A couple of weeks ago, our good friends were visiting from the US and we decided to take a day trip to Amos. Amos is a small village a few miles from here on the coast. In this area of Turkey, each town or village is nestled in at sea level surrounded by high mountains. To get to them you have to drive UP into the mountains and then down the other side. These roads are twisty, narrow and have breathtaking views down the side of the cliffs.
From İçmeler we drove to Turunc, and the road was merely narrow, however the road from Turunc to Amos was essentially a one way path through the mountain pass, so narrow that you have to pull to the side and stop to let the other car by. My mother in law actually go vertigo during the ride from sitting in the passenger seat. I could see her visibly flinch every time we went around a curve.
Amos is an ancient city on the road to The city is surrounded by 1.8-meter-thick and 3.5-meter-high walls and towers. The largest surviving structure is a theater, was settled from the Hellenistic era until the Roman era. It is quite a climb to the top of the ridge, and since there were so many cliffs, I carried Kayra up on my back. From there he was able to enjoy the view, watch me sweat, and not fall off of a cliff or rock formation. #ParentingWin
The ruins aren’t particularly well preserved, but it is still fun to go and poke around in them. The view is also absolutely stunning. The whole area has wild thyme growing all over it. When we first arrived I saw two men harvesting it. Those bags in the trunk, wild thyme from the Roman ruins.
After the hike we went down the mountain to the beach in the cove and spent all day resting. There is a restaurant on the cove that has a serving area with couches under the shade of trees, beach chairs and cabanas, and a pool as well. It worked out wonderfully. We swam for a while, then had a nice leisurely lunch while Kayra took a two hour nap on one of the couches next to our table. Then we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon swimming and playing in the sea and the pool. Actually I am hoping to go again this weekend.
Doesn’t that sound smarmy? One of the best parts of visiting İçmeler is being about a mile from the Mediterranean.
My in-laws summer house is snuggled up against the mountains that surround the village. While it would be nice to be closer to the water, it is kind of an either/or situation. The summers are really hot here, and you need to either be right on the water to get the sea breeze, or back by the mountains to get the winds that roll down from the higher altitudes. The center of town that is closer to the beach but not right on the water actually suffer from the heat more. So while we are in the part of the village that is farthest from the water, it is still only a 20 minute walk, and we are surrounded by green mountains and chickens run around the parks wandering loose from the village houses that have livestock and fields in the middle of a vacation town.
Kayra’s first glimpse of the sea!
Kayra was almost two when we got here but we hadn’t brought him to the ocean yet. There are beaches on the Texas coast, but for the the quality of the beach vs the length of the drive we hadn’t bothered. So his first sea/ocean swim was in the Med. The water is cool, and clean and the beach filled with a mix of Turkish and international tourists. Despite the coolness of the water, he absolutely loves it. The water is so so salty that he is incredibly buoyant and can practically float on his own. He is working hard on swimming and paddles his little legs and arms all on his own, with just a little support from us. We chose not to bring his floaties to help him learn how to swim without being distracted or a false sense of safety. He will swim for so long that his lips turn blue and he shivers. At that point I try to get him out of the water, but only get as far as the beach because then he wants to play with the sand and stones. There are also little fish that play in the shallows, so that gives us endless reason to run in the waves and splash into the water trying to catch them.
Unfortunately we have not been able to go every day because I am working full time remotely while I am here and have to overlap my afternoon/evening hours with East Coast time. With only three weeks left I am going to make an effort to go after breakfast each day before my work day starts and get as much beach time and play time as possible!
I have spent most or part of the summer in Içmeler since 2009. When we moved back to the US in 2015 we didn’t go to Içmeler that summer. I have missed it more than I realized. It has also changed quite a bit. Between the “attempted” coup, the bombing in the Istanbul Airport in 2016 and the rate of inflation, the tourism rate is down significantly. We can see the results in the community here, and the business that are, and no longer there.
What I have been enjoying the most is watching Kayra absorb the language and the culture. What I have appreciated the most, is watching his grandparents interact with him, and respect the differences in which we have been raising him. For example Turkish folks kiss and hug babies. This means waiters kiss his cheeks and touch his face, strangers will stroke his face and kiss his hands, teenagers will pick him up and play with him. We have been raising Kayra with bodily autonomy, meaning we ask him if he wants kisses and hugs, and if he says no we respect that. While it is hard for them to not smother him in kisses and hugs, but they do ask, and listen to him, at least 70% of the time. It’s a start.