All Hallow's Eve 2012, OR You Say 'Halfeti.' I think 'Rumkale.'

October 31st. All Hallow's Eve- more commonly known the world over as Halloween.

My favorite hollyday. It's originally thought to have pagan roots and celebrated as harvest festivals, as well as a festival of the dead (souls). If it is to be viewed as a Celtic Samhain, then it is seen as the time when this plane of existence (our world) opens the door wide enough for all the dead souls and other beings (faeries, maybe even unicorns, etc.) to enter into our existence (temporarily). Samhain marked the end of harvest season. A big feast ensues and the souls of the dead come back to their houses on this day for the feast. It is even thought that there is a place setting at the table for the deceased relative... Now, with all the good souls arriving into our world, some bad or evil souls 'get through' as well as the tale goes. So it is thought today that the modern Halloween of dressing up on costumes comes from this ancient ritual of dressing up so the bad spirits wouldn't recognize you.

All Hallow's Eve is also my favorite Hollyday because it is the day that my father was born on.  I am blessed with 2 great events on this day!

Being that I'm in what I consider to be a rural area in Turkey, there is no overt Halloween tradition present here. I did plan ahead though. A few weeks ago I was out with some girlfriends and we decided that we were going to have traditional Ottoman era outfits made for us. We each picked out a different color fabric and VOILA- 2 weeks later they were ready to be picked up.

It was a joyous occasion- picking up our costumes. We pranced around the bazaar with them on and celebrated with beer at Ekim 29- our favorite watering hole over here. As a side note, 'Ekim 29' is translated as October 29th- Turkey's Republic or Independence Day. It is a huge holiday throughout the country- as is our 4th of July.

We picked up our gorgeous costumes the day before we hit the road en route to Hatay and Cappadocia- which I intend to blog about this weekend... But I digress... back to the story...

So what did we do? We took our costumes with us of course. Da Girls gotta get mileage out of these splendid outfits- know what I mean? 

Don't worry, I'm getting to the main point of all this soon- I think...

Ahhhh yes. I remember now. Halfeti. How does All Hallow's Eve tie into my Halfeti story- which I haven't even got to yet...

Okay it's getting late so is time to just cut to the chase: tonight I'm thinking about my father, which makes me think about Halloween, which makes me think about my wicked cool Ottoman era costume, which makes me think about my Kurban Bayram trip to Hatay and Cappadocia where we all wore our costumes around the natural landscape in the most random of places on and off the road... So now I am blogging about Halfeti because my Halfeti trip happened  BEFORE Bayram- and I want to blog about that trip.

I realize this prolly doesn't make sense to you guys, and that's alright. It's not my problem if you can't follow along with where my mind is not only at, but where it's going... heh heh.

Enough folly. I'm getting serious now. That means no more typing so with no further ado, I will commence with the pictures of... Halfeti. Well, I first need to give you all a BRIEF history of the place:

So there's this castle, Rumkale, at this place- Halfeti. Halfeti is about 1.5 hours east from Gaziantep, near Şanliurfa. It is on the Euphrates River, which along with the Tigris River further east makes up the Fertile Crescent. So Halfeti is famous for being ancient. It is also famous in modern times for an entirely different reason: In the 1990s many dams were constructed throughout central/east/southeast Anatolia. These are part of the GAP project as part of the Turkish government's economic and agricultural incentive program.

As with any government endeavor, with pleasure comes pain- am I right?  The town of Halfeti was, unfortunately, going to be impacted so severely that the entire town would be underwater once the waters were damned by Birecik. Now Halfeti is partially submerged, and the town had to be moved away inland further.  What remains is an eerie ecene: clear waters on calm days where one can see beneath the surface to the remnants of the city. As well, there is a minaret  that remains partially above the surface of the water, yet the attached mosque is well beneath the surface. It is so beautiful in its staggering history. Here is this monument to a people's faith, a mosque- or cami- which is submerged due to something that is supposed to bring a better way of life (a dam to increase economic and agricultural endeavors) to the people, etc. I find the dichotomy interesting. The survival of the minaret is just magnificent in it's singular majesty almost appearing to be hovering just above the surface of the (now) reservoir.

