Anu and Manas find a new family in Seferhisar as their travels take them deeper into the beautiful lands of Turkey
I used to think that experience and age are enemies of innocence. The fresh, trusting way you look at the world when you are young somehow gets dulled when it has to cut through negativity and bad experiences- and childlike simplicity is relegated to some obscure corner of ones personality. But on this trip I have realized otherwise. What I have realised is that it takes confidence and love to continue trusting despite being taken advantage of. I have met several people, spread across diverse geographies and age, who live their lives on such patterns. Somehow, observing them, being close to them and during my intimate discussions with them, I realize that they have a very interesting approach. They are worldly wise when it comes to matters of the world- business, negotiations and social banter- they react appropriately as the situation demands… with tact and rationality. At other times, they create non-transactional relationships- opening their hearts to positive energy.
Our last host Barco is another such example. He is nearly 40, is a man of the world- yet in his core lies a man who loves freely, trusts often and gives with all his heart. “I am a man of the present- I do not think too much about the future- because somewhere within me I trust that the future works itself out pretty well” he explained. It was night, we were at his farm, the moon was setting in the far hills, the breeze rustled the trees and down below us were the twinkling lights of the Turkish coastal town of Sefirhisar. He was a film-maker but preferred to live on his farm instead of Istanbul, visiting the city only when assignments required it of him.
We had been Barco’s guests for the last three days- his log cabin was our home, his parents treated us no differently than they treated him- and his fiancé Serap was our favourite friend. Mimi, his mother cooked her secret recipes for us- and this morning she braided Anu’s hair with a hand-made garland of beautiful flowers- just like Turkish mothers embellish their baby girls. Deep in the mountains of coastal Turkey, we had found a new home and family.
We talked long last night- about the network of good people, about positive energies that exist as little islands across humanity- about the power of goodness and a world without boundaries. This morning we said our goodbyes- and the whole family: Barco-Serap, Mimi and Aniz (Barco’s father) and Arda (Barco’s brother) were there waving us goodbye. Our motorbike climbed up the gravel road and as we turned the corner, the rear view mirror still picked up the little shapes of our friends still waving at our vanishing trail of dust, braving the hot afternoon sun. Goodbyes are not easy- especially when love is offered so freely. But Anu and me- we were wayfarers- and it is within us, to move on: that is the way of the traveller… a way we had embraced now almost 3 months since.
We were headed for Pamukkale where the snow white mountain slopes and terraces of natural springs have been a cause of awe and wonder for travellers since time immemorial. When we reached the main road, we looked back wistfully up the hill slope- and the wheels moved along the road, past the little town of Tepecik, past the bald mountains near Kavakdere, and then running along the sea on the road to Kusadasi. We continued thus until the little village of Selcuk, considered as the gateway to Ephesus (a vast ancient city) and also ruins of the Greek temple of Artemis considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world. We went until the gates- but then we were dissuaded by the horde of tourists… after our solitude filled recent days, elbowing our way into a monument (however extraordinary) did not appeal. We carried on, deeper into the barren mountains- past Germancik and the large town of Aydin. There is a peculiar beauty about barren landscapes that really move me. As I rode through the impassive rock faces I found myself thinking of how eternity surrounds us with its memoirs- and how we proceed with our self-obsessed lives, unaware of the world around us.
To me, the naked mountains are so much ‘in your face’ testimony about the presence and the passage of time beyond human history. And buried in these thoughts, the miles passed quickly. We paused occasionally- for water, fuel or a smoke- it felt good to stretch once in a while, to feel the earth (not just the motorbike foot pegs) below the feet. Sometimes we would stay silent during these breaks- sometimes we would speak our mind with each other- but we had a companionship that was forged by months of traveling and braving sun and rain together. Anu was truly the most amazing travel buddy anyone could ask for- gutsy but sweet, attentive but not smothering and not a tremor from her even when we dive into curves. We crossed Aydin and Sultanhisar and again the landscape changed- this time the greens returned with gusto- pines, jungles of shrubs and vines as well as plantations clothed the mountains now. Gone were the black rocks or the dry brown shrubs; welcome back lush green panorama. As we rode past, the smells of industries mingled with the pines and the occasional whiff of grass. Tractors crawled along the highways carrying with it people and produce, the little stalls along the highway returned with their display of fruits, cane baskets and preserves- and the sun slid gently deeper towards the western horizon.
When the sun dipped for the final time today, the sky was ripe with the colours of summer- gold, blue, pink, magenta and purple. And through these hues, there stood before us, a mountain- white as the snow, its slopes playing with the various colours of the sunset. “Welcome to Pamukkale” I called out to Anu from within my helmet visor.