Hang in There
Prior to coming to Turkey I had the pleasure of reading the book "Birds Without Wings" by Louis de Bernieres. Loosely based on historical facts, this booked helped me to understand the relationship between the Greeks and the Turks - although even after being here, I'm still not sure that I have it all straight. Louis's novel took place in Eskibahce, a disguised name for Kaya Koyu, the largest medieval ghost town in Asia Minor.
For hundreds of years prior to world war one, both Greek(Christian) and Turkish (Muslim) people lived together in communities very happily. Sharing in the births of their children and the deaths of their parents; celebrating special occassions with each other,even some of the religious ones. After the Greco-Turkish war there was a population exchange - the Greeks families were sent back to Greece and the Turkish families living in Greece were sent back to Turkey. Keep in mind, most of these people had never stepped foot outside of their villages. The Greek people who were sent back to Greece did not know how to speak Greek and vice versa. Needless to say, when they arrived in their imposed countries, it was not easy for them to integrate - they were truely in a foreign land.
As we drove along a very steep and windy road, through a pine forest (kind of felt like being in the interior of B.C.) and descended into the valley below, there was Kaya Koyu sitting proudly on the hill. Over 600 abandonded buildings are on this historical site. I couldn't believe that we were really here!
It was a warm sunny day as we headed off to tour this historical site. The first building we explored was one of the churches. There were still mosaics on the floor with the alter area mostly intact. But the most surprising was what we found out back....the bones of many of the Greek families bones had been left behind in a special room.
We continued up the steep hill passing by many houses along the way. The characters from the novel were coming to life before my eyes. At the very top was another small chapel with views looking down to the ocean.
As we carried along a herd of goats rambled through the town, there is always one who has a bell around it's neck. They always seem to know where they are going. (Couldn't find a picture of the goats, so you will have to settle for a picture of me instead!)
We continued along the upper road, passing house after house. Sue and Wayne spent some time talking with a couple who had toured the town the previous day. The tour was done by the grandson of one of the men who had actually lived in this village. It would have been wonderful to hear some of those stories. Instead, we let our imaginations take over. We did read that when the Greek people left this village, they left behind their personal possessions and even their homes in the care of their Turkish neighbours-positive that they would be back again one day soon. Unfortunately, this never did happen.
We headed back to our pensiyon for the night - Villa Rhapsody and our hosts Atilla and Jeanne. They are the most welcoming hosts and Jeanne prepares incredible meals,including afternoon tea and cake poolside. It is a small property (16 rooms)set amongst a beautiful garden, surrounded by farmers fields with goats, sheep and an occassional donkey.
Atilla is larger than life, full of stories, travel advice and an impish grin! He lovingly calls his Villa his "prison without bars" as he works 16 hour days, 7 days a week. If this is prison, then sign me up!
We met such lovely people here - Kelly and Mark from Cresent Beach (Kelly works with a friend of mine that I went to school with and graduated nursing with, Fiona) and John and Beth from Manchester who we shared many stories and laughs with. They have been coming to Turkey for many years and have recently bought some land here.
The next day we hiked up to the monestary (we never found it, but Sue and Wayne did), then headed to one of Turkey's most featured beaches, Olundeniz beach. We spent a couple of hours here sunbathing and swimming in the Mediterranean. We watched as the parasailers descended from one of the high surrounding peaks, landing on the beach below. The water is crystal clear. Spectacular!
It was hard to leave this beautiful part of rural Turkey, but we knew there were more adventures ahead for us. Turkey continues to amaze us in so many ways.