In terms of the geology, the stark contrast between the deepest of blues water and the nakedness of the surrounding hillsides dotted with abandoned dwellings cut into the stone... it just transports you back into time. As you take a boat tour of the area, it is like your personal time machine where you see into the future and you think you have found the secrets to time travel. Yea I know, pretty cool trip right?

I forgot to mention Rumkale- the fortress high above the lake situated atop a rocky outcropping. It is Byzantine and Armenian in origin. Oh Zeugma is also in the vicinity. Zeugma is an ancient Greek & then Roman city that was 're-discovered' during excavation of the Birecik Dam.  Loads of mosaic fragments were discovered during the initial work. Along comes the archaeologists (YAY!) and then come the giant mosaics, some of which were re-constructed. As with any archeological project, the archaeologists are working just in front of the bulldozers.  This project being no different, the salvage work had to occur rapidly because the mosaics were in danger of becoming submerged by the dam. If this happened, and it surely partially did, major monuments to a previous civilization is lost. Disappears. Poof it's gone. Nothing to see over here folks. Move along... Aha modern civilization is indeed a bitch isn't it...

Okay I'm burnt out with my narrative. Pictures now!

L AND L and Brandon, our resident ancient historian/goofball all around good guy

Farahnaz- otherwise known as the Azari Princess

Selin- our hostess with the mostess

All smiles the 1st half hour of the ride- until your body realizes you are indeed on a mini-bus...

So... which way do we go?

our first sighting...

Yeni Halfeti (the new city)

rare bald Ibis birds only found here in Turkey and Egypt and 1 other place that I forgot. Anyone reading this remember???


zombies headed to the tea trough... heh heh

I want this ride... wicked car for sure

our ringleader and myself

trying to do cool tricks with my camera here...

Brandon telling us like it is- or how it was in terms of ancient Halfeti... history geeks rock

more photographic poe-tree... get it? Poetry...

Food! Most peeps got the local fish, but I still LOVE patrican kebap... Nom Nom Nom

Spency, D-bird & Thurston- posers...

caught my eye

I like pinwheels. I like Farahnaz. They are both in my picture for a reason.

Our captain and co-captain Selda (Selin's cool cousin who set it all up)

boat is approaching some abnormal activity. I can just feel it. Something is out there...

"Thar she blows"

Upon closer inspection it is in fact not a white whale, but a minaret sticking out of the (flood)waters of the Birecik Dam

cave life. I love cafe life. I want to live in a cave. A cave would be better than my current apartment honestly.

view from cave

cave stage

it's an awesome sight

stowaway on board ship. Kitty gave up its Halfeti citizenship to become a Gaziantep feline

another cami near the harbor.

heading into an amazing sunset after a ful-filled day spent exploring ancient ruins with friends here in the Cradle of Civilization.

Well... what did you think? No smart-ass grammatical comments/corrections either...

I always think my blog posts will only take an hour to produce… I'm never on time here.
 You all owe me a beer.


Summer lovin- had me a blast. Summer lovin- happened so fast...

Wrapping up a week of Kurban Bayram holidays- which, for me, means Hollydaze... And Hollydaze means Turkey Trotting.  So the '3 Witches of G-tep' hit the road with the pedal to the metal. We blazed a 1500 kilometer trail- BUT more on that journey on my next post...

What this holiday in fact did was inspire me to blog about the last of my summer odyssey after I returned from visiting Odysses on Kos Island- 1 of many lovely Greek Aegean islands. So you all read up on that journey, but what happened afterwards? Well, in fact, the party didn't stop there. I sailed back to Turkey- Bodrum.

Bodrum is in the southwestern Aegean region of Turkey. In ancient times it was known as Halicarnassus. Its famous king, Mausolus was around sometime around the early parts of the 4th century B.C. When he passed on, his (sister) wife, Artemis, built him a tomb so great to reflect his greatness that the word mausoleum is today known throughout the world. This stately tomb of Mausolus is one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

The massive fortress,Bodrum Castle, stands proudly today at the harbor entrance and was built in the 15th century A.D. by those pesky Crusaders... There is also an underwater archaeology museum there so check it out when in the vicinity. It is the setting for my adventures when traveling to Kos- which is becoming more and more frequent!

