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May 27, 2002

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From Rhodes we visit one of our favorite places: Turkey. Turkey straddles the Middle East and Europe; it blends these continental influences like an ice cream swirl into its own brand of East meets West, Islam meets Secularism. Almost 100% of the Turks are Muslims, yet the Turks pursue Islam in a different way than their Arab neighbors; they take a more temporal attitude towards religion. Starting with the country’s modern day founder, Ataturk, Turkey dedicated itself to modernization. The leaders believed that meant separating Church and State. Ataturk began a tradition of non-clerical state leadership. He even went so far as to ban veils for women. Although you can hear the call to prayer every day, you won’t see women walking in veils or men shouting for the West’s downfall. Foreign visitors sunbathe topless on the beaches.
By boat from Rhodes, we entered Turkey at Marmaris, paid our $45 visa fee each, and rode a bus to Fetiye because other travelers told us we’d find a great beach and nature scene there. By mid afternoon we climbed the steep faces of Butterfly Valley, swam in azure water, and lounged in the sands.
Pitch your tent on the beach at Butterfly Valley. It’s a seclude spot best reached by boat. The government forbids development here – in order to protect the butterfly habitat – so visitors feel as if they’ve found an untouched part of the Mediterranean coast.