5 weeks, one beach part 1/4: I’d like to be a tea monk, brothers, Babas and two guns

The places I had found on the Marmaris peninsula were great, but the next beach I found was truly incredible. After reaching the end of the peninsula, I drove east and checked out several places along the way. I passed through mountains, down into coves, up mountains again, down to the next cove, and along the coastline, but none of these places felt like my new home. After a couple of hours of driving, I grew tired. I headed to the next potential home spot, and the path led me through a forest on a slightly off-road forest road. Only a few kilometers away from my destination, I had no internet connection, which was a concern because at that point I desperately wanted to continue my music production courses and stay in touch with friends. But as soon as I reached the beach, I knew immediately that this would be my home for a long time. It was amazing! Located deep in nature at the other end of the forest, without any signs of human development, and the internet connection was perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this beach and spent it doing many things I enjoyed: making music, playing the cajon, bo staff training, hiking, writing, reading, meditating, yoga, communicating with friends online, and having tea and nuts with the people who occasionally visited this magnificent beach.

Making tea and sharing nuts, thoughts, and stories was one of my favorite things to do. During my time at that beach, I was reading the books “A Psalm For The Wild-Built” and “A Prayer For The Crown-Shy” by Becky Chambers. I loved these books (like maybe all of her books). These books feature a monk who travels around in a tea wagon. In every settlement the monk encounters, he builds a tea place and people come to have tea that he mixes individually for them based on their emotional state. If they like, they may tell him about their lives and the things that are bothering them. The monk would listen to them wholeheartedly and be there for them, but he wouldn’t give much advice. I felt like that was exactly what I would like to do. Later that day, when I came back to the beach from a hike, I heard loud emotional Turkish music. There was a Turkish guy drinking beer and listening to that music. I waved and smiled, he waved me over, gave me a beer, and told me for hours about the trouble he had with his family. All via Google Translate. Although it was beer instead of tea, for that time, I felt like a tea monk, and it felt good.

One day, I hiked along the beautiful single trail that led in both directions along the coast. After an hour, I reached the next big cove. In that one, there were two small buildings and I was curious if anyone lived there. Down at the beach, I met Masoud and we had a great connection from the start. He had come from Iran, was traveling and hiking, and had attended the Rainbow gathering, an event I had also considered attending, but I had been in Bulgaria at the time of the gathering. Now he was living with a friend in a minimalistic hut of a Turkish guy at that beach and was enjoying life. In the hut, there was a poster of Don Quixote and his horse, Rosinate, which I found to be quite funny. We had a great time talking about everything, eating, and making music. He had been playing the setar since he was a little boy, and his playing was beautiful. I recorded some of it. Maybe I can put the recordings into an organic house song at some point. We also talked about how we could stay longer in Turkey than the 90 days we were allowed to. I had researched and had found that for a longer stay, one would need a Turkish address.

On another day, I met his friend Ali and we connected instantly as well. Every week, I would get new supplies from Datca, the next town, and sometimes I brought some things for my Iranian brothers as well. We had a lot of fun, deep conversations and one time when the Turkish owner of the hut was around, we helped collect olives. I love my Iranian brothers, and I hope to meet them again somewhere in the future. Perhaps in Iran at some point.

On another day, a group of about twenty hikers arrived at my home beach. I was relaxing and reading on the beach when one of them approached me and Rosinante. It turned out that he was German and Turkish and had recently moved to Datca, the nearest town to the beach. We talked about the beauty of Turkey and the beach where we were. I told him that I really enjoyed Turkey and would love to stay longer than the ninety days that I am allowed to. Without hesitation, he offered that I might use his address for my temporary residency (aka Ikamet) application. We went to his hiking group and talked to some other guys who were experienced with the process of obtaining a temporary residency in Turkey. They gave us a contact to another woman who was helping foreigners with the process of applying for an Ikamet. With the guys from the hiking group, we had a beautiful conversation about traveling, life, reality, Zen, yoga, and love.

When I went to Datca to get some supplies, I met with Vedat and the super friendly and helpful woman who was helping people to get an Ikamet. More on that topic in another post.

Vedat and I met every week in Datca and had a wonderful time together. We talked about everything, relaxed, had walks around Datca, and always had lunch at Baba Restaurant (find Baba Lokantası on Google Maps). I loved Baba! The food there was so authentic and delicious. Although I very rarely eat meat, I had Köfte! And the prices were incredibly cheap. For a big lunch for two people including deserts and unlimited bread and water we paid about six Euros. And visiting Baba reminded me of my favorite lunch restaurant back in Hamburg: Kardelen (find it on Google Maps)! I really enjoyed the time with Vedat, and after a few weeks, it felt a bit like home to come to Datca. When walking around in Datca, I also met other people that I had gotten to know on my home beach, and that made me feel connected to this place as well.

One evening, after sunset, I saw two dark objects swimming in the ocean, and after some time, the objects made it to the beach. They were two divers who had been hunting for fish. While having some tea and nuts together, we suddenly noticed a swordfish swimming not far away from the beach in the strong light of the moon. It was a magical sight, like a creature from a fairy tale. Although the divers had been in the water for already five hours, they headed back again for some night hunting.

