Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dikkat Sulama Var! - Caution: Sprinklers!

What did I do this weekend? I'm not quite so sure myself, because it contained what is easily the single most interesting and surreal day I've had my entire time in Turkey, as well as a mixture of strenuous hiking and relaxing swimming. In short, I went out of town to a place called Eğirdir. The tale of what passed there is about to be told... (It is mad lengthy)

Thursday was the deadline for independent travel forms to be handed into the CLS folks, and I quickly asked Allison, my fearless classmate (and my travel buddy for this trip) (also not to be confused with my sister), what the name of the place we were going to was before handing it in. I then bought a bus ticket, and eventually got around to making a reservation at the hostel for Friday night. That night I also discovered that I had no sleeping bag for camping, but that would not stop me. From my many experiences camping (all three of them!) I knew exactly what would do the trick. I packed my bags.

Friday morning class flew by. Sadly, the six plus hour bus ride to Eğirdir did not, but it was made more bearable by the wonderful cheese and pepper sandwich Allison had packed at the rest area. Little did I know how many more pepper and cheese sandwiches were coming in the next twenty four hours. The bus ride was also lightened by the presence of an in-ride movie dubbed into Turkish in which Allison and I could not figure out the relationships between any of the characters. For instance, we assumed the random woman was the kid's mother, but then he kissed her on the cheek like three times and she said they were only friends. The movie is called Meet Bill. It's better in the original Turkish, and should only be watched on Kamil Koç busses.

Eğirdir arrival time, and Allison and I walked from the bus station to the pension where we spent the night. For $10 a night, it was a nice dormitory style room. Due to miscommunications, I also was staying in the female dorm, but the three french chicks in the side room did not seem to care.
On the way to the Lale Pension....

Blurry photograph of my half of the room

After we checked in, we walked around and noticed a fairly sketchy empty park where there was a partially disessembled swan merry-go-round ride. Naturally, I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, there was a hedge around the park and I didn't see a near-by entry. Since the park was empty, I did what I needed to. I took a running leap, bounded over the hedge, discovered things were a bit lower on the other side, landed, ran over to the swans, and discovered that there were some people in the park. Feeling the need to explain my actions, I said in Turkish, "I like the swans."

Because this is Turkey, Allison and I proceeded to have a lengthy conversation with the two men who were in the process of opening a luna park in Eğirdir. The younger of the two men in the above photo is named Kadır, and he actually lives in Ankara, in fact in Baçhelievler, the same neighborhood as me. We talked a lot about Turkey, and the country.

There was also a fair amount of attention given to the children running around, who were scared to talk to Allison and I. Kadır introduced Allison to the young boy as teyze, and as a result she got the full teyze greeting. Teyze, for those of you not in the know, is the Turkish term for maternal aunt, but is usually used to describe slightly older, respectable women. The traditional teyze greeting consists of kissing the teyze's hand and bringing it to the forehead. Suffice to say, Allison was honored to officially have become a teyze. Allison and I gezzed (wandered) a bit further, and then called it a night....


Morning in Eğirdir. Time for me to write a few more facts about the place.
Eğirdir itself is a fairly small town. It's probably pretty old. Like everywhere in Turkey, it has a castle that was there before the Byzantines arrived. Curiously, it had a name change in recent years as the original name of Eğridir ('crooked') was not held in high esteem. Its main attraction is that it is home to the fourth largest lake in Turkey. It's quite the lake. Also it's surrounded by mountains.

Anyway, here's Saturday morning. Allison and I walked around for a bit... now with daylight!

Got to be fearful of sprinklers!

This statue is in the small park thing. What the heck is it?

 Eventually, we came to a rocky beach that was completely deserted. (In fact, Eğirdir itself had the least tourists of just about anywhere I've gone on a weekend. I swear there were like ten tourists, and they were all French, which is cool.)

