For years I’ve quietly harboured a simple, secret dream – to find a small, peaceful village somewhere in the milder, sunnier southern regions of Turkey where I might live a healthy, outdoors life, planting and growing green things in the earth.
A simple life, surrounded by nature and the warmth and camaraderie of friendly, warm-hearted neighbours. A small, cosy but comfortable cottage on a plot of fertile land. Perhaps a handful of animals, a faithful dog. A country-style kitchen, full of fresh produce pulled from the garden. A wood-fired stove and fireplace. Broad, low Turkish tables and divans draped with kilim cloths and scattered cushions. Learning the Turkish language, studying its arts and crafts, understanding its people.
Once upon a time, a Turkish friend fuelled my imagination with wonderful stories of such places and peoples in her homeland. Now I’m wondering. Does such a place exist? Or is this the misguided romantic fantasy of a yabanci dreamer?
Major Turkish cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya are certainly rich and vibrant with an abundance of history, culture and entertainment. The celebrated southern coastal resorts seem to be styled around high-rise apartments, beach life and lively entertainment. But what if you really don’t care for western-style pubs, bars, shopping malls or entertainment at all? Where do you go if it’s green space, serenity, traditional Turkey and the simpler life that you are craving?
For the adventurous, the Turkish countryside is scattered with seemingly idyllic, traditional towns and villages oozing with authenticity and natural beauty. But how realistic is it for a foreigner to think of finding a welcoming niche in such a place?
My independent travels in the Black Sea (Western) region, where I ventured (accidentally) off the tourist trails, certainly brought me face-to-face with traditional Turkish village life. Traversing the scenic hills and valleys between Yenice and Bartin brought me through regions such as Gerisli, Hasankadi, Karaotlu, and Kisla, where time stood still. It was certainly serene out there, with only the sounds of birdsong, cowbells and the occasional müezzin call for company. However, whilst being breathtakingly beautiful, I could not have realistically imagined being embraced by any of these remote and quintessentially Turkish communities.
So for now, my Turkish village dream remains just that…a pleasant dream.