Where do half the world's tomatoes come from?
In this final post from the Turkish coast, let me recommend another couple of sites if you happen to be in the area. First there's Phaselis -- a dinky little Roman town that was given a facelift (like many round here) by Hadrian or in honour of him. Now it combines a handful of archaeological tourists, with rather more bathers, who charmingly get changed, picnic and sprawl among the ruins (which go pretty much right down to the beach).
At the other end of the spectrum -- ie very big indeed, though also conveniently located by an appropriately vast beach -- are the ruins of Patara. It's history goes back to Greek period; it was taken by Alexander the Great; but it then became the main town of the "Lycian League" and government seat of Roman Lycia.
An awful lot of it remains unexplored and unexcavated. But there has been some attention from the Turkish parliament, which has paid to restore the Bouleuterion -- the (kind of) parliament building -- of the Lycian League.
This looked pretty dreadful (far too white) from the outside, as I think comes across in this picture (though actually it felt whiter in real life).
Inside it had been rather elegantly done, with a very nice display of the mosaic on the floor.
Though it did come as a bit of a shock to see what it looked like up to a couple of years ago.
I should warn potential visitors, however, that the palatial loos on the site were firmly locked. As one member of our party remarked, they probably hadnt been opened since the visiting Turkish parliamentarians used them at the restoration opening ceremony.
The reason that the Turkish parliament put all that cash into restoring the talking shop of the Lycian League was presumably to make a statement about its own democratic character. In case you are wondering about the politics that I witnessed, it is true that there were loads of posters everywhere for Erdogan and his party; but I didnt spot any for the opposition. Which presumably tells its own tale.
What I did spot however (all around Patara in particular) were acres and acres of polytunnels. Nothing was growing in them in July, but it was clear that they had nurtured almost exclusively tomatoes.
They were a complete eye-sore (like they are in the UK, but there were just so many more of them. The rueful reflection was an obvious one: the desire of western consumers to have food out of season, and the desire of the Turkish agriculture industry to make extra money by producing food out of season, has ended up with swathes of its wonderfully beautiful countryside covered in ugly plastic boxes.
It looks like half the world's (out of season) tomatoes come from here.