To Boldly Go . .

There are two ways to get from A to B; first, there’s the direct method – and then there’s the indirect method. As a former parachute soldier I remember being told that ‘our method’ of going into battle was the most direct way to insert troops onto the battlefield (or the ‘Battlespace’ in modern jargon); I also remember that, although it was all very exciting at 19 years of age, it was actually a really crap way to see the countryside or smell the roses along the way!

Take it from me, indirect is the way to go whenever you can.

This idea of going from A to B off the beaten track, away from the motorways that pass for normal, average roads in modern Turkey, is rather dear to me – J and I do it a lot.

I actually have an embryonic project to produce a book called ‘The Back Roads of SW Turkey’ in collaboration with a certain Professor of Shadow Puppetry and her artist husband. What J and I are discovering as we try to map out and describe some these routes is that country roads are fast becoming a thing of the past! Where once leafy lanes led through valleys and narrow roads twisted their way up and over mountains, today they are replaced by four-lane motorways that carve through valleys and mountains!

I understand that Turkey is rocketing into the future; but I can’t hide a certain disappointment and nostalgia for that which is being lost so quickly. I’m beginning to wonder if it might not be better to put the routes out individually, as a pdf, and encourage people to use them now, rather than produce a book that is out of date before it hits the stalls! On the other hand, I don’t want to let go of the dream, either. The answer might lie in a book that covers a wider area than just the SW of the country.

Part of the dream is to have people explore away from the main roads, to discover what J and I have found by being reckless enough to follow a dirt road that must go somewhere! People, real people! Real villages and scenery to die for – it’s out there folks. To quote a certain TV series that I love – ‘To boldly go – to seek out new civilisations and new life-forms . .’

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

22 thoughts on “To Boldly Go . .

  1. I am cautious of country roads. I can remember driving into one village and the hill was that steep, I buried my head into the seat and would not look. I was certain the car would roll back down the lane and end up in a pile of twisted metal at the bottom. Since then I have a fear of hills!!! Looked it up and apparently it is quite common.

    1. . . that’s a real shame for you Natalie; I understand the lingering fear that comes from a bad experience. Being adventurous on back roads doesn’t need to encompass white-knuckle rides and it can be the most tranquil experiences.

  2. Yes, we have shared this experience often. You get on a road that was once two lanes and it’s almost certain to be a construction site turning it into a four-lane highway (at least). But then again, we’re retired and can take as long as we like to get somewhere so we suppose that is a luxury nowadays. Good luck on your book project. Sounds like something that will be more fun in the process of producing than anything.

    1. I think you are right about the book project – we sought to start with routes we already knew and have been startled and dismayed by the blots on the landscape.

  3. Our GPS usually takes us along country back roads instead of the main highways. I don’t see getting lost as a bad thing, unless I’m in a hurry, which is never the case while on a road trip in Turkey. I love the scenery. Sometimes it is a bit scary when vehicles come barreling down curvy mountain roads in the wrong lane. But overall, I very much enjoy the scenic route.

  4. While I understand and even applaud your preference to boldly split infinitives .. sorry, go … , there is, of course, a flip side to every coin.

    The small town of Bullas in nw Murcia in Spain, in which I have scratched and marked my own little bit of land, was once accessible only by a narrow and extremely convoluted minor road from Murcia itself. It followed land contours up and down, back and forth, in a manner redolent of an antiquated and creaky fairground ride. Far better suited to a journey on a donkey than in a car, it rendered a trip to the capital, some 50km away, a stomach-churning two-hour journey.

    In the late nineties, a two-lane motorway was constructed in its place, straightening out most of the worst bits and consigning them to history, visible only as fragmented little pockets of overgrown and inaccessible pieces of lane. The motorway was built to bring the Pope from the capital to Caravaca de la Cruz, a very holy town some fifteen minutes (now) west of Bullas.

    I am grateful to His Fragileness: had he not merited the construction of the motorway, I for sure would not be living where I do!

    1. Oh! Wow! What a Revelation(s); faith really does move mountains!
      To put some perspective on the roads I’m talking about, they were not dirt tracks but perfectly serviceable, asphalted little lanes with hardly any traffic of note. Turkey throwing its surplus dosh into roads in a big way – what often happens is that one province will build a four-laner to its border and there it stops! Looks great for GDP but serves little purpose beyond facilitating a lot more speed related deaths.
      The major roads in Turkey are staggering, better than most motorways in Europe – I just wish they’d leave the backways alone – at least until I pop my clogs!

  5. The most famous split infinitive in the English (American) language. I’m afraid to say, Turkish roads put Liam off driving in Turkey forever. As for me, I never learned. I’m sure you won’t be popping your clogs for a while yet so expect a four lane motorway near you some day soon.

    1. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Talk to any para, including old farts like me, about his ‘split infinitives’ and you’ll likely get yourself a split lip for your trouble! Already got the quarry and a 2.5 lane motorway!

    2. ‘to crassly criticise’ (split infinitive) or to criticise crassly? You two are being pedantic in the extreme – and anyway, I wasn’t the author, I was literally quoting a well known literary phrase.

  6. Don’t send too many people down the dirt track which leads past my house please. We already have a jeep safari once a day which makes me feel very odd. Am I meant to wave at them or perform some weird mating ritual dance?

    1. . . now you have my interest with the mating ritual – just remember to charge a fee and get yourself registered with the tax and health authorities ;-D

  7. I say that you should go for it. The information you can share will never go old; there are a lot of new explorers who will love to know more about those roads.

    1. Hi Donna! First off, welcome to Archers and thank you for commenting. In truth, I think this project will bubble along very nicely – despite moderisation.

  8. I believe that not following the most direct way is a good thing if you’re not in a hurry. It gets you to appreciate the places, views and other things you can discover.

  9. Alan — What a wonderful way to spend one’s time…exploring off the beaten path such marvelous places. I am envious of you and J– such intrepid explorers. Do not give up on your dream to write “The Backroads of SW Turkey”, I can highly recommend the Professor of Shadow Puppetry and her artist husband. I am clinging to my dream of someday publishing my manuscript “Mozzarella Mamma”.

    1. . . ‘Dream Bearers’, sometimes we each need someone who says ‘Go for it!’ Thanks Trisha, the Prof and Art will be here soon – time to discuss and do other things too. Keep the ‘faith’! 🙂

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