Wanderings

Self Indulgence

There was a time, when vicars, elders and assorted priests had a role in society and pleasuring oneself was considered a sin, when a bit of self-indulgence was thought to lead to blindness and/or paralysis! Not true, folks! J and I are living proof that a little of what you fancy does you good. Repression leads to all sorts of strange hang-ups, as my mother could have confirmed were she not ‘bereft of life’! This chap has been caught early as his eyesight has only just started to dim!

spoof

before you rush to order, this is a spoof ad – I know, I checked it out!

So, onwards and upwards – things can only get better! Having had a few weeks of feeling the need to be around because of the geothermal drilling business (see here, and here) in the overwhelming heat at this time of year plus dealing with some residence permit issues (who hasn’t had those!), we needed to indulge our inner and outer selves and escape to the tranquility of the mountains. There is something about being pretty much alone and surrounded by a world much bigger and wider than those irritations that tend to seem so large at the time – somehow, they just melt away – at least temporarily.

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We didn’t want to spend much time on the road and so we decided to head for Girdev Lake and spend a couple of days at the Girdev Camp owned by İlhan and İnci Kurt. Situated 1800mts above sea-level the lake is always beautiful and at this time of year the herders will be there with their sheep and the environment should be wild with life! We were not to be disappointed. Whilst there we also met a young woman named Raz who woke up one morning in her native Cornwall and said, ‘Raz, old girl! You are at a crossroads in your life – why not take a walk to Istanbul.’ (or words to that effect) So she did! Read her  intermittent blog. Then she bought a bike and cycled off and ended up at Girdev Camp for a while. Where next Raz?

Day one it rained cannonballs for a bit, but mostly the sun shone, the clouds were fluffy and the air was like champagne!

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raining . .

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. . cannonballs!

Girdev is a bit like the wilderness with the edges rubbed off – sufficiently off the beaten track to discourage the casual visitors and yet close enough for those willing to trash their tyres if needs must (of which more later)! How long it is going to remain free of mass tourism is open to question because the machines are out in force scraping and rolling in preparation for asphalt. Will they go all the way? It looks very likely. Add in the electricity that is now there and the hopefulless business ventures lining the side of the road won’t be far behind.

Anyway, whilst it lasts, let’s make the most of it and enjoy the wonders! Here’s one that left me amazed – countless billions (not a typo) of Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselflies everywhere. I have never seen anything like it!

 Small Red-Eyed Damsefly011

 Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselfly (female l. male r.)

Erythromma viridulum - Small Red-Eyed Damselflies

. . and then there were these:

Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus

Ochlodes venatus – Large Skipper

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Melanargia russiae Russian Marbled White

Melanargia russiae – Russian Marbled White

. . and then there are the mountains:

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ancient juniper Girdev

with ancient Junipers

mosque in the middle of nowhere Girdev

. . and a mosque in the middle of nowhere

girdev cheese making

a lesson in cheese making from a local expert

lunch with goatherders

. . and lunch with delightful goatherders

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. . who live down there

Some random flower pics:

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girdev flowers2

girdev flowers 3

girdev flowers 4

girdev lake 4

final view of Girdev Lake

So, what do you think, folks – splendid, or what?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps when we got back down from Girdev and on to a bit of tarmac we realised we’d probably been driving for miles on a flat rear tyre. It was utterly trashed! The inside and outside walls were ripped like this all around! In the nearby little town the ‘Lastikci’ dug-out a nearly new replacement for the spare, checked everything over – 100 TL/£25 – job jobbed!

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pps for those of you who have been totally enthralled by this scintillating post, here’s a link to an earlier expedition with a certain professor who shall remain nameless to protect his reputation!

Stuff

‘Wow!’ – Ed’s View Whilst Wandering Wild Places

Yuvarlakcay_1Ed is a new friend who has a deep affinity with our part of Turkey. He is drawn to mountains and wide, open vistas which I understand. Ed is from the US – California to be exact and he says ‘Wow!’ a lot. Then he says it backwards ‘!woW’ which may have more to do with his age and California Dreamin’ than the view!

So it was that J and I offered to take him to one of our favorite ‘!woW’ places where, once upon a time, seldom did the shoes of outsiders tread – Girdev Lake which, at 1800 mts, is a long way up and over Ak Dağ mountain near the small town of Seki, not too far from the Fethiye-Antalya road in SW Turkey. As so often happens with wild, unspoilt places that take a bit of effort to get to, tourism catches on and has the effect of altering or, in some cases, totally messing up what Toprakana-Mother Nature seemed to think was really pretty good in the first place.

getting to Girdev – how it used to be

Access gets ‘improved’ and before long ways are being found to commodify and exploit the place by upgrading the environment.

girdev panoramio

So it is with Girdev which is a sort of crater lake in that it is totally surrounded by mountains. Rain and especially snow-melt feeds the seasonal waters. No rivers flow from the lake and it drains through a sink-hole near the north end before emerging as the Kazanpınar Spring some 18 kms away near Elmalı in Antalya province. Nature’s balance meant that as the lake dried great swathes of wild flowers emerged, particularly Orchis palastris – the Marsh Orchid. Girdev is also home to many different species of birds and insects as well as the great flocks of sheep brought up there each season by the traditional nomadic herders.

That was then, this is now – tourism has come! A permanent ‘camp’ has been built to house those who want to visit this unique place for longer than a day-trip. Nothing wrong with that I say.

Girdev dam (land of lights)

What is sad is that, pandering to money from those who know no better, a shallow dam has been raised restricting the flow to the sink-hole and creating a permanent lake where one never existed before and this has been stocked with carp. Nature will adapt and species will change – my question is ‘Why does money always have to trump nature?’ There will always be consequences – nomadic herders have lost much of their traditional grazing grounds; to make ends meet will they have to resort to opening restaurants and gözleme (pancake) stalls around the lake? And what about the water quality at Elmalı as tourism expands? That said, Girdev is still yet a lonely and wildly beautiful place – as long as you miss the Jeep safari crowds!

al fresco lunch – trout a la çoban

Anyway, enough of that, back to Ed and the ‘!woW’ factor. As I said, he loves to photograph vistas which means that getting anywhere can take a while longer than with most people. That said, seeing the familiar through Ed’s fresh eyes was truly refreshing and reinforced the reasons that J and I love this country so much.

So, Ed, we owe you – although I do think that that lunch with a family of herders was ample compensation!

‘Wow!’

‘!woW’

local heading home – no ‘Wow!’ being polite

Reflections (girdevcamp.com)

half way to the top looking down to the Antalya road – ‘Amazing! !woW’

chicken coop – ‘Wow! Will you look at that thing!’

‘Oh, !woW’

Boffer bugging off

Ed’s Rock – and no sign of ‘Alice’ – WOW!

So, there you have it, a mere drop in a veritable cascade of Ed’s views of this trip to the ‘wild, blue yonder’ of Girdev.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü