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Under the spell of Pan’s music
2002 / September

Dusk was setting in as we pass through the trees of Akyaka Forest Camp to Maden Iskelesi, where we were to board the fishing boat Menekse. Hot tea and a warm welcome awaited us. Then the lights were extinguished and we set out. The bright spotlights visible ahead came from a lightboat 9-10 metres in length. When fishing the 28 metre Menekse uses two lightboats which go ahead and attract the fish to their light. The fishing boat is radioed if the fish are the right species, and the net is then played out in a circle around the lightboat. Next the rope which runs around the bottom of the net is pulled in, gathering up the net like a bag. This is winched up and the catch emptied into tanks on deck. About 2 o'clock in the morning an announcement over the loudspeaker called a break. When the captain called the crew back to work, 10-15 people emerged from the deck head and began to fold up the nets ready for a second catch.

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Under the spell of Pan’s music
2002 / September

Beneath the bright lights they worked swiftly and harmoniously as a team. Another shoal was surrounded, drawn up, and a flickering stream of bonito, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and horse mackerel poured onto the deck. In the first light of dawn the work took on the fantastic appearance of a choreographed show. To the shouts of 'Vira! Vira!' ('Carry on!') the net was hauled in for the last time, and the boat headed back to harbour. The fish had to reach the market as fast as possible and the crew worked at full speed packing the fish into 300 crates. As we followed the hilly shoreline the scent of thyme, rose geranium and resin floated across the water.

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Under the spell of Pan’s music
2002 / September
The Sakar Hills stretch for many kilometres above the Gökova Conservation Area. This is supposed to be the place where Pan, the pleasure loving nature god, came down to the banks of the Kadin Azmagi river, amidst whose reeds wandered nymphs. Pan pursued a nymph named Syrinx, and she was metamorphosed into a reed, of which Pan made his flute. As we approached the jetty at Akyaka a huge bag of fish was pressed into our hands and the fishermen told us that we were welcome to go with them again. Near the mouth of the Kadin Azmagi was a fishermen's hut and around the jetty were moored the motorboats which make day trips to Sedir Island and the innumerable coves in the Gulf of Gökova. On the decks of their boats fishermen were eating breakfast after their hard night's work. Cats and dogs went about their business on the palm shaded shore, and the first bathers were making their way down to the sand beach.
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Under the spell of Pan’s music
2002 / September

Kayaf Ali, a local fisherman who spends most of his time with his wife on their boat, chatted with us on the deck as he carefully went over his nets ready for the next night. Many couples go out fishing together here. As evening came around again we were invited to eat dinner on another fishing boat belonging to Birol Reis. The table was already laid on deck and there were several guests besides ourselves. Later that night when it was time to go fishing we were invited along. The boat carved its way through the black water beneath a star filled sky. When the boat returned at dawn it dropped us in the bay at Akyaka Forest Camp.

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Under the spell of Pan’s music
2002 / September
Situated at the entrance to Gökova Conservation Area, the camp fills with hundreds of tents during the summer. The facilities include laundry and dish washing areas, electricity connections for each tent, and caravan parking spaces. It is also possible to stay in one of the numerous bungalows made of timber and stone. In this peaceful and lovely place memories of city life fade away and time slows down to a gentle pace. Out of season picnickers and hikers come here at weekends, and even in winter you can find some people swimming in one of the small coves. Many people who come to Akyaka fall under the spell of Pan's flute and never leave again. This happened to Heike and Thomas, who came from Germany years ago and now run an environmental society here. The irresistible charms of Gökova transform 'Veni, vidi, vici' into 'I came, I saw, I stayed.'

* Yavuz A. Turnali is a freelance writer.
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