A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
by Fred Moore - January 2006
It's Sunday morning and it's eleven o'clock; Carol and I have decided to take
a drive. We've not planned anything so we're simply off to lunch, the sun is
well established overhead and the temperature is in the seventies. This is January
but it feels like spring; we want to get out and enjoy the day. This time of
year we should be enduring wet weather but we've had little. I fear we will
be lacking water come summer but the mountains have taken on plenty of snow
so I pray that will make up for our lack of rainfall.
Carol and I collect our things, check the house and get to the car. We still haven't settled on a lunch place really but it is far too nice a day not to take a drive. Half way to the gate Carol motions to the side of the street and says, "there's Pat and Laura"; these are new folks who have come to Turkey from Minot, ND in snow country, not far from the Canadian border of the USA.
We immediately decide to engage them in an invitation so I pull into the parking lot here beside us and shout across the street we've just left, they don't hear us to begin with as traffic continues between them and us. I tap the horn and shout once more and there, we have their attention. We suggest we're going out to lunch and I tell them we're going to the bus/truck stop out on the autobahn. They readily accept our invitation and make their way across the street to our car.
I get out of the car and make ready for the three of them; I didn't mention they have a small child as well. Their 19 month old daughter is Keira, she's in a backpack-like harness and we put that as well as our coats in the trunk to make space. We drive to the gate and present our identification to the guards and leave the base.
I drive out through the alley and turn to the right toward Adana to get the new entry road to the autobahn. Our guests have NOT been out into the country yet so this will be their maiden adventure. We had just taken them into Old Adana yesterday, so they have been down town. We're all making comments about the beautiful snow-capped mountains; they make a breath-taking backdrop for today's drive. This entry road makes a number of near right angle turns making the drive something one must pay attention to, so while the others enjoy the sights, I mind my driving.
As we are consumed by the landscape around us I can't help but notice how beautiful and green every field appears. My thoughts no more than pass from my mind when our guests begin commenting on the beauty of the county surrounding us. We find it very refreshing to be validated in our opinion of this countryside. Pat comments that the rolling hills look like a golf course. We're cruising now at 65 MPH and the time slips by effortlessly, before we realize we've gone the distance; the truck stop is just ahead. I step on the brake to terminate cruise and begin my deceleration into the right lane for our departure from the autobahn. As I ease through the parking lot I point out the castle perched atop the hill just across the autobahn east and south of our location. I explain to our friends that the castle is Crusader and called, Snake Castle. This is one of the features close enough to the base that all who come here, at least hear of it, whether they venture out to it or not. Truth is there are many assigned personnel who DO NOT venture out, such a shame.
I park the car and we make our way around the building to he main entrance; the side door is closed off this time of year, probably to maintain what little heat there is in the facility. We take Pat and Laura directly to the serving line and introduce them to the dishes that are available today. Carol primarily does the introductions of the hot line and the staff waves us to the cooler for a view of the meat dishes that can be prepared if you wish. As I've discussed it in the past, this is cafeteria style and the food is similarly available. I make my selections known to the wait staff and move off to a table in the family section of the dining room. Carol continues the exchange with the wait staff and our friends as they order their lunch.
On the way to the table I've chosen; Laura collects a high chair for Keira and pushes it to the table. As we all settle in our places the wait staff bring over clean plates and flatware; my waiter doesn't like the look of my spoon and directs one of the others to get a clean one. The waiter opens and places a paper napkin under each plate as he sets each place before us. Another young man brings my clean spoon and a liter of bottled water. On his heels is another young lad with several plates, one with quartered 'sour' oranges (these are used primarily for flavoring your food, just squeeze it over your lunch like you would a lemon), one with tiny 'hot' peppers and lemon wedges, one with chunks of radishes (think large fries) and shredded carrots (topped with pomegranate juice), and lastly one with baby romaine lettuce also topped with pomegranate juice. The pomegranate juice adds a very lovely favor to our salads and the chunks of radishes.
