Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back in Paradise - Our Return to Islamlar, Turkey - Part II

Our first morning at Villa Ruyam was typical…typical in that there was bright sunshine, a clear blue sky, a view of the Mediterranean Sea straight ahead (with the shoreside town of Kalkan sufficiently low and distant from our towering perch to be unobtrusive) and “our” ever-changing mountain to the right (now looking green and lush, but changing to one of grey rugged outcrops and then to a rich, almost pink color in the evening).

And then there is the quiet. The silence is broken by the chirps of house sparrows and the sound of the pool; nothing more.

This morning…in fact, all the time…I look around and say to myself, “Would you look at that!” There is so much here that just makes you go, “Wow!” Along the wrought iron railing by the pool (beautiful in itself), climbing roses are creating a natural wall and there, right in between the four lounge chairs there are about half a dozen brilliant red roses each about 8 inches across. Looking over the mountain there is a shock of vibrant purple flowers rising from the ground below…but when you get closer to them you see brilliant orange bougainvillea complimenting them. (Even the view outside the guest bathroom is perfectly – yet informally – landscaped with flowers and olive trees.) The villa’s yellow color is a perfect foil. The rich colors and soft vegetation make the extremely dry and hot climate welcoming rather than one’s enemy.

Having been supplied some “starter rations”, and it being my job for the next two weeks to do all the cooking, it was time to make breakfast. While this isn’t a Seabourn cruise, we have the same sort of menu: medium boiled or poached eggs and fresh bread. This is accompanied by beyaz peynir (the very typical Turkish soft white cheese), sliced locally grown tomatoes and local olives.

While the girls lounge about (this is a very informal vacation, so putting away clothes takes about 5 minutes and the closet systems one wishes they had in their real home seem insulted by our t-shirts and shorts) my mate and I head into Kalkan…letting our Aussie GPS girl have a rest for the 20 minute drive down the mountain past the village of Akbel (where we remember there is a market every Sunday). First stop is the small market for typical dry goods, beer and Angora beyaz sirap (white wine) and then to the butcher for kofte (spicy lamb meatballs that have been flattened out), lamb kebabs, lamb chops and paprika chicken legs. Then the green grocer for our veggies…with tomatoes and cucumbers being our staple as well as patliecan (eggplant/auberguine) which is pronounced PAT-le-John.

The one thing we cannot find is a case of beer. Oh, we found a couple of six packs in cans, but there is nothing like a case of Efes (a very popular Turkish beer) in bottles making your refrigerator seem a bit more friendly. So on the way back to the villa, we ask our Aussie GPS girl to guide us and she tells us we are to drive towards Kaktus Sokak. She doesn’t mention Katus Sokak again. We then stop at “our” little shop in Akbel and purchase a case of Efes along with some breadlike coated pistachios that my mate likes.

After this grueling start, it was time to relax in the pool which somehow remains cool while the temperature hovers in the low 90s. This was followed by a period of relaxation reading my book. Which in turn was followed by a relaxing nap.

This strenuous morning and early afternoon led to my being forced into the well-equipped kitchen to cook up some kofte with yogurt, a tomato and cucumber salad and patlican with tomatoes, spicy peppers and onion….with an Efes to cook with and then one to dine with.

After the ordeal of actual effort (slight as it might have been) it was time to adjourn to my inflatable pool chair (tested and approved last summer…and available for purchase on sale at Leslie’s Pools for $5.99) with my Yacht Report floppy hat for a siesta. I am told that everyone is aware that I am instantly asleep by the snoring, but all I hear is silence and the chirp of the house sparrows. (Heck, it is my vacation, so if I am enjoying the silence they should be happy for me. LOL.)

This is followed by a bit of reading, a shower, cocktail hour (aren’t you tired just reading this?!) and then to our favorite little restaurant just down the road (literally “down’ the mountain road): Huseyin's. We are greeted like lost relatives (as I figure the folks before and after us probably are), but the girls have brought small gifts for the children. You may recall that one time last summer, my mate and I ordered takeaway for lunch and had to rock a baby stroller (pram) while drinking our beer so her mother could cook our lunch. Now the baby is running around. The two young children (one boy and one girl) have grown and the teenage girl is 16 and engaged. (It is a bit of reality that we are in a small, rural village, in Turkey.)

After the mothers have given us hugs and Baba and his brother have shaken our hands, it is time to order. We start with a nice salad, fried cheese (fried beyaz pinar - which I don’t care for that much), patlican (better than mine) and borek (a sort of fried flakey pastry roll filled with cheese). This was followed by what we have been craving for since last summer: The absolutely freshest trout simply grilled with olive oil. Each of the local restaurants have trout “farms”, which are really trout holding ponds, where they raise trout in crystal clear, cold, running spring water. You order your trout and they scoop one out, gut it, grill it and put it on a plate. Perfection!

After a bit too much wine and some raki (a local Turkish liquor similar to ouzo which you mix with water and ice) it was time to return to the villa for another raki and a late night chat.