The resonance with small boats and the sea is obvious, and unavoidable in the case of yours truly.
For five years I lived on and sailed a Tradewind 33, Songbird of Kent; my base being Larnaca on the island of Cyprus at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Contrary to the image of the Mediterranean, it wasn’t uncommon to experience some ‘interesting’ weather; there were times when it could turn very nasty!
The comfort, physical and mental, offered by being tucked up in a small bay, listening to the storm about one, while riding securely to your anchor was beyond imagination.
Jon’s comment underscores the incredible importance of each of us knowing what anchors us to a secure place. So, like any sailor, always keep a weather eye open for those early signs of a storm, and cast your anchor in good time.
Needless to say, having a loving dog or two in one’s life provides a wonderful storm-proof anchor.
The most amazing ancient site, possibly in the world.
I know this is a bit of a giant leap from yesterday’s Post but bear with me. A short while ago, my friend Suzann sent me a link to some information about the archaeological site in Eastern Turkey known as Göbekli Tepe. Suzann, as many regular readers will know, was the person who caused me to meet Jeannie back in December 2007 when Su invited me to spend Christmas with her and Don, her husband, at their home down in San Carlos, Mexico.
Before I go on to write about Göbekli Tepe let me also muse on another fascinating connection between Suzann and me. That is that Su and I were sharing the same waters in the Eastern Mediterranean around 1991. Here’s an extract from a recent email from Su.,
Don’s brother’s boat was Hana Ho.from Honolulu, Hawaii, a Tayana 55…gorgeous thing! They sailed in the Med for years around that time…it is possible you could have run into them…..
When we first flew in to Cyprus June of 1991, Bob’s boat was up on the hard. It took another 5 days to finish, and we had to climb straight up and down a steep, rickety ladder each time we went out, because we slept on the boat every night….was it ever hot and muggy! and no bathroom facilities in use!! But had a lovely time in Cyprus and really got out and saw things there. Delicious food!!
Then we sailed over toward the Turkey/Syrian border area and then gunk-holed west along the coast, ending up at Izmer, after visiting places like Antalya, Kekova Roads,Fethiya and the magnificent Rock Tombs, Marmaris, Bodrum, Kisadasi, Ephesus to name a few….
I, too, was living on a yacht, over-wintering in Cyprus, and cruising the Turkish and Greek coasts during the summer. Anyway, enough of these musings.
Göbekli Tepe is old. I mean seriously old. For example, I’m very familiar, being an Englishman, with the mystery and antiquity of Stonehenge. But even the revised estimates of Stonehenge’s age, now believed to be 3,000 B.C., don’t measure up to the age of Göbekli Tepe.
Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it’s the site of the world’s oldest temple.
Imagine, there are fewer years between today and the building of Stonehenge than there are between the construction of Göbekli Tepe and Stonehenge! Think about that!
Anyway, enjoy this video,
and if that grabs your interest then there is a longer 25-minute radio broadcast by Klaus Schmidt that is on YouTube, see below:
German archeologist Klaus Schmidt, from the German Archaeological Institute, who has been working as the head archeologist at Göbekli Tepe, a temple site located in southeastern Turkey close to the boarder to Syria. Klaus has been excavating there since 1994 and he joins us to talk about the excavation work, and to give us his impressions and theories about the site and the people who built it and worshiped at this ancient temple site. The temple is believed to have been erected in the 10th millennium BC (about 11,500 years ago). It is believed to be the oldest human-made place of worship, it’s even been called the Garden of Eden. Only about 3-5% of the site has been excavated so far, which has unveiled several stone circle rooms, only one of which has been dug down to the floor. As many as 20 such structures are thought to exist under the ground at the site, these have been detected by radar scans. These stone circles have large T-shaped pillars, some of the heaviest stones weigh up to 50 tons. The monoliths are decorated with carved reliefs of animals, abstract pictograms, sacred symbols and similarities to Neolithic cave paintings have been pointed out. The carefully carved figurative reliefs depict lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles, donkeys, snakes and other reptiles, insects, arachnids, and birds, particularly vultures and water fowl. Göbekli Tepe means “Hill with a potbelly” although there already exists other interpretations of the name, connected to the word “Zep Tepi” or “The First Time” a period in beliefs of a mythological golden age when the gods lived amongst humanity together with half-divine offsprings of gods and humans. Is Göbekli Tepe the Garden of Eden? June 24, 2010
If you want more to read then I can do no better than recommend the article that Suzann linked to in her email. It’s here and it starts thus,
Gobekli Tepe: 12,000 Years Old and Rewriting Human History
“This time what came first was the temple and then the city.”
