Kayakoy ghost town

Kayakoy – Greek Ghost Town that Isn’t Completely Deserted

We decided to visit the ‘Greek Ghost Town’ of Kayakoy because we had some extra time in Fetiye. If I would have known it was so cool, we would have scheduled the time on purpose.

Kayakoy is  an eerie place.

It looks like there should be a lot of people living there – but there aren’t. It’s like a holocaust film.

We caught the Dolmus from the station near the Mosque in Fetiye. It was 3.5 lira each each way so a total of 7 TL per person to go and then come back.

So, what is Kayakoy? How did it become what it is?

Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey

Prior to World War I there were big Greek communities throughout Turkey and big Turkish communities throughout Greece. One such Greek town was Kayakoy, then called Kaya or Karmylassos. It was a fair sized place with around 3000 stone buildings, 3 pharmacies, a school, a couple of churches, and a few monasteries. The town dated back to the 1400’s.

After WWI, when Turkey was building a Turkish Republic, there were population exchanges where entire communities were uprooted and forced to return to their native lands, even though their family roots dated back to the 1400’s or earlier.

Whole towns full of Greeks in Turkey were forced to move to Greece and whole towns of Turks in Greece were forced to move back to Turkey. Kayakoy was one such town, the only hitch was that the Turks who moved back, didn’t want to live in Kayakoy and so it was largely abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair.
Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey
In the 1950’s there were big earthquakes in the regions and the people in Fetiye and other cities nearby, used all the wood parts, doors, and windows from Kayakoy to repair their damaged homes. After that, the weather did its bit and finally the government decided to make it a monument.

The charge to get into the abandoned village is 8 lira each. It seemed a bit much for a ghost town, so we got out of the Dolmus and started hiking up the hill to enter the town from the side and thus miss the gate where we’d have to pay.

Somewhere along the way Hanane lost her little wallet and with a hundred lira in it, karma, maybe. Luckily it didn’t have her passport or anything irreplaceable in it, just money. Still, she was inconsolable. Almost

Nothing consoles my wife better than finding a big fig tree full of fruit that nobody is eating. As we walked up the hill, I looked around and realized that these houses on the edge of Kayakoy were not derelict at all, there were people living in them! These weren’t ghosts and this wasn’t a ghost town! Still, I didn’t want to spoil Hanane’s recovery by telling her.  So we at figs from the big tree and wandered further into the maze of Kayakoy.

Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, TurkeySoon we came to a path with a small dog tied on it. My wife is fearless in many ways. She will pick up bugs, stand up to thugs, and face down police, but I am baffled by the two things that do scare her, dogs and lizards. She is absolutely terrified of both. Lucky for us, this was a dog  on a rope which is the lessor of her two terrors.

She wanted to go back, but I realized this was a chance for us to meet one of the ghosts of Kadikoy, so I stood just out of the dog’s reach and shouted hello down to the stone farmhouse which did obviously have inhabitants. Pretty soon a voice answered me. Then a big Turkish woman lumbered up and said hello to us. She was wearing those big colorful clown pants old Turkish country women wear.

The path into the part of Kayakoy where everyone says you should visit was through her yard, so we thought it prudent to make  friends with her. She spoke just enough English for me to know that she interacted with tourists pretty frequently.

Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey
I asked if we could see her house and she smiled and said yes. Inside we sat with her and her mother and she told us about how her grandfather had come from Greece and taken the house. Not many of the repatriated Turks had taken houses in Kadikoy, but some did. Now she lives there with her wizened old mother and her brother. She gave us fruit and water, offered  me some coffee, and treated us with incredible hospitality as most Turks do.

She was a very nice woman and told us about the herbs she grew, showed us her garden, and escorted us down to the path that would take us to the abandoned churches and buildings. She then showed us her craft stand where she sells overpriced things to tourists. I didn’t want to insult her hospitality by giving her money but I did buy two of the very overpriced bracelets she was selling.

I just took her initial starting price of 10 lira each which was about 9 lira too much, but the fact is the food and stories she had shared was worth more than the 16 lira we would have paid to enter. Was she scamming us and tourists? A little bit with her big prices, but then, it wasn’t like she had other job opportunities living there as a woman in her 50’s supporting her old mother. Still, Hanane wanted to strangle me for paying so much.
Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey
I have to admit, there were a few fleeting moments in Kayakoy where I caught chicken skin. It was a little like being in a nuclear war zone or a place where the people have just disappeared.

The two things spoiling it were the fact that I knew that the people had been transplanted and that  European and American tourists would come around corners every few minutes talking and laughing loudly. I asked one guy “Seen anything interesting?” and his reply was “No, not really. Not here anyway.”
Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey
We, however, saw plenty. We saw the churches, the walkways, the houses, and the many holes dug everywhere. I later found they were the marks of treasure hunters. We went back to our new friend’s house and joined with some of her relatives from Izmir who had just arrived. I helped her brother in law harvest  big bunches of red grapes, we drank some thick plum juice which I suspected would soon be wine judging by the sugar that was liberally added to it in the big jug it was in, and sat feeling the breeze as it cooled down the valley below us.

