In The Stunning Country of Turkey

Turkey, Saklikent at Fethiye/Antallya November 2014

Today we went out, as usual, for some sight seeing that I knew nothing about. My job is to wake up, eat a wonderful Turkish breakfast, and then toodle off in the wake of my fearless leader. With no idea where we left from and no idea where we are going, I get in the car, gaze out the window and enjoy the incredible and unusual scenery.

Post-trip, I thought, for referencing reasons and whatnot, I should learn the names of where we went. I remain unable to pronounce them, but here they are, in their written form; we went to Saklikent, which, I’m told, is located near Fethiye/Antallya. In fact, now that I have the names, I have been able to include a map in the location part of this post. I describe this as The Muddy River-Crossing Destination, but it was oh so much more glamorous than it sounds!

I should be clear here that my confusion about my destination is not really anybody’s fault. It is partially because I have no grounding geographical knowledge of Turkey as well as a total void in my head where my sense of direction should be. Also, I’m on vacation, so I don’t even trouble about such things. I’m just along for the ride, and the food. The other reason is because Turkey really is a different country than Canada and sometimes I just could not trust myself to believe what I was hearing. Here’s an example of what I heard

So, near the river there’s a restaurant and when the weather is nice they put the tables in the water and you sit in the river to eat”.

Cripes! was the man mad? No restaurant allows their customers to sit IN a river. In the end, after some clarification that clarified nothing, I assumed that it was one of those language barrier things and my darling meant that in favorable weather the restaurant puts their tables beside the river (perhaps even very very near the bank. After all, this is Turkey and I don’t know what to expect) and then, when the patrons are finished with their meal, they wander around and dip their toes in. As it was, his use of English was absolutely fine, and he meant every word.

There is a rushing, muddy river, and they really do put the tables directly into the river. You eat your dinner while your toes are cleaned (it’s not really dirty mud, it’s the nice clean silty mud). Once I got used to it as a real idea, I found it unmistakably brilliant!

Unfortunately we were not able to enjoy our lunch in the river due to it being November and cold, and because we were one of roughly three groups that still braved haunting the place during the chill season. We DID get to explore the river though, or at least I did, and this is what it looked like….When you leave the parking lot and walk until you arrive at the base of a canyon, then turn to your left and make your way along the wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk turns slowly into a metal mesh walkway, drilled into the canyon wall and hanging 10 meters above the river.

After about 4 slow minutes, (because I walk very slowly when I’m enjoying myself) the walkway gives out onto medium patch of earth and rock, with a covered gazebo (to wet the whistles of the parched tourists in the summer) and an extensive root system that reached around a while before reaching into a tree.

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This is the place where the two rivers meet. One, the one coming in from the left side, is noisy, thick, and crystal clear; the river that joins it from the right is slower, shallow, and perfectly saturated with silty mud.

There is a rope strung across the meeting point of the two rivers. The rope serves as a life anchor for those who desire to ford across and wander up the mud river canyon. I desired, and I went. My friend had not brought a change of clothes, so he stayed behind, but I simply hiked my skirt inappropriately high and used my British Columbian river-walking skills to reach the mud-sucking safety of the other side.

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I had entered heaven, surrounded by smaller patches and larger stretches of soft, silky mud, trickling water and climbable piles of rocks. I began my wander up the river bed. I played in it, patted it, smeared it on my arms and legs, rubbed it into my hands, washed it off with water and started over again. I found places I could walk on the surface of the mud and places I sank to my calves. I found rocks to climb up until I felt like a mountain goat and little green plants with leaves to nibble (this is not recommended. You should never eat unidentified plants!).

I did have one near incident: I was on my way back, near the last turn in the river before I would be in sight of the gazebo, and I was debating with myself whether I should take the opportunity to do a little naked dipping. I was a bit nervous because I’d seen other foot prints in the mud, however, I’d been gone for 45 minutes and had not seen a single person. I’d just decided to go for it and was nearly off with my bra when I looked up and saw two brightly clad figures round the bend ahead. I panicked, and began fumbling with my shirt. They dodged back out of sight again in what I felt was profound courtesy (or possibly panic). I reclad myself as quickly as possible and sprinted – as sprintily as I could in gooey mud – around the last river bend and across the river. A close call indeed.

After that we went for Gozleme (large flat-breads folded over cheese and grilled) because I was hungry (as always!). I was tired from my jaunt, but more than that, I was feeling totally overwhelmed with the beauty that had entered my soul. I could not describe it, and it made me quiet with happiness.

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