Çıralı Keyif Günleri, May, 2009
For a fourth year running, we have Çıralı Keyif Days before Antalya Algebra Days. Keyif is well-being, pleasure in life.
On Friday, May 15, we take the 23.00 bus from Ankara. First I have my boots shined at the terminal, as I usually do; the men there do a good job, and there's nothing else to do but wait around for the bus to leave. The price has been five lira; this time, when I pay with a ten, I get back three one-lira coins. The man seems to assume I am ignorant of Turkish, which is not entirely correct; but I have no inclination to act like a cheapskate.
The overnight bus ride is comfortable, at least for me; I never feel a longing to stretch out horizontally, as I have on other trips.
We reach the Çıralı junction at 8.00 on Saturday morning, and Zeynep is waiting for us with the car.
Ayşe and I walk to the beach as usual. Along the way we note an enormous flower, growing between the stream and a garbage skip.
The sea is smooth, çarşaf gibi—like a sheet. The water is cold. Drying off under the noonday sun, we burn ourselves.
At Ceylan Cafe, Rabiya hanım tells us of threats to tear down the cafe because it is officially on forest land. She says lots of construction material has been carried past the place, but she doesn't know why. There will always be a struggle between the local people and the would-be developers of large tourist resorts. At least, I hope there will always be a struggle: that the developers don't win.
Alp has left Giritli Pansiyon, and Zeynep is not cooking. We take our breakfast and dinner with the neighbor and landlord, who runs his own pension and restaurant.
A striking feature of the Yörük Park Restaurant is the köşk (kiosk), here a platform set in an enormous plane tree by the stream. There is seating in the tree for two parties of guests.
Sasha joins us on Monday morning after an overnight bus ride from Istanbul. It's a long way, but he seems content. Unlike the airplane, the bus is nearly door to door from Santralistanbul; and Sasha can sleep sitting. In the afternoon, I leave him and Ayşe at the Ceylan Cafe and set out for the Chimera. Though we have seen the flaming rocks three times before, this will be the first time that I have the camera to document the event. I leave the Cafe at 15.55.
I reach the lower flames at 16.45 and hang out for 15 minutes. There are the ruins of an old church, supposedly built atop a temple of Hephaestus.
This is the first time I have hiked up from the lower flames to the upper. The intensity of the flowers under the sun is spectacular; a photo gives only a pale suggestion of the effect.
The path down the other side of the ridge is at some points perilous.
At 18.10, I reach the stream. I have some trouble finding the log that one can cross on; now perhaps I understand better the confusion of hikers whom we have met at this point.
On the other side, there has been some grading of the dirt road. I discover somebody's new holiday retreat, hexagonal in plan, still apparently under construction.
I reach Giritli Pansiyon at 18.55.
Tuesday is our last morning in Çıralı, breakfasting among the chickens, before we head to Antalya for our meeting.
In 2006, Alp took us to the castle that overlooks the pension. This year I want to find my way up there again. But there is too much undergrowth. Not far from the asphalt road, I do find the grave of a child who lived for two months in 1978.
I find a dirt road to follow, though it probably will not ascend towards the castle. I pass through a field of yellow flowers. In the middle is a stone with a grave that was carved perhaps two thousand years ago.
Eventually I just sit by the stream and read Homer a while before returning to the pension.