buğday, aka "woofing," aka dedetepe environmental farm, aka long weekend in HEAVEN.

Friday, March 30, 2012

How do I even being to describe what I spent last Friday through Wednesday doing, in the middle of nowhere in Turkey, surrounded by a stunning array of olive groves on the Aegean coast, with little to no electricity, internet, or anything that a big city offers?

With too much on my mind, a weary soul, and a sleep-deprived brain coming off our finals week, we made our way out to Dedetepe Environmental farm for a long-weekend of who-knows-what.

Literally one of my favorite weekends of the trip so far.

Our team took the our last in-class final Thursday, spent the evening rejoicing, recovering, and preparing for "Buğday," the one word that we knew about what the long weekend would hold. All we were told was that we were spending a long weekend outside of the big city, on an environmental farm on the Aegean coast where we would learn about self-sustainability and creation care. A lot of us were not looking forward to a weekend camping, but we all came to see otherwise once we arrived at Dedetepe.

After a two hour ferry across the Sea of Marmara, then an extremely long bus ride consisting of 5 hours of twisting and turning roads in the foothills, one bathroom break, too many pretzel sticks, and an impromptu Justin Bieber sing-a-long to raise weary spirits, we finally made it to camp, 2 hours later than expected. I'll never forget my first impression of Dedetepe, thinking in my mind this was almost identical to Outpost up at Calvin Crest. Birkai, one of the full time staff members greeted us with a phrase that definitely made us all wonder what we managed to get ourselves into: "Welcome to Dedetepe farm. Okay, anyone who needs to pee or sh*t - follow me."

We also met the handful of volunteers from all over the world - Portugal, Spain, Australia and the US, "woofing" together on this farm in Turkey. We had our first meal together, and let me just say HOLY MOLY THE FOOD WAS AMAZING. Homemade organic local produce meals the entire weekend - so, so satisfying. Two local village women came in and helped the volunteers prepare the meals for us, so simple yet so incredibly good. Meatless, of course, but I still managed to leave every meal full and satisfied.

Happy faces for food after the long bus ride!

After getting situated in our living situation for the long weekend - girls in log cabins, boys in mongolian yurts (the lucky ones!), we slept through a very chilly night - the central heating system was down, and woke up the next morning for a full, full day. Tamerin, one of the full time staff members who is a yoga teacher, graciously led a yoga class every morning at 7am for the early risers who wanted to start their day off in a unique fashion. Let's just say it was incredible - I've never though I would be doing sun salutations as I watched the actual sun rise over the mountains! I stretched my body into positions I didn't even think possible, started each day off with mediation, and sometimes chanting, and did my body good for the weekend. Such a unique and fun experience!

Meditating on the yoga platform

Dedetepe is quite the unique place to live. A completely self-sustainable community, they get energy from a windmill near the farm and the sun through their main solar panel. Their water comes from a local source, a nearby river, and they heat it by solar power (meaning if you want a warm shower or hamam - before dinner is the best time!). They gather the majority of their food themselves, raise chickens for eggs, pick herbs from their garden for meals and tea, and since they have an abundance of olives, use those for olive oil (the best I have ever tasted!) and also use the falled and squashed olives for soap. It was so cool to step foot in this community and "woof" for a weekend with amazing people. 

We spent our mornings at Bugday headquarters, learning about what Turkey is doing in the areas of environmental sustainability and creation care, as well as ways we can do our part once we are back at school. We also learned about local Anatolian culture, having the opportunity to visit both an Alevi museum and an olive oil museum, two things very common this area of Turkey. I was so thankful for a weekend out of the big city, where I could see things like old dirt roads, the ocean, and herds of sheep being moved around by their shepherd in large green acres.

One of our afternoon activities also included going to the ancient archeological site of Assos. Even though the actual site was closed, we found a hole in a fence, and spent a good amount of time exploring the cliff side, getting a gorgeous view of the Aegean sea. It was stunning. And I mean that in the full sense of the world. I've seen so much of God's creation here in Turkey, but this sight literally took my breath away. That I was sitting on the edge of a cliff, looking out across the Aegean sea, somewhere I thought I would never be. Incredible.