So this is how my typical Bodrum experience plays out: I get into town on the bus (ugh- I'm getting VERY tired of long distance bus rides, but at least the bus system in Turkey is awesome and as comfortable as it can possibly be). The good thing about the otogar (bus station) in Bodrum is that it is right smack in the center of the city on the waterfront practically. What this means to me is that I don't have to walk far with my backpack to catch a boat over to Kos.

Depending on the ferry timetables, as well as extenuating factors such as the good looking male population in the city, or how desperate I am to get my hands on some Greek food, I decide how long to stay in Bodrum. By the way, there is this really cool outdoor disco, The Halicarnassus, that is fun to frequent- all night if one so desires. I would, of course, know nothing about this whatsoever...

So this last trip, I only had a few hours to spare in Bodrum after returning from Kos because I wanted to get to Kabak and just chill out at my friend's camp- Reflections Camp.  So this is how those few hours went down:

I always go to this one cafe on the backside of the harbor. I'm sure I have seen many generations of this cat's family lineage...

So my HQ is a very nice place. I have everything I need inside my backpack, and I can drink, eat and sun worship all day long here. The Bodrum Castle is seen in the background. The place is very lively and it's just a nice, cool vibe away from the hustle and bustle of tourists going crazy shopping just on the other side of this area.

The jetty/harbor entrance is really cool. There are areas here where you can just lounge around on the rocks and watch the boats enter the harbor. As well, the water is (seems) super clean here and you can jump in for a dip.

This is a view from the jetty looking at the town and esplanade that runs along the waterfront. It is lovely. Too bad so many sunburned tourists...

just another picturesque picture of the Aegean...

At this point the pictures stop, but I didn't...

...And that brings me to the next stop on my odyssey: Kabakastan. So I caught my bus to Fethiye. I had already been through Fethiye this summer on an earlier journey from Kas. I'm pretty well familiar with Fethiye so usually now just continue through to my destination. Now, Kabak is my 'go-to' spot in Turkey when I need to commune with nature. I somehow feel closer to Hawaii when in Kabak- or as we so affectionately call it, Kabakastan. Because, it is it's own entity. And it always feels like I'm in a parallel universe when I'm there because... well I can't really explain it succinctly.  Let the pictures do the talking...

my bungalow at Camp. I have everything I need: dive gear, sunscreen, moonlit evenings, The one thing I don't need are mosquitoes- but they are provided anyway. The mosquito net helps....

Breakfast is typical in an untypical environment! Damn the food is good here. The kitchen staff is excellent.

my closet- which consists of my favorite clothing- BIKINIS!!!

things can start to get a little freaky in Kabakastan...

view from one of the paths

you can do anything in Kabakastan

something bittersweet about this so I had to capture it. It's the strange dichotomy of 2 separate ways of life...


a new yoga platform since last summer- right at the water's edge

day camps on the beach


the Dragon Bar is in it's 2nd year of existence at Reflections Camp!

it's not Hawaii, but it's amazing. Only waves could make this spot more perfect- and surfers!

nice perspective, and a familiar one for me!


sometimes one tires of paradise and needs to get back in the gritty so here I am with Chris helping him pick up supplies for his camp, Reflections Camp, in Fethiye. We're picking up ice and beer for the Dragon Bar.

Chris's awesome ride

boat outings are a must down here in Kabakastan. There are so many uninhabited nooks and crannies along the coastline. There is always a deserted beach one can find- complete with castaways and pirates... haha

very romantic, no?

the beauty seeps into your skin and permeates your soul leaving you stuptified

sunset swim

from one of the hiking trails

reflecting on Reflections Camp details...

Reflections Camp HQ- the kitchen! It always smells good here!

Seckin co-rules the empire with Chris

take me there...