On several occasions, I was visited by the forest department and military police. It was an interesting experience. I had a conversation with the forest department about the beach and the plans that some investors had for it. They wanted to build a hotel complex on it. The guys from the forest department were not happy about that and were trying to prevent these plans from happening.

The military police were searching for illegal immigrants that might have come via the surrounding Greek islands to Turkey. They always asked me if I had seen anyone. I had not, but I was thinking about what I would tell them if I had. When I told the captain of the police about the investor’s plans for the beach, he seemed not to be amused: he drew his gun, pointed at the ocean, and pretended to shoot. 

To be continued…

Uludag mountain, “The Shining”, thinking about Istanbul and a funny encounter with the Turkish bureaucracy (November 2022)

From Istanbul, I went south to the region of Uludag mountain. I had loved Uludag lemonade for some time in my life, but that was not the reason for me to go there. Although, if there had been a waterfall of that stuff, I think I would have given it a try.

After visiting Istanbul, I felt like taking some time to unwind in nature and go hiking. When I reached the highest point that I was allowed to go with Rosinante, it felt pretty strange because that area was mainly characterized by large hotels. These hotels were closed for the winter season and when I was there, there were hardly any other people around. But I found a nice place to stay, and the next morning, I drove Rosinante to one of the hotels to ask if I could park her there while I went hiking. I met a nice guy and we talked about living in the hotel, the differences between the summer and winter seasons, and so on. During the conversation, I couldn’t help but be reminded several times of Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” Not that the guy seemed to be a big fan of smashing doors and people’s heads with an axe. It was just the scenery and his description of the boredom and loneliness he felt, especially during the summer when there were hardly any people around, that made me think of “The Shining.” I guessed.

I hiked up the Uludag mountain and the feeling of just going up and up was amazing and liberating. The layer of clouds separating heaven from earth looked like a fluffy but dense bed. Seeing that dense layer of clouds below and the bright sun above me reminded me of the saying “no matter what, there is always light, but sometimes you just can’t see it.” I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be under that cloud layer at that moment.

I reflected on what had been going on with me in Istanbul, and it was very interesting. By the end of my time in Istanbul, I had been feeling disoriented, confused, and kind of frustrated. I talked to a very good friend and she said that for her, cities are always about connecting to other people. And that made me think. At some point in Istanbul, I had felt like I didn’t belong there. Not in the city and not to the people there. I had talked with a lot of people, but I hadn’t really connected with them in a deep way. I had felt like a foreign body in an organism, like I wasn’t a part of the rest. I had let that make me feel uncertain about a lot of things and that had led me to think a lot. Being on that mountain helped me understand that I was disappointed about not connecting in a deep way to others during my time in Istanbul. Somehow my expectations had not been met and that had made me feel bad. I seemed to be unable to let go of these expectations and accepting that I could not let go as well. As I’m writing this, I feel different about all of that, but at that time, understanding this through thinking made me feel calm and positive. I felt like I understood myself again and that everything was perfectly fine.

When I got back to Rosinante, I felt hungry and tired, and I just wanted to find a place to stay for the night, eat, and relax. When I found a really cool spot, a car of the mountain rangers approached. I went to the two rangers and we talked via Google Translate about the beauty of the mountains and the wild animals. Then they said that I was not allowed to stay overnight in the national park. For me, that felt like it couldn’t be right because there were official camp sites. I asked if I could stay at that specific spot where we were standing at that moment, which was located in one of the official camps. They said I needed permission to do that. I asked if they could give me the permission, they made a phone call and told me that only managers could give me the required permission. So I asked where I could find a manager, and they said that both of them were managers. I felt a little confused about how this interaction went along and I felt my tiredness, but it was funny as well, and I was curious about where this may lead. I asked if they would give me the permission, and they made another phone call. After that, they said I would have to pay for staying overnight, and I told them I would be happy doing that. They asked me to pay via bank transfer. In Germany, a bank transfer takes hours or days to complete, so I was a bit confused and told them that I only had German bank accounts, and that an international transfer would take time. I asked if I could pay in cash, and then they asked me to follow their car to the headquarters, so we drove about thirty minutes to their headquarters. After getting there, I waited and got some tea. I explained to some police officers hanging around the waiting area that I wanted to stay for one night in the park and they told me several times that I would not be allowed to leave the car after sunset because there would be dangerous wild animals. After some time, the friendly managers brought me to the director’s office. I explained that I would like to stay one night at the spot I had found earlier. The director was friendly and approved of that. One of the managers gave me a form that I filled out, and then he asked me to pay via bank transfer again. I felt more tired, but I was still curious, and the whole process started to feel hilarious. I started to enter their bank account details into my Revolut app because I thought that one may be able to send the money way faster than my German bank. But they had no BIC code. Without the BIC code, transferring the money was not possible. The manager started to get frustrated and left me on the waiting couch again. I got tea, talked to some rangers and police officers, and waited. Some other rangers and police officers told me that I would not be allowed to leave my car after sunset again. And they told me that I was not allowed to go hiking without asking for permission. I felt reminded about the German bureaucracy. But there was one big difference: these Turkish guys were very friendly and helpful. After a pretty long time, the manager came back and took me back into the director’s office again. There I explained what I would like to do again: sleeping one night in Rosinante at that spot I had found. He filled out another form. I paid 25tl (about 2€) in cash, got a receipt, and after two hours, I was good to go. Easy.