Berkay received a call from his brother a few days ago to tell him that his step-mum was ill, so he got on the next coach to his hometown of Beyağaç, Denizli to visit.
Fethiye to Denizli is a 5 hour bus ride, and then it’s a futher 1 and a half hours on a small dolmus from Denizli to the very remote town of Beyağaç, which has a population of less than 7000.
It’s a very traditional Turkish town, it is not at all modernised. Berkay’s family live in a small ground level house, it’s very basic, no luxuries, they don’t even have beds, just floor cushions. They have farmland and own 19 cows, 23 sheep and lots of chickens, which they keep for milk, cheese, eggs and meat. It is a very different way of life to what I am used to.
Some of the youngest cows are only a few days old, so cute. The photo on the left is Berkay’s step-mum, who is thankfully feeling much better now. .I love this photo on the right, who has a baby cow sitting in their garden beside their motorbike? Berkay’s family do 🙂
I have visited the village twice, and absolutely hated it. The main reason is because of just how traditional they are, and how alien I am to them, as a ‘ yabancı’ (foreigner). Both times we visited I wore modest clothes, jeans or a skirt with long leggings, socks, and a top that covered my shoulders, boobs and belly, yet I still looked like an outcast because quite literally every single other person was wearing ‘village pants’ .. the typical flowery type, and headscarves. Whereas people in Fethiye are normally mistaking me for a native Turk due to my skin colour, the people in Beyağaç were staring at me as if I had two heads, and they weren’t shy about it, I felt like I was in a zoo cage with hundreds of people staring and giggling at me. Another thing I found very difficult to cope with was the way the men and women were so segregated. Within the house, the roles of men and women were clearly defined. men outside sitting at tables smoking, women inside preparing food and cay. There was no mixing or conversation between men and women, they weren’t even allowed to sit in the same room. This was really horrible for me, as I couldn’t understand nor speak Turkish, and I was sat in a room full of people who couldn’t communicate with me either, add this to the staring they were doing and I became very paranoid!
Berkay rarely visits his family as he had a tough childhood and as a result, isn’t close to any of them. Berkay’s real mother left him when he was 28days old and moved elsewhere with his dad, temporarily, then they moved back to Denizli and had his brother. His mum then, again, abandoned his brother and left his dad. Berkay was being bought up by his grandparents, whom he adored. When his grandad sadly died, Berkay had to move back to his dad. His dad then remarried and had another son. When Berkay was just 15, his dad sent him away to Fethiye to attend school. He sent him with no food, no money, nothing. Berkay lived on the streets for a while until he met someone who took him in. He attended school and got a job, the money from which was all sent back to his dad. One month Berkay kept the money to pay bills, and his dad made the 6 hour journey to Fethiye to attack him and get the money for himself. Needless to say, their relationship does not exist now. They never speak and only see each other if there is a family death or special occasion. Berkay is quite close to his brothers still, but he is definitely the ‘black sheep’ of the family.
How someone can go through such a tough childhood and still be such a caring, kind, loving person I don’t know.
Anyway, thankfully Berkay’s step-mum is well again, and he is already back in Fethiye now. When he told me he was going to visit, I asked him to take tons of photos, so I could share how different his hometown is, he seems to have only taken photos of the animals, he knows I’m a sucker for animals! (: