In the dramatic recorded history of the Aegean Sea, nothing of note happened on this island. There is no record of wars being fought here. It has not been written that this is where Cleopatra seduced Marc Antony. There are no ruins of Byzantine basilicas or tombs indicating that the island was once a place of pilgramage. It is just a rock rising from the floor of the sea that has given root to a single wind-bent olive tree. The island simply exists. That is what gives distinction to this understated place. In an increasingly complicated world there is solace in a place like this anonymous island.
My passage along the Turkish Mediterranean coastline aboard Flying Fish has been one of quiet introspection during this summer of COVID. I feel an increasing need to seek isolated anchorages, to find music in the sound of wind on the water, to fill my lungs with clean air. Like the solo tree, I am content to just quietly exist.
During most of my travels in the Eastern Mediterranean this summer, history was everywhere I looked. All around me was evidence of great empires that thrived and then crumbled. Armies raged. There were acts of heroism and treachery. Natural disasters buried entire civilizations. As I lay at anchor in the lee of this tiny anonymous island I wonder if there are parallels in the history of these ancients that apply to our modern world?
In the current environment of pandemic and politics it is a particularly vulnerable time for the United States of America. Like many others, I sense a coming storm. I will soon be forced to leave the sanctuary of Flying Fish for an undetermined period of time. COVID restrictions prevent me from sailing onward. Visa restrictions prevent me from staying aboard Flying Fish. I love my country but it is clear that when I return it will be to a divided America that is at a tipping point in its own history.
How does one prepare for the uncertainty exacerbated by a continuing viral epidemic, racial hatred, climate crisis, and a vicious political cycle? There is no easy answer. The ancients could not figure it out and their civilizations vanished. I will have to remind myself of the good in this world. I will remind myself that there are places that still exist without confrontation. I will think back to these days on an anonymous island where nothing happened.
For a closer view of the nature on the island click each thumbnail image above and scroll through the series. Photographs: © Jeffrey Cardenas
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Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020