While in conversation, Carol suggests we might want to drive to the coast. Pat and Laura readily accept the idea and our plans for the afternoon have simply bloomed more fully to make our day. We top off lunch with Turkish Tea, as is the custom and depart. We take our friends into the little quick stop like place to show them what's typically available at these stops and we talk about things generally. As we're walking about in the store, the young lady clerk comes over to greet and play with Keira. The clerk jesters toward Keira to come to her and picks her up in her arms. She turns to the shelving in front of her; there on top is a stuffed toy (a squirrel with a nut in its paw), she reaches out for it and squeezes its paw; the thing begins to sing in English, 'Celebrate' and taps its foot to the tune. I pick up a couple different kinds of cookies for our continued trip and we depart. Outside, I offer everyone a cookie and explain how they're my very favorite brand, Ulker. I also comment on our lunch; Pat and Laura both agree our lunch was great.
We get back into the car and ease our way back onto the autobahn. We're going east on the highway and Carol points out the view of the castle from our new vantage points, as we tend to drive around the hillside it's perched atop. As clear as it is today it's very easy to see the full splendor of this magnificent edifice a top the hill. I'm a little surprised as we approach the tollgates; I expect to pick-up a ticket but no one is stopping for one. Carol and I come to the conclusion there are no tickets or tolls today because of the Turkish holidays. We continue down the highway for about thirty minutes to the exit we need to get off on, we're going south to Yumurtalik.
I ease off the autobahn and down the exit ramp to the tollbooths and slowly drive through passing several pedestrians who appear to be waiting on rides somewhere. A short drive beyond the tollgates and I turn left to cut over to the two-lane road going to the little fishing village we set as our goal. We are again consumed by many fields of grain; it's quite amazing to see all this green with as little rain as we've had. Carol is commenting once more about the clean and clear skies, I tell her it must be the fields that make it so. The last few months have been accompanied by massive amounts of field burning (grain stubble is burnt off every field here) but now with all the crops in place and the fields so green, we have beautiful clear skies.
This is a small fishing village and before we drive very far we are descending onto the beachfront property making up the commercial district. Laura turns our attention to the bay, "what's that out there", she asks. She's pointing to a small island, we explain it's part of an old ruin, a castle that we have found little information on; we explain the literature is meager on the subject. I drive us past the small shopping kiosks and the hotel we use when we stay here and onto the tiny harbor. I park the car and we walk out on the breakwater that forms the outer-most side of the harbor. There are a good number of fishermen out and about, mending fishnets and gathering their lines. There are several small boats coming and going but it's fairly quiet today. The harbor is lined with small 14 to 20 foot fishing boats gunnel to gunnel bobbing in the water. Most of these boats are one man rigs. Off to one side we see a couple of young lads playing with their own homemade boats, probably sons of great fishermen here.
The air has a bit of nip in it but the water is cobalt blue and the rocks are coal black. It's a beautiful day to walking on the beach! Pat and Laura with Keira in the backpack DO go walking on the beach. Carol and I opt to look on from a bench just above the sand. After a short interlude here at the harbor we get back to the car and make our way to the hotel; we want to inquire as to the room rate and IF possible show our friends a room. We're greeted warmly by the hotel staff and discover the rates haven't changed. The suite still costs 60 Lira or about $45 and a small standard room is $30; the suites are the front of the hotel overlooking the beach. There are two rooms available for our viewing and we ascend the stairs so Pat and Laura can see how they are arranged. We thank the staff very much for the kindness and leave the hotel. We walk across the street and down to the beach, which is probably one hundred feet across; we all walk to the water's edge. The beach is brown sand and this is the public area, down the way from here some of this beach is private. Immediately in front of us, maybe a hundred yards or so is the island with the castle ruin on it. This isn't castle by the sea but 'ruin in the sea', HaHaHa. We're all taking about how wonderful this place is to escape our work and simply relax. Even our short visit today transports us to another place and time as we stand and listen to the waves wash over the sand and watch some boys play soccer just here in front of us.
As we stand in this beautiful microcosm of our planet, our work and homes seem miles away. The tranquility one feels standing in this place is difficult to describe in simple words. As we stand here a little longer to take it all in, an older couple who have walked from down the beach at the waters edge overtakes us and then a policeman passes by a short time later in their same footsteps, all out to enjoy a wonderful January day on this beautiful beach. It's getting late and none of us truly wish to break the spell we're under but we must get going, we reluctantly ascend to the street and get into the car for the drive back.