Updated: May 27
Compliments of Miss Blu, our family at KOK Kamp on the first day.
On our last night at the KOK camp the young woman I had nicknamed Miss Blu shyly asked to speak with me. Miss Blu is a tall striking young woman with a giant head of hair braided with blue threads (hence the nickname) who had as well blue toes and fingers when we arrived. Tall for a Turkish woman, she struck me from the first day we as a part of our ‘tribe’; full of light, outspoken, and quick with a laugh. One day when we were coming back from the pool, Begüm and I stopped in front of our bungalow to hug goodbye, Miss Blu was coming out of the shower and she exclaimed, “Me too!” and with our group hug she confirmed my idea. With her farewell speech she touched me profoundly, in Turkish she began…..
“I want to tell you how much your poppets touched my heart. I believe that our poppets are parts of our soul outside of our body. Since I was a little girl I have cared for my poppets as if they are part of myself. I kept them all lovingly in a special place in my room. Now I am 31 years old, and I am married, when my husband and I made a home for ourselves, I brought with me my poppets, and some day when – god willing – I have my own children I will give them my poppets, pieces of my soul. The atmosphere of love you and your husband made with your poppets touched me and I want you to know. On the first day I took a photo, and I want to share it with you, ok? Please tell your husband my words too, I want to thank you both for the magic your brought to us while you were here.”
We hugged and she sent me the photo that heads this post. A fit closure for what was another magical tour on our life journey.
Per my Istanbul post, Turkey is one of my favorite places on earth – first for the people who populated the seven years I lived there and whom I have the honor to still have in my life – and then for the food, the culture, the sea, the scenery, the nature, and most of all for how good I feel about myself when I am there. In light of the current political situation, the standard response when we say we are going to Turkey, gasps of horror and disbelief. For us, pure magic. In my pre-post meditations the consistency of magic in my life presented itself, and for a moment I thought, maybe this magic theme is unbelievable. Maybe it is, and for me it is real. I recently listened to a radical podcast where this state of living in the flow of life was called living on a high flying disc, yes that’s it. This time last year I was hiking in the Himalayas and frankly, I have been living on this high flying disc in one way or another since, everyone is welcome.
With only 8 days to spare on this trip to Turkey, we focused on visiting dearest friends, who lucky for us live in a spectacular, hard to reach, not too touristed place – Kabak. Snug in the mountains above various small beaches, this little piece of paradise took us an entire day to get to and it was worth every moment of the car to the plane to the next plane to the mini bus to the car. By the time Begüm picked us up in Fethiye, we had been on the road for 12 hours and we were ready for some fresh air. Coming right up, we went directly to the night scene on Ölüdeniz beach.
The first time I went to Ölüdeniz, nearly 20 years ago, it was already a popular place for paragliding and I in fact did my first tandem jump off a cliff while I was there. When we arrived this time the entire coast line was alight with a heady night scene, music, bars, and restaurants stretched down the length of the beach and sand nearly into the sea. We headed for the farthest spot and took up residence on sandbag chairs around a wooden table. Under the Turkish moonlight we had a drink, a haloumi sammy, and my favorite lemon-mint shisha. I had arrived at my personal heaven and I was there with two of my most treasured people on earth, together.
By the time we reached our accommodation it was nearly midnight and we left one suitcase, full of presents, at Begüm’s and slipped through the secret passage separating us from her home. Kabak is a particular place, there are no hotels per say, but camps with a choice of tent, yurt, or bungalow/cabin. Feyza had wisely advised us to a bungalow in the camp directly next to Begüm and the set up made for much of the magic of our trip. With temperatures between 36-40C (97-104F) for nearly the entire week, our movements were voluntarily limited between her home and ours. Basically from the time we got there on Saturday night until the following Friday morning we ate, drank, swam, rested, repeated. This could be one of the most chilled holidays Claudio and I have ever taken together in our joint life.
Quickly our days took on a routine. Up around 08.00, Turkish breakfast – a whole delight in itself – around 09.00 and then coffee at Begüm’s at 10.00 until whenever we felt like it.
Left Begüm preparing for our morning coffee ritual, Turkish coffee for me, and mocha with hot milk for she and Claudio in her new mocha pot fresh from CH; right family at breakfast on a table made of a tree stump, under an olive tree, with the sea as our scenery at KOK Kamp.
Her and Nihat’s place is situated in a cool spot, until about 15.00 at which time we thought about submersing in water, pool or sea as suited us in that moment. If we were hungry we ate, tired we slept, back to creature basics as a dear friend would say. Usually around 18.45 we went back to our room aired it out and enjoyed the natural, ample shower space, in order to arrive in time for dinner at 20.00. A bottle of white and a cascade of ice to keep it cool (ice added directly to the glass) and we were set for the evening meal with Begüm, Feyza, Özgür whomever from our little tribe arrived that evening. After dinner there was moon gazing, chatter, and music until a peaceful cool sleep in our bungalow overtook us.
Claudio & Bunny begin our evening ritual at KOK Kamp.
Kids enjoying an early morning view out our bungalow window.
There is a wonderful Italian comedian, Teresa Mannino, who does a skit about what it was like to grow up in the 1970’s, specifically that we were allowed to get bored. How this being bored was a source of creativity, and this was a theme on our trip. With endless time on our hands, we had the chance to occupy ourselves as we wished. One day I wrote the larger part of a new Bunny Chronicle and from that point, Claudio took on the role of photographer, collecting shots of the animals who populate the book as well a complete photo shoot of Bunny, Bearli, and Picci in the pool.
