Friday, September 7, 2012

Working the land in Turkey

Almost three weeks now in Turkey. Time flying away between Lycian ruins, almond trees and kebaps.

First stop: Pamukkale (which can be translated as something like "cotton castle").
It is a pretty amazing place. Huge calcium terraces, blinding white with pools of turquoise mineral waters, provide the royal path to enter Hierapolis, the ancient and huge Bizantine city.
The city is pretty well conserved, with a huge ampitheatre, plenty of temmples with carved stone and, as I would come to see in all ruins in Turkey, a huge Necropolis (city of the dead).
Great dreams come to mind when one enjoys a nap under Cypress trees, on top of old, huge, ancient bricks.

In Fethiye I mainly walked the Lycian Way to get to Kayakoy (rock village). This town was abandoned by its greek inhabitants after the war, around 1920s. It is pretty amazing how nature will take over the city in almost one hundred years. Almost no roofs are left and vines are creeping up all over the place.

Posessed by the walking muse I continued 6 more kilometres to Oludeniz.
Oludeniz is beautiful from a distance and was reputedly one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean... Now it is full of annoying loud music, fences and people that try to charge you for putting your feet in the water.

And then the working period started in the twilight zone of Eflatun.
I found this exchange opportunity on a great website called that matches hosts and people that need help and are able to provide food and accommodation.

Eflatun is the living dream of Aydin together with his wife Ebru and young Ata.
Countless volunteers have lived and worked there. And it is not easy.
Working hours are probably more than 7 per day. Waking up around 6.30 to clean up a bit, followed by a relaxing hour of yoga. Then preparing and enjoying breakfast. And then getting on the truck with its 600 liters of waters that we will have to carry in huge barrels to water the thirsty almond trees.
First words learnt in turkish: Happy tree and Sad tree.
Then back home for lunch and filling the water again. A couple of hours rest. And back to the fields, to water, clean up big beautiful stones, turn the soil.
And home again, getting there at dark, to fill the water once more and ravage Ebru's delicious meals.

It was a challenging time. Not really because of the physicall work, but because of personalities and dealing with them to work together. A lot of cultural differences like Ayding being used to yell people's names in an army-like way. This shocked me at the beginning, then I just thought it was funny.
Luckily we were an awesome bunch of volunteers. Had a great time singing while working, dancing in the streets, going out for drinks and swimming under the blue moon.

We got to do an intense kayak trip over the sunken city of Simena.
Never forget the inmense power of the sea when it is being roused by the wind. Thanks to all the strength we'd built up lifting heavy barrels of whater and Kendra's great sinchronization we managed to get through it triunfantly : )

The neighbours were great.
Always sharing with us their delicious melons, grapes, nectarines. They even invited us for dinner randomly one night.
It is true that you will never go hungry in a small village in Turkey. The hospitality is extreme, nevr lacking some chai (tea) and fresh fruit.

Lots of ruins visited with James the intrepid.
We admired the amazing stone carvings of the Lycians. Animals, faces and oh so many tombs.
Tombs that imitate houses. Tombs full of ancient scriptures that still no one understands.
It is hard to imagine what life is like when you are constantly building your death bed...

A highlight for me was visiting the ruins of Myra, near Demre (the birthplace of the REAL Santa Claus).
Eating delicious borek for breakfast and then walking under the hot hot sun to submerge ourselves between the never ending expressions carved on the stones.

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