We went hiking with the Zirve Dağcılık ve Doğa Sporları Kulübü. This is something we have been meaning to do for ages. We have Turkish friends who hike with them regularly and have often asked us to come along. We have other friends who said we would enjoy the hikes. But they start early on a Sunday morning and, somehow, we have never got around to it.
On Saturday, though, we bumped into a friend in the market who phoned us in the evening and invited us to start our day at her house at 07:30. We were just in time, and on the way saw a swallow and a few martins, the first of the year.
We had an absolutely wonderful day. I think there were around 25 of us. We were not the youngest or the oldest. We were not the least fit or the most fit. We were the only English people but not the only yabancı.
We set out in a minibus from the club’s headquarters in Selçuk and drove for around an hour, up into the mountains between Torbalı and Kemalpaşa. We ended up in a village called Nazarköy. Nazar is Turkish for the evil eye and the boncuk (those blue glass ornaments with the eye in them) is what you use to ward off the nazar. Unsurprisingly Nazarköy was full of little stalls selling boncuk. They make them there. After a village breakfast we wandered round and visited a workshop where we saw the boncuk and other glass things being made. A couple of our party had a go at making glass themselves.
We headed off up the canyon in beautiful weather. The walk was at a pace we found easy, but not so easy as to be boring. The scenery was amazing. There were many stops for photography (and many, many posed group photographs). We saw buzzards and butterflies and lovely spring flowers. We saw waterfalls in the melt water from the snow capped mountains. There was quite a lot of water around. We had to ford the river three times. Some people stayed in the village, others turned back as we walked along. There was no pressure…
We came to a place where, in order to get further up the canyon, you had to get in the river. The water was freezing cold. We decided to give it a miss and stayed on the river bank, watching the birds and enjoying the warm sunshine. About an hour later the rest of the party started to trickle back. Very wet.
A lunch break was called. A fire was built and used to dry shoes and socks. And cook sucuk on sticks. We were given some. The serving ritual was to take a piece of bread and use it to pull the sausage off the stick, then add green stuff and eat it. We had sandwiches of our own to which some sucuk was added, and water and crisps. Another time we will take more stuff to share…
After lunch we strolled back to the village where we made an unsuccessful attempt to get tea. We then headed off to a Kazak cultural centre where we watched children riding ponies and went to sit in an Ortak where we were given a talk on Kazak culture. Of which Hilary understood rather less than 30%. After the talk there was an opportunity to purchase fermented mares’ milk (we’d been told about the medicinal properties and preparation of this). We did not buy any.