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Mangareva Island, French Polynesia

Suddenly there it is, a pointy dark solid thing sticking out of the ocean. Land!

We look at it and see it get bigger and bigger as we go. The wind has left us again, but who cares, we are motoring now, getting to our destination this very day. No calm, no gale is going to stop us here. We are arriving and determined to throw anchor before the setting sun.

Just a few minutes after we have entered the lagoon we catch our first and last fish of the passage. A kind of tuna fish, grey with a slight blue pattern on its back. We are jumping on deck when we haul it in but then it needs to get killed. Where is the killer on board? None in sight, I start to feel my stomach cramp up, I can't look at the frightened asphyxiating fish. We try a little alcohol but it didn't work and our fish shivers, trembles in terror and agony. Hakan clubs it on the head until it is dead. Thump, thump, I can feel the vibrations under my feet, I want to get away from it all but Mardek isn't big, is she? For the first time in the passage I feel she is really too small for me.

A myriad of jellyfish keeps me from concentrating on our route, but the ever vigilant Hakan calls me back on duty. 'Go look' he says 'to the bow, if you see the some coral on our way.' All I see is the increasing number of jelly fish evolving in the light water.

The sky is covered, the air is fresh and then the rain starts, we are just meters from the anchorage. Quite a few sailboats are there, swinging on their chains. And we thought that there were just a few boats a year, today only there are at least ten. We slalom between them to find our spot then throw the anchor.

And where is the elation? The feeling of success? The eagerness to trade the land? Where is the victorious energy? It seems not to be on board Mardek.

The air is filled with smoke, I feel it weigh on my lungs, the raindrops push me back inside Mardek, I pick up my book, swing my legs on the table and read on. Arriving isn't that important? I wonder. Secretly I hope Hakan is not too eager to inflate dinghy and go ashore, I'd rather stay in but couldn't possibly do so if Hakan goes. I feel slightly ashamed from my reaction but there it is. What do you want me to do? Jump up and down on deck screaming hurray hurray when it is not at all what I feel? of course I'd rather feel a rush of ecstasy in my veins but it is absent, I feel the heavy air on my lungs and am interested only in my book, so that's what I do, I read on, my legs on the table. Hakan is surprised that I read on, so am I. I hear a little irritation in his voice. What does he want me to do? Pretend? So I read on until the night sets, until the rain stops.

Hakan has cleaned the fish, he is sitting on the front balcony he absorbs the mountain. I propose to eat the fish raw but with no success so I fry it very slightly for me and a little longer for him, we drink wine, good Chilean wine.

The wine heats up my blood, very soon I am lightheaded, I love it, I start laughing and the elation I waited for is rising, rising with the wine, the music is good, we are not moving or just ever so little we can't even feel it. Hakan, the wine, the music the fresh fish and the heavy land air is rushing to my head, in no time we empty the bottle. Very good wine indeed. When the wine is not like heaven in my throat I can barely finish a glass, no matter the occasion, but when it is good, I can not stop...I beg for another bottle. On land tribal percussions are being played, the music on board marries itself with it, we break a glass and laugh about it, we go in the cockpit and empty the bottle... and then it's a blank, how did I get in bed? And when was that? I wake up in the middle of the night alcohol in my blood makes my step unsure when I venture for a glass of water. Hydrate the brain my whole body screams, Hakan was right, the second bottle was not needed.

33 days at sea, you've got to celebrate that! I didn't even feel guilty for having a heavy head in the morning, but asked Hakan to resist with more power next time I want another bottle. I get carried away when I'm lightheaded.

We still didn't feel like rushing to land. We wondered why while sitting and watching the green scene. Have we adapted too well? Are we afraid of land now? Are we lazy? Are we weak? Around noon we eventually got ashore, the unforgiving sun is hurting me a little. My legs carry me strangely, like I am heavily floating. After a few meters we are exhausted and get hungry, we buy expensive sandwiches and then I want nothing more than my bed. Which I get!

Then we adapt to land again, after a few days we make a huge walk on the island, in the mountain and along the waterline. We eat grapefruit straight from the trees its juice dripping down our arms, we visit pearl farms and swim in the water, Hakan flies his paramotor and takes beautiful pictures.

The baker is a Turk! We are received like royals, Hakan being the second Turk out here.

There are a few little grocery shops in the sole village on the archipelago. Only the very basic things are being sold but not even all. There is no more flour for example and we are very lucky to have our friend the baker to bring us some. For everything other than very basic food supplies you have to take a plane to get them or order through magazines. Internet is inexistent.

There are very little vegetables on the island. One farmer grows a few but for the moment nothing is ripe. We hope to get a few tomatoes just before leaving for our next stop. Fruit are plentiful but not for sale. You have to find the owner of the tree and ask him if you can have his fruit, he will say yes most of the time if he doesn't eat them. Grapefruits are all over, they are huge and delicious. Bananas are fewer but we found some anyway. Papayas as well were found and lime. we are nearly ready now to go on, to the Tuamotus where we'll most probably meet my sister on Vamos, the boat I jumped to get on board Mardek, thousands of miles ago in another ocean, another year. Soon we'll be floating side by side again, exchanging stories laughs, hugs, and love. I'm much exited. They opened the door to this new and amazing life of mine.

29/05/2006

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