Paradise and Paradise Lost

Merhaba from the Datςa Peninsula,

At what point – at what moment – does a place cross the threshold from Paradise to Paradise Lost? The evidence here in these coastal towns in southern Türkiye that it’s a function of population.

Here on the Mediterranean coast the beautiful climate, the turquoise water and the picturesque scenery combine to draw people to the Datςa peninsula; these days to Datςa (Paradise) and Marmaris (Paradise Decidedly Lost).

Marmaris, being at the base of the peninsula, is closer to the airport (Dalaman International – with flights from several British origins several times a day) whilst Datςa, with its fishing village feel, is much farther along the rugged peninsula. Marmaris has been transformed from rural centre to tourist trap. The English tourists have moved progressively east over the last few decades and they are here in their unapologetic planeloads.

Datςa retains its quaintness purely because of its small size. The cafés are family-owned rather than garish cookie-cutter chains. The streets are populated by people with a smile and a laugh rather than a grimace. The shops are stocked with largely local produce rather than imported mass-produced junk. The pace is slower. And there are fewer Poms.

Marmaris is all of the opposites. The town’s raison d’être has morphed into one based squarely on tourism – especially in the summer months.

The Datςa Peninsula is long and mountainous, with one road in and out. The Mediterranean climate produces a bounty of olives, oranges, pomegranates and wine grapes. At the end of the peninsula, the Greeks built Knidos – later taken over by the Romans without much resistance. Access for the Romans was by sea only but for most modern visitors, Knidos is where the road narrows to one lane precariously high up on the cliff face, with ancient fortifications alongside. Knidos was the birthplace of Euxodos the astronomer, Clesias the writer on Persian history as well as Shakespeare’s fictional Artemidorus, a character in “Julius Caesar”. And if you’re wondering where the famed Lion of Knidos is, it’s now on display under the skylight at the British Museum.

Most landlubbing tourists – often dependent on guidance from travel agents – never go past Datςa to reach the end of the peninsula. Most of the English tourists are in Marmaris, watching the English football (!?) in the Anfield Bar or the Blackpool Cafe or the coronation of King Charles (??!?). To be fair, their daytime behaviour is fairly neutral but it is at times like these that westerners can sometimes feel a little squeamish about being a westerner. Down on the beachfront where the sand is almost concealed by deckchairs owned by particular hotels, it’s almost impossible to find Türkish cuisine. The Poms are obviously keen to remember their homeland rather than sample another culture’s. The sprawling metropolis takes up all of the flat land and much of the foothills with urban sprawl.

The threshold for Paradise being lost is a blurry line. For many of the locals – many of whom are immigrants themselves – they will have converted their interest to a commercial one some while ago and the question won’t have any relevance any longer. Tourism – often a source of puzzlement for hardworking people intent on sustenance in the host nations – has become a source of income and there’s nothing more to it. In any case, Datςa is still on the right side of the threshold while Marmaris has long since crossed it.

Can we keep ruining Paradise only to seek out another? How long before Datςa is ruined as well? Then Knidos on the end of the peninsula? And then?

Güle güle from Datςa


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