My father, my father’s father and his father's father were from Bodrum. We have been living there for many generations. My grandfather was into the sea, so were my father and uncle. My passion for the sea was handed over from them to me. My father used to tell of the spongers. What triggered me off was this passion of my father. Before falling into the road for Varvara, we investigated that to whom we could go and on what we could talk. Then the shooting began.
The age range and the healthiness of the people caught my attention, within the range between 65 and 90, however; how much vigorous, strong they were, above all, their eyes were glowing when we asked about the sponge periods. Their pleasure of telling us is very hard to describe. On one side there is another question; very stressful job. Moreover, when we were talking with Mehmet the Shallop, he mentioned my uncle at some point. When my uncle did not want to go to school, my grandfather gave him to the sponge boat, entrusting him to Mehmet the Shallop with the thought of being as rough as he would want with him, so that he would work therein. My uncle set sail on that sponge boat for four months. According to the accounts of Mehmet the Shallop, his arms and hands got injured, though job. At the end of the 4th month, saying that he wanted to go to school, my uncle run away from the boat. It is hard not to be surprised how much strong and full of energy like children these old men despite their enduring work.
There are three periods in the sponge fishery; Marble Age, Skafandra (Deep Sea Diving) and Kankava Boat age. Like an astronaut suit, Skafandra was the most dangerous, including certain equipment with which everybody was familiar. Varvara, one of these equipment, is kind of a valve, holding and releasing the air. The deep submersion and surfacing are ensured by means of this. The air accumulated in varvara, when you neglect and forget it, could lead you to die from the bends, throwing up to the surface. According to the accounts of Gebeşoğlu, they saw too many death incidents. So, what did they continue to do this job, despite so much danger? I think this is the first and the most important question that comes to mind. Bodrum, the place of exile, was bare and empty in that period. No roads, jobs and power. The young people want to get married and need money for wedding and hose. Sponge was very valuable in that period. The greek merchants sold the sponges, which is of high income, at a premium. The sponge-diver agreed with the merchant at a rate of 40%-50%. What do you want else? Someone to set sail five times compensates the wedding expenses. Someone to set sail five times builds a house. If he doesn't die...
They have so strange rituals, enjoying to tell; waking up early in the morning, cleaning the deck, eating a little bit of biscuits in breakfast, then diving in turns, laying the sponges which have been collected during the day on the deck, allowing them to dry. Sponges are squelched and the enclosing black membrane is peeled off. Especially, he was so enjoying to tell the part of squelching the sponge by gathering that it would impossible not to smile. And comes a diving part. One person dives thrice a day. He must eat very little, so they are on a diet during the day. When you overeat, the possibility of the bends rises.