Another morning of insanely barking dogs … I was woken up twice last night and early this morning. I wonder what the hell gets them going? A braying donkey joined them this morning. Right at the moment the power is off in my room – don’t know if it’s off in the entire academy, but these small power outages are quite common here, especially as the weather gets hotter and more and more people start using air conditioners. It is not hot enough to need one now but I notice that the academy does not have any air conditioners (and hence no heating, as well). There is always a breeze on this hill so maybe it does not get as crazily hot here as other places in Turkey where it can sometimes get over 50 in the summer.
Yesterday, I had breakfast with the gang of workers, Pelin, Nils, Elhan and a new addition to our little group – Yasemin, the young daughter of Latife, one of the founders of the academy. All the people either working or living here at the moment are all related. For example, Pelin is living in Latife’s house; she wrote and published a biography of the novelist about 6 years ago and has been coming back to the academy several times each year since then to work on her writings. And Mehmet, Ilknur’s boyfriend, is Latife’s son.
After breakfast, I wandered the hills around the academy, and gathered bamboo-like sticks and plants called Korek. These are very interesting, very large plants, with bamboo-like stalks and large flower-like protrusions that remind me of Queen Ann’s lace, except they’re not white but green. These plants are everywhere on the hills and grow enormously large. I can see their outlines against the sky along several hilltops in the distance. I also grabbed some wood from the piles of rotten wood around the place which I will use as painting surfaces.
The large pond beneath the theatre is currently being drained and cleaned to get rid of the algae on its walls. At the moment it is home to mating frogs, with all their attendant noise.
After a lunch of chickpea and lamb stew with rice, Nils, Elhan, Yasemin, Pelin and I went to the weekly open air market at Turgutreis, a seaside town about 7 km from here back over the hill behind the academy. As we rolled along we passed through several blocks of these small white holiday home villages, all built for and owned by foreigners, mostly British, I believe. They have proliferated like mushrooms on the hills in this area over the past 6 years. Pelin calls them “Ten day homes”, because the owners come for holidays and use them only 10 days of the year and the rest of the time they sit empty. When she first started coming here, apparently there were no such houses in the valley.
The market was the usual mix of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, textiles, cheap toys and clothes. Somehow, going around it with Pelin, it was a lot easier to actually look at things and I ended up buying some very inexpensive summer tshirts, a 5 lira kettle for my room, and a pair of cool salvar pants with elasticized waist which can also be wore as a sundress. Pelin bought a bathing suit. After, while we were waiting for our driver to reappear, Pelin and I walked down to the harbour and sat at the beach. Turgutreis seems like a very pleasant small town and it is already quite busy with British and Dutch tourists, this being May.
After unloading the car of all our goodies, Pelin and I set off for a walk to Gumusluk. She walks everyday for at least an hour, usually more. We walked down the hill and through the valley below the academy, arriving after about 45 minutes at the waterfront. Gumusluk beach is quite rugged still. It has only one or two beachfront hotels offering sunbeds and umbrellas, and a few bars, along with 10 or so very famous and quite expensive fish restaurants. As we walked past these restaurants, from small blue plastic pools, lobsters and other sea creatures wiggled their antennae at us. Further along the beach, past the restaurants, are the ruins of the ancient city of Myndos. We didn’t have time to explore them but I will go back on my own for a good look. The round trip took us about 2 hours and we were back in time for dinner. Of the people here, the only ones who speak any English at all are Ilknur, Nils and Pelin, and they speak well; Yasemin speaks some, too, but the rest, nothing. It’s a little hard to have a dinner conversation with the others, since my Turkish consists mostly of “Hi, how are you?” and “Too hot!” … (I later found out, when Mehmet invited me to have coffee with him and the sculptor Eyup, that he speaks English very well, having lived in the States for quite a few years).
This morning I also awoke to a power outage. I found out at breakfast that it had been announced yesterday over the mosque PA system but, of course, I didn’t realize it. The power is supposed to be back on by noon today but we shall see … In the morning I walked up past the disused graffitee’d cistern with the intent of going up to look at the ruined windmills. As I walked up the road that had been pointed out to me the day before, a frantic chorus of barking assailed me from all sides. Several large dogs popped their heads up from house decks and a couple of dogs started racing towards me. I could see a yard with about 6 very large dogs in a cage and others loose in the yard. Damn … I walked slowly back down again and asked a woman, with sign language, how to get up to see the windmills past the dogs. She directed her son to take me and off we went, with him picking up several stones on the way. As we passed the dogs, he made as if to throw a rock at them and they backed off. Reaching the hilltop, he knocked on the door of the first windmill and a tall blonde man opened the door. He allowed me to enter through his “yard” and I had a look in each of the other 5 windmills. With the exception of the windmill in which this man – Ahmet, as I found out – is living, all are ruined.
On my way back I asked Ahmet about the windmills and he proceeded to explain how they worked and showed me the various components of the windmill system. Apparently, they are about 125 years old and have been disused for quite a while. Ahmet is renting “his” windmill for 250 lira a month for a period of 6 years. He told me that he’d left Istanbul and had been looking for a stone house on the coast in which to live. The windmill suits him perfectly. He has been renovating the interior, having put in a sleeping loft, another guest loft, a fireplace, water, electric and internet. Around the exterior of the windmill is a stone terrace on which he intends to put a pvc swimming pool. A rather eccentric individual, he prefers to live on the periphery of things and is quite happy with his solitude on the windy hill.
Ilknur has been kind enough to arrange for a bike for me – yippee. However, it needs repair so one of the workmen will be taking me to Turgutreis this afternoon to get it fixed up.
I like the academy and I like what it’s trying to do here. What it needs is a wealthy sponsor and quite a few young people to help keep the place going.
See pictures here.