Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quick Beypazarı getaway

In spite of having lived in Ankara for over 10 months I've never given much consideration to exploring "my own backyard." My hitherto trips have always brought me to places located in the radius of more than 200 km from my city. I've known that the nearby town of Beypazarı was worth visiting but always thought "later, when I really have nowhere else to go." "Later" unexpectedly came this weekend. For the first time in months I wasn't enthusiastically getting ready to go to somewhere distant just because I was supposed to have a meeting about a job position on Saturday. Only the day before I got to know that the meeting would come to nothing - but a lack of plan wasn't a reason to stagnate at home so I quickly organized my backpack, made some research about the surrounding nature, found out how to reach the road that would take me to Beypazarı and impatiently waited for my day off.

The positive aspect of going to a nearby location is the lack of hurry that accompanies every distant trip. Instead of hastily waking up at 6 I slept in until 9.30 and left the house only after 11. Before I reached Yenikent - the northwesternmost neighborhood of Ankara - it was already 1. It was damn cold and I was glad to have decided to take my winter jacket, at the same time hoping the weather would ameliorate once I reach my destination.

My wish came true and Beypazarı welcomed me with glorious sunshine. I thought I'd rather spend a day like this in the nature than in a city (town, to be honest), having just escaped from one. I was lucky with the last ride since the drivers were going to İnözü Vadisi, a natural wonder just north of the town along the road leading to Bolu. As soon as found some less steep terrain to reach the bottom of the valley, I took the track and instead along the busy road I walked on tilled fields or along the dry İnözü Çayı. The area surprised me with abundance of vegetation - far cry from the nearest surroundings of desert-like Ankara. Most of the trees were still green, though the first signs of slowly arriving fall could also be seen as leaves turning to yellows, oranges and scarlets.

I got back to Beypazarı around 5, partially walking, partially by car that I didn't want to stop, but the driver himself asked me if I were going that direction, so I accepted the offer. It was still bright and I could have explored the town more but after the long hike in the İnözü Vadisi my backpack, which I always carried on my with me, started getting too heavy, so I decided to rest for a while, planning to recommence my walk after a while to make the time pass quicker before - being homeless for the night - I could safely get into some mosque to fall asleep there. The only place where I managed to find benches and which wouldn't be so crowded was... just on front of a mosque that had a very central location. I was sitting there and it was getting dark when a young woman approached me, asking if I weren't waiting for somebody. I said I was just having some rest. She got worried that I must have frozen and invited me to a nearby workshop of hers and her husband's, so that I could warm myself up by the heat of the hearth.

In the atelier, by using a laser machine that with high precision cut the desired patterns, my hosts - Şükran and Ramazan - were making various kinds of wooden decorations - keychains, caskets, fridge magnets, photo frames, clocks. Their little daughter was also in the atelier, playing hide-and-seek in a big cardboard box that a washing machine came in and making silly faces at the family's dog. My hosts were just getting ready for preparing another set of wooden boxes. Everything was done by the machine whose operating - according to Ramazan -  is the only more difficult part of the production. The design is made on the computer using CorelDRAW and only the final montage of the parts isn't done by a machine.

"Do you know where you'll stay for the night?" the couple asked me.
"Not yet."
"You don't have a hotel or anything?"
"No, definitely not a hotel, they're too expensive."
As our conversation continued and the topic of my accommodation was brought up again, I revealed that I was thinking of sleeping in a mosque. "Hehe, I've also slept a lot in the mosques," Ramazan replied and decided for me that I would stay with them. Şükran agreed, adding that at night it would get too cold in a mosque. When the laser machine finished cutting the last pattern, we cleaned the workshop and left for my hosts' house.

We passed a wonderful evening where I had a chances to get to know a different mindset of Turkish people, learn about their values, share which features of Turkishness I find totally different from what I know in Europe and what I like so much that I'd bring it home. At first I felt a little confused what to say, since they expressed some political/religious views that particularly don't correspond with mine, but quickly found out that people are more important than labels used to describe them. My hosts moved to Beypazarı from Ankara hoping to find more peacefulness than in a big city - and I think I also found it, just one hour away, in my short escape from the capital's hectic life.