Our new friends loaded us with plums and grapes and gave Hanane a pair of woven pot holders. I think she may have felt bad for the price gouging she gave me earlier, but I felt like it was money well spent.
Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey
On the bus ride home we went through the tourist town of Oludeniz which seemed like a total and complete version of hell. Every restaurant sported signs that said “English Breakfast”, every sign showing prices was in pounds, and more chubby English middle aged women in bikinis were walking around than I had ever seen in one place before. The ghost town of Kayakoy was far better than these old broads  with just about everything hanging out. It wasn’t pretty.

Kayakoy, ghost village, greek village, Fethiye, Turkey

This was a gorgeous Turkish beach town which seemed to be catering exclusively to the Bucket family. The only thing missing was a trailer park. As we passed the many ‘pubs’ and munched on figs and grapes, I realized why our friend was able to charge so much for her bracelets. It was the people who make their holidays in Oludeniz that funded the grapes we munched on.

Back in Fetiye, which didn’t seem nearly as terrible now that I’d seen Oludeniz, we gathered up our bags and waited for the shuttle to come pick us up and take us to our night bus to Goreme.


Not Reading Minds and Having Fun

What Am I Doing Here? Having Fun and Not Reading Minds

02 Jan 2013
Sefrou, Morocco

It’s funny, as you get older and time passes, you notice things that would have escaped you before. Yesterday, I watched a group of very full of themselves teenage boys walking down the street with two Moroccan girls both obviously enjoying the attention of the guys. Suddenly, one of the boys (they were all about 13 or 14 I think) ran and leap-frogged over a bench. That wasn’t the part that was funny though.

The part that was funny was the look on his face as he looked back at the girls and his friends. He was looking for approval – I could see it on his face. His first look was sort of ‘Look what I did! Isn’t that cool? Aren’t I cool?’ About what you’d expect from a kid that age.

Not Reading Minds and Having FunThe reaction was great though. The boys all looked like they wanted to cheer him on or try it themselves but then, every one of them looked at the girls to see what they’re reaction was. The girls pretended to have not seen it at all for some reason and so, that’s what all the guys did too. And then, the leap-frogger got a blank look on his face and he pretended it never happened too. And I’m guessing that was the end of leap-frogging for those particular boys.

Man. It was totally sad. It bummed me out for a little while. Childhood ended right there. Doing things spontaneously, having fun, not being constrained by what others think.

I was that 14 year old kid once and then (to some extent albeit less than some others I know) I stopped having fun and became controlled by what I thought that others might be thinking about what had just been fun for me.  Let me emphasize that –

I stopped having fun and became controlled by what I thought that others might be thinking about what had just been fun for me!

How stupid is that? I’m not a mind reader. I had no idea what they were thinking just like that boy didn’t know what his friends were thinking and his friends didn’t know what those girls were thinking. The girls might have been thinking “That looks so fun. I love that guy because he is having so much fun!” Or they might have been thinking about exams or dresses or exercise.  The thing is nobody read their minds.

Those guys, they thought the girls might be thinking “That guy is a child.”  Or a clown, or a little kid, or foolish, or something negative.  Then that kid thought “My friends think I’m not cool for doing that” or something similar.  And the end result – THE FUN STOPPED!

All because of people pretending to be mind readers.  I repeat. I’ve been that kid and guess what – 27 years later, I realize that it’s actually more fun to leap-frog like a madman, to dance like a maniac, or to do other things that are fun for me and if someone thinks I’m an idiot, a fool, a child, a bad person, or whatever they might want to think – THAT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS! 

In a big way, it’s that which has kept me from making more videos, taking more great travel photos or great street photography, and especially here in rural Morocco where everyone is very up in everyone else’s business – it’s even kept me from wandering around, making friends, or having fun. I’m not Moroccan, but my wife and her family are and I can tell you that nobody worries about what other people think more than they do…It’s a culture that is so rooted in and buried in what they call hshuma that it’s very easy to stop living life the way you want to.

We bought a great child backpack for our daughter, but my wife still ties the baby on her back because as she says “People look at me like I’m from another planet when I wear that” – never mind that it’s more comfortable for both of them, more fun, and more practical (because it also has pockets for diapers, milk, and things). So the backpack sits there until I use it and then we argue over why I don’t want to use the baby carriage instead. It’s all so incredibly silly because it’s all based on pretending to be mind readers and thinking that what other people think is your business.

It’s not. What you think is none of my business and if I could read minds it would be criminal to do so. It’s not my business. My business is having fun and enjoying life. My business is having fun with my daughter and teaching her how to enjoy life. My business is getting my family out of Morocco so my wife can stop being a mind reader (because I’m sure she can’t read American minds based on my own American mind.)

My business is to have fun. And that’s what I’m doing. I think I’m going to leapfrog something tomorrow when I’m out walking with my wife. I can’t wait to hear her scold me for it. :)

Chelsea Thames Sunset

Sun on the Thames from a Houseboat in Chelsea – Photo of the Day

Chelsea Thames Sunset

Sun on the Thames from a Houseboat in Chelsea.

I was very fortunate (as I often am) to be able to spend some time on a houseboat while I was in London in 2012.

My friend Julian lives on this houseboat at Chelsea and when I came back home the first day, I was simply entranced by the fact that I was suddenly living on the Thames river, literally on it.

Watching the ferry traffic go by, watching the cars cross Chelsea bridge and watching the gulls swoop down to the water of London’s famous waterway. This photo reminds me of how fortunate I am.

I’m very happy with my life and looking forward to what is coming.

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