Mamma goat and her two babies, characters in Bunny’s adventures in Turkey and Claudio’s obsession to photograph and walk for nearly our entire stay.
Bottom left Claudio in mid photo shoot; top left Bunny & Bearli chilling out in the pool on their rete-uno floaty pillow (a tribute to our radio show); center Picci blissed out on same pillow enjoying he first holiday with us to the max.
Top Emre and his pigeons, a central character in the third Bunny Chronicle and for us, while at KOK Kamp a source of inspiration and fascination; bottom left the Greek pigeons (black and white) being herded by the male Turkish teacher pigeon; middle and right the female Turkish teacher pigeon at play and roosting.
Bearli, for his part spent a large portion of this holiday eating. Even with the heat, Claudio managed to have a healthy appetite.
Center Turkish toast and homemade lemonade in Fethiye; top right Bearli and fresh honeycomb at KOK Kamp; right middle Bearli and the best veggie burger Claudio ever ate; bottom left Begum cooking up some fresh eggplants and okra for dinner; next Claudio’s “beer plate” at KOK; bottom middle Claudio in his cool Hawaiian shirt at KOK for lunch; and final photo my salad Sammy at KOK.
One evening at KOK Kamp after dinner we had a Turkish family photo shoot to send to Kenan in America.
Left Begüm Bunny, with Bunny, and Feyza with Bearli; right, Bearli and all the girls on a night of giggles and retro photo taking.
On the few excursions we took beyond our respective homes, sea and/or food were always central, as well timing.
Left furry family photos for Instagram on a beach we hiked to at 7.30 am to beat the heat; right the natural waterfall where we rinsed off the sea sand after our refreshing dip before walking through the forest back to Begum’s for coffee.
On one short excursion to the Kabak beach we went to the workplace of Feyza’s Özgür where she had some fun with Bunny & Bearli.
Left at our favorite afternoon beach, Aktas beach, after a cool swim Bunny & Bearli enjoy a Turkish coffee; right Claudio serves himself some wine and Begüm some Turkish tea.
When we finally did venture out of Kabak on Friday, it was to the Fethiye for all the joys of real local Turkish outdoor market. On the way we stopped at Kayaköy, the city in which one of my all-time favorite books, Birds Without Wings is set. Double lucky us, Nihat is a walking guide and was able to share his insights into the village on our short tour. Claudio cannot wait to go back in cooler weather and explore an entire day in this special place and I was inspired to reread the book!
After Kayaköy, and before the market, we stopped at Begüm’s favorite café, Köşe Kahve, for a coffee. While we were there we stumbled upon an artist making a mural of the entire 500 km of the Lycian way!
Isabelle Cordes is a Dutch artist living in Turkey working on spectacular projects. Of course we had to take a photo of Bunny & Bearli IN Fethiye and Kabak ... at once.
At the market itself I did not take photos as it seemed too intimate and even invasive. Instead we took in all the sights, sounds, and even the flavors viscerally. We bought olives from one of many women siting on the table with her wares, a white headscarf casually draped over her head to keep off the heat; sundried tomatoes from a woman from the Caucuses who had them spilling out, covering her small table; and we ate Kar şerbeti with grape molasses and mulberry juice.
On our way home, as we took in all the amazing scenery of sea and mountains, there was a glitch with the car. Nihat, heroically took the first service bus the next morning to Fethiye, got the necessary part, then took the service bus back, and had it all fixed himself before noon on Saturday in time for our departure to Claudio’s complete and total amazement – and just like that we were on the road.
Our last stop on this journey was a sort of return to where Begum and I had lived together for 7 years, Dalyan. Speeding along in the mid-day sun we stopped for lunch in a funky roadside garden and got to Dalyan in time to check into our riverside hotel – Lindos – and then pick-up our friend June Haimoff for a short visit. One of the main reasons we ended our trip in Dalyan was to visit again with this amazing woman who had been a large part of my life in Dalyan. June is an original lover of life, an artist, a singer, and environmental activist. Our visit with June was magical, super happy to see her in such good form. Next, we set off for one of the other reasons to be in Dalyan, to see Feyza’s new house! All of this can be seen in photos here.
Top left Claudio and June strike a pose; top right Begüm and Claudio discuss the light we will buy; bottom left view of the Lycian rock tombs over the river from our pension; bottom right Begum, myself, Claudio, and Esra at our midnight rendezvous.
The view from Feyza’s new home in Gokbel, where she will start living this winter, ere there is a place with a green wall for us too!
After all this we freshened up and headed out for a riverside fish dinner, and some shopping in the lively streets of Dalyan. Having already resolved only to nap that night, we ended our evening with pure magic – our dear friend Esra, originally from Istanbul and whom we know from Lugano – was in the pension right next to ours! Riverside, with the Lycian rock tombs presiding, we chatted with her and her daughter until the wee hours of the morning and then turned in, Begum and I promising to meet at 7am for an early morning swim in the sweet water of the river.
Thus we ended our magical trip, with a magnificent sunrise swim before our last Turkish breakfast and farewells at the airport. It felt wonderful to be in one of my soul homes, and even more to share it with these loved ones. Picci picked a good holiday as her first! Until next time we visit our soul roots.