Since I am so far behind on my blog, I feel that I should just keep going and try to catch up a little. Right now I am on the bus to Pamukkale and it is November 6th. Now, look several weeks back to the second to last weekend in October. I traveled with the CIEE crew to Çanakkale, Galippoli and Troy. CIEE had us stay at an ecofarm which unlike my expectations was actually my favorite part of the trip. I will start at the beginning of our trip so everyone gets a better idea of the amount of activities packed into 3 days. We left campus early on Friday morning (7am!!—haha this is probably the earliest that I have gotten up since being here) after some minor fiascos involving the alarm clocks and drinking habits of some of the other students. Let’s just say that we didn’t leave until closer to 7:35am and our coordinators were not happy. Ten minutes into the bus ride we were headed down the hill from campus and could see the beautiful view of the Bosphorus. This of course inspired me to take a picture, only to discover that my camera was sitting uselessly on my desk back in my dorm !!!! Oh no! Though I was pretty upset with myself, I decided to make use of the other 17 cameras on the trip and hop into as many pictures as possible. (At this point you should realize that this post will contain a lot more writing than normal. The pictures below were not taken by me, so I give all the credit to the students that I stole them from.)
On the way to Çanakkale, we stopped at the Galippoli battle fields along the Dardenelles. Our guide was a very interesting older man who seemed to love what he was taking about and tried to give us a very good image of what occurred there. (He was a Fulbright Scholar to the U.S. and studied at OSU!!!) This battlefield is from WWI, just before the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923. Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was a general for the Turkish army at this site. Four nations were involved in the battles here: Turkey, France, Australia and New Zealand. Australia, New Zealand and Turkey all have cemeteries and monuments around the site. The graves, statues and stories really reminded me of Gettysburg in the US. We got to see the landing site of the Australians and New Zealanders (ANZAC), the trenches where the soldiers of opposing sides were no more than a couple yards away in some places, and the monuments to honor the soldiers that died there. Though I wasn’t affected by the war, I could see how moving the site could be for people with connections to the war.
Walking in the trenches.
The Turkish soldier cemetery.
Our next stop was the ecofarm which was several more hours drive. Dedetepe (Grandfather Hill) is an ecofarm run by the Buğday Association which manages and promotes ecofarms around the region. Buğday means wheat in Turkish which fits with the organization’s message of sustainable farming and as close to subsistence farming as possible. Volunteers are the main source of labor (we were guests, not volunteers) and in return they receive home-cooked vegetarian meals. At Dedetepe there is a flock of chickens, bunnies, a horse (with one eye), and many olive trees. The couple that started and run the farm are very nice and laid back. When we arrived dinner was ready (cooked by the volunteers that were already there) and we sat down to eat. Of course the food was good. (Sidenote: Sometimes on the CIEE trips I feel as though we move from meal to meal instead of site to site. The food is always plentiful and delicious! I think I’m going to miss the flavorful dishes the most.) We got to talk with the people staying at the farm throughout dinner and the campfire afterward. Jesse, from Portland, OR, and I were so excited to see a campfire because we had both been Outdoor School counselors for middle school students when we were in high school. We attempted to lead a few campfire songs without much enthusiasm from the other students. Oh well. We also really missed having s’mores. Marshmallows are outrageously expensive in Turkey because they have to be imported or made with beef gelatin instead of pork gelatin (Muslims can’t eat pork products).
That night we were divided into groups for the yurts and cabins. I shared a yurt with Jesse (Oregonians for the win). It was unheated (something that wasn’t quite mentioned in the pre-trip e-mail from our coordinators), but comfy and definitely fun. I slept with all my clothes on and three wool blankets to stay warm. The showers and weekend schedule were a little inconvenient for showers, so our group mostly went without and looked extremely attractive by the time we headed home. My OSU beanie and sweatshirt made me stand out in all the group pics just like normal. (Sidenote: everyone in Turkey owns either a dark brown or black coat, so when I wear my OSU sweatshirt, my Phi Rho letter sweatshirt or my blue rain jacket, I am always the brightest one in the crowd)
The next day we started with a fun Turkish breakfast filled with shooing away wasps from the honey. We learned that the farm trades it’s products (olives and olive oil soap) with other farms for ingredients for their meals. So the honey we were eating was produced by local bees from another farm nearby. We took a small tour of the farm and learned that it is disconnected from the power grid and produces all the electricity that is needed from a few solar panels, a wind turbine and a water wheel during the winter. There is a river right down the hill that provides water for the bathrooms and showers. Drinking water is brought in from the nearest town. The farm has many olive tress on the property and is also surrounded by cultivated olive groves. I learned that all the trees are grafted so that the roots are that of the wild olive that is native, and the branches are from the preferred eating olive. This way, the tree grows well in the climate and produces the desired product as well. We took a trip to the sustainable farm cultural center where we learned about the philosophy of the farm. They told us that their mission is to reduce the distance that food travels and keep everything organic so that it is healthier for you. Though this is great, I think we were the wrong audience because we were all students with limited budgets. Organic food is expensive!
Back at the farm we took a small hike to the top of the nearby hills to see the view. We also got to see an old grist mill and bridge that we climbed on. Of course there were no safety measures, as this is Turkey, and our residence director and her boss who was along for the trip looked rather worried a few times. We also got to pick olives so that we could make our own to take home. We picked the fattest completely green olives, smashed them with flat rocks so that the flesh cracked, and put them in a jar full of water. Erkan, the farm owner instructed us to change the water after each three days, for nine days and then change the water and add a good amount of salt. This removes the bitterness and cures the olives when the salt is added. My olives are now sitting in the salt water waiting for my taste test when I return from my weeklong holiday vacation. Hopefully they turn out ok.
The old bridge near the grist mill.
Smashing olives. Yes, those rocks are from the ground. Hopefully none of us get sick from the olives.
For dinner we got to help the volunteers cook! (I was soooo excited!) Remember that there isn’t very much electricity available. We made falafel, hummus, salad, rolls, apple and pumpkin tart and quince cake. I was on the falafel and hummus team. We used a hand grinder to grind the chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) and herb mixture that were used for the falafel and then cooked the remaining chickpeas and ground those for hummus. It took a little over two hours to cook everything for dinner, but it turned out delicious!
The open air kitchen.
That night we joined in a Turkish wedding celebration. The farm’s owners had been invited to the wedding, and they asked if they could bring our group and the family agreed. This was really fun cause we got to learn how to do a traditional Turkish dance, learned about the henna night of the wedding (Turkish weddings last for three days) and congratulate the bride with our limited Turkish language skills.
Dancing at the Turkish wedding! The bride was dressed beautifully! This was the first day of the wedding or the henna night.
Ignore my face in this photo (I thought he was just taking a picture of our hands). This is the henna that the girls get at the wedding celebration.
Our last day of the trip included another great breakfast, receiving a lot of olive oil soap from the farm, touring an olive oil museum, and touring Troy! (see next blog entry)