...and then there was Mik... I was fortunate enough to meet Mik & her crew. They were visiting from Izmir where they live. I ended up hitchhiking a ride with them to Izmir- which was unexpected on my itinerary, yet another highlight of the summer. And I do mean highlight.

So a little history, or actually herstory, about Kabak. To visit there today one gets a dolmus from Fethiye and takes it to the end of the road- Faralya. Faralya is the village above the valley that you hike down into to reach the plethora of camps in Kabak. Kabak, or Kabak Kolu (canyon) is famous for its pine trees, waterfalls and beaches. It is, or was, off the beaten path in terms of Turkey tourism. In the past 11 years I have noticed a great change anyway, and now there are some resort-type structures built in the valley complete with air con and swimming pools. You can also hitch a hide into Kabak withe these safari jeeps that run up/down the precarious dirt road all day long. It is kinda a shame because now anybody can get down there... I do mean this in the most demeaning sense I suppose... What can I say, when I want to get away from it all in Turkey, this is the only place, so far, that I can do it at.

Anyway, it is still absolutely beautiful, but with more people. Unfortunately there are more profiteers here in the valley and care nothing about the natural environment and 'vibe' of the place. It is also reflected in the type of tourist that they bring in. There is talk of paving the pot-holed road so more package tourists can come in. This will totally FUCK UP the energy of the place. Yes, this is how I feel. Kabak is a journey, and the experience of getting there is what sets you up for your trip with the place. I mean no pain, no gain. You used to only be able to get there by hiking in/out of the valley. This is the real deal. You can't bring all the modern conveniences and shit down there. You take only necessities- you. And you hike. And you get there and you trip out on the beauty and the difficulty of getting there. And the peace you feel with the environment. And you appreciate this as well as appreciate your humanness. You sit around the bonfire at night on the beach or wherever and meet people from all over the world who come to Kabak for this exact experience. So yea, Kabakastan is in great danger of being overrun with the typical BULLSHIT package tourism. In fact, it has already arrived. It is upsetting. Why can't that shit just stay in Oludeniz?

Okay I digress. Back to the beauty of the place... So Kabak is a stop on the Lycian Way. This is a long distance coastal footpath that the ancient inhabitants, the Lycians, used. It covers 500 kilometers- from Olu Deniz to Antalya. it traverses from the mountains to the sea continuously. It is rigourous. It is amazing.

So I ended up meeting these crazy cats in Kabak and so hitchhiked a ride with them back to Izmir where they live and work- at Izmir Economic University. What a ball it was. This is the 2nd time I've been to Izmir. The first time was during Kurban Bayram last year. I didn't really like it so much, so didn't expect much this last trip except in that I met some cool people. Well this 2nd round of Izmir was amazing. It's funny how perspective changes with circumstances...

Here are some of my highlights of Izmir:

Mik's hood in Narlidaire (?)

popoki #1

sunset shennanigans at Mik's...

world seems sideways...

popoki #2

amazing journey these toes have been on this summer...

I'm a sucker for boats- any kine. AND a man that goes along with a boat...

a city with a nice wide esplanade next to the sea is always a good city

Mik and I doing the strip in Izmir

Mik procuring more adult libations for us

we had our own personal chauffeur...

man on a mission

we had a secret mission

post work euphoria.



downtown in the distance

3 muskateers

contemplating the bigger things in life

yours truly...

we ran the poor guy into the ground...

Mik. Contemplating. Life.

And now... now it is 4 A.M. on a cold Gaziantep night- or morning. I wish it was a cold Cappadocia night- or morning, but it is not. Tomorrow, or today, is Republic Day in Turkey so no work! This is good. It gives me time to collect my marbles. I think I lost some marbles in Cappadocia. I will return there soon to pick them up...

So, you all can expect the next update to be about my Kurban Bayram hollydaze. Why? Because every day is a Hollyday with me...

The Bewitching Hour ends now, as well as this post. I've no desire to edit it. Not even going to proof read it in fact.  Enjoy. Comment. Question. Laugh.