Friday, October 28, 2011

Turkey, Day 2: Gundogan to a suburb of Bitez

Mom in the Aegean

Our day ended at a beach. Our first visit to an Aegean Sea beach of the trip. Calling it a beach is technically true but if you are conjuring up images of wide stretches of white sand banish that notion now. The sand is dark and only a few meters wide. And that sand is packed full with beach chairs and a little farther back the low tables with their chairs for people to sit around at the beachside restaurants.

We drove several kilometers northwest of the hotel (about 15 minutes) to the starting point of the day's walk. According to Ian the walk would be about 12km in length and ascend somewhere around 420 meters and descent around 300 meters. We were going to walk between some old Turkish villages somewhat more inland than we had yesterday. I really wasn't sure what to expect. The sky was dotted with a few wisps of lacy clouds but it was clear it would be another warm day for the 7.5 mile stroll. We left the village of Gundogan (Gan-doh-awn) without really ever seeing it. We began climbing into the hills along a shady gravel/dirt road that wound its way ever upward in gentle long switchbacks. The scenery really was not that remarkable though it was nice to have some shade from the sun. Our group slowly spread out with knots of people chatting as we travelled at various speeds up the mountain road past the occasional house. We were heading southernly and as we climbed now and then we got a good view of where we had come from. At one point, perhaps 30 minutes in to the walk, over the recurring blare of a fog horn (though why that was sounding I have no idea) a very loud PA system came out and something was called out. I suppose it could have been one of the five-times daily calls to prayer (we certainly caught that later in the day as we had lunch at a rather disused - though not wholly so - farm that was surely well over a mile from the nearest village).  Eventually we came to the point where we would take our big detour of the day.

Above GunddoganGundogan to Bitez group

Like yesterday today's walk was mostly upon mountain roads though they were a bit smaller overall. Certainly the road between Gundogan and Dagbelen though not long after passing the ruin at Site we did get a bit of what we would consider trail did make a short appearance just before lunch. I'm fairly certain the village in the background of the photo with Dad must be Gundogan.

The plan was to turn sharply west and hike down the hills into the tiny hamlet of Dagbelen (Da-belen) for a tea and coffee break. One of our group, Sandy, decided he did not want to bother with the detour so elected to wait for us at the shady spot where the road intersection was. Within a minute of our turning we encountered the folks doing the shorter walk coming up from that very village where they had started their hike. Sandy would join them for the remainder of the day. They in turn gave us the dog that had been traveling with them since they had begun. She was a modest sized mutt who was clearly bright and very well accustomed to being around people. I have no doubt she spent a fair bit of time with walkers like us. I have no idea who she might belong to if anyone at all. But she clearly is one self-sufficient dog and she definitely endeared herself to us rather quickly. I guess we are suckers, but that's not so bad. We walked down the mountain road, dog in tow, and paused briefly at a strange sculpture garden not far out of town. I can't say much for the carved stones that I saw but clearly they are someone's labor of love. Along the way we passed a donkey-train heading up into the hills. Maybe they and their master were going to an olive orchard a couple miles further up that we would pass later in the day. Who can say. Wall of Site

This is all the obviously visual ruin left of part of Site (Si-tee).I believe many other ruins are in the area but they're nowhere near as obvious. Even this rather tall imposing bit of well over 2,000 year-old wall. This shady area would have actually made a nice place for lunch but it was still a bit early for that.

The village we found was quiet with the most noise probably coming from a few children playing not far from where we sat drinking tea, coffee, or other cold drinks. When they got picked up by a school bus (half day I guess) that noise abated. I had a sense that this is a village where time has stood still, or at least moved much more slowly than elsewhere, for quite some time. Sure we were at a coffee and tea shop that had plenty of "modern" touches but the air of times gone by was present. I am sure many people do basic subsistence farming in the hills nearby tending to their cows, harvesting olives, and so on and give little thought to the bustle of a place like Bodrum. But I bet they don't ignore that bustle. We hung about for what seemed a rather long time before some of us (be fair, it was led by Mom and Dad) decided it was time to go. We took the lead and with the dog we had acquired trotting alongside we began the climb back into the hills. The rest of the group would not be far behind. We would pass the road intersection, dog still with us, and soon the road would turn into a single track. A bit more than a hiking trail but not much more. We passed by an olive orchard and then came upon a rather well hidden from view ruin. A bit of high wall that was once, perhaps 2,700 or more years ago (during the heyday of Pedessa), part of a watch tower. The tower may have been part of another ancient town called Site (Si-tee) but no one is sure of that.  Our path would narrow further turning into an old stream bed, at last proper trail walking, and we would ascend fairly quickly coming soon to an old water gathering object called a sardonic (sar-nitch). This is a dome that rises a couple meters off the ground and descends to a base wall that is a bit over a meter high. The whole structure is easily a couple meters in diameter and sits over a cavity that is fairly deep below ground level. At the base of the dome, at the top of the wall, are small holes. There may also be holes in other places on the dome itself. The holes let water flow through and drip into the pool in the cavern below. The water can be used for crops or to water farm animals. I suppose people can drink it too as long as they take care (doesn't a farm animal have to worry about water-borne diseases?). This tank also sported a small phallus at the apex of the dome. The symbol of fertility though I trust this one was once bigger having been worn down over centuries because it is rather tiny now - the size of a large pine cone perhaps. This tank was made of stone but they can be made of cement as was the one we would see later in the day at the old farmstead we had lunch at. The old farmstead may once have been prosperous but these days though it clearly sees some tending, we saw a couple donkeys and a person doing something in the distance, I believe it has been pretty inactive since the sad days of the 1920s. During that time ethnic cleansing of non-Turks (mainly Greeks) was taking place. Greeks were encouraged (that is probably being a bit more polite than was the reality) to emigrate back to Greece. The same thing was happening to Turks in Greece though I believe the numbers were much smaller in that particular case.

This female dog attached herself to the easier walking group almost at the start of their walk. When we met them she switched her allegiance to us as we hiked down to the village of Dagbelen.

A sarnic

This is a watering gathering place - a sarnic. Below the stone dome is a cavity the hold the water which is gathering through the numerous small holes that permit it to drip down into the space below.

We left the farm and began our descent down into a suburb of Bitez. We tromped down a loose gravel road that really seemed far more substantial than it needed to be. I believe it was meant to be a fire road of some sort but even at that it sure seems wide for an area of such sparse population. The industrial village we came out into was not much to look upon. We settled down, with the dog , now known informally as H.F., to await the buses that would take us to Bitez (Bi-tesh) proper and the beach. At about 14:30 the buses arrived and we piled in saying farewell to H.F. who trotted after us for a minute or two before being lost to view. I am confident she will do well without us but that did pull at the heart strings a bit. Ten or so minutes later we rolled up to the beachfront at Bitez and found everyone who had done the shorter walk happily settled down at a beachside bar and we joined them with pleasure. The Aegean here is quite clear and very dark. The sand is not particularly white. It is more a dusky brown and the seabed is similarly dark and dotted with small and midsize stones to stub your toe upon. However, the water though not exactly warm is quite easy to swim in once you take the plunge. Drying off under the beaming sun is easy enough even if you have forgotten to pack a towel. We sat at one of the low tables drinking our cold drinks of choice and enjoyed 90 minutes of quiet beach time. I suppose if anyone had wanted (maybe some did) you could have had a nice bite to eat too (I suspect the food would have been better than anything else we have had to date). All in all this was a nicer ramble through the hills. If there is a downside it is that we are not finding this trip to be all that obviously photogenic.

hammock at Bitez

This hammock was part of the thriving beachfront at the beach we ended our day at in Bitez.

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