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An Eid with a difference

Posted by on November 2, 2012

A stay at Butterfly Valley by Peg

When Turkey celebrates Eid, called Bayram here, they really celebrate. Istanbul empties and everyone goes away. There is no chance of getting on a plane, train or coach unless booked well in advance. We celebrated Bayram at an amazing place, Butterfly Valley near Oludeniz on Turkey’s ‘blue’ coast; so called as the sea is the bluest I’ve ever seen.

Butterfly Valley is a small valley with a stoney beach, like a triangle surrounded on the 2 long sides by rocks over 1000ft high. It’s truly astounding, best viewed at half light when the rocks look most imposing. You can only reach it by boat or by mountain scaling. Last year an Australian died trying to scale down. Actually it’s not true thats the only way. On our first day a load of paragliders landed on the beach!!

I loved it here. Its a true Eco hangout. There are about 30 wooden huts you can stay in for 65TL a night (about £22). Hens, ducks and dogs roam free. Breakfast and evening meal provided. Or you can camp on the beach for 45TL. Pat and I had a wooden hut. Basic but comfy. Toilet are all outside and the only showers cold. But there’s a bar open pretty much all the time and the food is amazing, even for a veggie – rice, soup, some vegetable dish, a meat dish and most nights a fabulous turkish walnut pudding.

There is nothing to do here except read, chat and swim (good job, as neither of us dared to brave the showers!!). The main hangout, with its evening fire, is the perfect place to make new friends. One night there was probably over 100 people here, mainly Turkish. The boat arrives 3 times a day bringing more people. Tonight there’s a party!!

We’re here with my friend Michaela and some of her 30-ish Istanbul friends, all making the most of Bayram. They have been amazing people to get to know. Orkun who sat on his laptop today making an electronic dance track. Devran, an ace drummer who Michaela is learning to play Turkish drums with, Didum who is between jobs and enjoying not working and Aksal who is a producer in the film industry and thinking a lot about his life at the moment and told us the best dog story (to go in our next Istanbul post). They all speak amazing english.

It is a place to talk, cogitate and think about life. Really, you can’t help but. And a perfect place at this stage in our trip for me and Pat to just muse and to start to rekindle our totally loved up habits that have been sadly more than missing of late and one of the main purposes of this trip.

And the men are men…
Of course the men want to know more about all the women. A woman sat talking to the bloke who runs the snack bar – a man probably in his 50s. He was looking her, getting a telling off from a friend of his for looking at her with ‘big eyes’. ” I cant help it,” he said, “my eyes are big”. Totally confused by her unmarried and child-less state he said he couldn’t understand how it would be the case for a beautiful woman. When she said a child would be good, but she’s not so worried about the husband, he offered to help!! “my offer is open for a year. Any time” he kept telling her throughout the rest of her stay 🙂

Later in the day I was chastised for covering myself up totally in the sun (the curse of Celtic skin). “No good” said one of the blokes who run the boat you have to take – “we need to see your body”!!! He was a right charmer so I was pathetically easily charmed. 🙂 He was taken with Patrick, calling him ‘Patriot’. Michaela stayed longer than the rest of us. On her last night she kept being asked ‘where is Patriot?’. It took her a while to figure out what they meant.

It’s so me!!
I think I am a woman of contrasts. I normally worry about my clothes and having my nails done, but here, where we wore the same clothes for days on ends and it seemed opulent to even brush your hair I loved it and was totally at home.

Maybe it’s because it feels like a family party. I come from a huge family, the Nuttgens’s and every year we have at least one party: at each one I meet a new cousin or relie I’ve not met or known before. (this is honestly true 🙂 It’s ace. Parties go on for 2 days and tend to be outside. Many people will camp and often it’s bring your own food and drink. We spend the party talking, putting the world to rights. At dusk a bonfire will be lit and then the singing starts till the wee hours. The family is ridiculously musical and talented, and I hope I’m part of that as I always sing. Our last party was the weekend before we started this trip. My aunt Su’s 70th in Edinburgh, the talent personified by 10 year Lu who, note perfect, sang a song she had written herself. The party always continues the next day with much of same, if more than a little hungover!

Maybe this background is also why I feel so at home in eco places. It definitely was part of defining my politics. I joined the Green Party as a student and remain a member to this day. In the 90s I was seriously active, standing in local, parliamentary and European elections. I also held national office. At age 24 I was elected to a national post called ‘Principal Speaker’. At that time the party did not have a leader so instead the role of Principal Speaker was to be the public face. I held the post for 2 years, spending time giving speeches across the country and representing the party on loads of tv/media stuff. I also spent a further year on the national Executive responsible for the Party’s staff and finances, and for a year co-chaired the national body that oversaw policy and disputes. Meetings were very formal in content though often not in format and could last for 2 days. I’ll never forget the Executive meeting held in a tipee at Britain’s largest eco festival, The Big Green Gathering, or other meetings held in people’s houses where we would camp. The evenings would all be similar to Butterfly Valley. The camp fire holds much wonder for me and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of them. My previous other long term partner who I was with for 11 years during my green active years was a member of the Labour party and didn’t get my Green activity, always making jokes about it. I think he was also embarrassed by my singing, particularly round fires. So for some years I didn’t join in. Here I’ve done my best, although most of the songs have been Turkish ones and just sitting round the fire, or on the beach in the dark playing drums has been great for thinking about life and this trip. Patrick may not be a singer, and to be honest sitting round camp fires or playing drums is not really his thing but he is brilliant at sitting with me and encouraging me and he is proud of me when I sing. It’s just another of the many reasons why I love him so much.

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