- Klaus Schmidt, Ph.D., German Archaeological Institute
12,000-year-old circles of limestone columns weighing from 7 to 15 tons or more have been excavated in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, about 6 miles northeast of Urfa.
Older than Egypt, Sumeria and Stonehenge, 40 standing T-shaped columns have so far been uncovered in four circles 98 feet (30 meters) in diameter. To date, no metal tools have been found since meticulous digging and dating began in 1994. Only 5% of the temple complex in repeating circles has been uncovered.
Ground-penetrating radar surveys indicate there might be at least 250 more standing stones in 18 still-buried circles. Finely honed reliefs and some 3-dimensional sculptures on the limestone columns depict boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes, scorpions, vultures, reptiles, humans and other figures.
You’ll have to read the rest of the article here.
Sort of puts the history of man into perspective!
A discovery of some writing from the past triggers memories.
Way back on the 15th November, 2009, I wrote a post about single-handed sailing and how it caused me much disquiet. Rather than just leave you with a link to that reflection, I’m going to include the post again, below. The reason is that a few days ago, in looking through some of my earlier writings in conjunction with a writing group that Jean and I belong to, I came across a piece that I wrote following a solo voyage from Larnaca in Cyprus, west along the Mediterranean Sea and then out over the Atlantic from Gibraltar to Horta on the island of Faial in the Azores. That last leg was a little over 1,100 nautical miles (1,300 land miles) and took me eight days.
So first here’s that earlier post from 2009.
A personal reflection on this rather strange way of travelling!
The recent Post about young Jessica Watson sailing alone around the world raised a few comments but also reminded me of my own experiences of solo sailing.
Some years ago, having successfully sold my own IT company, I warmed to the idea of being a full-time yachtie! A second-hand Tradewind 33 was discovered on the Island of Corfu. (Now here’s a surprise! I was just browsing the web looking for a picture of a Tradewind and came across my old yacht currently up for sale. Her name is Songbird of Kent! Picture below.)
Anyway, the deal was done and having sold my house in England I flew out to Corfu to collect Songbird of Kent. Inevitably it was a number of months before the boat was ready to head out into the Mediterranean but in early Spring 1988 it was time to explore the long coastlines of Greece and Turkey.
After a fantastic summer cruising from one idyllic anchorage to another mostly with friends or family on board, it was time to find a winter haven. Many recommended Larnaca Marina in Cyprus. Thus it was late in the summer of 1988 that I said goodbye to friends and set out on my own to cross from Antalya in Turkey to Cyprus and along the South coast of Cyprus to Larnaca, on the SE side of the island.
That sea crossing, a little over 200 nautical miles, was to become a regular solo experience at the start and end of each summer season. Impossible to do in a single day thus it always included a night at sea and rarely, if things didn’t go well with the weather, a couple of nights. I hated it! Maybe it was the sudden transition from coastal sailing to a deep water crossing, often going from having friends on board to being alone, but whatever it was I never enjoyed my time on my own and knew that long-distance solo sailing was never going to be my scene.
Anyway, I ended up spending several very happy winters in Larnaca.
One time, there was news of a Frenchman who had come into Larnaca on his way home to France having nearly completed a circumnavigation of the world. He was on his own!
I was astounded to hear how someone could do this and made a point of calling round to his berth. The boat was a beautiful, solid steel yacht, the very epitome of a craft that could challenge the oceans. The owner’s name was Pierre (it would be!). Pierre invited me aboard and we went down to his saloon to drink a hot coffee – real French coffee!
