Prosecards from the Edge (of a Continent)

A running commentary on my life in Izmir, Turkey...and other thoughts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 7 - Journey's End

We awake to a Garden of Eden: a joyous cacophony of birdsong, the rhythm kept in the background by the gentle thumping of waves on the shore. Everywhere are marvelous and varying shades of green; already flowers are beginning to blossom; the sun is beaming down softly out of a benevolent sky -- no clouds today. We breakfast on the stone terrace with the enticing sea view, and I marvel that anyone ever finds this place. The tiny village of Kabak is actually a half-hour hike up out of the valley. To get to where we are, you cannot come by car; hoofing it is the only option. And yet I am told that they fill up in summer, and even as I sit enjoying my coffee and Turkish breakfast, hammering and sawing is going on below me as new cabins are constructed.

We bid farewell to our host, who accompanies us for a while along the path. Leading us as far as an orange and maView from the trail out of the valleyndarine grove, he urges us to fill our pockets and packs with the ripe fruit, and to fill our water bottles from the pipe that funnels mountain spring water into the grove. And then it is just the two of us, climbing up, up, up, my legs complaining immediately. There are frequent stops to gasp for air and admire the view, and when we stop I notice that the only sounds are birds and the beatific humming of bees. At one point I take a step and a rock flinches -- closer inspection reveals it to be a tiny turtle sunning itself on the hillside. Up we go, winding around boulders and pines, eventually past a couple of small whitewashed pensions, and always, always, this marvelous Mediterranean blue stretching out beyond us into infinity. My heart is singing with happiness, my head filled with visions of dancing, sipping wine and eating olives beneath an olive tree, sailing on the bright, bright blue, playing instruments in the shade with friends, building one of the stone houses typical along the coast, gardens and goats and candles and flowers and good food, friends invited, laughter, music, art, a life lived broadly and with great joy...

We reach the top. I stop in at the shop in the village to snag some sodas and chocolate, and the man won't let me escape without trying to sell me at least six things I have no use for, and then settles for trying to drag me into conversation. It must be a lonely life up here, paradisiacal as the setting may be.
view from along the trail after we reached the top
Our destination today is Fethiye, where we will go our separate ways -- I back to Izmir, and work, and he back to his pre-monkhood travels, wherever they may take him. Having gotten the need for purification through sweat-of-the-brow out of my system the previous day, I have no great desire for any massive hiking undertakings today. Fortunately the path towards Butterfly Valley, Ölüdeniz and Fethiye is gentle, and we are able to amble along conversing and enjoying the spectacular views that stretch out in all directions.

Butterfly Valley is so-named for a the thousands of species of butterfly that are said to inhabit it. It is located at the bottom of a stomach-churningly steep gorge. It is nearly impossible to hike down into the valley from the road without killing yourself; most people who visit do so by boat. Once in the valley, the swimming in the shadows of the towering cliffs is spectacular, with abundant fish below you and improbable quantities of birds (swallows?) performing aerobatics between the cliffs above. In the valley there is some human settlement, and local occupations tend towards organic farming, yoga, meditation and art. A path leads up the back of the gorge to a spectacular waterfall that plummets down the side of the cliff. At points it is so steep that you have to use ropes that have been put in place for the purpose, and you are forced to pass under some low jets of water that inevitably douse you and your camera.

I want to show all of this to Guillaume, but descent is impossible, particularly given our level of fatigue, so I have to content myself with describing it and a stop for photos. It is difficult to get a picture that really gives the sense of the whole valley. This is the best that I was able to do (vertigo got the better of me):

Butterfly Valley(my photo)

The professionals do it better, so I've borrowed this one from

Butterfly Valley (the professional version)
Having made it as far as Butterfly Valley, I now am mentally done with hiking. I want only to be beamed to Ölüdeniz, a spectacular beach that is probably hands-down the most-frequently photographed one in Turkey. We trudge along and wait for someone to pick us up and save us the hiking. It is perhaps only ten kilometers, but ten kilometers we can both live without. I want to be in the sea, I want to be floating on my back in turquoise, arms stretched out, toes bobbing above the surface of the water. And then I want to sit in the shade and sip ice-cold beer, feeling the fatigue gradually ebb from my legs.

A long spell of no cars, and we continue our half-hearted walking. Finally, rescue appears. True Ölüdenizto the Law of Hitchhiking, it is an old, beat-up Tofaş, filled with two men in the front and a large pile of surveying equipment in the back. A good five minutes of rearranging is necessary to enable the equipment, two large-sized hikers and two large-sized packs to all fit into the car. This time I've decided to offer money. Not only have they gone to considerable trouble to accomodate us, but they deviate from their original route to Fethiye to drive us to the far side of Ölüdeniz, at the start of the long, white beach which is also a national park. To my surprise, they refuse payment, wishing us pleasant travels before they drive off. Guillaume and I pay the pedestrian entrance fee, hike for a while down the long, long, pebbly beach, and finally succumb to the lure of the bright blue water, laying down our packs and donning swimsuits. The water is chilly at this time of the year, but nowhere close to Pacific Ocean chilly. After an initial smÖlüdenizall shock to the system, it is lovely; cool but not cold, gentle, soothing. I float and swim, turn somersaults, dive to the bottom and lay my whole body flat on the sandy floor, gazing at the tiny fish who have come to gaze at me. I am light and happy, cannot think of anything that would make me happier than this moment. It is good to be alive.

We dry in the sun and enjoy the much-anticipated cold beer. Finally it's a dolmuş to Fethiye and accomodation in a fairly repulsive pension (the other budget pensions are still closed at this time of year, and the only other option is a high-end hotel, which neither of us are prepared to pay for). In the evening we go out on the town, dining al fresco in a pleasant courtyard with low lighting, a waterfall and even a duck pond full of ducks. The evening ends at a bar at the end of a steep flight of stairs, where live Turkish folk music is played into the wee hours and you get to stretch out on cushions on the floor. Then it is back to the pension and to bed. I sleep soundly and late. Guillaume, who has a bus to catch, departs at the crack of dawn, and I have only a dim recollection of propping one eye open and seeing him standing at the end of my bed, fully laden with his pack, and hearing the words 'Ciao, bella.' Then he is gone, and I am back to sleep until late morning, when I sadly say farewell to Fethiye and board the bus back to Izmir and my other reality.


At 3:47 AM, Blogger Amber Coco said...

What a very cool life Kate. So magical, fully experienced and truly lived. Thank you for sharing your story. Such a long way from those days at Evoke.

Donna :-)

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Kate's Occasional Blog said...

Thank you for the nice is good to get them, as even though this life IS rather outside of the norm, I sometimes get too used to it, and it, too, starts to seem pedestrian and humdrum. Thank you for reminding me how special it is. And how are you doing, miss Domesticity in Florida?

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Hope said...

Kate, I just love reading all of these wonderful stories of your journeys. Thanks for sharing.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Ephesus said...

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