Lots of time at Dedetepe was spent on our time, getting time to relax, read, journal, and reflect on our three months in Turkey. Thanks to the abundance of hammocks, I was able to relax and really process our time in Turkey as it comes to an end. I am going to miss this country so, so, much. It has meant so much to me, to be able to spend an extended period of time here, and literally fit into the mold. I can't imagine leaving, and even though I am stoked for our last month of adventures, I know the farewell to Turkey will be so incredibly bittersweet.

One of my favorite memories from this weekend on the farm had to be the campfires we had each night. We brought out Dana's guitar, sang songs, danced, chatted and just enjoyed each other's company - both the students in our group and the staff members at Dedetepe. The first couple campfires were pretty chill, hanging around, relaxing, lots and lots of laughter. 

The last night, Nick and Ruben, two of the volunteers, built a huge fire out of an olive tree root - called a "Dedetepe fire," one for special guests, and one that would burn long into the night. The entire staff came out, even the two Americans that rolled in while we were there - let's just say it was the first time for them and us that we got to interact with Americans in quite the long time. It was a time of laughter, a time of joy, and I found myself constantly thinking, "If I could freeze this moment in time and live it in forever, I would - in a heartbeat." Our group has become so close. I looked around and saw so many conversations and smiles around, between our group, in the staff, and a joy that was so present it could not be denied. Nick stood up and said some words on behalf of the staff, overjoyed that we were the first group of their season and that we brought so much joy to their staff. It made me smile, it made our group happy, and I know everyone was glad that we got to Dedetepe and away from the city for the weekend. 

We packed up Wednesday afternoon, said a sad goodbye to the staff, took one last group photo and boarded our bus for the long travel back to Yeditepe. I didn't want to leave. I felt so free over the weekend, and something told me going back would only mean my head getting filled, my mind growing weary and my soul yearning for the long stretches of olive trees and sunrise yoga. The home cooked meals, the joyful campfires, the nights spent cuddling a hot water bottle for warmth, the laughter in our group as we laid out in the sun on the luggage platform. But all great things come to an end at some point, and I would have to come to terms with it. I had an amazing weekend, and I am still on a huge high from it. It came at the perfect time for all of us, a rejuvenating weekend that brought us together, tightened the bonds of friendship, and allowed us the space to really process the last three months and the final month to come.

As I rode our ferry home, I watched a beautiful sunset and journaled this entry

I've still got a couple hours of travel left before we arrive back home at good ol' Yeditepe. This weekend went by far too quickly for my taste, everything was so peaceful and at ease - I found myself saying more than once "If I could freeze this moment in time, I would live in it forever." Really though - this weekend gave me the time and space to process the last 3 amazing months in Turkey: what they taught me, how much I grew, all that I saw and how much my eyes were opened to the world around me. A truly life-changing experience that I will never forget in my lifetime. Turkey has become more than just a random country I spent a semester of my college years in. This country took me in as one of it's own and showed me the world through it's unique eyes. It became home, somewhere that became familiar and broken in. She is a sister to me now, a place that will always have a special place in my heart and will be constantly in my head. I've said so many goodbyes in my lifetime, but I think this might be one of the hardest. How do I say farewell to a country that I consider so close to me now? I don't want to think about it.

And so I won't. I have only a few more days left in Turkey before we catch an early flight to Jordan Sunday morning. Expect one more farewell to Turkey post before I leave beautiful Istanbul, and make my way into the last month of this adventure in the Middle East. The journey continues...

Respectfully submitted,

More photos from this incredible weekend at the farm...

Walking back to camp on a glorious afternoon :)

Alevi museum. I will be hanging one of these above my bed next year in my dorm!

Natural hot springs hamam - aka my one shower for the weekend.

Fanners, greeting the world from the yoga platform.

River, water source, great guitar spot - wrote a new song here. 


Glorious view - watched the sun rise over this during yoga!
Working our way through The Arab-Israeli textbook for our time in Israel/Palestine!

Roommate :)

For all you Calvin Crest people following my blog, does this not qualify as the Turkish twin to Outpost? Seriously. And yes, we used the pizza oven. It was amazing!