In Fethiye I am waiting for a Dolmus to Kabak which isn’t coming. I asked five people in my easiest English if this was really the right place. In perfect hand gestures they all sent me here. But every Dolmus that stops here says it’s not going to Kabak and closes its doors.
I order an ayran. I am pretty excited about this yoghurt drink and order another one. I am overexcited and buy a liter bottle of the stuff, which is downed in three big gulps. Now I can’t drink it for the coming two years, so that’s fine.
A car stops. It lowers its window. ‘Kabak?’ a woman’s voice asks.
I bend over and nod. Feriha introduces herself with a big smile. Feriha talks into her phone, Google translates: ‘do you really have to go to Kabak?’
‘That’s the plan.’ I am saying in my phone. Google translates.
‘I’ll take you to Cennet Valley, that’s way better.’ Her phone says. Again I am taken hostage by Turkish hospitality. ‘Cennet means heaven,’ Feriha says. ‘because it’s heavenly.’
We pass Kelebek valley. Kelebek means butterfly. ‘because there are thousands of butterflies.’ Feriha says happily. ‘Kabak means Pumpkin and you will be surrounded by weed smoking tourists, so which valley would you rather go to?’ she asks.
Feriha parks the car at the top of Kabak Valley. We have to hike a steep path down. We pass a couple of unfinished bungalows. ‘Kabak is a protected national park, but big property developers started building anyway. They didn’t get the papers and now they are waiting until the new government approves and then this place will be filled with Russian bungalows.’ Says Feriha’s phone sadly.
Feriha and Husseyin didn’t exaggerate: above the valley hangs a cloud of weed. As we follow the path down the unfinished bungalows change into colorful gypsy trailers. At the beach there is one big resort where English Lobsters are floating amongst Efes bottles.
‘Cennet or Kabak?’ Feriha asks laughing. It is a rhetorical question, I get that. We climb into a rickety boat. From behind a high cliff appears another incredible valley. There is a 500k hike, the Lycian route. If I had been better prepared I would definitely have done it.
Feriha quickly joins the camping owner. I put down my bag and pitch my tent. There is no one here except Feriha, the Camping owner and the remains of a psytrance blacklight party. I climb to the top of the right Valley wall to look out over my new temporary kingdom: my canvas castle, surrounded by cliffs, trees, white sand and calm blue water that reaches the horizon. I am looking at my own travel brochure photo.
An uncompromised luck hits me. I can’t control myself. I am sitting there on this high cliff. Nobody here who can tell me it’s the fourth time I am saying how beautiful it is or ‘if you think this is beautiful you should check out Ko Samui, that is real beauty. This is nothing.’ Those people aren’t here. They are behind their desks or standing at the coffee machine telling how much they wished it was Friday. I can only tell myself how beautiful it is and reply affirmatively.
What a cheesy travel cliche. Alone but not lonely. It is true as cliches can be. ‘Happiness is only real when shared, my ass!’ I say out loud with a big smile. I can’t remember the last time I felt this intensely happy.
I laugh and put my hands in my hair, out of an incomprehensible happiness. Where does this intense emotion come from?
This happiness lasts a couple of minutes and then I think: I need to share this with someone. Damn you Jon Krakauer! I take my phone and see if I can send a picture of the view to someone. I don’t have reception here in the valley and Feriha is playing her own game of backgammon on the kitchen floor with the camping owner. I am all alone in my kingdom and no one to share it with but myself.