A Little Bit Of Perfect

We continued driving up into the mountains, all eleven of us together with the goat, on the way to Grandad’s House in the remote village of Karatut. The weather was getting colder and the snow deeper, as we carried on up the steep dirt track roads, buildings were fewer and other traffic almost none existent. However, the scenery was breath-taking and the stuff that movies are made of. I was enchanted by the wild grey foxes who startled by the engine noise, ran alongside the edge of the tracks .

Fortunately, I was unable to see the sheer drop from the road down the side of the mountain, or I am sure I would have been holding my breath for the remainder of the journey. We eventually drove into the village which was a scattering of basic structures; although despite the village’s remoteness there were still satellite dishes dotted along the tops of the buildings. This was Turkey at it’s most traditional and a lifetime away from resort life and foreign visitors.

Most of the villagers were intrigued by the new arrivals and stopped and peered in the car windows, some of whom were known to the family. I was particularly alarmed by a smiling elderly woman who sat outside her house holding a rifle across her lap but fortuitously for us still managed to wave a greeting with her empty hand.

We carried on driving through the village and came to a halt at the top of a dirt track with no visible houses. balcony Man, women, child and goat alighted from the vehicle carrying various bags, pots and pans and then started climbing down a steep incline which led to a wooden house complete with a wraparound balcony nestling along the side of the cliff and amongst the trees like something from a Grimm fairy-tale.

Having removed our shoes, as is the custom whenever you enter a Turkish home, I was surprised when we walked into an immaculately clean small hallway leading onto a salon where again a soba oven kept the room toasty. There was a basic kitchen in one corner and in another primitive showering facilities. Tapestry floor cushions were scattered around the homely room. All the family greeted their grandfather in the Turkish respectful fashion of kissing his right hand and then touching it with their foreheads.

Grandad was a wizened old soul with a particular fondness for moonshine Raki and a twinkle in his eye, who was equally entranced by my mobile phone pictures of home as I was by the loveliness of his. Despite his advanced years he had lived in this village his whole life and now entirely alone since his wife had passed several years earlier.

As I looked around the salon, I couldn’t help but wonder how this large family managed any bathroom privacy. One of Ahmed’s brothers sensing my unease jokingly told me that the entire family showered together whilst soaping each other’s hard to reach places and then translated for the rest of the family which made them all laugh uproariously. As we continued to sit there laughing and joking whilst drinking çay , I couldn’t help but think that many of us had lost some of this family harmony and tradition and I hoped that I would be taking home, along with the usual holiday souvenirs, something a little more enduring which would remind me of these truly golden days.

The view from Grandad's House

The view from Grandad’s House

That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.
Henry David Thoreau

79 thoughts on “A Little Bit Of Perfect

  1. What an incredibly glorious location for a house. Bleak in winter no doubt. The isolation must make Grandpa’s life harder but bulldoze a road up there and bang, that’s the end of that. Special times.

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  2. What a perfect hide-away, D!!! Love the balcony 🙂 And the old lady with the rifle….did Ahmed tell you what the rifle was for? Varmints no doubt…2 or 4 legged?

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  3. With a view like that, why would you ever want to leave? Beautiful post, Dallas, and I am reminded of a similar adventure I took, over 30 years ago, in the mountains up near Nice, France. I was visiting a new friend’s grandmother, who lived in a log house, and we drove up from Nice. We stopped at a bakery and bought a boule on the way up the narrow, winding road.Her bedroom window opened onto a stunning view of the Alps. She was about four feet tall, like everyone in the village. She made us Salade Nicoise and onion tarte, which was the best I ever ate. The men in the village were playing boules. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Thanks for triggering the memory! – Kaye – http://www.youtube.com/user/kittrellkaye

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    • Apparently Phil, most of the elders own guns in the village but I think more as a deterrent than anything else because they have lived through real conflict, however, apparently its quite common at family celebrations that guns are fired into the air at random!!!!

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  4. “Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”
    ― Andrew Zimmern, Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food: Brains, Bugs, and Blood Sausage

    Congratulations on being a traveler! Great blog.

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  5. Wow those are some amazing mountains. Reminds me of something you’d see in Canada or Yellowstone or Yosemite National Park in the US. Sounds like this was such a great cultural experience–it’s always amazing to see how other cultures celebrate the holidays. When it comes down to it though, the basic ingredients are the same: love, good food and drink, and happiness.

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  6. What fabulous experiences. I think the communal shower, well that one maybe not so much. The views though gad to wake to that would cause you to want to live forever. Dallas, I think I would never want to leave this family, their joy is infectious and your ability to share it in your writing is marvelous.

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  7. What a breathtaking view! Were you tempted to sing, “The hills are alive, with the sound of music”? 😉 I know, wrong country, but I would want to sing into that view. … I’m so envious of your experiences with this culture and Ahmed’s family. How wonderful for you, Dallas. 🙂

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    • Bloggers have commented that it reminds them of Alaska too! To be fair it was so cold, singing was the last thing on my mind and I’m sure that old lady may have come along and shot me if she’d heard my tone deaf version of “Maria”!

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  8. What a lovely post – it’s so touching to see the young perform that little hand kissing ceremony and seems to convey true respect for their elders. I saw it a few times in Turkey and wondered about it.

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  9. Yes a lovely post and brings back all the vived memories of my 2 years in Turkey, memories which I hold close in my heart as it is the most amazing place with the most hospitable people. I enjoy following your stories! Thank you

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