We were lost and the helpful farmer we asked for directions didn’t know the way either. “Go straight on to Esenköy. They know everything there” he said “they’ll put you right.”
Kavaklidere, a town north east of Muğla but still within Muğla province, was another place Fethiye Times wanted to see so we decided to head in that direction. The main road to Kavaklidere (and by the way if you recognise the name from wine labels don’t get excited – this is another place of the same name) is along a right turn just past the turn off to Yatağan from the main Muğla – Izmir road. Now call us prejudiced but Fethiye Times does not like Yatağan. Its main claims to fame are opencast coalmining and a very ugly power generating station. Plus the former has obliterated some important historical ruins in its execution. Hence, whenever possible, we avoid Yatağan and, according to our map, we could turn off before the main road and follow ‘village roads’ diagonally across country to join up with the main road again later.
We turned off and proceeded to climb up and up, on an initially asphalted road that soon became a dirt track. But still an obviously well used track as there was a village every few miles along the road. And what villages – we could have entered a time warp. Hardly any vehicles but lots of well fed donkeys. Fertile land with the fields all being harvested and friendly people waving as we drove by. We stopped to ask directions and a woman called Hatice, who had a splendid donkey, informed us that the road didn’t meet the main Kavaklidere road. Then her father emerged from the house clearly feeling conversation with lost foreigners was ‘man’s work’. He told us to turn back a short way then follow the signs to Şerefköy, go through that village and straight on to Esenköy “They know everything in Esenköy” he said “they’ll put you right.”
So we followed his directions but couldn’t see anyone out and about in Esenköy. However, Fethiye Times is nothing if not adventurous, so we carried on through the village (we were also using a GPS system that told us we were going in the right direction) and a mile or so up the road came upon a fork in the road between which lay a heavenly campsite. Pine trees, but not many thus minimising fire dangers, plenty of rocks for sitting on and flat ground for tents. In no time at all the tents were up, the dinner was simmering and we were scrutinised by various inhabitants of Esenköy who passed us en route home – some in old Turkish cars like ours and others, on donkeys, who responded to our ‘merhabas’ and ‘iyi akşamlars’.
After dark we played word games beneath a sky full of stars and retired to our tents to sleep the sleep of the just in the crystal clear air.