- G Ö K Ç E A D A - I M B R O S

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In her "Blue Voyage" Azra Erhat writes about Gokceada:
"In the depths of the sea, on the cliff
Between Tenedos and craggy Imbros
There is a cave, wide, gaping.
Poseidon who made the earth tremble
Stopped the horses there".
Going from Bozcaada to Imroz is not an easy journey, especially when travelling by our boat "UCARI". The local fishermen advised us that it was best "to take the road at midnight when the wind died down". It was decided that we would go directly to Seddulbahir and cross to Imroz from there, with the north wind behind us. If we were lucky we would reaclrthe other shore in five or six hours. However, our captain decided against sailing on unknown waters at night so our departu- re was delayed until 4 am. Like Akhas we avoided going to Troy via Tenedos, crossing the battle field and climbing up to castle. It was difficult enough to beat the everyday difficulties. The engine of Ucan broke down. Because of the big waves the pump didn't function. We anchored at sea in a vain attempt to repair the pump. We Landed and tried again without success. The captain found a temporary solution, by emptying buckets of seawater on the engine. We continued our journey with the engine emitting billows of smoke from time to time. It was a hard and difficult journey and the travellers endured it with rising tension! On the high seas of the Dardanelles two large ships blocked our way, and we had to stop their great shadows passed us not caring us at all. We took shelter in Seddulbahir. While we had breakfast, the pump was mended. We finally reached Imroz at around 12 without any further drama. Some acquintences, were there to meet us. One of them, a German instructor of Literature and Art Faculty had rented a house on the beach. He ran out to the harbour as soon as he saw us. Our first view of the island was one of the imposing cliffs along its shoreline (Homeros too in his Iliad talks about the stiff cliffs, the palace of Poseidon at the depts of the sea). Therefore, as we entered the harbour we were surprised to see a beautiful beach. Behind this lay a green valley and two hills with a small village of clean white houses on one of the hillsides. It was a lively beach with an hotel, cabins and restaurants under trellis. And, what's more, there were minibuses to carry travellers! We hadn't seen such livliness since we iyit Ayvalik. Our German friend praised it continuely. It was such a beautiful spot and yet it was as if we saw it for the first time. After a swim we sat in a beach restaurant. Old Barba Manol, the coffee house owner Kozma greeted us. The fountain behind the church flowed warm with a pleasing sound, and we washed our heads immediately. We chatted with the many madames from Istanbul. O! What a delightful, comfortable place it was! That night. I climbed to Tepekoy alone to watch the sunset. It was only a village, but such a rare one. It was clean, orderly and neat. There were healthy children with pink and white complexion, well fed chickens in pens, and the cats were fatter than the ones in Istanbul. Two young girls sat under a ruined castle watching the scene. Peasants returned to their homes in the evening and a youngster with a mandolin under his arm climbed the hill chatting and laughing with his young female campanion. That evening the restaurant was full. At tables near us the women embroidered, knitted and sang. They sang beautifully in boti Greek and Turkish. There was no coquetry involved but they sang all we requested. Our applause was endless. Nevertheless, our turn came and there were those among us who could sing, Leyla and Vartan. We said "Come on, guys, it's our turn." but they were shy. we couldn't get a united voice. Our first song got very little applause. Melih (Cevdet Anday) said: "We can't get hold in that island, Let's go another one." And everybody laughed. We enjoyed ourselves until late hours. It was the most amusing night of our trip. If you want to stay in one of the hotels, there was fresh milk and eggs. The central town was similar to one in the south of France. There was a photographer and a gift shop selling nice things like postcards, candy, wooden carvings, almond fondants, almond oil, embroideries, and bracelets. There was great demand for the work of my friend §adiye Erdolen who made reproductions of the porttery found in Dardanelles excavations. August is the fair month in Imroz. Every Sunday there is a festival in one of the villages. We spent our last Sunday at Derekoy. During the church ceremony boys and girls collected money for the construction of a new highschool. You dropped your money on a tray and girls attached a flower to your collor. The trays overflowed with banknotes. The literary rate on Imroz is 60% Like the other villages Derekoy had a primary school and that day they must have gathered hundreds of lira for the secondary school. There was a fountain beside the church. The fountains were large, cavelike buildings and everyday a few landladies washed linen there in warm water. That day they were cooking meat-veal soup, at the eight fireplaces of the fountain, for their guests. After the religious service the villagers went home, and the visitors retired to the coffehouses and restaurants in the village square. The soup and bread were distributed freely. They begged us to stay for the evening to watch the plays. But we couldn't stay because we had to take Ucari in Canakkale that night. But we had had enough. Imroz is a happy island, the unknown, happy island praised in the ancient texts- Why is Imroz a happy place? We discussed this quesnon many times. There were no rich exploitation like in Bozcaada. Instead there were middle class people of peasant origin. Most of them worked in Istanbul and the rest worked in the islandland. The soil wasn't as fertile as in other places, but the people still managed to make a living. Some had emigrated further than Istanbul - to America and even to Congo. They were leaving but considered the island their home and would return home for holidays or to marry on the island. I met a family who had emigrated to the Congo. Five people had just returned from there. These people were sanding money home if their parents were living, or else they gave financial assistance to the church and school. They were not alienated from the island. Let me talk about the priest of Bademlikoy. He is 70 years old now. He emigrated to America. When he was in his prime, and earned a lot of money as a typesetter. He returned to Imroz to marry and then went back to America, had children, and became richer. One summer when they returned on holiday to the island, the village priest had died and there was a new primary school without a teacher. The villagers said to their American friend "You're the most intelligent person among us, so don't leave here. Become our teacher and our priest. The man thought about it and the idea became irresistable. He went to Fener, Istanbul, and became educated for the priesthood. Now, he's the village priest who speaks 5 languages and is a kin'd and friendly man. His friend Melih said to him "Father, the young generation does not come to church". "They don't, but it's no offence, they're young", he replied. When we reached Badem- likoy his wife was washing the linen, having her work, she sent her daughter to get cold water from the fountain to make sherbet for us. Most of the "Blue Voyagers" weren't wearing shirts but the couple took no offence. We rested there for a while and then departed.

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