Allison waded in a bit. I waded in a bit in my jeans, having not brought a bathing suit. But the water was so clear (I could see my feet, a big change from the black sea!), clean, and warm that I couldn't resist going for a full out swim. It was fantastic!
 I am giving thumbs ups in the water. Curiously this is not the last shirtless photograph of myself that will appear in this post. Sorry.

We also came across one of Turkey's only three recycling bins! It proudly announces, "the smell of life is back"

 The town itself.

Some ugly buildings near town.
 About this time, we also discovered that the outside of the pension dormitory was a little obnoxious. Though I will say it was a magnificent view point....

A flier for the Luna Park

But, after a fun, relaxing morning in Eğirdir, it was time for things to get more outdoorsy, as well as three thousand times more interesting. It was hiking time, and the town of Eğirdir is very near to the Saint Paul Trail. The trail covers the journey taken by St. Paul on his first missionary trip to Anatolia, and I have to tell you that he certainly charted quite the path for himself. A man from Charley's pension drove us to some village whose name I don't remember where we started the trail. The time was about 1 PM, and I had a liter and a half of water on me...
Picture taken from the car: apparently painting the Turkish flag on the sides of mountains is a thing.

Road like Colorado?

Passing some tractor trailers.

Using actual time stamps from photographs, I provide the following account of our walk along the St. Paul trail. Destination: Barla, a village where followers of Nursi movement (not going to explain) apparently congregate.

1:35 PM - Begin decent. Mountains very pretty behind us. Walk ahead is rocky and steep. Sun harsh. Trail does not appear to be leveling out.


1:45 PM - Trail still not leveling out. Lake disappearing from view.
1:58 PM - Trail will probably never level out. It is mad steep. St. Paul was probably part mountain goat. Also, there are some mountains ahead. At least there is a tree to briefly sit under.

Ski slopes, probably for winter tourists.

2:26 PM - Trail has still not levelled out. I'm pretty sure we're climbing a mountain by accident.

3:00 PM - Definitely climbing a mountain. Lake visible again.

3:08 PM - I don't want to overheat and run out of water, so I've had to take drastic measures. This walk is only Allison and I anyway. Therefore, I shall remove my shirt for the remainder of the journey.
I warned you.

3:38 PM - Trail is beginning to level out.

4:03 PM - Major change in terrain, trail extremely level. All rejoice!  I can actually imagine St. Paul walking here.

4:25 PM - Still mad rocky, though. Also, there's evidence of shepherds living in the area...

What do you see in this dirt pattern?

4:47 PM - With sheep being herded far far away in the distance, a sheep dog checked us out.
Watering thingys. There were a few more of these further along the trail.

I find this skinny tree that's super tall to be almost comical.

5:04 PM - Cows.

5:07 PM - Turtle.

5:42 PM - For the first time since starting the trail, Allison and I encounter another person, a little girl leading a horse. We ask her if Barla is nearby. "The village?" she asks. "Yes," we answer. "It's near," she says.
Tired from the journey, we sit down. It is pepper and cheese sandwich time. I drink some of the lemonade I bought earlier. Yellow glorified sugar water, it is warm and putrid but I need the hydration.

6:16 PM - I like the looks of this path. Could we be nearing Barla?

6:28 PM - For the first time ever, the St. Paul trail slopes downhill.

6:37 PM - There is a village in the distance. Downhill decent continues with great haste!

Sheep are herded in the distant hills.

At around 7PM we entered the village.

And so, Allison and I accidentally climbed a mountain and concluded one leg of the massive St. Paul trail.
...or did we? See, the problem is... that village wasn't Barla. It wasn't where we could get picked up from and returned to civilization. It also lacked any place to, well, grab a snack and recuperate.

