Kuşadasi, Turkey - May 18, 2008 - As the sun sets on the part of the Aegean that forms the Turkish boundary waters - the port of Kuşadası becomes once again a silhouette -- shadows marking yet another journey across these ancient seas as we set sail for farther ports. From Athens, and from the west, Kuşadası, the gateway to Ephesus and Izmir, is often the last Aegean port of call before heading into the the Sea of Marmara en route to Istanbul. It has become a constant in my twenty years of travel.
Nearly out of site now, the warm breezes blowing from the coast continue to tease the air with the subtle hint of jasmine and honey -- beckoning our return. And once again we promise that return -- hedging our bets against an uncertain future.
Tonight, in the full throes of hypnotic slumber that only a sailing ship can induce, we will continue up the Anatolian coast past the ancient cities of Troy and Pergamum -- places hidden both by time and the darkness the half-moon betrays.
In that sleep, we might dream of our day here - the friendly curiosity of the merchants who enjoy a good chat over apple tea; winding our way through the new bazaar while lamenting the old one that we'd come to navigate by memory; the sticky, honeyed-sweetness of the local baklava (it would prove to be the finest of our journey); the laughter of boys plunging into cold harbor waters on a hot spring day; and the enduring patience of the lone fisherman casting along the quay for his meal.
We do not journey here for pleasure, my friends and I. As we sail out of this familiar port we've grown to love over the years, standing once again on a ship's bow under the golden light of the setting Anatolian sun, we need no words to understand our fraternity with those that have traveled these same seas, plying their trade for thousands of years.
Somewhere along the way we have been initiated into that long history of travelers lured by the call of another way of living. And in that kinship we know what the real dream will be tonight as we somnambulate past those ancient cities. From this very same spot in the world -- Odysseus began his long journey home and we too, travelers by trade, will discover that the sweetest dreams are woven from those cherished memories of home and we long, again and again, for that epic return.
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