Saturday, October 29, 2011

Turkey, Day 3: The Mumcular Valley and Village of Etrim

Me and Mom above Mumcular Valley

Mom is leading the way. We are about to leave the ridge and drop down into Mumcular Valley and the hamlets that it contains.
—Photo by Jonathan Knight

Today started out rather slowly. The buses arrived 45 minutes late perhaps due to road work getting in the way though this seems a little odd to me. To add a bit of insult to injury at least one bus, the one I was in,  was driven by a driver who drove considerably below the speed limit even on the best of roads. It was as if he was trying to protect his seemingly new Mercedes minibus from any possible harm. It turned what should have been about a 45 minute drive into one that was much closer to 80 minutes. Today we had travelled something like 18km east across the peninsula for our walk around and above a large valley (the Mumcular Valley) that sported several small villages with their associated farms. We would be walking along country roads through pine forests and that made for an interesting change. As we proceeded along the gently rising grade we noticed that the forests were thicker than anything we had seen. Now and then we passed by very wide forest roads that could only be so wide to act as fire breaks we reasoned. It was easy going though uneventful.
Mumcular valley view

Looking down onto the valley below. Small hamlets dot the landscape below. I suppose most of the farms are growing grains and olives.

As I write this I honestly can't tell you much more about the walk than I just have. We curled around a farming valley but that is really all I can say. We were doing an alternative route because the originally designed one was being wrecked by some type of serious road and/or forestry work that was tearing things up. That meant instead of walking entirely through pine forests to at last descend into a small village (I think Etrim) to visit a local carpet factory we would instead head into the valley and pass through a couple farming hamlets along the way to the original endpoint of Etrim. Etrim mosque

I think the mosque minaret you see here is likely the mosque in Etrim.

I think this alternative route, probably about the same distance though with considerably less elevation change, was actually more interesting. Of course we wondered when we would pick up the dog of the day today (A blond lab Ian had encountered last week that was reportedly very friendly) and that thought rumbled around all day long until the very end. We moved fairly quickly, for a group of our size, along the roads (no traffic) taking just a few short breaks along the way. We did not find the olive orchard for lunch but the pine tree sheltered glade off the side of the road was quite a fine spot to eat anyway. When we dropped completely off the ridges above the valley we went into a village made up of numerous small homes with accompanying farm plots. Dogs moved about, you saw chickens now and then, cows in fields mooed as we passed. A simple, though probably tough, life. Still there did seem to be a tranquility about the place and it might be far less well off than many places but it also felt well kept and loved. We passed through the village and long worn sun baked paths passing a green colored turtle pond along the way. Maybe some of the numerous turtles will show up on the photo I took but I doubt it. Mumcular valley turtle pond

As we walked along the sun-baked paths that wind amongst the hamlets and their fields we came upon this rather unpleasant looking pond. Sure it is a pretty green but it isn't a water I would want to get too close to. However, the turtles that live here don't seem to mind.

The walk ended in the village of Etrim which we had driven through on the way to the starting point of our walk. This village sported a carpet factory which we were to visit. Factory makes it sound so industrial and that really is a bit unfair. It is perhaps better to describe the place as an artisan collective where the ladies of the village who have been making carpets and wall hanging textiles for generations. We were greeted by the owner (maybe) and an elderly lady of the village. The man was serving as the front man for the place and described what they did with pride. The woman  was the one responsible for providing tea and light foods of some sort of pancake-style (though not a pancake maybe more akin to a pita or nan) stuffed with veggies. We would learn later she was also one of the artisans who ever so slowly create the village's carpets. We also finally met the friendly happy-go-lucky lab Ian had told us about. Apparently after it arrived the previous week it decided to stay. We had our snacks before we were ushered into a large room festooned with carpets and wall hangings. They all had patterns of varying levels of intricacy and, for me at least, often too tough to really take in well. I have little doubt that the quality is high but it is hard to really know. carpet factory snack

I think it most be part of Turkish hospitality that if you are spending any substantial amount of time in a store or taking a taxi ride you are going to be offered something to eat and/or drink. Under most cases you don't pay for this but here in this artisan collective we did pay a couple lira.

After being shown what was being made and given chances to purchase something that caught our respective eyes we put our shoes back on and went down to where the older lady was now sitting on the ground (or maybe on a mat) in front of a loom working on a carpet. It takes a month to make a square meter of rug with its 36 knots per square centimeter and that must be extra hard when you realize the creator has to keep the pattern she is building all in her head and doing so over a long period of time. That speaks to dedication and knowing that this type of thing is a big part of the weavers life doesn't make it necessarily easier.  We spent a while observing this place and I am glad we were able to do it. Being able to walk through the couple villages we did (the last one with its very narrow streets with homes with a cows or chickens in the yard - subsistence farming again) really made what could have been a somewhat dull walk far more interesting.
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