What were we to do, but to ask for directions from a guy on a motorcycle, understanding that we were supposed to go past the mosque and turn right at... something that was white. He led us a bit of the way, and as he was leading us, he also stopped to wave down a car. He asked the driver, a friendly old Turkish man, if he was heading towards Barla, and would take us. The Turkish man was completely happy to give us a lift, and we got into the backseat of his old, slightly worse for the wear Tofaş. Amusingly, it had the car radio out of a Jaguar. We were dropped off at Barla at a gas station, where there was water, snacks, and a bathroom. Hooray!

It was now time to check out Barla, village of our desires, and see what lay in store for us there. It was a small place, but at least it had a gas station. As we walked into town, I composed a verse off the top of my head, praising Barla and hoping that the village would be good to us. Well, it wasn't.

Walking into town.

Dr. Seuss esque flowers.

Lots of signs for this "New Asia" place.

Main street Barla.

The mosque.

There were a lot of signs for this "Yeni Asya" place, and it seemed like it might have food, so we walked there, and arrived at iftar time. It was a private outdoor banquet, but in the hope for some köfte, I suggested walking into the inside restaurant place and asking for food.

The owner (un)kindly informed us that there was absolutely no food available, but that we were welcome to go to the petrol lokantası (re: gas station restaurant) for dinner instead. Of course, he was also saying this while filling up dishes with food and sending them outside.

And so, Allison and I went to leave Yeni Asya, hungry. But one particular kind gentleman wanted to know what was up. He insisted that we take his spot at the (all male) table while he went inside and presumably told off Yeni Asya's owner. (Meanwhile, everyone in the place continued staring at us.) Suddenly, there was food. Allison and I went inside and ate. One nice old woman had a short good conversation, and besides that, the experience was extremely uncomfortable. We ate our food, paid the owner 25 TL, failed to give a thank you card to the kind Turkish gentleman, and then left.

It was late, and it was camping time. We camped in some random field where we probably weren't supposed to. That's the way to roll in Barla.

Me, and the pile of laundry that I decided was the bottom half of my "sleeping bag"


The following morning, I awoke, did my homework (!), and then we took down the tent, briefly went to check out the house frequented by the Nursi movement, and then ditched town pretty quick.
Camping near Barla's main attraction, the huge power plant.

Is this house supposedly frequented by Sufis cool, or is it a closed house with a sign next to it?
A: This is Barla. There is nothing to see or do here.

Barla's welcoming sign seems slightly inaccurate, as there were no fish or cherries to be seen within town limits.

Back in the relaxing town of Eğirdir, we did some more swimming, ate some more pepper and cheese sandwich, and then checked out Eğirdir castle where I acted in a manner betraying my usual fear of heights.
Another view of town.

That purplish speck is me!

Then we read for a bit, and eventually had dinner at a slightly touristy place where I had what was easily the most meat I've seen on a plate in a long long time. I also had two full bread baskets minus three pieces.
That's chicken, steak, lamb meatballs, and the thing in the bottom right is potato.

After dinner, the sunset was phenomenal.

Then it was time to say goodbye to Eğirdir and take the night bus back to Anakra. I had a trick up my sleeve. I was not going to fail to sleep on that bus!

In 2005, I think, I once took some "less drousy" Dramamine on a glass bottom boat ride in order to ease my sea sickness. I successfully was both seasick and asleep for the entire boat ride. On this particular evening I had with me some less drowsy Dramamine that expired in 2004, and I figured it would knock me out.

It did. I was asleep pretty much the whole way back, and apparently snoring. I woke up for the announcement of a 30 minute rest stop, but I didn't even feel the bus stop or move, I was so far gone. When we got to Ankara, I had received a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, the medicine did not wear off, so for the first hour of class I was sleeping and only waking up to give answers from my homework and mumble things into my sweat shirt. My notes for the day consisted of "sAydI" (new grammar form) and then some scribbles. At the second break I rehabilitated myself by buying random objects from the Burger King menu. I survived the rest of class, and went home immediately afterwards. I then slept for six hours straight, barely stayed awake to do laundry, shower, and have dinner, before I crashed again. Tuesday would bring with it another trip and another destination... Beypazarı!

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