Inevitably the conversation turned to the challenges of sailing alone. Pierre said that the big cargo ships at sea moved quickly relative to the speed of a yacht so at night he set an alarm for every 15 minutes. That was the time that a ship could go from being hull down over the horizon to being close enough to be a hazard. Thus while at sea Pierre got up briefly every 15 minutes during the night to avoid being run down! It sounded totally exhausting.
Then Pierre asked me about the sailing I had done and whether I had sailed on my own. I declared my trivial journeys back and forth from Cyprus to Turkey and revealed that being on my own made me very, very unhappy. Pierre was surprised to hear that as he admitted that being at sea alone was one of the most tranquil and peaceful experiences ever. Pierre asked how long these solo journeys took. I replied, two or three days.
“Ah!”, he said, “That is the problem.” “I, too, hate the three days. It is always a period where you adjust and it is terrible.“
“My friend, you must find a way to be alone for more than three days. You will see that it is very different.“
It was some years before that opportunity came about but, in the end, I did undertake a solo journey of 8 days. Pierre was right. The first three days were hell, the rest were heaven!
Thank you, Songbird of Kent, you gave me some fabulous memories!
By Paul Handover
Now on to my writings about being out at sea alone on a small yacht.
Being at Sea
Going to sea in a small vessel is a profound experience.
In harbour we build up a reliance on things external. We have no need to worry if there is insufficient food on board, we can plug into the dockside power supply, sleep through the night undisturbed and we can wander off and enjoy the company of others if the boat feels a little claustrophobic.
Then slowly, imperceptibly, but with huge force, arrives the need to move on. The realisation that our cosy life connected to the busy, bustling and self-obsessed world of shoreside is not fulfilling our search for adventure and for the truths that lay over the horizon. It is time to leave.
The act of casting off is always exciting as it heralds a new adventure. But it also carries feelings of loss and apprehension as one lets go of the bonds of a previous certainty. The first few hours are filled with the workload of getting one’s craft shipshape and battened down for the unknown seas. Then gradually comes the realisation that the land is now less the dominating visual feature than the vastness of the seascape that is ahead. But with the land in sight, albeit a distant horizon behind one, you can still sense the life you are leaving.
Now all that surrounds you is the sea. You are now truly disconnected from the land. It is often at this point that despondency and uncertainty play with your mind; after all this new life is still very unfamiliar compared to the warmth of that island home that still resonates in your heart. Time to remind yourself of why you wanted to take this voyage.
A small boat is very fragile. Just a centimetre of hull separating you from the unimaginable depths of the ocean beneath your keel. Not until the end of your voyage, when you draw your boat up, metaphorically on to that beach, will you ever stop feeling how close fate is, how it rides on your shoulder night and day. That, of course, is why we go to sea. It is the place where we taste life, where we savour each moment of the present because the future seems too bound up in the mystery, the uncertainty of the ocean. You are in charge of your tiny craft. Your survival depends on how you manage your small ship, how you navigate these seas, how you read the weather ahead and avoid the storms.
Soon your life on the ocean becomes everything to you. You have time to reflect on so much that is left behind. The distance seems to dissolve all the nuisances, bring into focus all the things that are important to you. There is no certainty with the ocean apart from the knowledge that you are very small and very, very vulnerable and yet, in a sense, also so strong.
In the end, we have to break away from our insecurities and our emotional dependencies on external people and situations because, without that, we are never able to command our own life and the destiny that flows from that captaincy. There is a real strength in knowing ourselves as we would know our own boat. If we really know every spar, sail, rope and fitting, if we have real understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our small vessel then we are able to know when to breast the waves or when to turn and run before the storm. We are secure that our small craft will protect us day and night.
Thus self-knowledge gives us the same freedom to manage our lives, to know when to fight and when to turn away. And just as after every long voyage the boat will need hours of careful maintenance so our own souls need regular love and caring from our spiritual keeper.
Copyright © 2008 Paul Handover