Monday, 24 November 2014

Leaving America To Find Freedom

A guest post by Ken, an American living on the south coast of Turkey and blogging at

"I have had a vision. In this vision the white man is on a super highway to where he knows not. I have seen the end of that highway and it makes me shudder."  John Fire Lame Deer, Lakota Sioux - Seeker of Visions.

Leonard Crow Dog

This quote by John Fire Lame Deer pretty well sums up why I left the United States in 2006 to live elsewhere. John Fire Lame Deer lived as most native Americans did under the laws of the white man on the reservation. He drank, gambled, womanized, and once went on a several-day-long car theft and drinking binge as a young man, but a chance encounter with a Lakota named White Buffalo Calf Woman served as a turning point in his life with him becoming a wicasha wakan or “medicine man”. 

I believe we all have encounters that are meant to be turning points in our lives. I myself had one of these when I was fortunate enough to begin to see the underhanded ways of the American government firsthand from two Lakota Sioux medicine men named Henry Crow Dog and his son Leonard Crow Dog in the early 1970's. We flew both back to the Rosebud reservation at Wounded Knee when my brother was flying for a charter company in the Dakotas.

Shortly thereafter, due to a shootout with FBI agents, Henry and his son were arrested as well as dozens of others. It was an obvious frame-up of Native Americans used to end of the American Indian Movement (AIM). What the federal government had not been able to accomplish in a courtroom they did by creating a red flag event which was intended to silence the activists of the American Indian Movement (AIM).
Russell Means

One of the men at that tribal meeting was Russell Means/ a Native American activist, politician, actor, writer and musician who captured national attention when he led the 71-day armed takeover on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee at South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation. Chief Leonard Crow Dog was with Means when he died on Oct. 22, 2012. “He’s a leader of all tribes, a spiritual leader and a warrior.”

Russell Means

In Russell Means own words: "Today, as I look across the landscape of the United States of America, the opposite of freedom prevails. Just as we had to battle for freedom for our lands, we had hoped American farmers and ranchers would realize they were next on America's sacrificial chopping block. Over the past three decades, family farm after family farm and ranch after ranch has been auctioned off or sharecropped out to corporations. Self-sufficiency has been replaced by dependency on a malevolent federal government, and the peoples' love of the land has been replaced by personal desperation and self-interest - Freedom of thought has been replaced by a state-run educational system that produces docile, self-absorbed automations that would make Orwell blush. War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Instead of learning to be critical thinkers, America's youth are conditioned into an ethic of mass consumerism and corporate careerism".

This is the same corporate run government trying to take control of the worlds food supply via legislation empowering Monsanto and is constantly going to war. 
What does this story of the Native Americans at Wounded Knee have to do with travel? It was the first in a series of incidents and events that marked a turning point in my life - one that led me to leave the United States to live elsewhere. As Russell Means states so eloquently - the US government has sold it's citizens up the river and they're too self-absorbed or brainwashed to even realize it.

Freedom in America is no longer as the founding fathers had envisioned it. America has been sold to greedy corporations and it has exchanged the welcoming arms signified by the Statue of Liberty for a foreign policy that serves the few at a cost to the majority both home and abroad.
Dalyan. Turkey
Asi beach
So I traveled from America to the Southcoast of Turkey where I found a small village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea where people live no differently than their relatives that preceded them. They live amid the most spectacular natural scenery anywhere in the world with little to no interference from government or corporate self-interests. The residents in this small village do not rely on grocery stores, clothing stores or any outside entities. They are self-sufficient and free of the stresses of modern-day life. Of course they make use of modern technology and conveniences, but to a very limited extent. They have satellite television and internet, but so far these have not convinced them that the world has something better to offer them than what they already possess.
Candir reedbeds

Candir is nestled in the hills next to the ruins of the ancient city of Kaunos near the tourist resort of Dalyan, Turkey. The village was initially settled around the turn of the century by nomadic Bulgarian Turks. A myth about the film African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn being filmed in the reed beds at Dalyan is just that - a myth. It was actually filmed on location in Africa in Uganda and Congo, as well as in London studios.

Kaunos Amphitheater
The village of Candir lies only a few kilometers from the ruins of the ancient city of Kaunos - a sea port on the Mediterranean Sea. Initially Kaunos was a separate state; then it became a part of Caria and later still of Lycia. The ruins of Kaunos is now located about 8 kilometers from the coast due to its recession from silting. I once had the fortune of attending a Sufi whirling dervish performance in the remains of the Kaunos amphitheater. On a beautiful summer evening most of the village walked over to the amphitheater in a candlelit procession to see this performance sponsored by the Turkish government. It was an evening that is imprinted in my memory stronger than almost any others.
Candir Lagoon

There is a small lagoon on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Candir. The village always relied on fishing in the sea and would depart for fishing trips from the small harbor in this lagoon. Today there are still small stone vaults cut into the rocks that line the harbor where families would leave burning candles in anticipation of the loved ones return from the sea. It is in this lagoon that modern day tourists are brought on tour boats to see the endangered Caretta Caretta turtles surfacing in the water.

Our house
Village life goes on today much as it has ever since nomadic Turks settled the area. Even though many of the families in the village derive their means of support from the tourist industry, their day to day lives have not changed all that much. The fact that the only way to reach the village is by rowboat or by riverboat has helped keep the community from being invaded and changed by tourism. Candir can be reached by driving over the mountain from Koycegiz, but rare is the tourist who is aware of this road.
Candir rowboats
I know many expat Dutch and British nationals who live in Dalyan and wonder how I can live in this quiet - and in their opinion, boring little village. But, the nightlife, bars, restaurants and holiday amenities are just a rowboat ride away without any of the downside changes that toursim brings to an area. Being able to 'commute' into Dalyan on a lazy rowboat often reminds me of all those who believe they're living the good life because they live in places like southern California. I think of them and their commute in their 7-series BMW in rush hour traffic on the PacCoast Highway to get home to their $750,000.00 home after a long tedious day at a job that stresses them out of their skulls. 
I think of them and all the freedoms they enjoy in the USA and I smile.

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