Testament

Biblical, the little boat slips between tall rushes, kingfishers darting from clump to clump of parched and yellowed reeds. I half expect to find Moses drifting on the gentle estuary tide, cradled as much by the sheer stone walls of the valley as by a woven basket.

We sit upon the prow, a tattered Turkish carpet spread out beneath us, no less ornate for its pedestrian purpose, and marvel at the remnants of civilisations older than we have words for. Great stone tombs carved into cliffs continue to carry their long-dead dwellers to immortality – for we are truly in a valley of kings. Kings so old that their names and languages live on as mere speculation.

Our vessel lazily navigates the twits and turns of waterways, as the scent of river and rotting reeds gives way to the sea breeze, and comes to rest alongside a second boat. Here a group of young men joke in Turkish as they catch and cook blue crabs. Our captain, a laid back and fatherly figure, negotiates in rapid-fire syllables before returning to us with plates of fresh seafood.

The crab meat is unseasoned by anything but the sea, and is soft and sweet and rich beyond anything money could buy. We throw the shells into the water and gasp as turtles break the surface to nibble neglected morsels.

After waiting and watching, the boat’s gentle motor begins again and bears us to the mouth of the estuary, where a sand beach stretches across a cove inaccessible by anything but boat. We disembark at our captain’s assurance, and push our bare feet into near-burning sand with something akin to reverance.

The sea welcomes us with soft waves and shallow waters, and we are halfway to an offshore island before our feet stop touching the ground. I lay on my back, stretching my hips to meet the sunlight, and sigh in perfect shared seclusion.

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