Yakabağ, between a rock

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Turkey  , Muğla,
Monday, December 6, 2010

For a place where villagers are likely to make little in income, where restaurants have only been introduced in the last ten years, and chickens, cows, goats and sheep are always in the middle of the road, it is surprising to find that almost everyone here uses solar power for water heating. They may not be able to afford lots of things beyond what they grow and trade themselves, but they grow a lot cheaply and with back breaking hard work. A pound of almost any fruit or vegetable easily costs less than 50 American cents. Almost everything is home cooked food. When I look out at the iconic mountains and vivid clouds surrounding the Xanthos Valley, I don`t feel like I am in reality. Every day I wonder if I`m not in some fairy tale setting of cottages, forests, and snow-capped mountains. The minarets of mosques rise above the valley floor, little pins trying to keep the new Moon from moving clockwise across the sky, and turtles pair away to mate, bumping shells in slow motion.
On the other hand, I work my ass off pruning, burning, cutting, planting, weeding, and packing olive, lemon, mandarin, orange, pomegranate, and grapefruit trees, blackberry bushes, and grape vines. Scratches and cuts adorn my legs, sore muscles and stained clothes walk me back to bed. We cook 3 meals a day between us, make tea for a plethora of visitors, and wear my four pairs of underwear in a steady rotation to minimize the smell. The cats warm me up at night in my sleeping bag, but also throwup a little too close to my pillow. Serkan`s mother has four sheep stolen while she`s out in the field picking 30,000 olives a day for Sinan. The good and the bad, the subtle and the brazen balance each other out.
 But the ugly side is reserved for new buildings and environmental erosion. These buildings are mostly bare concrete squares and rectangles shoddily pasted together, whose sole redeeming feature to look upon is the red-tiled terracotta roof. And beyond the greenery, erosion is rampant with large swathes of road cut out of the sides of mountains, unsupported by anything except the dirt and lacking clear drainage channels. Open mining pits lay bare next to the road side. The government is trying to reforest a number of areas designated national parks, but as per-usual, they are in perfect uniform lines, spaced at an exact length apart that is more akin to a tree farm than a natural forest. And of course, conventional industrialized agriculture with its pesticides and herbicides is a norm highly unlikely to be shaken loose anytime soon, aside from the farm I am on, but Sinan the owner is moving to Bodrum, so even that might change.

(Pictures soon to come)
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