Thinking about what to write in this week’s blog there didn’t seem much news to recount but on second thoughts, there have been at least three events of importance this week.
The first is that Turkey came out of full lockdown which means we can walk freely, get boat work done (our gang plank – aka our passarelle has been waiting for new seals for weeks) and postal and courier deliveries can get back to normal.
There are still lockdowns every weekend which means we can only sail during the week and can’t wander around town or go for long walks at weekends although food shops will still be open.
The second big event is that yesterday we received our Turkish temporary residency cards! This is such a wonderful relief at a time of travel restrictions and closed borders due to Covid.
Last year, in contrast, we arrived in Greece just as the country was about to go under total lockdown. We moved onto our boat on March 17 the day lockdown began and from then on were confined to the boat and the marina surrounds for almost. three months.
There were barriers placed across the harbour entrance to ensure no one tried to sail off into the blue yonder (there were 1,000 charter yachts moored there and a tiny handful of cruising yachts – us and the Whittaker family on Polykandros to be precise.)
When our three months Schengen visa free period was up we were not allowed to extend our stay despite the circumstances. The Immigration official banged on her desk and shouted to Jonathan – who has a New Zealand passport but hasn’t lived there since 1984, “You go back to New Zealand and your wife must go back to Australia” (despite there being absolutely no flights!)
In contrast, in Turkey it has been very easy to apply for one-year temporary residency and with the help of Finike yacht agent Samet Gölgeci and travel agent Tarik Toprak, the process was easy.
We feel so grateful to Turkey for giving us the security of somewhere to stay while the world continues to be unsettled – unlike our home country, the hermit kingdom of Australia, where the government has made it nigh impossible for us to return.
The other important milestone was that I was called in for my first Covid vaccination. Unfortunately Jonathan is still waiting for an appointment but hopefully it will be his turn soon.
Having had a very mild dose of Covid late last year in the Netherlands I wasn’t too anxious about getting grievously ill with the virus even if I caught it again but I really do believe that it is each person’s duty to think about the good of others before their own needs and desires.
It’s all very well for people to decide they don’t want to be vaccinated – for whatever reason – but in order to get ALL of our lives back to normal we need to have the majority of the population worldwide vaccinated – ASAP.
In the UK more than 37 million people (55.9 per cent of the population) have received at least one dose. Now the country is out of lockdown and Covid cases and hospital numbers are way down.
So for those anxious about having a vaccine – look at the numbers. The vast majority of people in the UK who have been vaccinated have had no harmful side effects. In contrast, the small number of people who have ended up very sick in hospital and in some cases, dying, with Covid have been unvaccinated or have caught Covid before they were vaccinated or before their immunity had built up.
In Australia people are being very slow to be vaccinated partly, I believe, because they feel that they have “beaten” Covid. Well they haven’t!
The Australian government has announced that the borders with the rest of the world will remain closed until mid-2022. There is no way the country will open even at that stage unless people go out and get vaccinated.
For those, like us, who have family in Australia (and dear friends of course) it seems a hopeless situation. We sometimes wonder if we will ever see them again.
And just by the way, the Astra Zeneca vaccine is being provided at NO profit. Additionally, for those worried about blood clots it’s estimated this syndrome occurs in just six people per one million people vaccinated, on average, with the risk even lower for those over 50. This is about the same as your risk of serious injury from being stuck by lightning in a year in Australia.
Anyway! Apart from those important events, the passed week has unfolded pleasantly with 7.30am yoga sessions (a miracle that I’m even awake at this time!); Scrabble or games of Rummikub in the afternoons; movie nights on S/V Catabella with a big screen, complete with popcorn and choc ices; farewell coffee and cake on S/V Liberte with Liz and Steve who we first met in Borneo, and drinks on other boats and on the dock.
Yesterday we had a communal “casting off” party for all those leaving the marina this week. It was organised by the Turkish sailors who kindly invited us along to their celebration.
We all took salads and other things to share and the local people organised large “tray kebabs” for everyone. The food was spicy and delicious and we had a lovely afternoon eating and drinking together.
I have also been introduced to the delights of a Turkish spa this week by Sue of S/V Catabella.
Before our massage we were taken into a steamy marble-lined room with two slabs on which we were to lie.
Beforehand, hot water was sloshed over the slabs so it felt comfortably warm to lie on.
Then we were scrubbed from head to toe with what can only be described as one of those old fashioned pan scrubbers. While slightly excruciating it was also invigorating and strangely relaxing. At intervals we were rinsed by bucketfuls of hot water being sloshed over us which felt lovely.
After the scrub came the bubbles (not the alcoholic kind!) applied with what felt like a deliciously soft chamois, followed by a vigorous hair wash. Then after a quick dry off it was time for a wonderful but pretty conventional massage.
Now lockdown is over we are slowly getting ready for our departure this coming Thursday. We can’t wait to out into the blue yonder again! One such task was to find a way round the strange phenomenon of having our telephone blocked.
For some reason, after three months in the country, phones that are foreign made are somehow “disabled” by the Turkish government, regardless of whether you have a Turkish SIM or whether you are a temporary resident.
To get around this rather strange situation we have bought a small portable wifi hub with which we can “hotspot” using our disabled phones (apparently they can still do this!). We have also bought a tiny little Nokia with which we can receive an sms from our bank or credit card with a security code to complete a transaction. Hopefully this will work!
Not many photos this week but hopefully my next blog will be full of fabulous shots of blue seas and glorious landscapes!