Archive for meerschaum


Turkey: Going once, going twice…

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I have been very lax in updating our assorted adventures in assorted boats, and I apologize, but adventuring does take so much time and energy.

But I promise to give you a full account sometime next week — not long after our return from our next adventure.

Hint: Both adventures involve going to Turkey with two gondolas.  And rowing them there, obviously.  With four Turkish men (not so obviously, but the world is an amazing place and anyway, the Turks had just as many galleys as Venice did, in the old days, which by itself means they also had rowers, even if a lot of them were Christian slaves.  Sorry, but there it is).

Both adventures require a huge shout-out to His Excellency Gianpaolo Scarante, the Italian Ambassador to Turkey, and his wife, Barbara, who raises the concept of “indefatigable” beyond any known scale of measurement. They are the reason we’re there, so I want to do my very best.

In late May, we went to a city named Eskesehir, which I discovered is a very important place indeed, not least for its being the homeland of meerschaum. (I’d never given much thought to meerschaum mines, but they’re all around that part of Turkey.)  We rowed our two gondolas on the Porsuk river in a pair of races with the Turkish rowers.

In Eskesehir, the first race mixed the crews, as you can immediately detect here. The second race pitted a Venetian crew against a Turkish crew. A good time was had by all.

Now we’re headed to Istanbul, to row our gondolas across the Bosphorus.  (I love saying that — it’s like saying “I’ll walk across the parking lot to the dry cleaner.”)  We’ll be gone till the 19th; the event itself is on July 17, and is part of a very large and important amateur open-water swimming race called the “Bosphorus Cross-Continental Competition.” The swimmers start from the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus and finish on the European side.  So will we, but an hour earlier.

We’re due to form up, as we did in May, with two Turks and two Venetians per boat (I’m operating under a Venetian alias, as you know), and race 2000 meters across the mythical strait between Kuleli and Kurucesme.  I’m acting as if I know what that means; even though I’ve located them on the map, the scope of all this still hasn’t really reached me.

I do know that the fact that this is the first year of gondola participation, with Turkish rowers, has created no little enthusiasm — they are planning to install GPS’s on the gondolas so the race can be broadcast live on national Turkish television.

So there will be silence in BlogWorld here until I get back. Probably followed by a tremendous racket.

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