These past two Saturdays, I spent the day not exactly in Ankara but technically speaking, not exactly outside Ankara either. She isn’t making any sense, you say? (Well, “she” rarely does make any sense to be honest). I joined some of the geography undergrads at university on their fieldtrip to some villages north of the city, still considered part of the Ankara Province – hence the above confusion. When I was invited to join the trip by one of my tutors, I leapt at the opportunity immediately especially since it was free and also it would allow me to see places to where I currently call home – my “dislike” for Ankara isn’t exactly unknown.
As we head north from the city centre, the never-ending rows of buildings slowly transitioned into valleys and hills; I must have looked like a child in a candy store not wanting to miss even one of the tiniest details. We made a stop somewhere along the road, in the middle of nowhere, to have an impromptu geography lesson about the physical landscape and also the different villages we would be visiting. The students had been given the task of surveying some villages so our first trip was only to have an overview of the area and as for the second trip, they would be divided into groups and each group would spend the day at its designated village. As for me, I had been invited in pure observer capacity and hence would more or less be free to do whatever I wanted.
Our first village was Oyumiğde, whose economy is dependent on agricultural and animal farming. We only stopped for about five minutes, just enough time for the group for this village to get the contact number for one of the villagers who would be helping them the coming week. However, it was quite interesting to have a quick glance at this village where there seemed to be the oldest and the newest houses built side by side together. Later I would realise that most villages tended to be the same way.
On our way to our second village, Demirci, we made a stop at a (in my opinion) disgusting and horrible partridge and pheasant farm, both birds native to Turkey. The owner was kind enough to spend some time replying to the questions of the students. He talked about how his work would be helping the conservation of these species, whose numbers have decreased in the wild and explained the way the birds were brought up and made ready for their release. All good. However, when asked how the project was supported financially, he told us that he had an agreement with a hunting association who would usually buy the birds, release them then shoot them down (well he didn’t exactly explain it like that). As we walked out of the farm, I also noticed a barbecue stand on the side and some kiosks – which could only mean that some of these wild animals were also killed on the spot and barbecued on the spot, for a taste of that delicious prized wild meat.
Our next stop was the town of Şabanözü, only to get some fresh warm simit (Turkish bread) for snacking and loaves for our imminent lunch at a small-scale fish farm owned by a retired couple in the village of Meşeli, where I would be spending the day the next week. Everyone had some farmed trout – which according to someone didn’t taste as good as wild trout – served with a salad and yoghurt whilst I munched on my bulgur salad I prepared in the morning. It was quite a nice little spot to sit in the sun and relax though, which I really liked and since there is next-to-no network in that village, it was quite nice to see the Turkish students NOT on their phone for once.
We went directly to the highest point of the village, which was just gorgeous and peaceful. Most people who live in this area now are mostly retired people who have had holiday homes built here (hence the new houses) and spend their summer away from the city. I wouldn’t mind that life. After a little wander up in the valleys, it was already time to make our way back to Ankara.
I’ve been invited to come and stay for a while there. I’m actually considering it. Would you?